For most people, January and February are the months that need to be endured and seen out as soon as possible. But for us wine distributors, there is plenty to do.
A quick little jaunt to Porto-Portugal/Duero and then to northern Spain/Galicia – both areas conducive to fantastic vinous experiences and sublime gastronomy – has helped set the standard for some of the many new additions we’ll offer up in 2016.
I timed the trip perfectly and was embraced by an atmosphere of clear spring weather and the presentations of many new wines.
Most people know Duero as the area where port wine hails from and that’s true enough, but few folks realise it also produces ‘table wine’ in a class of its own.
Wine from this area easily measures up to many of the other great wines, such as Spain’s ‘Ribera del Duero’. The price levels are not off-putting compared to the quality and, in fact, I would contend that they are quite affordable.
Notable houses such as Kopke (Vinhas Velhas), Delaforce (Touriga National/Cabernet Sauvignon) and Van Zeller (Curriculum Vitae) are all wines with high international ratings and a fantastic harmonious taste that speaks for itself.
At the tasting I enjoyed a variety of years in order to get an idea of the potential for the area’s wine, which is produced using old traditions – everything here is hand-made.
After tasting myself through these lovely wines in amazingly rustic surroundings in the Duero valley, the trip returned to Porto before following the coastline up to Galicia.
The area offers up some terrific white wines made from the Albarino grape – a noted grape in the area. The wine aligns itself perfectly to the coastal area where lobster, oysters, large crab and fresh fish are part of daily life.
The Albarino wines are very fruity and aromatic with a clear bouquet of citrus, peach and apricot – it has echoes of Riesling with better varieties offering more body and fullness.
Galicia is a relatively unknown area to most people unless they’ve been on the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage, an 800 km hike that starts in the south of France, ventures across the Pyrenees Mountains to the northern Basque area of Spain, before ending up in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia.
The hallmark of the city is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, an impressive construction from 1075, but the city is also brim-full with history, quaint restaurants and an impressive selection of wines.