Complex reds, fruity and elegant whites, dazzling sparkling wines and classic aperitifs – Spain has it all when it comes to the world of wine. This month Blackbeards brings you a selection of Spain’s finest, enjoyed against a backdrop of Calypso Grill’s tempting cuisine.
Dotted across the country, Spain’s 12 wine production regions stretch from Jerez in the southern region of Andalucia (where the grapes for Sherry are grown), all the way to the northern city of Navarra in Pais Vasco, west to the Rías Baixas in Galicia and east to Penedès in Cataluna, from where the famous Cava sparkling wine hails. Each region brings its own special nuances to their particular wine production, creating wines with a true expression of the terroir from which they come.
Seated at Calypso Grill, perched on the edge of the dock at Morgan’s Harbour in West Bay, one could almost imagine that the twinkling ocean was the Med (save for the palm trees fringing the water that were blowing in the breeze!) and, with the waft of paella and other great Spanish cuisine in our nostrils, the location was the perfect spot for enjoying Blackbeard’s Spanish wine selection.
Jodie Petts, wine sales manager with Blackbeards set the scene from the start, with a glass of cold, cold Tio Pepe Sherry sparkling with club soda and a slice of lemon placed at each seating, the perfect aperitif with which to get the taste buds nicely warmed.
“I really enjoy this sparkling mix as a great way to start a meal as it’s really refreshing and clean,” she says.
Cava is to Spain what Champagne is to France, often created in the same way (metodo tradicional) as Champagne though often at a much lower cost and using traditional Spanish grapes – macabeo, xarello, and parellada. We enjoyed a glass of Poema Cava ($22.99), made from grapes harvested from Penedès in Cataluna, a beautiful sparkling wine that was fruity and toasty on the nose and rich, dry and creamy on the palate.
“This Cava is much lighter and has more appley notes than a traditional Champagne because it has only aged in steel barrels and not oak as with Champagne,” Jodie notes. “Hence a cleaner, crisper wine.”
Chef George pulled out all the stops for us as tasters during our special Spanish luncheon, creating a citrusy, tart, almost sweet conch ceviche which was a brilliant pairing for the Cava, the crisp acidity of both the dish and the wine marrying nicely in the mouth.
Top new white choices
On to the white wine in our tasting, and Paco & Lola ($22.79), an Albariño from the Rosalia de Castro winery is packaged as a sexy little number with an unmissable white spotted label against a black backdrop. The 100 per cent Albariño grapes are sourced from the Rías Bas Baixas near Ribero in Galicia and create a really aromatic wine, with notes of apples, pears, and lemon on the nose and citrus flavours combined with a full body on the palate.
Jeremy Corday, Blackbeard’s sommelier/wine specialist says that the Albariño grape is a wonderful alternative to standard grapes that people often turn to when searching for a white.
“Albariño, and in particular this example from Paco & Lola, is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, if you are looking for a wine that is fresh and clean and fruity,” he says. “The vineyards are located at the mouth of the Ría de Pontevedra and as such are located near to the ocean and therefore the wine pairs brilliantly well with seafood/shellfish – the two are really made for each other.”
Our second white was unusually from the Rioja region, where the name Rioja has always been synonymous with big fruity, oaky reds. The Beronia Blanco Viura ($13.99) (made from 100 per cent Viura grapes) is another lovely fruity white wine with notes of quince and peach that makes a delicate change from the run-of-the-mill whites.
Rioja and paella – a winning combo
Three reds then made the cut as some of Blackbeards finest Spanish offerings, the first a Marqués de Cáceres Crianza Rioja from 2007 (CI$17.49), made from 85 per cent Tempranillo and 15 per cent Garnacha Tinta and Graciano grapes.
“These wines are made for longevity,” Jodie explains, “and they have impressed Cabernet Sauvignon wine drinkers in international tastings and they are really worth trying at a variety of ages [see sidebar for Rioja aging classification]. The Marqués de Cáceres Crianza is still young and gives lots of raspberries and cherries on the nose, with concentrated flavours and a nice long finish.”
Chef George brought his pièce de résistance to the table to be eaten alongside the fruity wines: an authentic paella redolent with creamy yellow saffron-infused rice, mussels, chick peas, chorizo, shrimp and calamari, especially created for us as a one-off.
The marriage was indeed made in heaven, especially with the next wine, Abadia Retuerta Selección Especial ($23.99) from Sardon de Duero, a wine made again from Tempranillo but this time blended with Cabernet and Merlot to give a rich, opulent wine with hints of spice and red fruits.
“This is a powerful and complex wine,” Jeremy states. “The grapes are sourced from the steep hillside of Sardon de Duero, creating a wine with tremendous potential for aging.”
Jodie explains that the winery produces as much as it can by hand, with gravity-fed pumps that handle the grapes far more gently than machinery, ensuring that the juice runs freely and is not contaminated by bitter pips or skins.
“The wine is a gorgeous expression of the juice,” she says.
In traditional style, a big red was saved for last – a Colección 125 Reserva ($45.99) from Bodegas Julián Chivite, a real artisan wine made from the oldest family-run wine business in Spain, with a history dating back to 1647.
Jodie explains that Colleción 125 is a plot of vineyards from Chivite’s Señorío de Arínzano estate in Alberin, Navarra using hand-selected grapes in a very limited production.
“If they have a bad vintage they won’t make the wine,” she confirms.
The wine is a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and is aged for 18 months in new French oak before aging in the bottle up to five years. The result is an inky black wine with intense fruit, spice and oak on the nose and palate, an elegant, old-world wine again with terrific aging potential.
A meal at Calypso Grill would not be complete without Chef George’s famous sticky toffee pudding, so tasters tucked in with glee, enjoying a final sip of the Coleccion 125 as we left, with a better understanding and appreciation of the wide choice available when it comes to really great Spanish wines.