Spanish Night At Toto (Apr. 21, 2009)

Toto have started hosting special BYO nights, coordinated by their sommelier, Roee Yaniv. The idea is simple: Roee chooses a theme, Toto supplies the food for a fixed price and the participants supply the wines, pending Roee's approval. Last night's theme, as the title of my post makes quite clear, was Spanish wines. I have grouped my notes by region of origin and not by the order in which they were served in order to make the comparisons easier.

Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera Del Duero, 2004

The first impression was not awfully terrific, lots of vanilla and such, but knowing my companions' collective tastes, I expected to see improvement and I was right. The vanilla blew off, and while this is not a subtle wine, it is balanced and an initial hint of minerals grows more pronounced. A good example why even modern Ribera is so appealing but just wait, further proof is forthcoming.

Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera Del Duero, 1999

Much more Old World than the 2004, it offers this very precious 'stink' of mildew, tobacco leaves and old leather, just yummy. Crisp, savoury tannins where the 2004's are more foursquare. Currently, a wine more to my taste than the 2004.

These wines are not imported to Israel and I have no idea how much they cost.

Ismael Arroyo, Vol Sotillo, Ribera Del Duero, Gran Reserva, 1996

Even more Old World-ish, nooooo complaints... The nose is a blast of cardamon but not at the expense of red fruit and there are also some olives in the mix. In all, the nose is just, well, grand. The palate, alas, lags behind, but it's still the kind of wine I relish, although I prefer the 1995.

Imported by Giaconda, 360 NIS.

Abadia Retuerta, Sardon Del Duero, Pago Negralada, 1996

A different kind of Old World style, clean fruit and sweet-ish, but sweetness that comes from the fruit, not the alcohol or oak. It's elegant and tasty but left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed. Maybe I'm just doing it an injustice, as it was the last wine served and my concentration was flagging.

Abadia Retuerta used to be imported to Israel, by HaKerem. I'm not sure what the current situation is.

Clos Martinet, Priorat, 2001

This isn't an outright blockbuster, but in boxing terms, this and the other Priorat were a few weight divisions up from most of the other wines of the night. This wine has a certain stink that I'm almost sure I remember from a tasting about five years ago, not full-blast brett but a hint of barnyard complexified by some chocolate and graphite. The tannins are prominent and emphasized by a certain lack of acidity. A very good wine, within its style, which is not a criticism, mind you, just putting things in context.

Imported by WineRoute on and off, this cost 220-250 NIS four-five years ago and I think current pricing is not very far off.

Clos Mogador, Priorat, 2000

Since I brought it, I am sad to report it was somewhat overshadowed by the Clos Martinet (not to mention by the El Pison which followed it), although it is a good wine in its own right. The nose boasts fruit seemingly picked at the apogee before the ripeness gets out of hand, and it is tempered by mineral notes. These notes are then echoed on the palate which is too monolithic for my tastes, but which ends in a saline finish, and that is fine indeed.

Also imported by WineRoute and at similar prices.

Artadi, Rioja, El Pison, 2001

The most amazing nose, a profound mix of red and black fruit, overlain with tobacco leaves and flowers. Very complex, balanced and long, the palate has crisp tannins and a saline finish, all of which somehow harken to the wine's place of origin, despite the modern winemaking technique. A score of 96 might do it justice.

Imported by WineRoute and sold for twice, maybe three times the price of the Priorats.