Note: Sometimes I’ll post about events or products that aren’t strictly Galician but that took place here, or are popular here. I’m not a traitor, I swear, I’m just trying to open up my worldview and at the same time share things that have impressed me without worrying about geographic boundaries.
In this post, I’ll be writing about the Marqués de Terán (from La Rioja, which is to say most definitively NOT Galicia) wine tasting in La Coruña at the De Market Vinoteca (lovely place, definitely Galician).
OK, everyone. It’s time to speak truth to power. I love wine, I really do. But what I actually know—like really, truly understand—about how to properly taste wine could fit on one sheet of paper. One small sheet of paper. Granted, I can fake my way pretty well through most informal tastings (mainly by looking at what the person next to me is doing and copying them) and I can give you a lot of facts about what Galician wines are exported the most, why they’re successful, what the profit margin is for most large wineries, and what my personal favorites are, but when it come down to identifying notes of blank with a nose of huh? in any given glass, I’m lost.
Which is why I so deeply appreciate events like the one sponsored by the Marqués de Terán (D.O. La Rioja) winery this last Thursday at De Market Vinoteca in La Coruña. Not only was it a spectacularly well-organized event (and I don’t throw around compliments like that lightly here, where events are usually entertaining and fun, but rarely so well-planned) in a beautiful restaurant, but the tasting was organized specifically for people who didn’t want to bulls**t their way through yet another tasting on bouquets and noses and mouthfeel.
Here are the 6 wines we tried from Marqués de Terán. Delicious!
Manuel García Ortega focused the tasting of Marqués de Terán’s line of six wines from a buyer POV. What does that mean? Basically that he knows what most casual wine drinkers want (drinkability, value, easily paired with a number of tapas) and organized the tasting accordingly. Thank God.
I attended with my fellow American and blogger at GastroCamino, Susan Mann, who was invited by Victoria Lara and Mar Miñón from the famous Spanish wine guide Guía Peñín. While Victoria was unable to be in Coruña, together they pulled off a lovely tasting lunch in a perfect setting. Felicidades a las dos!
Here’s an inside photo of De Market Vinoteca. Love the stone walls and the natural light!
Manuel’s talk on the history of the winery was informative, but when he started talking about “eco-friendly” winemaking, this little blogger’s ears perked up. All their wine is made with geothermal energy, which means that they have reduced their carbon footprint by about 85% in the past six years. Very cool, and so is this little guy they get to put on every bottle they sell:
The famous green footprint! Congratulations to Marqués de Terán.
The fascinating part here is that this footprint has given them a huge competitive advantage in markets like Germany, the US and China. But for your average Spanish consumer? Not so much. Here’s a little anecdote Manuel told:
“The Spanish market is more complicated. I’ll talk to any given consumer and they’ll tell me they like the idea but if an eco-friendly or organic wine costs even 50 cents more they’ll always go for the cheaper wine.”
For what it’s worth, my two cents on this topic are as follows: Spaniards are so used to paying 3-5 euros for a good bottle of wine that when your base price is 3 euros, a 50 cent increase is almost a 20% total price increase. Whereas in the US, our magic price point is around 10 dollars a bottle, with eco-friendly labels increasing the price by a little under a dollar, which averages out to just a 10% increase on the original price.
And one more good reason to choose Marqués de Terán: they treat their local farmers well, buying the grapes that they need at a very fair market value (trust me, not that many wineries do this, and hardly any in La Rioja) and buying early before spoilage sets in and their value decreases.
Marqués de Terán: Eco-friendly and fair trade. Tell your friends!
And the reason why a winery from La Rioja was in Coruña? Because Galicia, along with Basque Country, Asturias and Madrid, is one of their best, most loyal markets.
Before tasting each wine, we were told the price point, the weather for the year in question, the amount of time it was barrel-aged, the type of oak used (French or American) and the quality of grapes (on a scale of 1-10). Good, solid background information that a lot of tastings skip over.
Stacy’s fun wine fact of the day: The American market is difficult for a lot of Spaniards to really get a good handle on, mainly because we don’t care about really important things like “Denominación de Origen”/D.O.” which indicates what protected region in Spain this particular wine comes from. We tend to know grapes over regions. For example: How many of your order “un Rioja” when in the US? More likely you’ll order the “Tempranillo” (the main grape grown in la Rioja) or a specific winery.
The grapes that Marqués de Terán uses are 95% Temp., 3% Mazuelo and 2% Garanacha.
Of the six wines we tasted (in order of price, cheaptest to most expensive: Ollamundi, Crianza 2009, Reserva 2008, Selección especial 2011, Versum 2010, and Reserva Edición Limitada 2007), I preferred three for three very different reasons:
For an easy to drink, affordable red, for my money the Ollamundi is your best bet. Glasses are around 2 euros at any bar, and the price for stores is about 5-6 euros (obviously, that price goes up in the US, but still, reasonable). Marqués de Terán said they listened to what their clientele wanted to make this wine, and it shows: it’s their most ordered wine at bars, cafés, and wine shops all around Spain.
The Ollamundi wine came paired with this tasty little tapa: pan tomaca (the Catalán staple of a toasted, sliced baguette rubbed with fresh tomato and olive oil) plus jamón ibérico de bellota (melts in your mouth), razor thin slices of a cured sheep’s milk cheese and a balsamic glaze.
Tapa #1: Pan tomaca con jamon ibérico de bellota y queso con una reducción de vinagre balsámico.
Quick stats: OK year for weather, aged 14 months in an American oak barrel, notes of vanilla, pepper, berries but the taste and texture don’t linger too long in your mouth, making this ideal for drinking while out with friends (the better to talk).
The 2010 Versum. Some people at the tasting preferred the Selección especial 2011, since they’re both around the same price point (17-19 euros), but for me, when I order a nice bottle of Rioja, I want the wine to grab me by the throat and give me a nice shake (OK, that sounds a bit more violent than I intended, but you get the point). The Versum does that: it’s a bit more acidic, and it’s a younger wine (only aged 10 months in French oak barrels). Technically the winery says that the Versum is better for tasting, but I found it to be really lovely with the seafood skewer we were served as a second course (with roasted monkfish and crawfish)
Brocheta de rape y langostinos: Scandalous experiment: Pairing Rioja with seafood! But extremely successful!
The 2007 Reserva Edición Limitada. Would I drink this with my dinner? Absolutely not. But what I loved about Manuel’s description of this wine was that you could sub out your traditional post-dinner Gin and Tonic with a glass of this velvety, smooth goodness. I love it when wineries think like consumers and come up with “out of the box” uses for their wine, that some might consider sacreligious but that customers will really appreciate.
Quick stats: Great grape-growing year (especially great September for crush), aged 24 months in French oak barrels, only 3,000 bottles made, notes of honey and coconut without being sweet at all (miracle!) and really intense color.
Here’s Manuel posing with the pride and joy of Marqués de Terán:
Manuel García with the Reserva Edición Limitada.
I’ll leave you with a picture of Manuel, Mar, Susan and myself. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Coruña!
From L to R: me, Manuel García, Susan Mann, Mar Mirón