Editors note: Continuing with the second of two new writers today we have Craig Donofrio who splits his time between South Carolina and New Jersy! I really hoped to find someone like Craig who could help me keep up to date on the goings ons over in the USA. Here’s a tasting note on a wine tasted at the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, let Craig know what you think. Like I said Monday, in a couple of weeks I’ll be introducing our new writers more formally, so stay tuned!
Charleston, South Carolina is a spectacular southeastern (USA) coastal city that is steeped in history, culture and hospitality. Although it has long been a hotbed for eclectic politics (the first shots of the Civil War were fired here) and religion (nickname “holy city” because of all the houses of worship), the most feverous debate these days seems to be about which of the city’s fabulous restaurants should be visited first. From collards to caviar, grits to foie gras, the city has it all-and the secret is out. So hang on to your seersucker suits ladies and gentleman, because one thing not up for debate is that the next generation of (culinary) carpetbaggers is on the way. This time, however, they’re waving their black Am Ex cards and toting Louis Vuitton bags.
During a recent trip to Charleston for the star-studded 1st annual Distinctively Charleston Food and Wine Festival, I had the pleasure of rediscovering the wines of Rioja producer Mayor de Migueloa. I was first introduced to these wines over a year ago while purchasing for Charleston’s favorite French brasserie (39 Rue de Jean) and was impressed by the focused but traditional style and attractive pricing. After learning that the bodega is located in the beautiful village of Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa (often regarded as the best sub-region in Rioja), I was disappointed I hadn’t stumbled upon the winery during an extensive Spanish wine tour the previous winter. Fortunately, The Charleston Trading Company (828.324.6330), an importer based in Hickory, NC, has begun distribution of the Migueloa wines in Charleston and other select South Carolina cities through Advintage Distributing.
- 2001 Rioja (Crianza), Mayor de Migueloa “Multus”, 100% Tempranillo
The wine is light ruby in color with moderate viscosity. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry and plum intermingle with sweet vanilla. On the palate, the red and black fruits are wrapped with subtle earth, spice and a balanced, sweet vanilla oak. The acidity is moderate to moderate plus and the tannins are soft and moderate. In short, a light to medium bodied, well-balanced Crianza to enjoy now with lighter cheeses and tapas.
- 1997 Rioja (Reserva), Mayor de Migueloa, 100% Tempranillo
This wine is pale cranberry in color with slightly amber highlights and medium viscosity. Aromas of ripe cherry and black plum lead to intriguing elements of earth and vanilla. The acidity is moderate and refreshing and the tannins are medium and polished. A very well-balanced, complex, old-world style. Although still vibrant and delicious, the progressing color and slight oxidation indicate the wine is maturing. Drink now or cellar short term and enjoy with full flavored cheeses, stews and meats.
- 1995 Rioja (Gran Reserva), Mayor de Migueloa, 100% Tempranillo
A beautiful wine, the ’95 Gran Reserva has a bright ruby color with a touch of amber at the edge. The viscosity is moderate (+) with slightly stained tears. Mature, complex aromas of black and red cherry, blackberry, plum, earth, leather, vanilla and spice all jump from the glass. The palate is blessed by generous flavors of red and black fruits with mushrooms, sweet spices and vanilla oak. Harmonious secondary elements such as leather, crushed earth and minerals all await behind the ripe fruit and oak. Encasing all, the long, complex finish is marked by moderate (+) acidity and smooth but firm tannins. Hard to resist now, this wine should keep well for several more years in the cellar. A classic style from ancient traditions, this wine will be fabulous with full flavored meats, cheeses and stews and will be sure to impress Rioja lovers.
Mayor de Migueloa also produces joven styles in red and white, made respectively from Tempranillo and Viura, that are meant to be consumed early and often (given their attractive price). They are lighter bodied wines to complement light cheeses or to be consumed as a refreshing aperitif.
When in Charleston, Look to try some of these wines at Raval (453 King St.) with some of their wonderfully prepared tapas, Spanish cheeses or preserved meats. Raval, a sexy, flattering, but still uniquely Charleston adaptation of Mario Batali’s Bar Jamon, has become the city’s hippest tapas bar and lounge concept.
For more information on the wines, inn or restaurant of Mayor de Migueloa in Lagurdia, Rioja Alavesa, find it on the web (in Spanish or English) at www.mayordemigueloa.com