The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2013

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Page 122 of 149

The Codorníu Legacy Comes Alive in D.C. Winemaker Mark Nairn from Bodegas Raimat (right) pours for guests. Despite the traditional mantle it carries, the winery has been on the cutting edge for years, a pioneer of viticultural best practices and research. Raimat, for example, was the first to use satellite mapping in Spain, enabling it to target specific vineyards for particular grapes and products in the emergent Costers del Segre region. It produces all of its wines sustainably. "Raimat was in a region that for a while lost its way, but is now coming back," said winemaker Mark Nairn. "The reds are now more open and relaxed, the Albariños are more floral, but have texture and length." Nairn also has experimented with a Chardonnay and Xarel·lo blend, which he offers up as an introduction to the Spanish grape, one of three traditionally used in cava. In Haro (Rioja Alta), Bodegas Bilbaínas, a founder of D.O. Ca. Rioja and the oldest bottle registration number in Spain, is a long-time practitioner of micro-terroir management. Even Scala Dei, a Priorat winery dating to the 12th century, has evolved its style to something more modern. Rather than rolling out the most commercial wines, the U.S. tour functioned as a sort of traveling laboratory, showcasing signature wines from each property that represent the company's research and craftsmanship, and serve as a model for future learnings. "We found the trade didn't realize Tasting samples from the strength not only of the properLegaris, Codorníu's estate ties themselves, but the research and in Ribera del Duero. collaboration with individual D.O.s and AVAs," said Melanie Pyne, National Brand Director at Codorníu's U.S. marketing arm, Aveníu Brands. Even the flagship cava—made since 1872—headed up by enologist Bruno Colomer, has its innovations. Colomer was one of the first to work with vintage cava, blending Spanish grapes with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to give them acidity and longevity. Codorníu's portfolio now covers a wide range of geographies and wine styles—from approachable gateway wines such as Viña Zaco Rioja to flagships such as the Scala Dei Cartoixa. "The wines are designed to be excellent, versatile wines suitable to many occasions—appropriate and exciting without dominating the event," said sommelier and Spanish wine expert Roger Kugler, who helped introduce the wines in New York. "It's exciting to see winemakers and a company working to create wines that don't fit an international profile," he added, "but speak of the place they come from while being accessible to foods from almost anywhere." The former residence of the Spanish Ambassador to the United States was the site the Washington, D.C. leg of the Codorníu Raventós and Aveníu Brands tour. Author and wine educator Kevin Zraly facilitated two guided seminars and tastings for the trade, which showcased the heritage and quality of the Aveníu Brands offerings. During the seminar, winemakers from Codorníu, Bodegas Bilbaínas, Legaris, Scala Dei, Raimat, Artesa and Septima discussed their philosophy, winery history and viticultural and vinicultural decisions. In a walk-around tasting, guests were able to taste more than 30 wines, paired with Spanish bites like tortilla, gazpacho, olives, jamón and cheeses. Codorníu poured its signature sparkling wine, Anna de Codorníu Brut, and its pink sibling, Anna de Codorníu Brut Rosé, as well as single-varietal cavas with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Xarel-Lo. Legaris' 2012 Verdejo from Rueda was fresh and crisp, with just a touch of bitterness on the finish—a nice expression of the Spanish white varietal. The Raimat 2012 Albariño showed appealing notes of peach and zesty freshness. Winemaker Mark Nairn says he's noticed fans of Sauvignon Blanc migrating to Albariño for its interesting textural style. Winemaker Mark Beringer, Vice President of Production for Artesa Vineyards and Winery in Carneros, accurately described the reserved and elegant Artesa 2010 Single Vineyard Block 91D Pinot Noir as tasting of "mashed fresh strawberries, along with having feminine notes of rose " and violet petals. The fifth-generation Napa winemaker reflected on Codorníu's heritage, which dates back more than 450 years: "To be part of Codorníu is like being part of a great tradition. Being that I come from a well-known winemaking family, I understand and appreciate what legacy brings to the table. —Kelly Magyarics " THE WINERIES Codorniu, D.O. Cava Scala Dei, D.O.Ca. Priorat Bodegas Bilbainas, D.O.Ca. Rioja Legaris, D.O. Ribera del Duero Raimat, D.O. Costers del Segre Septima, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina Artesa, Carneros, California july 2013  /  the tasting panel  /  121 [SIDEBAR] TP0713_100-148.indd 121 6/24/13 6:04 PM

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