The Peñin Top Spanish Wine Tasting

by mary on December 8, 2012

The annual Peñin top Spanish wine tasting is a great chance to taste to taste all the new vintages from Spain’s top wineries. José Peñin, a prominent Spanish wine critic, takes the opportunity every fall to release the latest version of his wine guide, as well as showcase all wines rated 94 points or higher. All the usual suspects were there, as well as some pleasant new promotees. Total saturation and way too many big reds, but lots of fun and some nice surprises especially with cavas, whites and some far flung reds…..

Though many could dispute Peñin ratings, there is no doubt that for many Spanish wineries it’s a sign of having arrived to be included in the Salón de los mejores vinos de España, albeit an expensive honor.

I was so happy to see Cortijo Los Aguliares there for the first time, also the first time a winery from Ronda, in the Sierras de Malaga area, was included. One of there wines actually rated last year, but they couldn’t justify the price of participation until this year, when two of their wines qualified. I’ve been a fan of these wines for years, but it’s great to see them getting some recognition finally.

Lots of favorites! Nice cavas from Sumarocca and Raventos i Blanc. Love the slightly rosé cava from Parés Baltà called Rosa Cusiné, 100% Grenache…what fun! The most amazing cavas from Gramona: Argent, III Lustros, Celler Batlle…all so different and unique. Look for more on them later.

In whites, the Godello remains a favorite, which the usual standout of Rafael Palacios with his As Sortes and the great value Louro do Bolo. The whole line from the Valdesil winery, from the 8 euro Montenovo to the 25 euro Pezas da Portela…all excellent. The most amazing new Godello for me was the La Pena and the La Pola (Godello blend) from Dominio do Bibei in Ribera Sacra. Really cutting edge and shockingly good. Also some great white Grenache from Priorat and some very good old vine Albillo from Madrid.

Drinking so many reds was tough! Some of my old favorites were still favorites. La Nieta, Culmen, and San Vicente from Rioja, Dominio de Atauta wines from Ribera, Victorino and Alabaster from Toro, Ferrer Bobet, Terroir al Limit from Priorat. All big, delicious, voluptuous reds, with the exception of the more restrained San Vicente and Terroir.

New fun reds! Everything from Dominio do Bibei in Ribera Sacra. They have an amazing Mencía, but also make single varietals from super local varieties such as Brancellao and Mouraton. Light, savory, delicious, so unique.

The Madrid crew. My two stand out wineries continue to impress: Bodegas Marañones and Bernaveleva both make fresh, mineral, aromatic, old vine Grenaches that you will not believe come from vineyards just outside Madrid.

New favorite Priorat. Always want to drink Priorat and love to find a new, reasonably priced winery. Alfredo Arribas from Portal del Priorat makes a ton of different wines at all prices ranges with super creative labels. The wines are also very special.

Lots more to write about all these favorites….

If you will be in Madrid in Oct/Nov anytime, check for the dates at the Grupo Peñin website; this is an unmissable opportunity for Spanish wine lovers! You can literally taste your way around Spain’s top wines and meet some of the people behind the wines as well.


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