A small taste of Málaga
You are spoiled, simply spoiled, when it comes to wonderful food and drink in Spain. There are however those more spoiled than others and I posit that anyone in Catalunya or the Basque Country lives like “el rey de mambo” with immediate access to the top wines of the country as well as a blend of fresh sea and mountain ingredients that’s hard to beat. It’s easy to get complacent about this and you can often forget that there is a wealth of food and drink across Iberia very much worth exploration.
Thankfully, the Diputación de Málaga is on something of a promotional campaign at the moment called, “Sabor a Málaga” which is working with 400 providers in the province to show that in addition to the sunny beaches, they have a high quality culinary as well as vinous offer as well. They arrived to Barcelona last week and presented a menu of local products cooked by Malagueño, Sergio Garrido along with wines from the region.
I won’t go into the dishes at great length other than to say, the authentic “Ajo Blanco Malagueño” soup is worth checking out if you get the chance. And while I usually don’t eat goat because they make such wonderful cheese, “Chivo Lechal Malagueño” is indeed a tender, succulent meat. For those who adore seafood, there’s even more to enjoy.
During this lunch it was the wines that were of most interest as they, along with other regions in Andalusia, have a curious growing climate. If naming a wine from the South of Spain, most (if geographically astute) would choose Sherry. But there are other regions as well and they hold a vastly different aspect than what is found in Sherry.
Indeed, it’s damned hot in the summer, as anyone who has been to the aptly named, “Costa del Sol” can tell you. But, from those shores there are a series of mountains that shoot straight up to 500 and even 700m and are an altogether different climate in DO Málaga and DO Sierras de Málaga. The have whites and they have reds. They have dry and they have dessert. They even have wines aged in criaderas, that system of barrels in stacked series that’s found in Sherry–as well as Montilla-Moriles just to the north of Málaga.
As is seen in other regions such as DO Terra Alta near me, elevation can make for some wonderful white wines. This in turn makes for some wonderful oxidized wines like the one served from Pedro Ximénez. The trade off however is that the elevation shortens the growing season in a strange way and the reds come up a bit stunted with rather two dimensional red cherry notes. The only other place I regularly taste this is in the red wines of Central European areas such as Austria, Hungary, and Northern Croatia. I’ve yet to understand if it’s fully due to growing conditions or winemaking as you don’t see this in say, France’s Burgundy or Loire reds.
Ultimately, it was an eye-opening taste that definitely left me wanting more, especially as some of it (as is often the case in Southern Spain) is just criminally-priced and offering up outstanding bargains to the savvy consumer.
Cortijo la Fuente – Don Pepe NV
Light tea leaf notes, peach, aged pear, oxidized aspects of toffee, caramel, rich touch of wool, lemon brine. Nice dried flower notes. Medium plus length and acidity, aged under flor and similar to Manzanilla but more soft and rich. Overall exceedingly rich and luscious and at a price that’s just ludicrously low for anyone who appreciates the Southern Spanish style of lightly-oxidized wines.
100% Pedro Ximénez 15% 7€
** Q 93
Bodegas Bentomiz – El Arinyanas Seco 2017
From old vines of 80-100 years, sits on lees for eight months. Prominent green fruit, green plum, sweet white pear, light grapey notes. Delicate floral aspect of white blossoms, good deal of yellow peach as well, pressed flowers. Sweeter on the palate and more orchard fruit, very well-preserved, high acidity, complex palate, dry medium finish.
100% Muscat d’Alexandria 12% 14€
Bodegas Excelencia – Rondarte 2017
Light, cured cherry with light raspberry, red plum, dark spices, cardamom, cloves, sage, backing spice, and a scratch of orange peel. Good shake of blue currant as well, smells a lot like Central European reds. More oak on the palate. Drying, medium plus tannins, tight on the palate, medium finish and alcohol. Simple and pleasing but lacking in length.
100% Tempranillo 13.5% 9€
Cortijo la Fuente – Tinto Crianza 2015
Dark cherry, bit volatile in the nose, muddy earth, and lacking a great deal of definition. Crisp and broad on the palate, seems like a touch of acetic quite dominated by the 12 months of barrel treatment and comes up rather short.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah 13% 8€
Bodega Dimobe – Piamater VND 2016
Very rich, honeyed nose, touch of botrytis, dried fig and apricot, light touch of chalky notes. Full and rich on the palate with lower acidity than is necessary to push through more than a mid-length finish.
100% Muscat 18% 12€
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%