Spanish wine expert Sarah Jane Evans MW looks ahead to meeting some of her favourite producers at Decanter's flagship Encounter in London on 15th & 16th November in her guide to navigating the famous Grand Tasting...
Fine wine is not just about terroir – the soil, the climate, the altitude. It’s also about the people who make it. The Decanter Fine Wine Encounter on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 November 2014 is the perfect opportunity to meet the people behind some of the world’s most interesting and individual wines. The 2014 Encounter brings together in one place a very diverse range of wineries from historic estates, to new young producers who have only recently attained stardom.
There is a particularly tempting selection of Spanish wines to taste this year. Meet Elisa Ucar from Domaines Lupier, one of the new generation of producers recuperating old vine garnacha (grenache) to produce just two wines. These garnachas are creating a new image for Navarra, for too long in Rioja’s shadow.
Among the Rioja producers represented, there is an excellent opportunity to explore the contrasting styles of today’s Riojas. Beginning with the classics, CVNE are present, and will be celebrating their Red Rioja Gran Reserva over £15 Regional Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards this year. Also from the town of Haro in the Rioja Alta region is Muga. It’s a historic family business, still keeping up traditions such as making its own barrels with its own in-house cooper. But it too has carefully changed with the times. Compare these classics with the established modern styles of Baigorri and Luis Cañas.
For a different view of tempranillo, step over to the Protos table. Protos was the second winery in Ribera del Duero, founded in 1927, more than half a century before the DO Ribera del Duero was created. For a refreshing discovery of the white wines of Spain, visit the Pazo de Señorans table. The Pazo de Señorans wines show just why Albariño, grown in Rías Baixas, is such a magical combination. A young wine, with no influence of oak, yet showing a complex blend of greengages, nectarines and green apples. Their Selección de Añada, at 8-9 years old, and aged in old oak, is superbly complex.
Offering an example of the very best of Cava are the Recaredo family, always popular guests at the Fine Wine Encounters. Also representing Catalunya are Raventós I Blanc, a family wine business dating back 500 years. Their sparkling wines include the rosé De Nit made from monastrell, which won a Gold at this year’s DWWA. The most well-known producers in Catalunya, the Torres family, too, are also present at the Fine Wine Encounter. They are working now not just in Penedès, but also Priorat, Rioja and Rueda.
With the 2014 vintage just finished in the northern hemisphere this is a great opportunity to find out from producers internationally how 2014 measures up compared with 2013. Has it been a year where selection has been really important after rains? Did they escape hail? Port enthusiasts should make time to talk to Graham’s and Taylor’s about the prospects for the vintage this year.
Spain and Portugal aside, there is plenty to tempt with famous names such as Champagne Delamotte and Champagne Taittinger, south through the Chateaux of Bordeaux to the Rhone and Jean-Luc Colombo, and thence through Italy via Masi, Felsina and Allegrini, and east across the Mediterranean to three classic producers of Greece – Alpha Estate, Domaine Skouras, Gerovassiliou – and on to Clos de Gat in Israel and Kavaklidere in Turkey.
If your tastes take you to the New World, then it’s possible to visit Stellenbosch, Mendoza, over the Andes to Chile, and from there on to New Zealand and Australia all in the one day.
The best advice is to spend a little time when you arrive planning your route in the tasting book. Or perhaps you prefer to let serendipity lead you to something unexpected. Whichever method you choose The Decanter Fine Wine Encounter is the best way to keep up to date in the ever-changing world of wine all in one day in one location.
Written by Sarah Jane Evans MW