A couple of days ago I attended a luncheon where the Sierra de Viento wines were poured. This luncheon acted as an introduction of these wines to the US market. These wines have been produced by Bodegas San Valero. This wine Cooperative in the Aragon region of Spain was founded in 1944. After a short, early period of focus on bulk wines they have been dedicated to quality for many years. Their cooperative is composed of 700 members who together control 3,500 hectares of vineyard land. The two main wines that were being introduced were a Tempranillo and Garancha. More on them in a moment. But first a few words about some wines we got to taste that were not specifically being introduced that day. First up we tasted a Cava alongside appetizers. This Sparkling Wine was lovely and dry with hazelnut, biscuit and hints of cream on the finish. A perfect example for the argument that Sparkling Wine should regularly be consumed with meals. It's said to retail for around $9. A second Garnacha we tasted was a limited bottling that will see US shelves in a couple of months. I hope to have a detailed review of it closer to release. My first impression is that it was an intense expression of Old Vine Garancha. I believe somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 cases of it were produced and it's going to retail for around $30. Dessert was served with a Moscatel. This Dessert wine did an excellent job of providing balance. It was sweet for sure, but only modestly so. It paired well with sweets and was a nice ending to the meal. It was the type of dessert wine you could conceivably sip for a while. In addition to being moderate in sweetness it was also modest in alcohol. Those were the "other" wines. The stars of the show so to speak were a Tempranillo and a Garancha,
First up was the Sierra de Viento 2008 Tempranillo. Fruit for this wine was sourced in Cariñena. It is 100% Tempranillo. This wine will retail for just under $10. What struck me most about this wine was the incredible freshness of its fruit. Ripe red berry flavors abounded and were quite appealing. The wine was balanced and had a nice finish with a hint of sour cherry. It was served with a bit of a chill on it as one would for Beaujolais or some Chianti. It worked for this wine which was a terrific match for food.
The second of the featured wines was the Sierra de Viento 2007 Old Vine Garnacha. Fruit for this wine was sourced from vineyards in Cariñena over 30 years old. This offering is 100% Garnacha. It was aged in French and American oak for 8 months. This wine will retail for just over $10. Where the flavors on the Tempranillo leaned towards fresh fruit those for the Old Vine Garnacha had a more intense, dried fruit characteristic. It also had loads of spice notes and lengthy finish. This wine paired beautifully with hangar steak and pork loin. In general it will match with heartier flavors than the Tempranillo.
Both of these new Sierra de Viento releases from Bodegas San Valero represent excellent values. Approximately 40,000 cases of each was produced and once they hit US shelves they will hopefully be easy to find. I for one know that I'll be looking for them. These wines were developed with the US market in mind. I imagine they'll find quite an audience here. The Tempranillo is a departure from the flavors many consumers are used to with similarly priced wines from the Rioja region. It's fruitier and fresher where Rioja tends towards more oak laden, longer aged wines. The Garnacha is intense but not overly so and not burdened with tremendous alcohol content as some well known examples are. I look forward to these as well as the Cava, Moscatel and small production Garancha reaching our shelves. Keep your eyes open for them; you can thank me later.