The Wines from Spain Great Match events are some of the country’s best Spanish wine events and always showcases a multitude of amazing wines from around Spain. The Great Match Los Angeles was my first visit to the event; I enjoyed it so much (possibly due to my friends at Drink Ribera) that I decided to plan my next vacation around the New York City event. A great decision, if I do say so myself! I could not have asked for a better Spanish wine day (outside of doing the same thing in Spain). My flight from San Diego arrived NYC at 5:00 am. Following an arduous subway ride into Manhattan, I found my way to my hotel and a two-hour power nap. This brief encounter with sleep and adrenaline would keep me going for the next 14 hours of unbridled Spanish wine (and food) love.
The day’s events began with a seminar featuring the wines from D.O. Valdeorras. A relatively obscure wine region by most standards the wines from this area are finally garnering the international attention they have deserved for some time now. Led by Steve Olson of aka wine geek, the tasting featured eight white wines as well as one red (this area cultivates the Spanish-native, white varietal Godello beautifully). Following are the wines sampled during the event:
- 2009 Casal Novo (Godello)
- 2000 Viña Godeval (Godello)
- 2009 Viñaredo (Godello)
- 2009 A Coroa (Godello)
- 2009 Viña Somoza Sobre Lías (Godello)
- 2008 Avanthia (Godello)
- 2008 As Sortes (Godello)
- 2007 Pezas da Portela (Godello)
- 2009 Pagos del Galir Roble (Mencía)
Great Match Walk-Around Tasting
Hundreds of wines were on display and, as usual, I made my way through the list before hitting Table 1 in effort to sample the best or most unique wines available. The selections are always too much for one person too handle but I, invariably, see a couple of people giving it the old college try. Personally, I managed about 50 in this tasting (given the previous nine from the seminar before and the countless ones that would follow). Light tapas were provided by some local restaurants which helped slow the alcohol absorption, but how can one maintain any modicum of restraint when faced with such a tremendous selection? A couple of my standout tables were Vinaio Imports (with a tremendous and diverse selection of wines and vermouth), Dinastía Vivanco (wonderful single-varietal wines from Rioja), Mas d’en Gil (some amazing wines from Priorat), and Drink Ribera (a fan favorite featuring wines from around Ribera del Duero).
I must admit that when this seminar was added at the last minute I jumped at the opportunity. My knowledge of Sherry is ever-growing, so I quickly signed up and eventually found my way to a seat at the front of the room. With an accompanying lecture by César Saldaña, General Director of the Regulatory Council of Sherry, I was captivated by the presentation as well as his passion and love for Sherry. My only regret was that it did not last longer. The tasting involved a wide range of Sherry wines:
- González Byass Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
- Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry
- Sandeman Royal Esmeralda Amontillado VOS Sherry
- Barbadillo Obispo Gascon Palo Cortado Sherry
- Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Sherry
- Lustau East India Sherry
- Dios Baco Cream Sherry
- Gonzalez Byass Noe Pedro Ximenez VORS Sherry
Drink Ribera Consumer Tasting Event
The next two and a half hours were a bit of a “rest” for me (most would not say so). I volunteered my time and enthusiasm to pour wines for Drink Ribera. There is so much energy around pouring and conversing about wines with those who love it. For me, it is a time to share the things I have learned with others and open their eyes and palates to the pleasures of Spanish wine. Of course, one always comes across that handful of daring folks who are trying to down every single wine in the place. Regardless, my passion and love for Spanish wine are my motivation during times like these. I would do it over and over again if I could (maybe I shouldn’t let Helen and Donna know that).
Following the consumer event I gladly accepted a spot at the invitation-only Drink Ribera Lounge event at Underbar in the W Hotel. Winding down the stairs to the bar to find a quaint, dimly lit space with bottle after bottle of incredible wines from Ribera del Duero only did my heart good. The event was to showcase the upcoming releases from the region and was hosted by Señor Eduardo Cano Uribe of the Consejo Regulador of D.O. Ribera del Duero. An amazing display of red (and a few rosé) wines lined the bar and were enjoyed by all. As usual, more tapas crowded the center table, waiting for their turn to soak up the wine consumed by discerning palates. An hour or two here and I figured I had neared the end of my road. I was wrong. One final stop awaited.
To top off my evening I humbly accepted an invitation to join a few fairly recent and brand new friends at Mario Batali’s Spanish Restaurant, Casa Mono. I had been wanting to try this place for years but had never found the opportunity. Now it found me. Suffice it to say, I devoured the amazing tapas and wine ordered by my host(s) and enjoyed another couple of hours of lively conversation and over-the-top laughs. I honestly could not have ended my day – although I could have easily stayed another couple of hours with these folks – any better way. (Read the recent article on my visit to Casa Mono.)
As the title states, this was truly the best Spanish wine day in NYC. Trying new wines, learning new things, meeting new people, and laughing with new friends has made this a day I will likely never forget as well as one that I hope to repeat sometime soon.
Life is short. Drink Spanish wine!