Location Geneva: Cellier Movenpick, Chemin du Grand-Puits 40, 1217 Meyrin. Time: 10:00 to 18:00
Location Lausanne: Cellier Crissier, Mövenpick, Division Wein, Rue de Morges 22, 1023 Crissier. Time: 9:00 to 17:30
Location Basel: Weinkeller Basel, Haltingerstrasse 101, 4057 Basel. Time: 9:00 to 16:00
Location Zurich: Weinkeller Zürich-Enge, Seestrasse 160, 8002 Zürich. Time: 9:00 to 16:00
“An hour and a half”, we joked as we arrived, “that should be long enough to taste all these wines”. It wasn’t – our journey began as smooth as Enrique Iglesias yet ended as frenetic as Speedy Gonzales in a tie-break!
Spain is an incredible country. The wines from the Iberian Peninsula are rich in fruit, intense in body, elegant in structure, yet innovative and passionate in the way they are crafted. Each wine we tasted demanded a certain period of reflection to fully comprehend, and though the entire journey was sublime, two wines truly stood out for me.
Two icons that stand out
One of these is Alion from the Ribera del Douro. We tasted the 2012, which was the year that Wine Enthusiast chose Ribera del Douro as their region of the year, and we began to understand why.
Alion’s label is classic, though fairly unremarkable. The crest it bears seems better suited to the blazer of a posh school. Perhaps it speaks of the Alion heritage, as part of the revered house of Vega Sicilia – one of only eleven family-owned wineries to accede the Primum Familiae Vini.
On sipping it, I had to wait for a response as though I’d asked an impossible question in class, but when the answer came, it was an impeccable essay. Its foundation was deep and meaningful, yet the structure was refined and clear – you could see where it was heading. Its rich theme was embellished with opulent expressions of mulberry and prune, with rewarding final prizes of cherry and chocolate. Much to my pleasure, its monologue went on and on! it achieved a proud 20/20 Score as well as 95/100 by the fair but fastidious Michael Parker.
The other icon was Le Grand Goru, again a 2012 and one of the top 100 wines from Spain. Of course it had a story to tell. This time a cult wine with a cult label – which from a distance resembles the tortured face of a Goya etching. At first glance this seemed apt, given the winemakers’ constant struggle to produce fine wine – whatever challenges the elements throw at him.
Yet on closer examination, the enigmatic face is composed of the wispy threads of vine roots (or ‘barbus’ in winegrower’s idiom). It revealed what can be created, with the right artistic passion, working from the ground up and in their case favouring Monastrell – the native varietal of Jumilla.
Bodegas Ego was formed when three experienced, yet self-made winemakers came together to realise their vision. Their grapes (here accented with some Cabernet Sauvignon) were harvested by hand at the optimal ripening time, and gently macerated for over a fortnight before aging them for 18 months in American oak.
It’s as though the three founders ran a relay to produce this iconic wine, with the first producing an engaging repertoire of aromas, perfected by the perfume of sweet cherries and rose-water, with top-notes of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon. The baton is then passed to the second, who has confected a rich mix of succulent fruit-driven flavours which fill the pallet, flanked by nuances of pear, of spices and of wild strawberry. Again the baton is passed, this time to the third who proceeds to run a half-marathon, which is gripping, alluring, and lingering – only to fade after crossing the finish line to secure a medal for perseverance.
As the back-label of Grand Goru states: “the past is history, the future is mystery and the present belongs to you”. Life is too short to ignore the present – so drink fine wine. And these wines are amongst the finest.
Only, as with many fine wines, they improve with age. So today’s purchases can be consumed right now or, in the case of Alion, you can wait until 2028. Such future promise… No wonder they dressed it up in a blazer from a posh school!