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A red from Spain

Penedes, Shyrah+Tempranillo

If you were to make a list of the red wines coming out of Spain, reds from Penedes region would certainly come more in the second half of the selection; not because of quality, but for the fact it’s one of the more overlooked wine regions. Penedes reds have a tendency to be overshadowed by their white brothers and sisters (culminating with Cava) made from sophisticated grapes such as Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo, and certainly don’t enjoy the prestige of reds coming out of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Navarra.

The meeting with the Vallformosa Masia Freyé 2010 is a beautiful example of what more “serious” wineries of Penedes are capable of producing when they set their sights on making a killer entry-level red! Vallformosa is one of the largest producers in Penedes region, owning various pieces of vine plantations across the region in different terroirs.

This is a blend of Shyrah 60% and Tempranillo 40%, with a conservative alcohol content, 13.5%.

Domenech Vidal, Vallformosa 2010

The two grapes come from different vineyards and  are manually harvested between the beginning and middle of September. The cold maceration and fermentation takes place in oak casks, and then the wine is aged in oak barrels for at least 6 months and then at least 6 more in the bottle -thus giving it the appelation crianza.

I knew this wine would take some time to open up and develop its full range of flavour, so I imagined a tasting in two steps: in the first evening I would pair it with some light snacks and bits (unfortunately, resembling more a French platter than a Catalunyan one), and in the following evening a more serious dish was to follow -baked pasta.

The color is a perfect ruby cherry, with evident purple hues. The first nose hides the more subtle notes of spices such as cloves and anise, providing full expression of fruitiness with ripe cherry, plum and cranberries. Then the toasted wood plays a more important part, bringing more pungent notes of ash and charcoal, and generally warming the smell. In the mouth it has a bit of a sharp edge due to the combination of Harley-

wine and snacks

Davidson-style tannins from the Tempranillo, and the spiciness of Shyrah resembling a middle-eastern bazaar. Still it develops elegantly on the palate, velvety and soft, just gripping enough the gums to remind the driker that this is a Spanish red after all.The finish is of medium intensity and length, gently diffusing into the mouth some refreshingly soft flavors of cocoa powder and ginger. The next evening it evolved around much richer and darker aromas of  licorice, dark chocolate and sandalwood while preserving its fruitiness.

Overall, the wine is very approachable and provides a pleasurable drinking experience. What it may lack in overall complexity and finesse, it makes up with its balance between spiciness and tannins, great alcohol integration, and a very supple body which can pair well with many dishes. I also particularly liked that the price on the shelf in Romania -38 lei at La Chambre in Cluj- is alligned with the international quotations.

baked pasta


2 comentarii la “A red from Spain

  1. Delia
    16 august 2012

    Eu salivez dupa ce este in tava.Nu am mai gatit demult paste la cuptor. Multumesc pentru inspiratie.O sa le incerc cu fratele lui alb, un cupaj Xarel-lo cu Chardonnay . Daca imi amintesc bine prima intalnire cu el era destul de onctuos, dar si placuta prospetime la final.Cand si asociezi vinul mi se pare mult mai provocatoare povestea.

    • Mihai Oprea
      16 august 2012

      Merci de aprecieri; pastele au fost bune, si combinatia cu vinul la fel de reusita. Cred ca si un alb destul de corpolent cum e cupajul de Xarel-Lo cu Chardonnay le-ar face cu succes, doar sa nu fie foarte baricat.

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