Wine the colour of coffee: Spanish tasting at The Vineyard Experience in Beijing

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By Jim Boyce

Wine the color of coffee. We finished on that bottle on Sunday as ten people gathered at Vineyard Wine Experience in Beijing to try nearly a dozen Spanish wines imported by local distributor MCP. We sampled wines made with everything from well-known grapes such as Syrah and Tempranillo to lesser-known ones such as Zalema, Albarino, and Macabeo. Here is my take on five of the wines:

Los Majones Syrah 2005: This one is tops for value, with fresh dense fruit, especially blackberries, and a hint of black pepper. Later, the nose took on some some earthiness, toastiness, and other spices – perhaps the licorice as listed in the tasting notes? This one had ample but controlled fruit in the mouth, with a soft body, and light tannins. A bargain at RMB80.

La Val Albarino 2005: I found it smelled a bit like syrupy stone fruits, especially apricot, before becoming milder and taking on floral aromas. It had a mild body, with decent acidity, and a nice restrained citrus-y finish. According to the tasting notes, it should have a “focused peach” smell. Several other people smelled them, and one pulled out a book that said this wine is characteristically “peachy”, but I didn’t get it. This is priced around RMB200.

Anta A10 Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot 2004: This had complex fruit flavors, including plums, with a certain milkiness and later toastiness. The smell later became more straightforward, with lots of black fruit, and was a bit cloying. Intense but controlled fruit in the mouth. Can’t recall the exact price, but it is under RMB200.

Oriol Rosell Brut Nature Macabeo Cava: This sparkling wine had light fruit, floral, and fresh pine-citrus aromas, with some toastiness as well. The bubbles are fine and the body has a nice fruity juiciness, some citrus zing, and a good finish. This one retails for about RMB170.

Almocaden Pedro Ximinez Sherry (bottled in 1973): Made from dried grapes, this came out Espresso black with a gold tint at the rim. Lots of raisin up front, then spiced cooked apple, and later on hints of dry grass. This one had a lovely viscosity, with brown sugar, a hint of maple syrup and – as several people noted – some chocolate flavor, and I later picked up caramel and honey, though I found this one a bit sticky at the end. It paired well with the blue cheese  And the interesting thing is that this sherry is made from white grapes.

And last but not least, we tried a Tempranillo made by Karen, co-owner of Vineyard Wine Experience, which allows customers to make their own wine (with dozens of choices of grape juices available), design their own labels, and cork their own wines. It smelled light, with some slightly syrupy red fruit, and a touch of oak (she used chips in this case). The body had lots of fruit up front, a decent body, and a bit of a burn at the end. A noble effort…

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