Tasting your way around the world

By  Mark Stefan RECENTLY, my wife (and tasting partner) and I attended the Felipe Motta  XV Gran Feria de Vinos at the Hotel Riu. With 60 vendors representing eight countries.

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The fair is Panama’s biggest wine tasting and has also grown to be a much loved social occasion.

This year, we largely concentrated on wines from Spain, although we also  found some gems from elsewhere Several of the wines are rather high priced but will serve well for a special occasion.

All of the wines are available from Felipe Motta.

The highlights for us were:
Argentina

2013 Lararde Viognier, $12.00

Very nice new vintage of this clean, crisp and flavorful wine.  Give it a bit of air and the complex flavors come out.  Quite different than a European version of the same grape. Good value. BEST BUY

2013 Susana Balbo BenMarco Expresivo, $30.00

An interesting blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tannat, Petit Verdot & Bonarda.  Rich, full bodied with a nose of chocolate, earth, berries and oak.  Similar flavors in the mouth. Highly Recommended

2012 Susana Balbo Brioso, $34.00

Still young.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc & Petit Verdot. Polished wine with complex flavors from so many grapes.

Australia
2011 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz, $79.00

Dark and deep violet color, blackberry aromatics, medium to full bodied, ripe and medium tannins.  Lots of life left.

Greece
2013 Gai’a Notios, $9.95

Blend of Agriogitko & Syrah. Dark purple, vibrant fruit.  No oak but very fresh and drinkable.  Best Buy

2013 Gai’a 14-18H Rose $10.25

100% Agriogitko.  Really lovely, dry rose.  Crisp with flavors of strawberry, herbs, minerals and currents.  Best Buy.

2013 Gai’a Thalassitis White, $18.50

100% Assyrtiko. Crisp, earthy and tart with a lovely balance of fruit.  From the island of Santorini. Highly Recommended

2007 Gai’a Estate $29.95

100% Agriogitko.  Rich, earthy with good tannins.  Spicy with hints of berries and black fruits. Highly Recommended

Spain
2013 Bodegas Arzuaga Navarro, La Planta, $12.50

100% Tempranillo.  Nice balance of tannins and fruit.  Complex flavors.  Best Buy

  1. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondina.

This winery was a real revelation.  Although not cheap, they offer an excellent “bang for the buck”, even at this price point.  Although the wines are older, these are the current releases. The way they used to make wine so it tastes like it “came from somewhere” other than a stainless steel tank.

2003 Vina Tondonia Reserva $45.00

Blend of Trempanillo, Garnacha, Graciano y Mazuelo. Brick red around the rim. Complex and perfumed nose with earth, flowers, ripe plums, a hint of dried fruit, woodsmoke, roasted herbs, cloves. Very pretty with lots of depth. On the palate, fruit, powerful tannins and lots of acidity but perfectly harmonious. Highly Recommended

2000 Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco, $45.00
Blend of Viura and Malvasia. Absolutely staggering for a 15 year old white wine.  Slight caramel oxidation but also surprisingly fresh; palate is medium bodied, rounded oily rich flavor while also having surprisingly vibrant acidity.  If you like something unusual, this will amaze you.  Highly Recommended

The contributor has over 25 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively through the wine producing regions of the world. 

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