Peter Morrell enjoys tasting different interpretations of the same grape varieties from two of Spain’s most respected winemakers
In the same way that two artists would use their oils to create totally different paintings so winemakers can use the same grape variety to produce totally different wines. I recently went along to Camino Restaurant on London’s Bankside to do a comparative tasting of three grape varieties made by two Spanish wine producers, Beronia and Finca Constancia. They were represented respectively by winemakers Matias Calleja and Beatriz Paniagua who both presented the wines that they had made.
The format of the evening would be to taste the two wines from each producer who had used the same grape. The wines had been matched with food from Camino’s menu.
We started with a grape called Verdejo, sometimes called Spain’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. We started with the Beronia Rueda, this offered bright herbal notes on the nose which evolved into a pleasantly astringent lime flavour on the palate and had good mouth feel, the finish was long and fruity. The comparative wine from Finca Constancia was their Parcela 52 Verdejo, this wine was slightly more muted but exceptionally smooth on the palate and had a satisfying finish.
The food match with these two wines was baby aubergines stuffed with peppers, onions and coriander and the wines provided a cooling effect for this spicy dish.
Next up was a comparison of two wines made with the Graciano grape, this variety is used to give structure to Rioja. The first from Beronia was their 2011 version. This had earthy tones with lots of spice on the palate and the well balanced tannins gave it a good finish. The wine from Finca Constancia was stunning with red stone fruit and violets in the bouquet which developed into a smooth, velvety palate and a very long finish.
Both of these wines were an ideal match for the suckling pig Segovian style, slow roasted with white win, onions, garlic and herbs and served with roast Padron peppers. This rich dish needed a strong, savoury wine as a counter-point.
The third grape variety is the backbone of Rioja, Tempranillo. First we had the Beronia EE, this had raspberry and blackberry tones on the nose which persisted and was joined by vanilla and oaky flavours in the mouth, it had a good, well rounded finish. The Parcela 23 from Finca Constancia was more inclined towards cherry and currant aromas which were joined by vanilla and hints of liquorice on the palate, the tannins left a smooth, silky finish.
These wines were accompanied by rare lamb rump with pardina lentils, bacon and bay leaves, a delicious dish. Again this flavourful dish was matched by the intensity of the wine.
The final two wines were both blends. The first, the Beronia Reserva was deep and mysterious with plummy and chocolate notes in the bouquet followed by black cherry on the palate and a lingering finish. The Selection Blend from Finca Constancia had intense berry aromas on the nose which evolved into oak, leather and spice tones in the mouth and finished with persistent fruit.
These wines were ably supported by a selection of Spanish cheeses, a Payoyo (goat), an Idiazabal (sheep) and a Manchego (sheep). The cheese and red wine combination always works well and this was no exception.
This had been a very interesting evening which showed the skills of each winemaker and how the vinification process changes the end result. Both of the producers are part of the Gonzalez Byass family so they collaborate rather than compete to create these superior wines.
For me this was also an introduction to Camino who have four branches in London. The event provided an excellent showcase for the quality and authenticity of their Spanish food.