Last Saturday was the Italy vs Spain Wine Shootout. The event consisted of blindly tasting wines from these two different countries and is lead by the very knowledgable Groovy Grapes sommelier, Geoffrey Skeggs. We basically compared and contrasted the wines without knowing which was from which country. After revealing the origins, the goal was to name one of the countries champion. Taking place in Urban Element’s beautiful space, the industrial yet inviting setting was a great backdrop for this sensuous experience.
First up was bubblies. Commonly (and wrongly) referred to as Champagne, the correct annotation for this type of wine is dependent on the region in which it hails from. Just like we don’t call all red wines ‘bordeaux’, we can’t call all bubblies ‘champagne’. Therefore, as Italy and Spain were the countries in play, we tasted a Prosecco and a Cava.
VINTAGES 209569 | $17.95 | Veneto, Italy
Lovely floral notes, with candied white fruit, perfume and popcorn. Dry, medium bodied, with good mousse, a creamy texture, zesty acidity, and a nice, long, fruity finish.
VINTAGES 221796 | $19.95 | Spain
Pale gold bubbles that give way to a lively and complex wine with flavors evoking the fruit and olive trees that dot Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
The second wines we tasted were the white wines. We were provided a plate of cheese for tasting with the rest of the wines. I found the white wines went particularly well with the creamy Bleu d’Élizabeth blue cheese. Also on our cheese plate was the Tomme du haut Richelieu goat cheese and the Glengarry Lancaster.
VINTAGES 222638 | $14.95 | Calabria, Italy
Buoyant aromas of pineapple, honey, pear and lemon on the nose. The palate is crisp, dry and medium bodied with a nice bracing seam of acidity. Ripe apple and pear with a touch of citrus on the mid-palate leading to a dry, creamy finish.
VINTAGES 211045 | $18.95 | Rueda, Spain
Light gold-colored, it gives up an impressive perfume of baking spices, floral notes, and pit fruits. On the palate it has surprising richness (from the lees aging and the exceptional vintage conditions), terrific concentration, and a lengthy finish.
With the third round, we started on the reds. All very rich, I found that the reds didn’t go as well with the cheeses. I learned that acidic wines tend to go better with cheeses because they help cut the creaminess. I also learned that wines tend to go well with food from the region which it comes from. Therefore, the tuscan wine would go well with tomatoes as acidic wines go well with acidic foods.
VINTAGES 930966 | $21.95 | Tuscany, Italy
Lovely clean black cherry, licorice, cedar and cassis aromas. The flavours show off cedar, black cherry and seductive black currants. Tons of fruit and finesse for the pricepoint.
VINTAGES 208207 | $21.95 | Rioja, Spain
The purple-colored 2004 Lar de Paula Reserva is 100% Tempranillo with a classic bouquet of cedar, mineral, earth notes, black cherry, and blackberry. Medium-bodied, it is dense and layered on the palate. Black fruit and spice notes are buttressed by moderate ripe tannin leading to a pure, fruit-filled finish.
VINTAGES 224188 | $17.95 | Veneto, Italy
The wine offers handsomely focused red berry, cherry and cinnamon spice aromas. Fruity, spicy, crisp and round on the palate with gentle tannins and a medium-long, berry-rich finish.
VINTAGES 216291 | $22.95 | Priorat, Spain
Bright ruby. Very sexy, perfumed aromas of redcurrant, raspberry, minerals and flowers; there’s a wild, aromatic character here. Quite fresh and juicy in the mouth, with good energy to the red berry, cherry and candied floral flavors. Perfumed and energetic, with silky tannins adding shape to a long, sappy finish.
In the end, no clear winner was declared as we found that taste is a very personal thing. However, I did find the reds from Spain and the whites from Italy to be better stand alone wines, while the white from spain and the reds from italy went better with the cheeses.
Looking host a wine tasting for business or pleasure? Contact us for some great ideas or try the ideas above see for yourself.
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