Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Spanish Quarter - Chardonnay, Albarino and the Human Tower

Mary and I had the opportunity to visit friends out in West Islip Long Island this past Sunday. The day was one of only a few sunny warm days in the past month. June in New York has been wet and soggy almost every day. To celebrate the occasion, we brought a bottle of The Spanish Quarter, 2006, an exciting blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Albarino (40%) grapes. Upon arriving at the Tully's very comfortable and inviting home, Rich Tully asked my preference for serving the wine. Since we had also brought Mary's home-made clam dip I decided that The Spanish Quarter would go perfectly with the seafood. Rich served it enthusiastically out on the deck with the dip for all the guests to enjoy. At first sip Marina Trentacoste uttered "This is very good." I knew immediately we had a winner.

The wine was an interesting straw color, very vibrant and inviting. The nose had hints of citrus, with upfront fruit in the modern manner, and an overlay of peach, and possibly apricot and apple; very aromatic. It was crisp and refreshing. The finish was long and enjoyable, no bitterness but with a sharpness that lingered. The blend of Chardonnay muted some of the Albarino's traditional cutting quality. The bottle was finished in a flash. It was superb with the clams. I'm sure it would go with all seafood dishes. We had not experienced a blend of Chardonnay and Albarino. The Albarino grape is one of the most popular white wines in Spain. According to Gail Wallis of Suite 101:

"The albarino grape originates in Galicia, misty land of the ancient Celts. Located in the lushly green and hilly northwest corner of Spain, Galicia is a land heavily reliant on the fishing industry. The climate here is greatly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, with wet and chilly winters, dry summers, and high humidity—perfect conditions for growing certain white grape varieties, such as Albarino. The grape also grows a bit farther south, in Portugal, where it is known as "alvarinho."

One of the added pluses to the enjoyment of the wine was the label. Mary explained to our friends that it is a hand painted rendition of an ancient Spanish tradition, the building of human pyramids. This takes place each year at the The Fiesta de La Virgen de La Salud (The Feast of the Virgin of Health) at the beginning of September in the town of Algemesi. Acrobats from all over Spain descend on the town and create human towers. The tradition started in late 18th century Catalonia and spread south. My wife tells me a part of this tradition was to have a small child be the very top of the pyramid. I could certainly see a nice bottle of The Spanish Quarter being enjoyed at such a spectacle. You can read about the pyramids in Graham Smith's article. I took the photo I posted here from that piece. It's truly amazing.

The Spanish Quarter also comes in a red variety which is a blend of Cabernet and Tempranillo.

Our visit to the Tully's reached it's crecendo with Idamarie's luscious pork dinner served with carrots, squash and other delicious morsels. Dinner was topped off with some amazing desserts compliments of our friends Sal and Marina Trentacoste and Kathy and Bill Carriero. It was an enjoyable day, with good friends and fine wine and food.

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