Jose Pastor, a relocated to California Valencian madman, has developed an astounding and brave portfolio over the past year. In California, Jose Pastor Selectionsis distributed by Farm Imports, (the power team of Jeff Vierra and Keven Clancy) who also distribute the LDM wines. You can see, the bar is high, and Jose's portfolio fits in like a perfect dovetail joint.
When I arrived, the event was in full eswing. The place was packed with happy tasters. Few knew that Jose, Jeff and Keven had just barely, but eskillfully, averted a collective nervous breakdown. Imagine, coming into a place where you're expecting 200+ people to taste-but the venue (Bar Agricole) is a construction zone. The dream team did some fancy two-stepping, rented some umbrellas, aired the soccer game. eSpain won and so did the wines. Jose, who I must disclose is my friend, has assembled a collection of growers who have the power to open the door on freshness and excitement for eSpanish wines. I mean, think of it, ...an importer who has the balls to aim for wines that are terroir driven, uninoculated, no added biting acid and no forced deacidification. Acid freaks unite and celebrate. Not only that, a sense of place? From Spain, no less! From the country that had fallen for the points and the power like the last slate of domino? But, instead, Jose has shown that there is another Spain, a Spain that could have been forgotten and lost and still exists.
Over the past year Jose has weeded some out of his portfolio and has added some forces of natural nature. If his people do well, the message will be delivered to the others who would rather not pump their wines into hormonal submission--that they don't have to. The wines are fantastic. Spain lives.
While talking about one's friends wines can be difficult and suspect,you have to understand that I have become close with people like Joe Dressner, Jenny Lefcourt, Becky Wasserman, Hank Beckmeyer and Jose because of a strong connection in mission and palate and bits of chemistry that knit people together. After all of this time, you have to either trust me to be true to my palate or not. I made my choice, now you have to decide if I'm full of shit or not. And so with that full disclosure, let me tell you how I feel about my favorite wines.
Ah, albarino! Remember when it used to be terrific? It still can be.
BENITOS SANTOS (DO/Rias Baixas) You might remember that I visited Todd Blomberg, the American vigneron who makes three single vineyard wines, in Galicia last February, the wines sing here just as much as there.
2008 Albarino Sair: lemon, acid, profound nose, wool and honey perfume.
2006 Albarino Pago de Bemil: round, deep, honey, acidity out of yummy control, salty.
2007 Albarino Pagp de Xoan: more acid freaky stuff with wool and lemon, a little closed but still sings.
2007 Albarno Barrica-acid sneaks up on you and wraps around the estony meyer lemon.
2005 Vendetta: You might faint at the sight of the bottle price but these Vendettas are serious business and almost like a vendetta against the crap albarinos out there as if to say, fuck you guys. This is important. Listen up. The honey suckle here is what gets me.
2006 Vendetta: I have a slight preference for the 06, seems to have more depth with a touch of hazel nut, lower aromatics yet increased layers of complexity.
2006 Pedralonga Do Umia tinto: Love alert! A rare red wine from the area, a blend of Caino/Espadeiro, makes for a wax begonia of a drink, elegant, gentle tannins, nicely knit structure and lots of baby powder florality.
*GALGUEIRA (DO Valdeorras)
08 Godella Seleccion; rich and honeydew 09 Mencia: fresh bitten plum in tar with a long finish and zing fresh acid blast.
*GUIMARO (DO, Ribeira Sacra) (Pedro is a sweetheart) '08 BGB Godello- deep into honey aromatic, and lilt on the back of palate.
*MENGOBA (DO Bierzo) Gregory Perez is one fucking talented winemaker--just buy every white he makes.These are whites to decant, think Savenierres. '
07: Mengoba Godello & Dona Blanca: some oxidation, wet wool, chenin-like with greengage plum
09 Brezo Mencia: done in stainless, this is a huge and satisfying, fresh value--with some road dust on the red plum to keep it interesting.
*PRETO (DO Tierra de Leon--also from Gregory) '07 Prieto Picudo Tinto-yum, purely delicious plum love.
THE CANARY ISLANDS Jose earns sainthood for bringing several wines from the Canary Islands to the United States wine glass. Remember these grapes: Listan Blanco (aka Palamino),Listan Nero (Mission)
*TAJINASTE (DO, Valle de La Orotava--Tenerife)
09 Blanco (Listan Blanco)--dusty, perfumed, very dry, and very fresh and enlivening.
*Los Bermjos (Lanzarote)
NV Espumoso: pretty, interesting and dry. '
'02 Evento, Listan Blanco; Honey, acid, INTENSE
'00 Autor Reserva: That's right, a properly mature blend of Lisatan Negro, Negramoll and Listan Blanco--such rustic delicacy, with acidity and a strawberry finish and of a place. Bravo.
*FRONTON DE ORO(Gran Canaria) I love these wines. All three of them.
'09 Tinto Tradicional: refined and elegant with subtle fruit and some grit. '08 Tinto Malpais. Very interesting! Lovely tannins, blueberry and some roasted jerusalem artichoke (must have been the day)
'08 Tinto Tintilla: an acid strawberry trip, with elegant dusting of cocoa.
*TIERRAS DE APONTE (Abona)
'09 Tinto: wow! wild with some earthy gasoline with white pepper and finishes with a blast of fruit. Quite the ride.
*CARBALLO (La Palma) (great story from Jose: He asked Eliseo why his wines dont have the DO for La Palma, and Eliseo said they weren't aromatic enough--in other words, wrote, Jose, they don't have added aromatic yeast. His listan nero & blanco were gorgeous)
'08 Listan Blanco--intense and nutty with a sherry melon oxidation, think the jura, Will bend your palate in a good way.
*TANAJARA (El Hierro)
'07 Tinto Vijariego: Chateauneuf meets Austrian cabernet franc
And with this I almost rest my case.
What followed for me was Pecina--the Rioja that first brought me to Jose in the first place. (The white, by the way is delicious and has nothing in common with the fruity white shit that comes out of Rioja these days) and the 2001 Rioja Vendimia Seleccionada, is deeply satisfying with a pressed spice on antique plum.
Tasting the Primitivo Quiles from Alicante--always exciting.
The Cono is young style of the Monastrell grape--silky with a chestnut honey finish.
The 2004 Raspay Tinto is chalk & chocolate, and much fresher than the 2003. Up in a few days I'll circle back to the crazy and spirited Laureano Serres and Mendall wines, as well as the sensitive wines of the El Jelepins.