Thursday, April 11, 2013

Washington Graciano v. Navarra

This challenge began when I met Javier Alfonso at Taste WA.  He is the wine maker (and Janitor) at Pomum Cellars.  Idilico is his second label. Don't let that lead you to believe the Idilico wines are second rate.  Far from it. These wines are well put together and uniquely focused on Spanish varietals grown and raised in Washington.

Javier was pouring the Idilico Graciano from under the table at Taste WA.  He challenged me to find a 100% single varietal Spanish Graciano.  I took him up on the challenge and found the Zorzal conveniently resting in my cellar.  Game on!

The timing was perfect with the Vuelta Cicliste al Pais Vasco happening this past week in Northern Spain.  This is a unique race through the Basque country in Spain.  One of the unique features is the  stylish hat awarded to the stage winners as a prize.

Navarra v Washington in a battle of Grande Graciano Grapplers.

2007 Zorzal Graciano v. 2010 Idilico Graciano

2010 Idilico Graciano

100% Graciano from the Upland vineyard in the Snipes Mountain AVA

Aged for 15 months in French Oak Barrels.

Provided as a sample by the winery.

2007 Zorzal Graciano (Link is for the 2010)

100% Graciano from the Navarra DO in Northern Spain

Aged for 4 months in French Oak Barrels.

Purchased from Garagiste for $9.99.

Round 1. First opening

Idilico is like a bull in a china shop. Wrecking the place with a nose of deep dark fruit, black cherry, currant, earthy tobacco and light brambly menthol spices.  The palate is equally dark and seductive with black cherry, coffee and smoky clove spices that linger on to a cedar tinged spicy finish.

The Zorzal is looking slightly dazed.  The powerful Luchador from Washington has taken the Spaniard by surprise.  The nose is showing funky earth, forest floor, leather and lavender floral aromas.  The palate is tart with sour red berries, light lavender and tart spices finishing with notes of dried flowers.

Idilico takes the first round with a stunning display of power.

Round 2. One hour after opening

Idilico continues the rampage with a nose of earthy currants, smoky sandalwood and brambly spices.  The palate shows black cherry, coffee bean, clove and menthol spices.  The finish tops things off with tart cocoa and coffee bean spices.

Zorzal is changing things up with some Kung Fu action the nose is showing tart cranberry, light smoky spice and funky peat bog.  The palate shows tart cranberry, cedar and leather with a finish that is dry, tart and lightly floral.

Idilico takes round 2 as the Zorzal's streak of acidity looks longingly for a food partner to tag into the ring.

Round 3. One day after opening

Idilico is large and in charge flashing some furious style from the top rope.  This Luchador is showing stamina that is raising some suspicion over possible performance enhancing training techniques.  Javier has assured me that Idilico is performing on pure Washington State terroir.  The rumors of blood doping have no substance.

Idilico certainly has substance.  The nose is full of dark fruit, cocoa, light floral notes and some menthol spices.  The palate is equally pumped up with black cherry, coffee and toffee spices leading to a complex finish of cedar, coffee bean, tart cocoa and light earthy spices.

Zorzal hasn't thrown in the towel yet.  The nose is fresh with bright cherries, leather, forest floor and tart cedar.  The palate shows ripe cherry, tart coffee bean and light spices with a tart cedar sweet tobacco leaf finish.

Idilico takes the third round for a clean sweep.

Wrap up and overall observations.

These two 100% Gracianos were a study in contrasting styles.  Idilico brought the power with rich, spicy character.  Zorzal was subdued with herbal notes and a more prominent streak of acidity screaming out to be paired with food.

Both of these wine were very good.  I preferred the Idilico over the Zorzal.  In the end, Idilico showed that there is truth in the phrase "When you mess with the bull sometimes you get the horns!"

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