The next morning I raced back to the shop and bought their entire stock. This was not as grandiose a gesture as it might sound, because they had only six bottles. As I said, it was a small shop. But it started my love affair with fine Spanish wine.
El Prado winery: a state of the art winery ensuring high quality modern wines.
The El Prado range is made by Maria Ángeles Cámara from grapes grown in Valencia province, about 100 km south of Valencia City. She has created modern-style wines that have been well-received since they were launched. These two wines are interesting, because they blend a traditional Spanish grape variety with another variety of international status.
Both these wines carry Central’s “C” sticker on the bottle. This is a guarantee that they have been shipped and stocked in a controlled temperature, ensuring they’ll be in top condition by the time they reach your table.
El Prado Macabeo-Chardonnay 2009 (white), Valencia, Spain. (Central, Bt. 499)
When Spanish wine drinkers think a wine is really superb, they often say, “Beber este vino es como hablar con Dios” - tasting this wine is like talking with God. I think this one comes pretty close. You may be unfamiliar with the Macabeo (mah-cah-BAY-oh) grape variety, but it’s widely planted in northern Spain. It’s Spain’s own quality white grape and blended here with the more famous Chardonnay.
The wine is a lovely light gold with syrupy legs inside the glass. You seem to know it’s going to smell and taste good just by looking at it. And believe me, the smell is gorgeous; an aroma of tropical fruits with peaches and pineapple up front. There are hints of herbs and an intriguing background of sensuous subtle aromas.
The wine has a superb silky mouth-feel, loads of fruit and a light and supple body. Although this is a dry refreshing wine, there’s a beguiling suggestion of sweetness and just enough acid to firm-up the body. It has a long and satisfyingly dry finish with a touch of citrus. Some wines cry out for food, others seem to want to go it alone. To my mind, this is one of the latter and it would make a terrific pre-dinner wine.
El Prado Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (red), Valencia, Spain. (Central, Bt. 499)
Tempranillo (tem-prah-NEE-yoh) is Spain’s most important red grape variety, often described as “Spain’s Noble Grape.” It’s a black thick-skinned grape that makes full-bodied wines that are rich in tannin. Coming in a Burgundy-style bottle, this wine is a rich, dark cherry-red and almost oily-looking in the glass. There’s a lovely aroma of blackcurrants and dark fruit, peppery herbs and a very subtle touch of mint and eucalyptus. The wine is medium-bodied, has a silky mouth-feel and is supported by very solid tannins. It’s a very dry wine and has a soft earthy, lingering finish. At just over 13% alcohol this is quite an assertive wine on the palate and in style, it rather reminds me of a Shiraz.
Open the bottle and stick it in the fridge for about 45 minutes, because this allows the aroma and taste to develop. You could even tip the whole lot into a decanter, so that it really gets some air. Then you’ll find that the fruity aroma opens up beautifully, the tannins soften and the mouth-feel is smoother. With the air contact, the wine becomes beguilingly fruity and yet has enough character to match rich and spicy dishes.
By the way, the blend contains 70% Tempranillo. I’ll leave you to work out the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon for yourself. Yes, I know it’s a bit tricky, but you know, life is full of challenges.