Gonzalez Byass is one of the UK´s premier wine distributors with an impressive and ever expanding portfolio consisting of quality wine brands. Famously known for Sherry, in particular Tio Pepe, the family feature five generations of Gonzalez´s dating back to 1835.
I was kindly invited along to their annual Portfolio tasting at the impressive OXO2 tower on the Southbank in London. With my love of Spanish wines in particular I was really looking forward to this and what I found was they are not all about Spanish wines with some famous well known brands from all over the world featuring.
Read on for my highlights, in which there were many, on what turned out to be a very enjoyable and informative afternoon tasting stunning wines and talking to many amiable winemakers. So as they say, in no particular order, here are my picks…….
The winery is based in Otero near Toledo, making very fruit forward wines from single plot Varietals. All reasonably priced at between £11- £19. The one white the Parcela 52 Verdejo 2018 had lovely tropical fruits in abundance, bright acidity and a lovely long finish, the reds were all excellent with the stand outs being the Parcela 23 Tempranillo 2018, the Parcela 12 Graciano and the ‘Entre Lunas Organic Moon’ Tempranillo 2017. All showing tremendously fruit forward wines with character.
Viñas Del Vero
From the up and coming region of Somontano, at the foothills of the Pyrenees in north eastern Spain. using both Spanish and international grape varieties. The two whites on show were both very good, the ‘Rincones’ Chardonnay/Macabeo 2018 with a hint of sweetness amongst the array of tropical fruit. The Coleccion Gewurztraminer 2018 which was a joy and the pink, bright, summery Coleccion Pinot Noir Rosado 2018 would be on my list when the sun comes out. Again all reasonbly priced between £9.50 – £13.50
Txomin Etxaniz & Pazos De Lusco & Secastilla
The unpronounceable, Txomin Etxaniz Blanco 2019, Txacoli (pronounced Chocoli) found in the heart of the Basque country in the north of Spain was a unique highly acidic dry white wine, full of lemon and limes and with a slight fizz and relatively low alcohol. Different and refreshing with a price of around £15 a bottle.
Pazo De Lusco, from Rias Baixas, northern Spain with their Lusco Albariño 2018 and the richer and more intense Pazo Piñeiro Albariño 2016 were both stars in their own rights and at £15 & £19 respectively.
From the Secastilla valley again in the foothills of the Pyrenees comes this wonderfully intense La Miranda de Secastilla Garnacha Blanca 2017 again with a value for money price of £13.
From Arcos de la Frontera in Andalucia these were extremely well made red wines of intensity. The ‘Finca Moncloa Cabernet Syrah 2015’ is muscular at 14.5% abv but has an elegance about it, rich and dark. The ‘Finca Moncloa Barricas 2014’ is an opulent drink full of dark fruit, hints of chocolate and spice. All fairly tannic although not distracting from what are beautiful wines. £16.50 & £28.50
Probably some the best wines on show, these were beautifully made and distinctive. The whites including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were both excellent but it was his reds that really stood out. The Groenekloof Syrah 2016 had lots of ripe red fruit with peppery spice and at £15 worth every penny. On to his Piekenierskloof Grenache 2014 which was surprisingly light in colour but not in taste, again ripe red fruits, earthy, smokey and fairly tannic, at £28 pricey but it’s good . Bottelary Pinotage 2016, Pinotage is always a bit hit or miss but this was most definitively a hit, cherries, plums, dark chocolate, smoke, no burnt rubber here ! ok it’s £28 again but worth it. The last two were Cabernet’s Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 & the Jonkershoek Cabernet 2015 The Stellenbosch was one of the nicest Cab’s I’ve tasted in a while at at £18.50 a bargain and the Jonkershoek at £32 was superb.
Other Gonzalez Byass highlights…..
I could go on and on about the superb wines on display here but to finish here are a few more worthy of note….
Vilarnau , from the heartland of Penedès had a big stand featuring really good and best of all affordable Cava’s, with their distinctive bottles ranging in price from £6 up to £35 for their impressive Barrel Fermented 2011 my favourite being the Gran Reserva 2012 with its lovely toasty, nutty flavour at £22.
Gonzalez Byass with its reputation for producing high class sherries had an impressive stand with around 20 or so Sherries and Vermouths to sample. All reasonably priced ranging from £10 – £20. Tio Pepe probably being the most well known but I have to give a mention to their New Domecq Manzanilla £11.
Jackson Estate especially their Pinot Noirs, the Homestead 2018, Widow 2016 and Gum Emperor 2011 with the Widow being the stand out at £21.
Lastly just a quick mention to Katie Jones (Domaine Jones) for a Grenache from the Languedoc the strangely named Along came Jones ‘Hairy leaf Grenache 2018 which was fresh with bright fruit, top heavy 14% abv but didn’t come across as so, this was surprisingly light and flavoursome. £18.
Unfortunately not all the wines were readily available on the high street but if you can source them from independents etc. all of them without exception were worth trying.
Thanks to Gonzalez Byass for an extremely well organised tasting with a host of very good wines.