Iberian Wines: Deliciously Different
By Cynthia Bournellis
My love affair with Iberian wines began two years ago—not in Portugal or Spain, but here in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and I’ve been pouring them ever since. The flavors and aromas of Iberian wines are distinctly different from those of say French wines. Bold, juicy fruit; earth; spice; and floral give these wines their luscious edge. They are like hedonists in their ability to pleasure most palates and pair with virtually any cuisine—from basic meat and potatoes to Spanish, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, even Indian.
I am fortunate to live in a state that is increasingly growing grapes indigenous to Spain and Portugal. California is not the Rioja, La Mancha or Ribera del Duero regions of Spain or the Douro Valley in Portugal. Therefore, a Tempranillo, for instance, grown in a mix of the calcareous rock, broken shale and clay terrior of the Lockwood area in the San Antonio Valley AVA—the southern-most tip of Monterey County—will not resemble that grown on the slopes of Rioja. Even Tempranillo-based reds from the Iberian Peninsula vary.