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Lagar de Cervera Albarino Rias Baixas 2008

Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain
  • ST90
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Winemaker Notes

The 2008 Lagar de Cervera shows the beautiful mineral elegance that is typical of this vintage. A cooler growing season gave many Rias Baixas wines beautiful acidity with underlying mineral power. Given the typical ripeness of fruit that Cervera usually achieves, the balance of vintage qualities and the winemaking practices create a harmonious, eminently drinkable Albarino.

Critical Acclaim

ST 90
International Wine Cellar

Bright yellow. Fresh apple, pear and fig on the nose, with a spicy undercurrent of fresh ginger. Racy but also nicely filled in, offering spicy orchard fruit flavors and a bracing citric quality. Finishes clean and focused, leaving behind sappy pear and orange notes. Manages to be both powerful and lithe; this will work very well at the table.

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Lagar de Cervera

Lagar de Cervera

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Lagar de Cervera, , Spain
Lagar de Cervera
The winery was purchased by La Rioja Alta in 1988 and is now state-of-the-art in terms of equipment. The estate's vineyards are in the southern section of the Rias Baixas where warmer conditions mean early ripening and good levels. It is hilly country with poor soils giving low yields of high quality grapes. The bodega's 42 hectares constitute the largest holding in this appellation and contribute 80% of the grapes used in production. Lagar means "press" and an ancient wooden press graces the label.

South Africa

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An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance...

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An underappreciated wine-producing country currently undergoing a renaissance, South Africa has a surprisingly long and rich history considering its status as part of the “New World” of wine. In the mid-17th century, the lusciously sweet dessert wines of Constantia were highly prized by the European aristocracy. Since then, the South African wine industry has experienced some setbacks due to the phylloxera infestation of the late 1800s and political difficulties throughout the following century. Today, however, it is increasingly responsible for high-quality wines that are helping to put the country back on the international wine map. Wine production is mainly situated around Cape Town, where the climate is generally warm to hot, but the Benguela current from Antarctica provides the brisk ocean breezes necessary for steady ripening. Similarly, cooler high-elevation vineyard sites offer climatic diversity.

South Africa’s wine regions are divided into region, then smaller districts, and finally wards, but the country’s wine styles are differentiated more by grape variety than by region. Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, is the country’s “signature” grape, responsible for earthy, gamey reds. When Pinotage is blended with other red varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Pinot Noir (all commonly vinified alone as well), it is often labeled as a “Cape Blend.” Chenin Blanc (locally known as “Steen”) dominates white wine production, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc following behind.

Pinotage

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A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety...

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A distinctively earthy, rustic, and divisive variety, Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape. A cross between finicky Pinot Noir and productive, heat-tolerant Cinsault, it was created in 1925 and surprised its inventors by being darker and more tannic than either of its parents. Pinotage at first seemed nearly impossible to tame, with its bold profile and wild flavors. While the grape has always had detractors, advances in viticultural and winemaking techniques have since helped to make Pinotage wines more palatable. Today it is a popular South African export both as a single varietal wine and in so-called “Cape blends,” in which Pinotage forms a significant proportion of a blend with other red varieties. It is grown very minimally outside of South Africa.

In the Glass

There is no mistaking the smell of Pinotage—common descriptors include tobacco, smoke, tar, bacon, licorice, hoisin sauce, and burnt rubber, in addition to more run-of-the-mill fruit like plum and blackberry. The flavors are bold, and tannins are firm but sweet—in fact, many Pinotage wines bear more resemblance to Australian Shiraz than to Pinot Noir.

Perfect Pairings

For a wine this powerful, food should be equally bold, and gets bonus points for mirroring Pinotage’s sweet and sour flavors. Classic smoky South African braai (barbecue) is the most obvious match, while grilled curry sausage, lamb biryani, or richly spiced beef stew would be equally welcome at the table.

Sommelier Secret

The name “Pinotage” is a subtle portmanteau: The Pinot part is obvious, but the second half is a bit confusing. In the early 1900s, Cinsault was known in South Africa as “Hermitage”—hence Pinotage. The somewhat less appealing “Herminoir” was also considered.

SKRSLC017_2008 Item# 100867

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