Madrid is one of the most sophisticated regions in Spain in terms of gastronomy and art, so you can imagine it must be the center of wine as well. Yet why is it that we seldom hear of the Vinos de Madrid D.O? Apparently, The D.O. of Madrid has been producing wines since the 13th century yet only now is reclaiming its former fame as Spain’s Minister of Agriculture only recognized it as a protected D.O. in the 1990s.
Today several lucky journalists were invited to Vinos de Madrid at a tasting at the Astor Center in NYC. You might find it interesting to know that Madrid is the only world capital that lends its name to a wine growing region, and that the vineyards are located one hour outside Spain’s cosmopolitan capital. Today, there are 45 wine producers in the three sub zones of the D.O. covering more than 10,000 hectares devoted to vineyards.
Giving a lecture and guiding the tasting was Michael Apstein, a wine reviewer and columnist for Wine Review online. The wines were the varietals one typically sees in Spain, except a white newcomer called Malvar, which I found refreshing and high in acidity. My favorite wine of the tasting, however, was Bodegas Licinia, Licinia 2007. A blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo, it was aromatic, full-bodied, and delicious, with well-integrated tannins, acids, and fruit that included black current and licorice. Other producers included Vinos Jeromín, Bodegas Licinia, Bodegas Nueva Valverde, Bodegas Orusco, Bodegas Señorío de Val Azul.
Perhaps the most salient takeaway point from today’s lecture was that Madrid’s hot climate produces grapes with high potential alcohol, and indeed, many of the wines had alcohol exceeding 14%. Yet despite of this, the wines were quite balanced, with alcohol, acid, and tannin all very well integrated. They are great food wines, and quite a value. Though the Bodegas Licinia mentioned above was the most expensive (the Euro varies, but perhaps $50 today) the other wines seemed to be in the $15 – $20 range, rendering them an everyday value.
Expect to see wines from Madrid in your wine store soon, and when you do, try one – you will like the quality and gentle price.