Gran Feria de Vinos Report

On October 16, my wife Jackie and I attended Felipe Motta’s 14th annual Gran Feria de Vinos in Panama City.  With 7 countries and over 60 wineries represented, it was a good cross section of wines to taste.  This 2 day affair was heavily attended, with an ample contingent from the beach area.  My personal strategy is to arrive as the doors open, thus avoiding much of the crowd. We tasted nearly 75 wines that evening.  When tasting that many wines and trying to remain objective, your humble reporter always behaves professionally and spits each taste. I can report we were the only ones doing so! Not all the wines are currently available in Coronado, but I have been assured they can be ordered in any quantity. On to the highlights:

Sparkling wine.  There wasn’t a large offering of bubbles, but the best were from Chandon.  In addition to their facilities in France and California, Chandon also produces very nice sparkling wine in Argentina.

Chandon Rosado, $18.75, 13% alc. Argentina

A non-vintage, this rose’ sparkler is a blend of Chardonnay and Malbec.  Dry, with good fruit flavors.

Chandon Delice, $18.75, 13% alc. Argentina

There is a trend to produce a sparkling wine for the younger “cocktail” generation.  A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Semillon and Petit Manseng.  Served with an ice cube and fruit or herbs.  Interesting style and marketing.

Chandon Brut Nature, $19.40, 13% alc. Argentina

This non-vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir shows full flavors with some intensity.  A very nice alternative to more expensive French Champagne.  Highly Recommended

Dry Whites.  In Panama, white wines are considered “ladies” wines.  I’m not sure why.  I’ll leave that to the social scientists.

2013 Crios Torrontes, $8.75, 13% alc. Argentina

Always a favorite. With a dry, medium body and hints of citrus, peach and honey.  Best Buy

2012 Lagarde Viognier, $12.65, 14% alc. Argentina

Dry with a minerality uncommon for a Viognier.  As it warmed, it became richer and more complex.  My wife ordered a case, which should tell you something. Best Buy, Highly Recommended

2013 Terrazas Reserva Chardonnay, $17.85, 14% alc.  Argentina

Rich with a hint of oak. Nicely balanced.  Good with food.

2013 Hanna Sauvignon Blanc, $20.00, 13.2% alc. California, USA

100% Sauvignon Blanc, with a hint of oak.  Good balance of pineapple, herbs and grass.  Very refreshing.

2013 Pazo Baion Albarino, $26.25, 13% alc. Spain

Full flavored example of the new style of Albarino.  Dry, intense and complex.  Citrus and floral notes.

Red Wine The reds were the highlight of the tasting.  There was quite a selection at every price from under $10 to nearly $100.

2012 BenMarco Expresivo, $30.75 14.5% alc. Argentina

50% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah, 10% Tannat, 10% Petit Verdot.  Unique blend of grapes and quite a mix of flavors.  Cherries, chocolate, earth, oak.  Well balanced and complex. Needs a bit more ageing.  Highly Recommended

2012 Susana Balbo Brioso, $33.25, 14% alc. Argentina

45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc, 10% Petit Verdot.  Another interesting blend with complex flavors.  Nutmeg, cinnamon, herbs, dark fruits.  Excellent wine drinking very well now but age worthy.

2012 Terrazas Reserva Malbec, $19.40, 14.5% alc. Argentina

100% Malbec in a nice style.  Not too tannic, showing complexity of raspberries, chocolate and oak.

2012 La Plata Tempranillo, $15.40, 14.5% alc. Spain

Very drinkable, with a good balance of fruit, tannin and a bit of oak.

2010 Arzuaga Crianza, $29.40, 14.5% alc. Spain

Elegant, balanced and complex.  Very long finish.  Highly Recommended

2009 Arzuaga Reserva, $57.00, 14.5% alc. Spain

95% Tempranillo, 3 % Merlot, 2% Albillo.  Really elegant and complex.  Beautifully balanced.  Many flavors of earth, herbs, flowers and fruit.

2007 Remirez de Granuza Reserva, $83.45, 14.5% alc. Spain

90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Viura y Malvasia.  What a wine!  Rich, extremely complex, still young and closed.  Intense flavors of dark fruit, earth spices, oak.  One of the best from Spain. Highly Recommended

2008 Ramirez de Ganuza Transocho, $109.50 14.5% alc. Spain

Unfortunately this bottle was just opened and it was obvious. Very closed and reticent.  Complex nose needing a lot of breathing to emerge.  Deeply aromatic with a creamy intensity of candied fruit, plums, blackberries, pepper and cloves. Excellent structure with fine tannins.  I wish I had an hour to experience this wine evolve in the glass. Highly Recommended

M. Stefan has over 20 years experience in the wine trade and has traveled extensively throughout the wine producing regions of the world.  His column is a regular feature of La Playa Community.  He can be reached at and appreciates your comments.