Sunday was a day that reminds us all why we live in Florida. The slight breeze and bountiful sunshine motivated me to endure a very lengthy drive to Tarpon Springs where the large wine retailer B-21 hosted a seminar on Spanish wines.
I had never been to B-21 (queue appalled gasps from my fellow wine enthusiasts), but as I navigated the congested rows of bottles ranging from the coveted to jug varieties - and seemingly everything in between - I understood why I’d heard so much about this place.
From the outside it appears like any dated spirits store, and well, from the inside, the decor harkens its 50’s heyday as well. But like any terribly framed work of art, this place holds some real gems of inspiration. The Bordeauxs and Burgundys were placed pleasingly across from one another allowing the “French fancier” the opportunity to ponder what I saw as an extensive and accessible collection. I was also quite impressed at the California showing. While it was a bunch of “The Names,” there were also wines I’d not seen elsewhere in the area. Such was also the case with the New World inventory - impressive and a true expression of some of the finest wines, specifically Argentine, I’ve encountered, without physically being in its place of origin (stay tuned).
The owner ushered us to B-21’s new pressure-sealed, temperature-controlled storage facility – the chilly capsule where our hour-long seminar was conducted. “The wines of Rioja” (or rather six wines of Rioja) seminar sped along to allow face time with the reputable key presenter, Eric Solomon, pretty much the golden boy of wine imports.
But he wasn’t giving this seminar, so back to these wines. They were yummy. Seriously, they were pretty delicious, some more than others but it was evident these were the favorites for our presenter, all from the Jorge Ordonez collection. The first two were entry level tempranillos (or Tinto Fino, as sometimes referred to in Rioja). Low in acidity, this grape has typically been used for blending, but on its own, the variety presented aromas of dried herbs, cedar and berries and, in more pronounced forms, tar and earthiness.
The shining stars for me were both majority tempranillo, blended with garnacha. I particularly favored the 2004 Remirez de Ganuza. I find this wine a balanced and gorgeous example of Rioja, one that I ‘ve often attempted to showcase to my restaurant guests, hoping it would lead them, as it did me, to slowly begin falling in love with the wines of Spain. The other, a 2004 Torre Muga, I had not had the pleasure of savoring prior to this showing and was genuinely impressed by its suppleness and lush nose. Although I was wrapped up in its aromatics, because this was neither the time nor place, I refrained from comment on how much I favored this sweet, sweet juice. I have come to understand over my years of tasting that I have an interesting way of articulating my sensations experienced from vino. Let’s just say, I’ve caused even the most composed to crack a smirk and sometime squirm. I’m not the most reverent enthusiast, but I do love a good show… and good wine.
Which is exactly the summation of my experience at B-21. This is a no-frills wine shop that still brings the goods. It’s worth the drive, but I recommend stocking up. North Pinellas is far ya’ll.