Casa l’Angel wins the day

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Delightfully and somewhat unexpectedly I found myself in El Mercat, a Valencian restaurant founded in 1915, on Friday with gaggle of Italians, some residents and others visiting for one reason or another, all charming. My friend Jacopo was at the head of the table and immediately announced a wine selection challenge – he’d choose the first and I’d choose the second. He kicked off with Cuatro Pasos 2007, a “tinto joven con crianza”, 100% Menc√≠a from DO Bierzo made by Bodegas Mart√≠n C√≥dax, best known for their Albari√±o wines from Rias Baixas in neighbouring Galicia. A brave choice from Jacopo as the Menc√≠a is trendy (The Wine Advocate has been boosting the wines) , but sometimes a surprise to people who are not sure what to expect. I liked the wine a lot, fruit and tannins, with that lipsmacking quality that I get from Menc√≠a. When it came to my turn I asked for Mestizaje, thinking that this potent blend would interest the Italians, but the restaurant had run out. The helpful waitress suggested Casa l’Angel 2007, and I leapt at this, remembering that under its export name of El Molinet, this wine was recently named by Decanter as one of Spain’s “Ten top new wave wines”. I don’t know what is so new wave about this Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo blend from Vinos de La Vi√±a in Font de la Figuera (DO Valencia). It just had a bigger presence than the first wine, and Jacopo had to accept that the table was going with this choice. It’s good to see a wine from the giant Anecoop collective of cooperatives winning accolades not just in international magazines, but also from a group of Italians responding spontaneously around a table – perhaps the nicest accolade of all.