With his uniquely artistic vision, Gerry Dawes has knitted together a portfolio of family owned Spanish wineries of incredible quality. Recently, he formed a sales and marketing company called The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group-Gerry Dawes Selections, that has already begun appearing in great restaurants around the country. Gerry's path for leading the company is based on his many years of experience selling the wines selected by other historically notable wine merchants; Gerald Asher, Colonel Frederick Wildman, Robert Haas, and Leonardo LoCascio. His fine wine experience, and an adult lifetime love affair with Spain is the perfect recipe for this company. His strengths are an undying passion for finding wines that represent what is true, either by tradition, or by an uncluttered vision for the cutting edge. Ask him about his wines and he will tell you very surely why they are in the selection.
"It is easy," he says, "I just hate wines that suck."
Gerry is an acquired taste. His wines are not. I am his business partner, and I have been in the wine trade more than 25 years. I can honestly say this is as fine a portfolio of wines I have ever tasted. Gerry's passion fuels a ferocious point of view for what great wine should be at all levels of the spectrum.
He looks for wines with purity, cleanliness, typicity, low alcohol levels, little to no use of oak, with the exceptions of regions where the tradition requires it. Even then, he starts to rant, if the levels of barrel aging are out of balance to the wine itself. His belief is in the vineyards and what they produce, with as little interference from winemaking tricks as possible. Purity and terruño, the Spanish version of terroir, is what makes Gerry smile.
He finds no use for wines that do not fit that description; and trust me, he will not hold back to let you know when a wine falls into what he would refer to, as "the dark side." The dark side can be either a wine that is devoid of terruño, overly alcoholic, swaddled in new oak or a wine that is an obvious commercial effort masking through marketing efforts with no respect paid to the vineyard and its unique qualities.
Spain, somehow became a spiritual salvation for Gerry, from the time he spent in the armed forces in Rota many years ago, to the years he lived there afterwards. Gerry eventually moved back to the US, but he is as Spanish as he is American. Spain, its people and culture are a central force in his life. He has led culinary and wine tours through Spain for decades. He has been the source for many notable Chefs; Thomas Keller, Norman Van Aken, Mark Miller, Terrance Brennan, Michael Chiarello, and many more...He is a historian, a gastrovino encyclopedia of knowledge that is brimming with under the surface facts that tie history and culture and geography together in a manner that makes little facts become important in the social history as well as the general history of Spain.
"I know this country like the back of my hand, " he gleefully boasted, when we zipped through the regions and sub-regions of Spain's Atlantic coast in Galicia. Yes...he certainly does. He estimates over the years that he has visited over 700 wineries during his career, and his current regional darling is Galicia. Godello, the white Galician varietal that nearly became extinct 40 years ago, is as profound to the sub-regions of Galicia, according to Gerry, as Chardonnay is to Burgundy.
"Godello is to Galicia what Chardonnay is to Burgundy, before they messed up (G-rated ) Burgundy."
Gerry insists that terruño, so essential to great Burgundy (and all great growing regions) is very present in Godello.
"Godello transmits soil, and minerals, much like great Chablis."
Mencia, the primary red grape in Galicia, has a Burgundian Pinot Noir parallel.
"Pomegranate," Gerry has stated, is the dominant grape flavor. Minerality, the vibrant red fruit and the subtleties of the various terrains of the sub-regions of Galicia are what makes Mencia a 'need to know' grape of Atlantic Spain. Some, like the delicate Bodegas Triay from the sub-region of Monterrei, have resemblences to the delicate beauty of a fine Volnay, while Viña Cazoga, an incredibly powerful wine from Ribera Sacra has the complexity and force of the single vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin. Really.
If you are in the wine trade...if you are a motivated consumer...these are serious wines. They are serious because of their clarity. Gerry's clarity for knowing where the great ones are located, is evident too. He really does know Spain like the back of his hand.