Category:Spanish wine

Wine of the week: Gordo 2014

gordoGordo, a Spanish red blend, is complicated, sophisticated, and more than enjoyable

I reviewed the 2012 version of Gordo, a Spanish red, 18 months ago, and marveled at how well made it was. The 2014 version of the Gordo may be more enjoyable.

The Gordo ($13, sample, 14%) doesn’t seem to be the kind of wine I’d be this enthusiastic about. It’s made with about one-third cabernet sauvignon, and regular visitors here know how I feel about Spanish cabernet. But this vintage, like the last, uses the grape to its best advantage, blending it with the native Spanish monastrell (mourvedre in France) to produce a wine where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Look for an earthy yet fresh wine, with almost herbal aromas and dark berry fruit that isn’t all that fruity. And, even though there’s so much cabernet in the wine, the acidity and tannins are muted, providing structure but not really being noticeable. In all, this is a difficult wine to describe because so many contradictory things seem to be going on – which, I suppose, is one reason why it’s so enjoyable.

Highly recommended, though pricing may be an issue – this wine is as little as $12 in some parts of the country and as much as $16 in others. This is a food wine, and about as versatile as red wine gets. Pair it with almost anything you can imagine, save fish or chicken in cream sauce. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it shine with turkey pot pie.

Imported by Ole Imports

 

Wine of the week: Cellers Unio Clos de Nit 2012

cellers unio clos de nitThe Cellers Unio Clos de Nit shows why Spanish wine offers the best value in the world

Don’t let the age of of the Cellers Unio Clos de Nit discourage you. First, it’s Spanish, and it’s made to hold up. Second, it’s from a top-notch importer, another sign the wine will age well. Third, there are more current vintages, and all should be enjoyable.

In fact, the Cellers Union Clos de Nit ($11, sample, 13.5%) is the sort of Spanish wine that shows why Spanish wine offers the best value in the world. It’s a garnacha blend that is neither too ripe, too hot, nor too over the top. This probably explains why its scores are so low – mid-80s in the couple of places I checked.

That the wine was so terroir driven shouldn’t have surprised me, since it’s Spanish and from the Montsant region in Catalonia, where terroir remains important. Given that the samples I’ve been tasting for the past three or four months have been just the opposite, I’ve come to expect the worst. But the Cellers Unio Close de Nit was nothing like that. It has an earthy, almost plummy aroma, followed by garnacha’s red fruit jamminess and a soft but pleasing finish.

This is summer cookout and barbecue wine, as well as something to keep around the house when you want a glass of red. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2019 $10 Hall of Fame.

Imported by Winesellers, Ltd.

Expensive wine 109: La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza Reserva Rioja 2008

La Rioja Alta Viña ArdanzaThe La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza speaks to terroir, tradition, and quality – and at a more than fair price

Rioja, the Spanish red wine made with tempranillo that comes from the Rioja region of northern Spain, is one of the world’s great wine values. And it doesn’t matter whether you want to spend $10 or $100. Case in point: the La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza ($37, purchased, 13.5%).

In the past decade, Rioja producers have been caught between Parkerization, which demanded riper, higher alcohol wines for a high score, and traditionalists, who believed in Rioja’s legendary terroir.

The traditionalists won; even Parker likes the La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza, giving it 93 points.

Their victory is a triumph for everyone who appreciates terroir and making wine taste like where it came from. The blend is 80 percent tempranillo and 20 percent garnacha, and the latter smooths out the tempranillo but doesn’t cover it up. The result is a full, open, expressive, and traditional Rioja that is a joy to drink.

Look for an inviting earthiness, the lovely and telltale orange peel, and rounded cherry fruit, all balanced by a subtle acidity and a hint of tannins. There is even a little baking spice tucked in – the whole is truly greater than the sum of the wine’s parts. This vintage should age and improve for another five years or so, but is ready to drink now.

Highly recommended, and especially as a Father’s Day gift for a red wine drinker who wants something different. Or who appreciates classic wine produced in a classic manner.

Memorial Day and rose 2018

Memorial day and roseCheck out these six roses — still cheap and delicious — for the blog’s 11th annual Memorial Day and rose celebration

Talk about the best kind of  tasting fatigue — I sampled close 100 roses this year for the 11th annual Memorial Day and rose post, and I’m not tired of pink wine yet.

Rose, as noted, has been resilient enough to withstand the onslaught of high alcohol, lifestyle-designed bottles, and sweet rose passed off as dry. And why not? Many of the producers who make rose the right way do it as a labor of love. As one told me this spring: “Yes, I could charge more for it. But then fewer people would drink it, and I love rose enough that I want as many people as possible to drink it.”

So enjoy this year’s rose extravaganza. My six pinks are after the jump. But you should also check out the rose category link, which lists 11 years of rose reviews. And don’t overlook the blog’s rose primer, which discusses styles, why rose is dry, how it gets its pink color, and why vintage matters. Wines older than two years — 2016, in this case — are more likely to be off, tired, or worn out. Continue reading

Mother’s Day wine 2018

Mother's Day wine 2018Four suggestions — red, white, rose, and sparkling — for Mother’s Day wine 2018

This Mother’s Day wine 2018 post is the 12th time we’ve done it on the blog, and one thing has remained consistent every year. Buy — or serve — Mom a wine she will like, and not something you think she should drink. Our Mother’s Day wine gift giving guidelines are here; the idea is to please your mother. What’s the point otherwise?

These Mother’s Day wine 2018 suggestions should get you started:

Arrumaco Verdejo 2016 ($8, purchased, 12%): A Spanish white that is a little richer than expected (more stone fruit than citrus), and as well made as all Arrumaco wines are. Imported by Hand Picked Selections

Scharffenberger Cellars Excellence Brut Rose NV ($24, purchased, 12%): This California sparking wine is impressive in many ways — the very aromatic raspberry fruit; the hint of spice that is a surprising and welcome note; and just the right amount of yeastiness, which lets the fruit show. Highly recommended.

Justin Rose 2017 ($18, sample, 13%): A California pink that is one of the shockers of rose season — a pricer wine from a winery best known for big red wine that is intriguing, almost subtle and delightful. Not nearly as fruity as I expected (barely ripe raspberry), with a little minerality and floral aroma. Highly recommended.

Domaine de Courbissac Les Traverses 2015 ($15, sample, 13%): This French red blend is delicious, and it’s even more delicious if you can find it for $12 (and it’s only about $9 in France). Mom wouldn’t want you to overpay. Look for some earth, a little rusticity, and black fruit. Imported by European Cellars

More about Mother’s Day wine:
Mother’s Day wine 2017
Mother’s Day wine 2016
Mother’s Day wine 2015
Two Murrieta’s Well wines

Wine of the week: Arrumaco Tempranillo 2015

Arrumaco TempranilloThe Spanish Arrumaco Tempranillo is cheap, delicious, and the perfect house red wine

The Wine Curmudgeon has been looking for a cheap, reliable, and well-made everyday red wine since giving up on the the Vino Fuerte and the Rene Barbier (a blend change softened and sweetened it). The Spanish Arrumaco Tempranillo may well be their successor.

No, the Arrumaco Tempranillo ($8, purchased, 13%) does not cost $5. Other than that, it’s everything the others used to be and more – an exceptional wine, stunningly well done for what it costs. It’s much more complex and interesting than an $8 wine should be, and reminds us how much difference terroir and varietal character makes.

Look for tempranillo’s cherry fruit, though a bit softer and not as tart. That’s balanced, however, by an almost licorice flavor and easy, just right tannins. The result is a lighter red wine, perfect for summer, and that it can have this much going on for this price is amazing.

Drink this on its own (maybe even a little chilled), or with burgers, pizza, or roast and grilled chicken. Highly recommended, and almost certain to enter the $10 Hall of Fame in 2019. Also worth noting: The rose and white Arrumacos are equally as delicious.

Imported by Handpicked Selections

Wine review: Vina Fuerte 2015

vina fuerteThe new vintage of the Vina Fuerte, once a dependable $5 Spanish red, isn’t very Spanish or  worth $5

The Aldi discount grocer is famous for its cheap, quality wine in Europe. Unfortunately, we’re not getting any of that in the U.S. – as the new vintage of the Vina Fuerte sadly demonstrates.

The Vina Fuerte ($5, purchased, 13%) is a Spanish tempranillo, and the 2014 was more than serviceable. It tasted like Spanish tempranillo – tart cherry fruit with some character and interest in the back. It wasn’t $10 Hall of Fame quality, but it was the kind of red wine to buy for dinner without worrying about whether it would be any good. In fact, I usually bought two.

The 2015, though, is about as Spanish as a pair of sweat socks. The tart cherry fruit has been bulldozed in favor of almost overripe California-style red fruit and the character and the interest in the back have been replaced by heaping amounts of fake oak.

This is disappointing, but not surprising. Aldi’s U.S. wine decisions have focused on the lowest common denominator over the past couple of years: Plonk like Winking Owl, copying the overpriced and very ordinary wines sold in traditional grocery stores, and bringing in one-offs that are priced for their labels and not what’s inside the bottle.

The days when Aldi sold Vina Decana, a Hall of Fame Spanish tempranillo, and the equally worthy Benedetto Chianti are long gone. Today, we’re stuck with focus group wines like the new Fuerte; apparently, we’ll never get to enjoy real wine like this.

It’s baffling. Aldi understands the U.S. grocery store market so well that even Walmart is running scared, but it treats wine with the same arrogance and disdain for the consumer that everyone else does. Is it any wonder I worry about the future of the wine business?