Category:Spanish wine

Wine of the week: Torres Vina Brava Rojo 2006

vina brava garnacha fr Miguel Torres is one of Spain ?s biggest producers, and its bull wine ? the Sangre de Toro with the little plastic bull ? is available almost everywhere wine is sold. So what is the Vina Brava wine, and why does Torres do it?

It ?s called a second label, which it sells in the U.S. as a private label to retailers who want something more than the bull wine and is various spinoffs. In this, the Vina Brava (about $10) has much to recommend it. It ?s a red blend of grenache and carignan, which means it has more heft, but less fruitiness, than grenache-only wines. And, like Spanish labels in general, it ?s made to go with food. Streak frites comes to mind, but it would also work with meat loaf, hamburgers and grilled mushrooms.

The drawback? Since it ?s a private label, availability is probably limited. But if you do see it, it ?s certainly worth buying.

Wine of the week: Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza 2005

Campo Viejo crianxa: Still a $10 value Spanish wine remains a fine value, despite the fluctuation of the dollar, and the Campo Viejo is an excellent example of why.

It ?s a red wine made with tempranillo from the Rijoa region of Spain. Crianza is the basic wine in the three tiers of Rioja. The middle level is reserva and the best is gran reserva; winemakers must follow specific guidelines for the wines to attain those levels.

So why the Campo Viejo? It has been $10 for as long as I can remember; it ?s widely available, from grocery stores to wine shops; and it ?s consistently made. (The label is owned by the very large Pernod Ricard group). The 2005 tastes more modern than I remember, which means more cherry fruit. But it ?s still Rioja, which means it ?s tart, a bit tannic (though soft tannins) and occupies that that in-between ground between red and white wine foods.

Drink this with everything from roast chicken to burgers to ? yes ? tapas and paella.

Wine of the week: Ipsum 2008

Ipsum_Rueda_Hermanos del Villar Cheap Spanish white wines are often a crapshoot. Quality varies considerably from vintage to vintage and even solid producers seem to pay less attention than they should when the wines get made.

Which is why the Wine Curmudgeon didn ?t expect much from the Ipsum (about $10), a blend of verdejo and viura from northern Spain. Which goes to show why one must always taste the wine before judging. Ipsum, from the respected Ole Imports and made by Hermanos del Villar, was much better than I expected it to be. It's fruit forward (mostly citrus), but not overwhelmingly so. It has lots and lots of Spanish minerality, probably from the limestone that the grapes grow in.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the $10 Hall of Fame. Serve chilled with chicken and rice, paella or just about anything with saffron.

Wine review: Torre Oria Cava Brut Rosado NV

Torre Oria Cava Brut Rosado NV The Wine Curmudgeon has been known to get into spirited discussions with retailers about Spanish sparkling wine, or cava. I like Cristalino very much ? it ?s cheap, consistent and well made. Many retailers, on the other hand, don ?t get as excited about it. I tend to think that ?s because Cristalino is not only ubiquitous, but doesn ?t offer them much in the way of margins.

So when we have these discussions, the retailer usually offers me an alternative to Cristalino. Over the weekend, it was the Torre Oria rose (about $14) and I was impressed. Torre Oria is a well-regarded producer, and this is a better quality wine than the Cristalino, with more interest ? the fruitiness isn ?t quite as simple and there ?s more of a finish. Whether it ?s 75 percent better than Cristalino ($14-$8=$6, divided by $8) I ?ll leave up to you.

Serve this chilled before dinner or with chicken or seafood. I had it with grilled Cornish hen ? a fine pairing.

Wine review: Sangre de Toro 2006

sangre de toroSomewhere in my house, either stuffed in a drawer or buried in a box, are probably hundreds of the little plastic bulls that are attached to the neck of the bottle of the Sangre de Toro, a Spanish red blend. When I started doing this 20-some odd years ago, I drank a lot of what I called bull wine. It was $6 or $7 then, well made, and dependable.

I haven;t had Sangre de Toro in years. No reason to, really. I thought I knew what it tasted like, and I thought I had outgrown it. Which is a good reason to repeat the Wine Curmudgeon mantra: “Taste the wine before you judge it, dummy.”

So I bought a bottle for about $10, took it home, unscrewed the cap (a welcome change from the old days) and discovered that the wine has remained relevant. These days, it ?s made with Spanish versions of grenache and carignan. The former gives it fruitiness I don’t remember from before, while the latter adds body. It was fine on its own before dinner, and would also pair with simple red wine food — burgers, sausages, and the like.

Wine of the week: Osborne Solaz Cabernet-Tempranillo 2006

image There is a chance this isn ?t the world ?s most perfect cheap wine. But it ?s a very small chance. This Spanish red is $7, and it has body and structure that most $7 wines can only dream of. It has remarkable fruit; usually, cheap wine either has body or fruit, but rarely both.

What ?s even more impressive is that the Solaz is consistent from vintage to vintage, something else that you don ?t see in quality cheap wine. Most good inexpensive wines will have a four-, five-, or six-year run, and then fade from the scene like old ballplayers. That ?s what happened to two of my all-time favorites, Hogue ?s sauvignon blanc and a red blend from France, Jaja de Jau. Great wine, and then not great.

But not the Solaz. How good is it? Even Robert Parker agrees with me, and how often does that happen?

This should please the cabernet drinkers at Thanksgiving dinner. But save it for Saturday night when everyone has gone home and you ?re alone and worn out and you feel like take out pizza. Open the Solaz then, and marvel at how they do it.

Wine of the week: Garnacha de Fuego 2007

The Wine Curmudgeon has never been a huge fan of this wine, mostly because it cost as little as $6 and $7 in other parts of the country, but as much as $12 and even $15 in Dallas. Lately, though, the price in this area seems to have settled closer to $10. That makes this Spanish red a fine bargain.

Garnacha is a grape that produces very fruity wines with little in the way of tannins. This one has a lot of red fruit, but it's not especially heavy, which is a testament to Spanish wine making skills. The wine magazines adore this wine, and I've never quite been able to figure out why. One reason, probably, is that it's imported by Jorge Ordonez, who is one of the best at bringing Spanish wine into the U.S.

Drink this on its own, because it's light enough, or with pizza or similar casual food. It will also be more than adequate with Thanksgiving dinner (and don ? tell anyone, but the non-wine drinkers might even enjoy it chilled).