Tag Archives: Spanish wine

Mini-reviews 113: Cusumano, Pace Rosanebbia, Torremoron, La Bastide

cusumanoReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the fourth Friday of each month

Cusumano Insolia 2016 ($11, purchased, 12.5%): This Sicilian white, made with the native insolia grape, is heavier and more chardonnay like this time, without the freshness and citrus of past vintages. But what do you expect when some PR type describes the wine like this: “… a sensuality that could only be born under the Sicilian sun.” Imported by Terlato

Azienda Agricola Pace Roero Rosanebbia Vino Rosato 2017 ($20, sample, 14%): This Italian pink wine, made with nebbiolo, is rose for people who only drink red wine – hot, tannic, and bitter.

Torremoron Ribera del Duero 2016 ($13, sample, 14%): Well-made Spanish tempranillo from the Ribero del Duero that isn’t too heavy or too rich or too un-tempranillo. It’s the ideal wine for someone who wants something with more heft than Rioja, but doesn’t want to break the bank. Imported by Ole Imports

La Bastide Saint-Dominique Côtes du Rhône 2016 ($18, purchased, 13.5%): A well-made, competent, and enjoyable red blend from France’s Rhone that tastes exactly like it’s supposed to – rich, fruity, a little earth. But it costs $5 more than it’s worth. Imported by Europvin USA

Wine of the week: Conde Pinel Verdejo-Viura 2017

Conde Pinel Verdejo-ViuraThe Conde Pinel verdejo-viura is one more top-notch, inexpensive Spanish white blend

We’ve spent a lot of time on the blog analyzing wine label descriptions – what they mean, if they matter, and how reliable they are. Which, given the description on the Conde Pinel verdejo-viura, means I never should have bought it.

But the Conde Pinel verdejo-viura ($10, purchased, 13%) is more than its front label description – “sweet pineapple combined with green apple.” Someone, somewhere, figured the only way to sell this Spanish white blend in the U.S. was to appeal to the so-called American palate. In doing so, they may scare wine drinkers away from a top-notch $10 wine.

Which would be too bad. This is a professional $10 wine that makes the most of the verdejo and viura grapes that compose its blend. It’s not sweet or especially tropical, but it is clean and refreshing with a little soft lemon fruit and an almost minerally finish It’s not quite a $10 Hall of Fame wine, but it’s a lot more than its description.

Drink this chilled on its own as summer winds down, or pair it with salads, vegetable dishes like hummus or baba ganoush and pitas, and even cheese.

Imported by Hammeken Cellars USA

 

Wine of the week: Ipsum 2017

ipsumIpsum, a Spanish white, demonstrates that wine doesn’t have to cost $40 to be well made and delicious

One of the many advantages of doing the blog is that I get to taste terrific wine I might not taste otherwise. The Ipsum may be the best example of that.

The Ipsum ($10, sample, 13%) is a cheap wine that is consistently excellent, and has been since I wrote my first review of it in 2009. In this, it demonstrates the perennial value of Spanish wine, the integrity of the producer and importer, and that wine doesn’t have to cost $40 to be well made and delicious.

This version may be the best vintage of the past 10, which is saying something considering how wonderful the Ipsum usually is. The 2017 offers more than just the crisp, and sometimes tart, lemon fruit that is common in white wine made with the verdejo grape. Instead, there’s an almost almond nuttiness mingling with green herbs and even some spices. In addition, there ‘s a surprisingly full mouth feel, something else that isn’t common with $10 verdejo wines.

Chill this and drink it on its own, or pair with grilled chicken or seafood. Highly recommended, and certain to take its place in the $10 Hall Fame next year. It’s also a candidate for the 2019 Cheap Wine of the Year.

Imported by Ole Imports

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

 

Fourth of July wine 2018

July Foutth wine 2018Fourth of July wine 2018: Four bottles to enjoy to celebrate the holiday

No weekend this year to celebrate the United States’ 242nd birthday. So we’ll make do with Fourth of July wine 2018 for the middle of the week. As always, keep our summer wine and porch wine guidelines in mind: Lighter, fresher wines, even for red, since lots of oak and high alcohol aren’t especially refreshing when it’s 98 degrees outside

Consider these Fourth of July wine 2018 suggestions:

Justin Sauvignon Blanc 2017 ($15, sample, 13.5%): This California white is one of Justin’s best sauvignon blancs in years — very California in style, with the grassy aroma, crispness, and just enough lemon/lime to be noticeable. Highly recommended

Pierre Rougon Rose 2017 ($9, purchased, 13%): This French pink from Provence is solid and dependable — a steal at this price. Look for barely ripe cherry and some earthy minerality. Highly recommended. Imported by Vinovia Wine Group

Chateau Haut Rian 2015 ($13, sample, 13%): This French red blend from Bordeaux (about two-thirds merlot) isn’t overpriced, which makes it worth buying regardless. Throw in full red fruit and soft tannins, and you have an ideal summer red. I just wish it was a little funkier and old-fashioned. Imported by Wines with Conviction

Mumm Napa Cuvee M NV ($20, purchased, 12.5%): Mumm, the French bubbly house, makes this in California; hence the much more reasonable price. Plus, you can buy it in some grocery stores. Look for crisp and green apple and not quite ripe pear, and tight, crisp, bubbles. Very well made, and always enjoyable.

More Fourth of July wine:
Fourth of July wine 2017
Fourth of July wine 2016
Fourth of July wine 2015
Wine of the week: Mont Gravet Carignan 2016

Silly wine descriptions

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.