Reviews 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.
• Lagar de Cervera Albarino 2017 ($15, purchased, 12.5%): This Spanish white offers $12 worth of value, and it’s not especially albarino like. It’s a little soft wiithout the citrus zip, not all that savory, and not especially fresh. Very disappointing. Imported by Golden State Wine Co.
• Renzo Masi Chianti Rufina 2018 ($15, sample, 13%): Very ordinary Italian red, made in a soft, fruity, less tart New World style so that it lacks all of the things that make Chianti interesting. Meh. Imported by HB Wine Merchants
• Azul y Garanza Viura 2017 ($10/1-liter, purchased, 12.5%): Spanish white missing the lemony snap and crackle that viura should have. The same producer’s tempranillo is much more interesting. Having said that, the viura is more than drinkable and the price is terrific. Imported by Valkyrie Selections
• Eberle Cotes-du-Robles Rouge 2017 ($34, sample, 14.1%): You get exactly what you pay for — rich, full and well-made Paso Robles red blend that has structure and restraint. But since it’s Paso, that means very ripe black fruit that keeps coming and coming.
What’s the best way to use Spanish chardonnay? As a blending grape, as in the $10 Hall of Fame worthy Les Valles
Spanish chardonnay is wine’s version of an oxymoron, the terms like military intelligence and Microsoft Works that are contradictions in themselves. So what’s the Les Valles – made with Spanish chardonnay – doing as the wine of the week?
It’s because the Les Valles ($10, purchased, 12%) uses chardonnay as a blending grape, which is about the only way Spanish chardonnay should be used. In this white wine, a little chardonnay is combined with viura, a traditional Spanish grape, to make a wine that is better than it would be as either of the two varietals.
The chardonnay softens the viura, which can be a very lemony grape, and makes the wine richer and more about white fruit than if it was just made with viura. But the viura lends its crispness and a floral aroma, and the combination is one of those great cheap wines that are my reason for being.
Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2018 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own or with roasted chicken or turkey.
Imported by Hand Picked Selections
The Conde Pinel Viura-Verdejo is a $9 wine worthy of the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame.
What do you get when you blend two Spanish white grapes that make great cheap wine? You get the Conde Pinel Viura-Verdejo, a $9 wine that is worthy of the 2017 $10 Hall of Fame.
The Conde Pinel Viura-Verdejo ($9, purchased, 13%) demonstrates again why Spanish wine is the best value in the world. This isn’t some focus-grouped wine with lots of sweet fruit and a cute label devised by a marketing company – quite the opposite, in fact. It comes from Castilla in central Spain, where the real estate is much less expensive and the grapes, viura and verdejo, are little known elsewhere in the world.
Which is fortunate for us. Look for tart green apple fruit, a smidge of tropical something or other in the middle, and a fresh, surprisingly long finish. How this wine can be this delicious at this price is one of those questions that not enough producers are able to answer.
Chill this, and drink it on its own (yes, a porch wine), or with grilled or roast chicken, as well as anything with garlic, herbs, and olive oil.
This is the second of two parts discussing why Spanish wine may be the best value in the world today. Part I, an overview of why Spain offers so much value, is here.
If wine drinkers know Spanish wine, it’s tempranillo from Rijoa or Ribera del Duero. Older wine drinker might know Spanish sherry, while the hipsters know garnacha and the Winestream Media-hyped wines from the Priorat. In this, it’s as if nothing has happened in Spain over the past 20 years.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Spanish wine — red, white, pink, and bubbly — is better than ever. Cava, the Spanish sparkling, has received most of the attention, but it’s not alone in the Spanish wine renaissance. The whites, including viura, verdejo, and albarino, can be spectacular for as little as $10. The reds, always excellent from the best regions, have improved dramatically regardless of where they’re from. Aldi’s $5 Vina Decana tempranillo (which, sadly, appears to be gone) is from Utiel-Requena, about as little known as a Spanish wine region gets.
These wines, tasted over the past six months, will get you started in understanding what’s going on in Spain. But they’re just a sample, and I could have listed a dozen more. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own. It will be hard to go wrong.
• Muga Rosado 2013 ($10, purchased, 13%): One of the best roses in the world, always fresh and delicious. This vintage has tart strawberry fruit. As one CellarTracker user wrote: “My fifth bottle this summer,” which seems about as good a recommendation as possible.
• deAlto Amo Blanco 2012 ($10, purchased, 13%): My tasting notes for this white, made mostly with viura, quibble about crispness and whether it’s too floral. How much have the Spanish spoiled me that I’m looking for things to complain about ?
• Columna R as Baixas 2011 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): This white, made with albarino, is another excellent example of the quality wine that Ole Imports brings to the U.S. Still fresh, despite being an older vintage, with a really interesting, almost baking spice middle.
• Cune Crianza 2010 ($15, purchased, 13.5%): Yes, this red from Rioja, a tempranillo blend, is three times better than the Decana, which means it’s close to spectacular. Deep, rich cherry fruit, a hint of bitter orange, layered oak, and a full, complete finish. Highly recommended.
• Evodia 2013 ($10, sample, 14.5%): This red, made with garnacha, is a hipster wine that the rest of us can enjoy. The last time I tasted it, it was 15 percent alcohol and still drinkable; this vintage, with lots of cherry fruit, good weight, and some black pepper, is even better. I’m always surprised I like it as much as I do.
• Val de Vid Verdejo 2010 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Yes, the vintage is correct, and how a white wine that costs $10 and is this old can be this delicious is beyond me. Has white pepper and a sort of pear fruit that could also be lime without the citrus, plus a longish finish.
How much did I like this wine? I bought another white from the same producer that cost a couple of bucks more, and I didn ?t even have to think twice about it. Just picked it up and put it in the cart. That doesn ?t happen very often; if a wine costs more than $10, I ?m often seen mumbling to myself in front of the shelf.
Even more impressive is that white wines from the Rioja region of Spain have traditionally been pretty awful ? badly made and even oxidized.
None of that is the case here. The Cune ($10, purchased, 12.8%), made with viura, has enough white fruit to be noticeable, maybe some lemon peel, and is amazingly fresh and clean ? very impressive given the track record for white Rioja. Chill this, drink it in the summer on its own or with salads or seafood. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.
And yes, even though the company name is CVNE, the wine is called Cune.