Tag Archives: Spain

Vinos De Finca Losada Bierzo 2009

 

vinos-de-finca-losada-bierzo-2009Spain, $25

 

I’m writing this from spring break in Kauai and amid the swell weather, bathwater warm water and soring peaks exists the depressing reality that even here, 4000 kilometers from the nearest wine-producing region, wine is cheaper than it is in Western Canada. On the plus side, I’m here and enjoying it—on behalf of all of us, I like to think. Last night at the surprisingly sophisticated Bar Acuda in the chill little village of Hanalei, they had wine from the very up-and-coming Bierzo region of Spain by the glass and it seemed like an oasis in a sea of the mass market California Cabs that dominate the wine lists on the Islands. Bierzo reds normally use the relatively obscure Mencia grape (the Portuguese call it Jaen), which is a little like Cabernet Franc (in the nose) and a little like Barbera (in the body). They’re tough to find in Western Canada but this week’s wine is a nice (if a tiny bit pricey) entry into the region and the grape. Expect some really zippy acidity and great freshness with some wild strawberry notes.

 

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Anciano Gran Reserva 2003

Anciano Gran Reserva 2003

Spain, $14

There are some amazing Sauvignon Blancs coming out of Chile’s emerging wine regions. They’re miles better but quite a bit pricier (at $20), and they make for the worst hostess gift you can bring. Unless they’re a serious wine geek, they’ll look at the label, see Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and think “Thanks for nothing, you cheap screw.” Conversely, this week’s wine may be the best (affordable) bottle you can give. You hand it to the host and theylook down and see Gran Reserva, 2003, Spain and that funny netting the Spaniards love and think “Here is a person of substance.” And you’ll have spent $6 less. You’d have to be a Wine P.I to notice that the wine is from the Valdepenas region, not the more famous Rioja that it mimics, and even still it’s an amazing bargain. Best of all, it’s very approachable—the age and modern winemaking have taken all the edge of this wine and the result is smooth and velvety trip with some residual spicy notes. It’s a laughably good bargain.

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Marques de Caceres Rioja Rosado 2011

Spain, $17

I appreciate the art of food and wine pairing and I generally try to subscribe to the broad principles, but I have to admit theyearly hand-wring over what to pair with turkey gets a bit much. For starters, I always open and start drinking the first bottle well before anybody sits down to turkey. We’re usually mulling about snacking on nuts or cheese or whatever starter someone has brought—none of which will likely be an ideal match for a wine that I’ve sourced specifically for turkey, and depending on the cheese it may be the perfect enemy for an aged Burgundy. So my advice: relax on the matchy-matchy a bit. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, crack the cork man—it’ll go with something on the Thanksgiving plate and it’s unlikely to ruin anything. But I suppose if you’re hell-bent on having one wine that can cover all you bases you could do worse than the Rioja Rosado from the stellar Spanish producers Marques de Caceres, a serious pink wine that starts out light and playful but has enough tartness and spirit to fight through the numerous ladles of gravy that you’ll doubtless douse everything with.

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Campo de Borja Garnacha 2009

Periquita

Spain, $12

The convention in reviewing wine is that if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. While I see the joy of celebrating the good, sometimes you need a dose of the bad, just so you canappreciate the positives. All of which leads me to this week’s selection—a 89–pointer according to the BC Liquor Board, citing the judges at Wine Access as their source.

The first concern is that a check of Wine Access database shows only an 88 point rating; the bigger concern is trying decipher if they were using the 200 point system. Huge segments of the Spanish wine industry seem to be wanting to join the New World Express in producing extracted and boozy reds that speak of no particular place, and if ever there was a poster child forthis trend it’s this bottle of garnacha—or grenache to you and me.

On the plus side it’s only $12, so they’re keeping it real on the price side. They also don’t bury the wine in oak, another plus. On the downside, it’s the hottest wine I’ve had in ages—the warm, gloopy, tongue–coating liquid seems to be the product of something higher than the 14% alcohol listed on the label. Theresome spice, but it seems out of sync with the thick Fruit Roll–Up–esque swack on the palate. And though this vintage was an award–winner at the Wine Access Value awards in 2011, there’s still plenty on the shelves, which should also tell you something.

I realize cataloguing the shortcoming of a $12 wine isn’t exactly the purview of the fair fighter, but that’s where a lot of consumers try new things—and I hate for someone to think this is what even entry–level Spanish wine is like. Stay tuned for nice things to be said again next week.

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Lobetia Organic Tempranillo 2011

Lobetia Organic Tempranillo 2011

Spain, $13

I don’t trust anyone who loves everything they come in contact with, and when it comes to wine, I’m doubly suspicious. There is a lot of terrible wine out there and while I appreciate it’s the reviewer’s job to help you find good bottles, once in a while I think we need to steer you away from some that aren’t up to snuff. I wanted to love this bottle of wine. It’s organic (the winery is now fully biodynamic), it has an attractive label (and yes, that matters to me), it’s Spanish (they need our help these days and my liver is eager to pitch in). But most of all, it’s all those things at $13; no small feat and a very workable price point for an everyday bottle. The wine’s nose is muted, but that wasn’t a huge concern for a tempranillo, which can sometime be coy on the nose or musty, but things took a wrong turn in the mouth. The fruit—mostly dried cherries—was likewise muted, but there was an astringency that was distracting. I love acid in my wines (it was why I was why I chose an old world bottle to begin with) but not meanness.

The funny thing is, after I wrote this I waited a day, tried the wine again and damned if it hadn’t come around. The astringency softened, the fruit opened up (the nose was still meh) and it turned out to be not bad—not my fave, but actually a pretty decent food wine. There are plenty of big muscular expensive wines that needs a little open time to play nice, but not that many $13 screwcap ones.

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