Don Simón wines in Whole Foods Part 2

by mary on April 5, 2013

Don Simón Tempranillo: Spanish wine

So I got the wine and I'm drinking it now! I'm referring to a Spanish wine from the Tempranillo grape by the producer Don Simón, bought in Whole Foods for four dollars. In my previous post on the matter I expressed concern that Whole Foods was selling such cheap wine from Spain, and from a producer known for boxed sangria. After tasting the Tempranillo, my concern remains. The wine is not totally undrinkable, but neither can I recommend it in any way. I feel there are decent wines in the 5-10$ range and tons of interesting ones in the 10-15$ range but under 5 is really tough…and these wines are not the exceptions. This wine only damages the Spanish cause and it's current high visibility in Whole Foods makes me sad.

There are there varietals in the line on offer, a Shiraz/Syrah, a Chardonnay, and the Tempranillo. According to the back labels, these are from the category Vino de la Tierra, a category below Appellation level, but which does offer some geographic origin guarantees. in this case the origin is the largest wine region in the world, the huge central Spanish plain of La Mancha. There is a lot of very bad and ordinary wine produced in this vast region, and huge wine surpluses annually, but there is also a lot of very good wine produced, both in a number of appellations and in the Vino de la Tierra de Castilla category.

This Tempranillo has very little distinct varietal character. It is fairly clean in the nose, some dusty cherry fruit, a little green pepper, which can be typical of the La Mancha heat. The mouth is tart, light but sweet cherry fruit. A very soft mouth and very short. The acid and mouth feels totally out of balance. It's most drinkable in the first minutes but starts to fall part rapidly.

Technology has meant that even in this incredibly hot, dry climate, very cheap, drinkable wines are being made and shipped to all parts of Spain and now the world, including my local Whole Foods! I was shocked on numerous trips to Basque Country to find that the wine served with the menu del día, or lunch menu, was no longer a basic Rioja, but was a generic La Mancha wine. Now they have followed me to Miami!

These wines are the least interesting part of the Spanish wine story. La Mancha remains a huge problem….so much supply, so little demand… and the problem will have to be addressed. The really interesting wines from the area are wonderful, but they are just a small minority.

Meanwhile, we don't need the generic stuff to degrade either the image of La Mancha or of Spanish wine, especially outside of Spain.

I think it's great that Whole Foods offers more good value wines but maybe they should stick to around the 10$ price point? What do you think?



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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lev Gasparov July 31, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I do not know whether you actually tried it but it is pretty descent wine especially considering it is $3.90/bottle. As a matter of fact as of July 29th it was wiped out of Whole Foods in Jacksonville Fl. A number of people asked for this wine ( myself included) and were not able to get it. For sure it is not the best wine in the world but it is certainly drinkable.


mary August 5, 2013 at 2:09 am

Hi Lev, Thanks for your comment. I did try the Tempranillo. Everyone is looking for something different in wine…I did find it drinkable, but I’m usually looking for more than drinkable. I think it unfortunate that it represents Spanish wine at Whole Foods when there is really good Spanish wine out there for just 2 or 3 dollars more a bottle. Also I think Whole Foods missed the mark in terms of its general corporate message by working with one of the biggest bulk wine producers in Spain, a company not known for any sustainable practices. The beauty of wine is that there is all sorts at all price points for everyone’s tastes…I’m glad you enjoyed some Spanish wine…that’s the bottom line!


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