Elegant reds

Spanish Wine Review: Finca Zerberos Pizarra 2007

December 11, 2013

The Finca Zerberos Pizarra 2007 makes me very, very happy. It’s mineral, crisp, fruity, yet has complexity and some real depth. It has bite, yet it manages to to be pretty at the same time, and very food friendly. It’s everything I long for in a red wine and don’t get enough of. Whoever thinks of Grenache as a simple, soft wines has to try the wines of Daniel Ramos, his unique line of old-vine Garnachas. These wines hail from the Cebreros area of Avila province, just across the border from the San Martín area of Madrid, where you can find similar styles of old-vine Grenache. The Garnachas from this area are full of personality and are great value. They reflect a particular and surprising terroir and they are some of my favorite Spanish wines.

more →

Spanish Wine Review: Gaznata Finca Mariano 2010

October 6, 2013

Another video review of a great old-vine Garnacha wine. I can’t help but come back to old-vine Grenache, especially from the areas around Madrid. This Gaznata Finca Mariano 2010 is actually from just across the border of Madrid, in Avila province. It is from the cooperative of El Barraco and is made by Daniel Ramos, an Aussie-Spanish wine-maker who consults at the cooperative, but also makes awesome Grenache under his own Finca Zebreros label. The wines of this area and the Madrid zone of San Martín are sometimes called Garnachas de Gredos and they are some of my favorite Spanish wines! These are historic, beautiful vineyards, well worth a visit from Madrid, only 45 minutes away. The area and the wines deserve to be much better known. See the video for the full review and after the jump check out a couple of pictures of the beautiful vineyards.

more →

Spanish Wine Review (video): Amizade Mencía 2010

October 2, 2013

Another Spanish wine from one of my favorite grapes, Mencía. Wines from Mencía have a lot of personality but they are not always easy wines. Lately the NY Times had a somewhat disappointing tasting of Mencías from the Bierzo…they cited bitterness and lack of balance as negatives. I would have like to see the full list of the wines they tasted. Amizade 2010 is a collaboration between top Albariño producer Do Ferreiro and American wine importer De Maison Selections, and is from the northwestern appellation of Monterrei. I’ve already rated it’s sister white wine from Godello. The Mencía seems to be only available on the US market, not in Spain, and costs around 16-20$. For the full review see my video below.

more →

Taste the volcanoes in Canary wines: undiscovered Spanish wines

September 13, 2013
Spanish wines:  Taste the volcanic soils in Canary Island wines

Even in Spain, Canary Island wines are off the radar, except for a few Malvasía wines. Thanks to the marketing clout of Jose Pastor, who imports an impressive portfolio of Canary wines, I’ve seen more press here in the US than I’ve ever seen in Spain. Due to very limited quantities, finding these unique Spanish wines is challenging, but well worth the search. I recently went to a great tasting of the portfolio and I was surprised by the personality and character of the wines. They were also fresh and inviting to drink. It seems a bit cliche, but you really feel like you are tasting volcanic soils! I was very impressed and refreshed, and I’ll be seeking out more Canary wines on my next trip back to Spain.

more →

Spanish Video Wine Review: Brezo Mencía 2010

September 11, 2013
Brezo Mencía 2010: earthy Spanish wine from the Bierzo region

I’ve had two cats named after my favorite grapes: Pinot Noir and Mencía…my cats are as full of character as these grapes! Mencía is a unique grape, full of personality, from the northwest of Spain, that at it’s best, has aromas of stone, earth and leaf. It’s not for the faint-hearted wine drinker, but rewards the adventurous. Some of my favorite Spanish wines are from Mencía but finding a good deal is increasingly hard as production can be tiny. The wine today is by star wine-maker Gregory Perez of Bodegas Mengoba the Bierzo region of Galicia. Mengoba Mencía has been one of my favorite Mencías for a long time and now we have the baby Mencía from Bodegas Mengoba: Brezo Mencía 2010. Check out my video review.

more →

Spanish Wine Review Video: Garnacha Salvaje 2010

August 14, 2013
Garnacha Salvaje 2010:  unique old-vine Spanish wine from the Ribera del Queiles area

From the same people behind Matsu, some of my favorite Spanish wines from Toro, we have the Proyecto Garnachas de España. A very original and personal selection of Garnachas from several regions, all very good value and beautifully labelled. These people understand marketing because the website is beautiful, filled with neat videos about the old-vine Grenache vineyards of Spain. But it’s not just a nice story and pretty packaging…the wines are quite nice, unique and very good value. The wine I taste in my video today is the Garnacha Salvaje del Moncayo 2010. Check out this link for a long, but very cool video about the abandoned vines this wine came from and check out my review below.

more →

Spanish Wine Review: Peña Caballera Garnacha 2011

July 16, 2013
Peña Caballera 2011:  Great Spanish wine from the Madrid region

I was back in Madrid and my first Spanish wine had to be from Madrid region and a Garnacha. It was a bit of a risk as I was having a perfect steak experience at the Vaca Nostra restaurant and elegant, lean Madrid Grenache might not be everyone’s first choice. But I couldn’t resist the Peña Caballera, a top bottling from Bodega Marañones, especially at such a great price. What a joy to be back where wine markups, even in expensive restaurants, are so reasonable! The Grenache turned out to be a great match for both the steak tartare and the very special 4 month dry aged Galician steak. Great balance, freshness, and a good tannic structure were the perfect, subtle framework for the meats. So happy to be drinking some great Garnacha back in Madrid!

more →

Undiscovered Spanish Wines: Ribeira Sacra

May 14, 2013
Spanish wine:  Dominio do Bibei from Ribeira Sacra

Ribeira Sacra is one of Galicia’s least known wine appellations, yet it is producing some of Spain’s most interesting wines. This very small area has attracted some top wine makers and small, artisanal projects due to its unique and challenging landscape. The wines, produced from unique indigenous varieties, are light, yet intense and very original. They are mostly white, but the reds are even more surprising, especially in a Spanish, hot climate context. There are many great wines that represent this unique terroir, including the spectacular El Pecado, a most unique red made by innovator enologist Raul Perez. The wines that inspired this article are from Dominio do Bibei, a project from the wine superstar couple Sara Pérez and René Barbier.

more →

Spanish Wine Review: La Montesa 2009

April 30, 2013
La Montesa 2009:  Spanish wine from the Rioja region

It’s been a while since I’ve had a mellow, perfectly drinkable Rioja and this La Montesa fit the bill nicely. Rioja is still the king of Spanish wine but there are so many faces and styles to the region that it can be really confusing to find a nice bottle at a good price. The traditional Rioja styles remain popular amongst wine geeks but the good ones cost a pretty penny. The bold, modern style comes at all price points, but they are not always as mellow and ready to drink…something to cherish in Rioja. There are lots somewhere in between, embracing both tradition and the modern…the hybrid is maybe the most user-friendly style. La Montesa, from one of the modern masters of Spanish wine, Alvaro Palacios, is one of these and makes for good drinking at a great price in the 2009 vintage.

more →

Undiscovered Spanish wines: Vinos de Madrid

April 21, 2013
Undiscovered Spanish wine:  Vinos de Madrid

After finding Zestos, a great everyday value wine from the Madrid region of Spain, in Costco, I’m inspired to talk a little more about the Madrid wine region, Vinos de Madrid. It’s not well known, even in Spain, though it’s gaining in reputation among wine professionals and aficionados alike. Formerly known for plonk that was served in Madrid bars, the area has fought hard to change that reputation. One of the drawbacks is that production of top wines is small and prices are not always low, though the wines are still good value. One sub-area in particular, San Martín de Valdeiglesias has been making an impressive reputation for itself with totally original old-vine Grenache and unique white Albillos. If you want something with personality and totally different than most Spanish wine, check out these wines….

more →