Tasting Report- Spanish Wines

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my wife and I recently returned from a ten day trip across Spain, visiting the Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian areas. After we returned, I had the opportunity to further expand my knowledge of Spanish wines by participating in some tastings across the Chicago area. Here’s a brief rundown on some of Spain’s better current offerings in both the bargain and collectible categories. (Tempranillo unless otherwise specified).


  1. Alta Moncayo Grenache Campo de Borja 2005, $45, 93 Points: Tons of burnt toast, floral spice and red current fruit on the nose. Mouthfilling flavors of black cherry and raspberry with a nice spicy backbone. Elegant and layered through the long length as floral notes linger with the powerful toasty fruit and a well-intertwined spiciness, impressive.
  2. Bodegas del Cenit Zamora Toro 2004, $45, 92 Points: Perfumey and minerally with a strong nose of blackberry and blueberry along with hints of orange peel. Rich, creamy body of blackberry and violet with layers of caramelly chocolate behind. Seamless, smooth finish lingers long. Full and rich overall with unique elegance, subtle spice adds complexity.
  3. Sierra Cantabria Privada Rioja 2005, $40, 92 Points: Inviting nose of crushed flowers and dark raspberry with hints of leather. Big body of aggressive red berries, a bit austere but lots going on with floral undertones, cinnamon spice and vanilla adding complexity through the long length. Could amaze with age. Finishes with a medicinal note.
  4. Bodegas Aalta Ribera del Duero 2004, $50, 92 Points: Perfumey black fruit aromas with notes of chocolate and clove. Supple, suave mouthfeel of zesty blackberry fruit, licorice, chocolate, caramel and oak with hints of leather and clovey spice. Long length loaded with fruit flavor, well-balanced.
  5. Alonso Yerro Maria Ribera del Duero 2005, $55, 92 Points: Dark, perfumey cassis fruit on the nose above hints of mocha powder. Mouth-coating blackberry, licorice and violet layered nicely above hints of coffee, spice and mineral. Fine tannins through the long length, elegant and delicious.
  6. Finca Sandoval Syrah Mancheula 2004, $40, 91 Points: Rich aromas and flavors of dark berry fruit, licorice, blackberry and peppery spice. Light traces of leather and chocolate but predominantly fruity, robust and spicy.
  7. Bodegas Paganos El Pundito Rioja 2003, $50, 91 Points: Oaky on the nose with notes of red currant and dark raspberry. Creamy body of delicious cherry, plum and cassis fruit above soft vanilla. A very pretty wine, with long length and amazing complexity and balance.
  8. Cepa 21 Ribera del Duero 2004, $40, 90 Points: Toasty nose of mocha above black fruit nuances and hints of smoky bacon. Mouthfeel of crème de cassis, blueberry, licorice, strong mocha and smoke are all well-intertwined. Medium to long length of fruit and mineral, complex elements, rich body.
  9. Torremilanos Cyclo Ribera del Duero 2005, $40, 89 Points: Subtle, soft black fruit and oak aromas. Elegant body of perfumey blackberry fruit and licorice with well-intertwined oak and a hint of spice. Plush and smooth through the long length, lots of black fruit and subtle oak here along with understated smoke and spice.
  10. Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos San Roman Toro 2003, 89 Points: Lots of oak on the nose with ripe, almost inky black fruit. Lightly perfumed body with licorice, blackberry, undertones of spice and heavy oak. Graphite creeps in through the length along with lots of fruit and spice. Still very tannic, needs time.


  1. El Nido Red Wine Jumilla 2005, $140, 95 Points: Smoky and loaded with chocolate, mocha/espresso and blackberry. Just so rich, with layer upon layer of blackberry liquer, violet and lavender evolving into soft chocolate and coffee before lingering for minutes with smokiness. Soft finish, amazing complexity and balance. Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell.
  2. Bodegas Muga Torre Muga Rioja 2004, $90, 94 Points: Complex nose of perfumey blackberry, licorice and violet with notes of smoky bacon and mineral. Delcious, elegant body of black cherry, blackberry fruit and a backbone of silky vanilla that evolves into a long, chalky length. Perfumey and fruity initially and then spicy and minerally through the long length.
  3. Sierra Cantabria El Bosque Rioja 2004, $140, 92 Points: Minerally nose with tons of cassis, elements of lead and leather, and a hint of mocha. Onslaught of black fruit flavors leads into leathery undertones through the long length. Intense black fruit layered throughout with notes of mocha lingering in the finish with a slight minerally bite. Delicious.
  4. Bodegas F Callejo Family Reserva Ribera del Duero 2003, $100, 91 Points: Perfumey nose of violet, blackberry and a hint of mocha. Full-bodied and packed with creamy, chewy cassis fruit. Elements of chocolate linger underneath with light mineral and chalk. Medium to long length.
  5. Joan Simo Les Eres Priorat 2004, $65, 90 Points: Complex nose of black fruit, earthy mushroom and spice. Loads of black cherry, blackherry and strong notes of earth, truffle and mineral. Long length with an aggressive tannic grip. Grenache and Carignane.
  6. Mas Doix Costers de Vinyes Velles Priorat 2004, $125, 90 Points: Perfumey aromas of red currant fruit above hints of cinnamon spice and orange peel. Flavors of oak and hazelnut are backed by raspberry and cherry fruit. Full-bodied, tannic finish. Grenache.
  7. Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi Priorat 2005, $90, 90 Points: Vibrant nose of floral elements, hints of violet, orange peel, caramel and mineral. Elegant body of red currant fruits, rose petal and undertones of caramel and mineral. Long length without any jamminess. Refreshing, well-balanced and delicious blend. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
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