Tasting Report- Spanish Wines

Almost exactly a year ago, I posted an extensive recap of the Spanish wines I had tasted over a month or so between my trip to Spain and at various tastings. A year later, I still find myself turning to Spanish wines almost more than any other due to the combination of value and quality that is difficult to find anywhere else in the world. Whether you want a bargain table wine for $10 or a world class wine for just over $100, this dynamic, diverse wine producing nation is hitting on all cylinders. Here’s a quick look at what I’ve enjoyed the most recently. If you pay close attention to last year’s post, you’ll notice a few of the higher end wines that have benefited score-wise from having an extra year in the bottle.

TOP TEN WINES FOR VALUE (under $50):

1. Bodegas Alto Moncayo Garnacha 2006 , 94 Points, $45: Deep, expressive aromas of toast, leather, tar, smoked game/beef and dark red fruits. Dense body with depth of flavor showcasing complex dark plum, black licorice, perfume and complex smoke and orange peel citrus, but dominated by a distinctive coffee note, leather and hints of black pepper. Monsterous, long finish. A blockbuster offering.

2. Costers del Priorat Pissares 2005, 92 Points, $25: Delicate, creamy nose and body of red cherry, vanilla bean and red licorice with undertones of subtle floral, smoke and chocolate notes. Complex and elegant, smooth as can be through the long finish.

3. Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Crianza 2005, 91 Points, $30: Rich and perfumey on the nose with lots of blackberry and black cherry fruit above an impressive powdery cocoa note on the palate. Hints of smoke and mineral intertwine and chocolate charcter lingers with lots of juicy dark fruits through the long length.

4. Emilio Moro Tinto Ribera del Duero 2005, 91 Points, $35: Typical smokiness on the nose above dark plum and black cherry nuances. Full and rich, with minerality pumping along with dark plum and cherry above notes of chocolate and espresso. Muscular, with a blast of campfire smoke through the long finish.

5. Bodegas Juan Gil Jumilla 2006, 89 Points, $15: Nose of mineral, red fruit and subtle tobacco spice. Deep, powdery texture with blackberry, black cherry and licorice above strong earth and mineral, tobacco spice and a blast of tannin through the deep, complex length. Monastrell.

6. Artadi Vinas Gain Rioja 2006, 89 Points, $28: Intriguing combination of toasty vanilla and plummy black fruit on the nose. Fairly ripe purple fruit here- plums, figs and violety floral notes above light caramel and burnt toast, oak and mineral. Lots going on here through the long finish, fairly deep Rioja, but showing quite well for its youth.

7. Finca de Luzon Jumilla 2005, 88 Points, $15: Vivid plum and blackberry fruit on the nose along with hints of mocha powder. Well-balanced body of sweet blackberry and plum fruit with pleasant chocolate notes and hints of cola. Medium length, well-integrated tannins. Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon.

8. Bodegas Izadi Vetus Toro 2005, 88 Points, $20: Inviting nose with floral hints and notes of citrus above red fruit and smokey hints. Medium-bodied with cherry fruit and a decisive floral note which evolves into a blast of mineral and smoke on the finish. Very tannic still, but complex and layered.

9. Bodegas Atteca Old Vines Garnacha Catalayud 2007, 88 Points, $15: Smoky and toasty aromas with ripe red fruits. Very fruit forward and ripe, with flavors of cherry, lavender, violet and blueberry. Light undertones of toasty spice, oak and ends with a minerally note.

10. Bodegas Atteca Garnacha de Fuego Old Vines 2007, 87 Points, $8: Slightly jammy nose of raspberry with undertones of cherry and mineral. Fleshy body of lively raspberry, red licorice and cherry fruit, layers of mineral and vanilla bean linger underneath with impressive spiciness through the finish, red licorice lingers longest.

TOP TEN HIGH-END WINES:

1. El Nido Jumilla 2006, 97 Points, $120: Deep, complex nose of caramel, orange peel, minerally perfume and blackberry/ cassis fruit. Extraordinary mouthfeel of constantly evolving black fruit, deep caramel, cocoa, cedary spice, leather and orange peel citrus notes. Finish lingers for minutes, firm tannins carry the dark fruit, spice and cocoa nuances for miles. Such depth, complexity and balance here, I can’t ask for much more in a wine. Long one of my favorite wines in the world, and this is the best vintage they’ve ever made. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Monastrell.

2. Bodegas Muga Torre Muga Rioja 2004, 95 Points, $90: Complex nose of perfumey blackberry, licorice and violet with notes of smoky bacon and mineral. Delcious, elegantly balanced body of black cherry, blackberry and dark plum fruit and a backbone of silky vanilla, cocoa and exotic spice that evolves into a long, chalky length. Perfumey and fruity initially and then spicy and minerally through the long length, this is about as good as Rioja gets. Smooth, silky and seamless.

3. Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos San Roman Toro 2004, 93 Points, $60: Almost sweet on the nose, with plum cake spice and notes of cola. Plush, amazing mouthfeel of elegant plum, blackberry and sweet spice and floral notes pumping through. Elegant and complex, long finish with only a hint of dryness.

4. Emilio Moro Malleolus de Valderramiro Ribera del Duero 2005, 93 Points, $160: Deep, almost tarry black fruit and oak is very elegant on the nose, hints of smoke and burnt toast add intrigue. Dark, smokey body with notes of smoked meat dominating subtle blackberry notes. Incredibly soft and smooth mouthfeel, this is all about depth, as light hints of earthy mineral and mocha cry for food through the long finish.

5. Mas Doix Velles Vignes Priorat 2005, 92 Points, $125: Lifted by its eucalyptus perfume and pepperminty violet aromas, almost inky black and purple fruits and spiced rum nuances. Soft mouthfeel of juicy dark plum, black licorice, and blackberry fruits here with notes of cedary spice and a hint of cocoa. Deep, perfumey and elegant through the long length, finishing with a raisiny, rummy note. Grenache and Carignan blend.

6. Huerta de Albala Tarberner #1 Cadiz, 92 Points, $90: Smoky, gamey and leathery aromas with lots of graphite above red currant fruit nuances. Floral, gamey flavors evolve into red cherry, blackberry, licorice and plum fruit, and hints of strong leather, black pepper and chocolate show up in the fantastic length. Layered and complex throughout a creamy texture, chocolate covered cherry flavors linger long. Syrah.

7. Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus Ribera del Duero 2006, 92 Points, $80: Complex combination of perfumey black fruit, smoked meat and chocolate on the nose. Subdued fruit but deep flavors, with smokey meat and leather above some blackberry notes that are complemented by tar and dark chocolate. Deep, smooth and smokey, yum!

8. Alvaro Palacios Finca Dofi Priorat 2005, 91 Points, $85: 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. Has gained some complexities, with hints of earth and darker black cherry and blackberry fruit underneath with chocolate and black pepper spice. Stony, wet limestone mineral lingers. Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

9. Bodegas Aalta Tinto Ribera del Duero 2005, 90 Points, $60: Dark aromas of black fruit, chocolate and green earth. Very deep body, with hints of tar, leather and coffee shading the black fruit notes through the impressive finish. Lots of grip here from the tannins, cries for food.

10. Bodegas Luzon Alma de Luzon Jumilla 2004, 89 Points, $60: Wet, minerally, almost inky black fruit aromas with hints of earth and oak. Slightest hint of green pepper earth initially leads into deep blackberry fruit and hints of toasty chocolate, ending with a blast of minerally spice. Very deep and elegant, only complaint here is that the green earth notes tend to overshadow the fruit through the finish. 70% Monastrell, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

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