Pt. 1 - The Spanish
Talai Berri Txacolina 2007
Good, fresh, vaguely citrussy, with a light sparkle. Still bottle shocked though. And these txacoli prices today, geez louise. The wines are fun quaffers, but $20? I know the 3 txacoli production D.O.'s are tiny and most of the stuff is drunk in San Sebastian, but for $20+ a pop, I think I'm inclined to do my txacoli drinking exclusively in Pais Vasco. Unless we're talking about the rare red or rose txacoli, which are worth the price of admission on rarity and weirdness alone.
Hijos de Cresencia Marino Catajarros Rosado Cigales 2007
The first '07 spanish rose I have tried turned out a winner. On the nose it appears that it might be a very fruity, bordering on cloying, rosado. On the palate though, the wine has plenty of red fruit with a nice austere, dry finish. Just the ticket for rose season. 100% tempranillo.
Bodegas Eguren Reinares Tempranillo Tierra de Castilla 2007
Produced by the folks at Bodegas Eguren, this declassified Rioja, from a 15 year old tempranillo vineyard, shows foresty, dark fruit on the nose, and is simple, dark fruited tempranillo. Not bad, but not a whole lot of fun either.
Bodegas Ugarte 'Martin Cendoya' Rioja Reserva 2001
Produced primarily from a 75 year old tempranillo vineyard in the Rioja Alavesa sub-zone, with some mazuelo (carinena) and graciano, this is a modern, black cherry scented Rioja with a so-so palate. It is juicy and competently made, but comes across as a bit monolithic and boring. Especially given the mid $30's price point.
Condado de Sequeiras Ribeira Sacra 2006
The second red from Riberia Sacra to impress me in the past week. I'm convinced - this is THE spot for exciting, medium-bodied, balanced reds in Spain right now. Licorice and a combination of dark and blue fruit on the nose lead to a soft, supple palate, with great texture, lively acidity, and abundant class. Un triunfo!
Bodega Luzdivino Vinademoya Leiros Bierzo 200?
I goofed and did not note the vintage here. Either '03 or '04. It is 100% mencia aged in French oak for 14 months. Deep, dark, grapey, spicy and somehow all very Spanish smelling and tasting. A broad generalization, I know, but there is that combination of ripe fruit, oak spice, and just enough acidity to tie it together that to me is the mark of many of Spain's better wines, whether or not they are made in a style that I like or not. I'd like to try this wine in 5 years to see how it comes together. To their credit, the producer apparently feels as though they need to tone down the new oak on this wine, which I think is a good direction on their part.
Cellars Sangenis i Vaque Porrera Priorat 2005
I have tasted a lot of '05 Montsant and Priorat in the past two weeks, and for some reason this wine just isn't doing it for me. Not to be yet another Priorat basher, that's just too easy. There are an ocean of over-priced, overly alcholic and oaky wines in Priorat, and there are a few good wines out there; these are not meant to be drunk upon release. Not even close. I've said it before and I'll say it again, these are the Chateauneuf du Papes of Spain.
Valduero Ribera del Duero Reserva 2000
I hate to be in agreement with Dr. Jay Miller - who enjoyed this and rated it highly - though I'm sure it will continue to be a rare occurence. Anyway, this wine is killer like Jacob (not Jay!) Miller. Cooked black cherry and blackberry on the nose, with great spice, weight, sweet/savory fruit and acidity to tie it all together. This is what good Ribera del Duero is all about: power and dark fruit, with a ton of flavor intensity and enough lift from the acidity to not dull or tire the palate.
Vinedos de Ithaca Penelope Garnatxa Blanca 2006
This has a nice honeyed, yellow fruit, chewy thing going on. Very interesting dessert wine. Light on its feet but substantial and toothsome at the same time.
Vinedos de Ithaca Penelope Garnacha Peluda 2006
Now this is some terrific wine! Sweet scents of strawberry, watermelon and spice lead to some more of the same on the palate, with a funky wet slate stone minerality as well. The wine is produced from late harvest outer rows of garnacha, which tend to get riper than the interior rows of the vineyard. This is truly unique, tasty dessert stuff.