Please Help...Spanish Wine
I am looking to try some new Spanish Reds. I have had a few great ones already (Clio,Alto Moncayo,Erial) but want to find more. I cant afford the really big boys like Contador and Pingus, but want to find cutting edge stuff $75 and under. All varietals welcome but red only please.
I don't think I have ever tried any seriously expensive Spanish reds before. I seem to be able to find plenty of mencia for around $10-$15, though. The brand I had was Cuatro Pasos. Another good cheapie was a monastrell made by Castano (Yecla region) for a single digit amount. Marques de Caceres has a $12 bottle of Rioja that can be found anywhere, and it's really solid. I have a bottle of Callejo (a Ribera del Duero) that I bought on accident (didn't bother to look at the receipt until I got home, oops). I'm not sure how much I like that region compared to Rioja, though, given what I've tried at restaurants and tastings. At this point I'm just trying to find grapes that I like, and I'm always going to start cheap when I'm doing that if it's possible.
Spanish wines offer some excellent values, and $75 will take you far,
Muga's Prado Enea can be had for around $50-$60 last time I checked. Their 96 vintage was by the best wine I've ever experienced at that price point. Their current release is very nice too, if I recall.
If you are ready to go for the more traditional reds, then I believe that $75 can snag you some very good stuff from Lopez de Heredia, especially the Bosconia and/or Tondonia bottlings. The Gran Reserva may be out of reach with your budget, but the Reservas are also quite a joy to drink especially when aged.
Another good traditional producerr is La Rioja Alta. There are still some 1995's of the 904 bottlings that are available for less than $75 (iirc in NYC area merchant).
Great stuff, those Heredias and La Rioja Alta. Imho, their traditional-made Rioja's are a definite cut or 3 above the rest.
We were at Haro early last year and were tasting the '87s at Heredia. What were they tasting at Heredia and LRA when you were there?
Can't wait to go back to Rioja!
Silly me, I did not take notes. But we tasted some of their very old white Rioja (a couple of vintages from the 8o's and early 90's), which if you haven't had them are an experience, and we had some late 80's and 90's Vina Tondonia as well as Bosconia. I, too, an partial to the traditional style of winemaking. Everywhere we went in Spain (we were on a wine and food jaunt, for sure) we tasted through amazing line-ups. I even got a three-hour visit at Vega Sicilia (and next door, at Alion), where we tasted through all the wines they have available (Alion and Unico, a red from Toro and their newer Hungarian whites: one dry and one dessert: 6 puttanyos). At the end of that visit, they actually gave us the entire bottle of Unico to take with us to our lamb asador lunch. We had our wine guardian angel with us that day, for sure, and on the entire trip.
So many great Spanish wines; I would just go into your favorite wine store and ask the staff for the recommendations.
Seek out anything from importers Jorge Ordonez, Eric Solomon and Rare Wine Co. to name a few.
Les Terrases & Descendientes de Jose Palacios
Pago de los Capellanes
Generally speaking, most of these are bigger reds in line with the wines you mentioned in your post.
re: Brad Ballinger
Brad nailed one of my very favorites with the Remirez de Ganuza. My first one, I think a '98, was one of those profound experiences where the wine just made an indelible impact on me. The Alion is another terrific wine as are several others on this list.
I've also enjoyed San Vicente; Flor de Pingus, Finca Dofi, some Txakolina (white) still trying to get my hands on some red or rose, Numanthia
Roda I (modern)
any and all Lopez de Heredia (old world styled)
Rotllan Torra Tirant
Second the Lopez de Heredia
Try the priorats of Vall Llach. They offer three different bottlings, all under $75.
Just returned from 10 days in Spain and had a chance to enjoy a variety of wines in the middle of this range in various cities. We really enjoyed:
Vall Llach Embrouix
Another favorite is Hacienda Monasterio which I believe has the same owner as Pingus.
I enjoyed the Embrouix. It's definitely on the rich/full side. Reminded me of California Zinfandel in terms of the size and fruit, but I didn't notice any "heat" from the alcohol. Pretty balanced for a wine with that much alcohol. I had it paired with a beef dish with mushrooms and some fairly intense flavors, and it worked well. Also worked well with duck and pork dishes that others had.
We had it at a great little restaurant in Granada, just below the Alhambra. Makes me smile just thinking about it.
Ombra Montsant is the big Spanish winner in my house lately, not exactly the high end stuff you seem to be asking about, but a lot more subtlety than you would expect from the $10-15 price tag. There is also a Mas Donis Montsant that is very good, but the Ombra is my favorite.
Both are Eric Solomon wines, I don't think he has done me wrong yet. Jorge Ordonez is also good but not as consistent, in my experience.
I had a really stellar Ribera at a tasting recently, but sadly I am blanking on the name right now. Red label, limited production, all for export. It was in the $40-50 range, and I'm buying less special occasion wine these days. If I remember the name, I'll chime in.