In the Press

From Vinous (International Wine Cellar)

New Release from Spain (2013)

>Printer Friendly Reviews, Issue #170

All reviews were written by Josh Raynolds and were published in issue 170 (September/October 2013) of Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Original reviews can be found online at http://www.wineaccess.com/expert/tanzer (subscription required). Tasting notes, wine and winery names, and technical information appear as published on http://www.wineaccess.com/expert/tanzer and may contain errors in spelling and content. The wines were tasted in the summer of 2013 and reflect vintages that were current at the time.

By Josh Raynolds

Veteran IWC readers don't really need to be reminded that Spain is, in our opinion, the world's richest source of outstanding red wine values.  That continues to be the case today.  As I worked my way through over 1,500 Spanish wines over the last few months, that point was driven home on pretty much a daily basis.  Perhaps even more striking for me this year was tasting a larger number of world-class white wines than I expected to find. 

We are long-time fans of the best wines from Rias Baixas, and the current batch of releases maintains the region's high standard.  But still more intriguing was the number of terrific whites from other areas of Spain, even from zones that until recently seemed to be completely dedicated to red wines.  At this point it's tempting to say that Spain's white wines are offering the same bang for the buck as her reds.  That's not true in sheer numbers--at least not yet--but the consistent quality of the white wines I tasted from Rioja, Terra Alta, Valdeorras and Rueda, among other regions, was truly exciting this year.  Better yet, with rare exception these are wines that retail for less than $25 a bottle and are in wide distribution, making it relatively painless for wine lovers to check them out for themselves.

Current vintages in the marketplace.  Following 2010 and 2009, both generally outstanding vintages across Spain's wine-growing regions, 2011 and 2012 presented growers and producers with a variety of challenges, beginning with cool summers during which the grapes often struggled to ripen.  The upside is that the regions of Spain that most collectors follow produced plenty of red wines that are lively, focused and true to their heritage--unlike in 2009, for example, whose wines are strongly influenced by the warm weather.  And that goes double for the whites.

In Rioja, 2011 was marked by a mostly cool summer followed by rising temperatures and dry weather at the end of the season.  The positive spin among the producers emphasizes the clement weather leading up to the harvest, but from the first look I've had of the 2011s I'm not yet convinced that it was enough to compensate for what was essentially stalled maturity during July and the first half of August.  These are still early days so it's a little premature to rush to judgment.  That said, it's unlikely that any but the very best wines will match their 2010 and 2009 siblings.  Those two vintages are living up to their promise, with the '09s mostly showing the best side of this ripe year and the 2010s focused, pure and balanced for a long life.

In the northwestern Galicia/Leon area, which includes Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra, 2012 gave a very short crop, off by as much as 50% in Rias Baixas, a shortfall all the more painful because the resulting wines are generally fantastic (with a caveat), showing greater concentration than usual.  Most of the white Rias Baixas, Bierzo, Monterrei and Valdeorras wines I tasted display powerful pit fruit and ripe melon character, as opposed to the more typical citrus and orchard fruit qualities one usually finds here.  While that heft and power can be undeniably appealing, it can also potentially obscure the mouth-watering minerality that defines the region's wines, especially with a little bottle age.  That's good or bad, depending on how you like your albarinos.  I visited the region in May and while most producers were thrilled with the quality of their '12s, they all made a point of describing these wines' unique character, advising that they be consumed on the younger side, just to be safe.

The Ribera del Duero/Toro/Castilla y Leon area of central Spain enjoyed a warm summer in 2011, which pushed sugar levels up, and many of the wines show the result in fleshiness and early accessibility.  Alcohol numbers are not generally as high as those of torrid years like 2003 but are in the neighborhood of those reached in 2009, 2006 and 2005.  I suspect that the wines will drink well over the short to medium term and I found lots of soft tannins and forward fruit in the wines I tasted. 

Two thousand twelve looks to be a fantastic vintage for red wines in Ribera del Duero and Toro, based on barrel samples I tasted from these areas in May and freshly bottled, unoaked wines that I tasted in late summer.  But as with the wines of Rioja, it's still a little early to make hard judgments.  The 2012 growing season produced wines with verve and focus, although without quite the intensity and depth of the 2010s and 2009s; most of the young '12s are already delicious and I imagine they'll be at their best within the decade, so don't hesitate to dive in soon.

Down in the Priorat/Montsant/Penedes area 2010 looks to be flat-out brilliant, having produced wines that are fresh, structured and focused, with plenty of fruit (though not to the extent of the opulent 2009s) to see them into old age.  I continue to hear grumblings about the aging potential of wines from Priorat and, frankly, that puzzles me.  Over the last few years I've had the chance to taste--and, more important, drink--some superb Priorat wines between 15 and 20 years old, and they have consistently shown the character I'd expect from wines of similar age and pedigree from anywhere else in the world.  At this point I'm confident that the best 2010s from this region will reward patient wine lovers who can hold off on cracking their bottles until, say, 2020 and beyond.

96 Points
2010 Vina Sastre Pesus Ribera del Duero
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($750) Inky purple.  An exotic, highly perfumed bouquet combines ripe blackberry, cassis, smoky minerals, espresso and incense.  Dense, sweet and deep, with velvety texture and suave floral lift to its intense black and blue fruit flavors.  Palate-staining but comes off shockingly lithe.  Rich but impeccably balanced and seamless, with superb finishing power, focus and floral-driven persistence.  This wine is something else.  The 2009, a spectacular if still extremely young wine, is worth a special search of the market as well.

94 Points
2010 Vina Sastre Regina Vides Ribera del Duero
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($100) Bright purple.  Powerful, deeply pitched aromas of black and blue fruits, woodsmoke and licorice, with a strong mineral topnote.  Shows superb clarity and intensity, offering smoky cassis and boysenberry flavors and notes of candied flowers and mocha.  Closes broad and extremely long, with lingering smokiness and slow-mounting tannins.  Can't get this off the palate and don't really want to.

94 Points
2009 Vina Sastre Regina Vides Ribera del Duero
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($100) (aged in 100% new French oak):  Dark purple.  Exotic, heady aromas of dark fruit preserves, incense, vanilla and floral oils, with a smoky overtone.  Lush, sappy and incisive, offering sweet black and blue fruit flavors and notes of bitter chocolate, mocha and lavender pastille.  Smooth and sweet on the youthfully tannic finish, with intense elements of blueberry and spicecake. 

94 Points
2005 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Rioja Gran Reserva
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($80) Deep ruby.  An exotically perfumed bouquet displays scents of red fruit compote, candied rose, vanilla, incense and smoky minerals.  Sweet, penetrating raspberry and cherry-vanilla flavors show superb depth and energy, picking up smoke and spice nuances with air.  Supple, expansive and alluringly spicy on the finish, which features velvety tannins and an echo of rose pastille.

93 Points
2009 Conde de Hervias Torre del Conde de Hervias Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($45) (90% tempranillo and 10% graciano; fermented in stainless steel and then aged in 80% French and 20% American oak for 14 months):  Bright ruby.  Potent dark berry and floral scents are complicated by candied licorice, vanilla and incense.  Sappy, penetrating black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors show impressive depth and pick up a peppery nuance with air.  Closes with outstanding clarity and length, with smooth tannins adding shape.  These vines reportedly range from 80 to more than 140 (!) years of age.

93 Points
2012 Adegas A Coroa Godello 200 Cestos Valdeorras
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

Pale gold.  Explosive aromas of mineral-accented pear and tangerine, with suave notes of smoky minerals and white flowers adding complexity.  Juicy, penetrating citrus and orchard fruit flavors show impressive depth as well as vivacity and pick up a hint of honey with air.  Really stains the palate, finishing with superb clarity and lingering florality.

93 Points
2011 Do Ferreiro Albarino Cepas Vellas Rias Baixas
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($39) Bright yellow.  Powerful, mineral-accented aromas of citrus zest, white flowers and pear skin.  Stains the palate with concentrated lemon, pear and honeysuckle flavors braced by chalky mineral and ginger notes.  Refuses to let go on the finish, where the mineral and floral notes echo emphatically.  A superb combination of power and vivacity here.  I was able to taste the components of the estate's "classic" Rias Baixas just before bottling and it should be an outstanding, fruit- and floral-driven wine, with the region's typical minerality on full display.

93 Points
2010 Dominio Do Bibei Lapena Ribeira Sacra Blanco
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($69) (100% godello):  Bright yellow.  Spicier and higher in pitch than the Lapola, offering zesty grapefruit, quince and mineral scents and a touch of pungent herbs.  Dry, racy and precise, with intense orchard and citrus fruit qualities underscored by bracing minerality.  Finishes with outstanding clarity and persistence, leaving chalky mineral and floral notes behind.

93 Points
2009 Dominio Do Bibei Lacima Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($69) (a blend of 85% mencia and 15% brancellao):  Vivid red.  More deeply pitched than the Lalama, offering fresh cherry and black raspberry scents with hints of smoky minerals, violet and licorice.  Zesty mineral and peppery spice notes add bite to sweet dark fruit flavors, which pick up a blood orange nuance with air.  Closes sappy, spicy and long, leaving a sexy floral note behind.

93 Points
2008 Dominio Do Bibei Mouraton Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($68) (100% mouraton, a rare native variety):  Bright violet color.  Aromatic, high-pitched nose evokes fresh blackberry, lavender and Asian spices.  Sweet and sharply focused, offering energetic flavors of black raspberry, spicecake and floral pastille, all lifted by a mineral element.  Finishes spicy and very long, with impressive cling and clarity.

93 Points
2012 Emilio Rojo Ribeiro
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($53) (made from a blend of treixadura, loureiro, albarino and torrontes):  Pale gold.  Sexy, mineral-tinged scents of orchard fruits, iodine, anise and white flowers.  Smells like a Raveneau Chablis, and a good one at that.  Sappy, smoky and incisive, offering vibrant pear and lemon rind flavors underscored by intense mineral and floral qualities.  The iodine and smoke notes resonate on a finish that lingers with superb clarity and persistence.

93 Points
2010 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Rioja Blanco
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($80) Light, bright gold.  Explosive aromas of candied citrus fruits, sweet butter, iodine and fennel, with a sexy floral overtone.  Fleshy and concentrated but lively, offering intense orange, poached pear, buttered toast and smoky mineral flavors.  Reminds me a lot of a high-end Meursault.  Closes spicy and very long, with lingering tangerine and mineral notes.

92 Points
2008 Conde de Hervias Torre del Conde de Hervias Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($74) Vivid purple.  Smoky cassis and cherry aromas are complicated by vanillin oak, Indian spices, anise and cracked pepper.  Sweet blackcurrant and cherry-vanilla flavors display a suave mix of depth and energy, with soft tannins adding structure.  The sweet, persistent finish shows shows excellent lift and an echo of sexy oak spices.  This wine is a huge success for the vintage.

92 Points
2011 Adegas A Coroa Godello 200 Cestos Valdeorras
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($34) Bright gold.  Nectarine, poached pear, lemon pith, anise and honeysuckle on the highly perfumed nose.  Deeply concentrated but energetic, offering creamy orchard and pit fruit flavors and notes of ginger and smoky minerals.  A nervy citrus fruit note adds definition to an impressively long, sappy finish that shows excellent clarity.

92 Points
2010 Dominio Do Bibei Lapola Ribeira Sacra Blanco
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($36) (80% godello with dona blanca, torrontes and loureira):  Light yellow-gold.  Bright, mineral-accented aromas of pear, lemon curd and white flowers.  Shows a deeper yellow plum quality on the palate, along with notes of fennel, chalky minerality and candied ginger.  Rich yet lithe white wine with excellent finishing clarity and length.

92 Points
2009 Dominio Do Bibei Lalama Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($36) (a blend of 90% mencia, 7% garnacha and 3% mouraton):  Bright red.  Powerful, mineral-laced aromas of red berry preserves, Asian spices and potpourri.  Racy and finely etched, offering crackling redcurrant and strawberry flavors that gain sweetness with air.  Shows excellent clarity on the gently tannic finish, which lingers with suave, spicy persistence.

92 Points
2008 Dominio Do Bibei Brancellao Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($74) Bright red.  Intensely perfumed, assertive aromas of cherry and blackcurrant complicated by incense and smoky minerals.  Powerful, palate-staining cherry-cola and licorice flavors show a refreshingly bitter edge and pick up a floral accent with air.  The licorice and floral notes repeat on the long, focused finish, which is framed by silky, sweet tannins.

92 Points
2011 D. Ventura Vina Caneiro Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($30) (made from mencia vines that are reportedly over 80 years old; all stainless steel):  Deep ruby. Vibrant, mineral-accented dark berry and cherry scents are complicated by notes of potpourri and licorice.  Shows excellent clarity and cut on the palate, offering sappy black raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a sexy floral pastille nuance.  The mineral-driven finish clings with superb tenacity, featuring silky tannins and a hint of spicecake.

92 Points
2008 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Reserva
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($35) (all tempranillo, from vines that are around 50 years of age; aged in French oak for 16 months):  Dark purple.  Heady, oak spice- and floral-accented aromas of black and blue fruits, cigar box and cola.  Seductively sweet and expansive, offering powerful blueberry, cassis and vanilla flavors that show liqueur-like intensity and depth.  Seamless in texture, with smooth tannins adding shape to the clinging finish.  This is a huge success for a difficult vintage. 

92 Points
2010 Vina Sastre Ribera del Duero Crianza
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($33) Opaque ruby.  Spicy, high-pitched aromas of blueberry, violet pastille, licorice, cola and black pepper.  Very concentrated but lively and precise, offering palate-staining dark berry and floral flavors and suggestions of mocha and smoky minerals.  Finishes with excellent clarity and power, smooth tannins and lingering florality.

92 Points
2010 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Vinedos de Labastida Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($32) Saturated ruby.  Blackcurrant, smoky minerals and potpourri on the highly perfumed nose.  Silky and sweet on entry, then packed with juicy dark fruit complicated by floral pastilles and a hint of blood orange.  Powerful but lithe, with seamless texture, fine-grained tannins and impressive energy on the finish.

92 Points
2010 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Vinedos de San Vicente Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($32) Glass-staining ruby.  Heady aromas of boysenberry, cassis, fennel and pipe tobacco, with a sexy vanilla undertone.  Lush, velvety and sweet in the mouth, with sexy flavors of black and blue fruit preserves, licorice and floral pastilles.  A fleshy, powerful but shockingly energetic Rioja, with supple tannins framing a long, sweet finish.

92 Points
2009 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Rioja Reserva
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

Deep ruby.  Sexy, floral- and mineral-accented red fruit aromas pick up a smoky nuance with air.  Lithe and precise, offering sweet raspberry and cherry flavors that gain weight and power in the glass.  Very young but promising, with excellent finishing clarity and sweet, gently tannic persistence.  Shows an impressively graceful character for the vintage.

91 Points
2012 Ameztoi Txakoli Getariako Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($19) Pale yellow.  Pungent, mineral-laced aromas of pear, floral honey, lemon pith and fresh herbs.  Densely packed orchard and citrus fruit flavors are brightened by zesty minerality and a hint of white pepper.  Refreshingly bitter on the finish, with the mineral note repeating.

91 Points
2012 Adegas A Coroa Godello Valdeorras
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($24) Green-tinged yellow.  Lemon zest, green apple, white flowers and fennel on the mineral-accented nose.  Dry and incisive, offering intense citrus fruit and honeysuckle flavors and a subtle herbal quality.  Dry and precise on the minerally finish.

91 Points
2012 Doniene Gorrondona Txakoli Gorrondona Bizkaiko Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($19) (85% hondarrabi zuri, 12% mune mahatsa and 3% hondarrabi beltza):  Pale yellow.  Lime, jasmine, chalky minerals and ginger on the perfumed nose.  Pure and precise in the mouth, with lively acidity and pungent minerality providing lift to the citrus and orchard fruit flavors.  Emphatically dry on the finish, which leaves dusty mineral and lime zest notes behind.

91 Points
2012 Doniene Gorrondona Doniene Txakolina Bizkaiko Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($24) Green-tinged straw.  High-pitched aromas of citrus zest, jasmine and minerals, with a gingery quality in the background.  Dry, nervy and precise, offering tangy lemon/lime and green apple flavors and a touch of succulent herbs.  Shows very good clarity on the finish, which leaves a sexy floral note behind.

91 Points
2011 D. Ventura Pena do Lobo Riberia Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($23) Bright ruby.  Wild aromas of blackberry, cassis, bitter chocolate, smoked game and tobacco.  Dense and lively on the palate, offering sexy flavors of dark berry preserves, candied violet and bitter chocolate.  Finishes smooth, spicy and very long, with suave tannins and a lingering blueberry note.

91 Points
2012 Finca Vina Mein Ribeiro
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($19) Light yellow.  Fragrant scents of poached pear, melon and orange zest, with a chalky mineral overtone.  Fresh orchard fruit and honeydew flavors are enlivened by zesty citrus peel and ginger qualities and pick up a hint of quinine with air.  This focused, clean wine finishes with excellent cut and length.

91 Points
2012 Bodegas y Vinedos Garciarevalo Tres Olmos Verdejo Rueda
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($17) (made from vines that are reportedly between 100 and 140 years of age):  Green-tinged yellow.  Vibrant, mineral-accented aromas of underripe orchard fruits, lemon pith, white flowers and herbs.  Dry and refreshingly bitter, offering tangy green apple and lemon/lime flavors and a hint of fennel.  Close clean and tight, with very good clarity and spicy persistence.

91 Points
2009 Luberri Monje Amestoy Biga Rioja Crianza
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($23) (all tempranillo):  Brilliant ruby.  Sexy, oak-spiced aromas of cherry, black raspberry and vanilla, with a smoky overtone.  Sweet, penetrating dark fruit flavors brighten with air, picking up suave floral and spicecake qualities and a hint of licorice.  Silky tannins frame the finish, which leaves a note of candied rose behind.

91 Points
2010 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Crianza
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($23) (95% tempranillo, with garnacha, mazuelo and graciano):  Bright purple.  Vibrant aromas and flavors of black raspberry, spicecake and flowers.  Sweet and seamless on the palate, with a sexy, perfumed quality to its raspberry preserve, cherry-vanilla and floral flavors.  Finishes sappy and long, with fine-grained tannins adding shape and grip.  This suave wine is delicious right now.

91 Points
2010 Vina Sastre Flavus Blanco Vino de Mesa
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($20) Bright yellow.  Sexy, expansive aromas of dried orchard fruits, white flowers and lemon curd, with a bright mineral overtone.  Densely packed pear and tangerine flavors show unlikely vivacity and pick up a minerally nuance with air.  Closes on an emphatic floral note, with excellent clarity and persistence.  This wine checks in at 13.5% alcohol but has the heft of a richer wine.

91 Points
2011 Vina Sastre Roble Ribera del Duero
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($20) Bright purple.  Pungent aromas of blueberry, cherry-cola and smoky minerals, with a spicy overtone.  Expansive black and blue fruit flavors show impressive depth and energy, picking up a smoky nuance with air.  Closes on a spicy note, with gentle tannic grip and excellent length.  Pretty impressive for an entry-level wine, especially from this vintage.

91 Points
2009 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Lindes de Remelluri Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($32) (a blend of tempranillo, garnacha, graciano and viura; aged for 12 months in a combination of French and American oak):  Bright purple.  Rich, smoky aromas of ripe cherry and blueberry are complicated by suggestions of vanilla and candied rose.  Bright and focused on the palate, offering spicy blackcurrant and floral pastille flavors and strong mineral bite.  Juicy cassis and black raspberry flavors linger on the smooth, persistent finish.  Nicely balanced and focused, with supple tannins that fade into the sweet fruit. 

90 Points
2012 Ameztoi Stimatum Getariako Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($20) (100% hondarrabi beltza):  Bright purple.  High-pitched cherry, blueberry and floral aromas, with a zesty mineral topnote.  Juicy, incisive and mineral-driven, offering pliant cherry and dark berry flavors that gain sweetness with air.  The mineral quality adds bite to the finish, which features fine-grained tannins and a hint of candied violet. 

90 Points
2012 Arabako Txakolina Xarmant Txakoli
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($17) Light yellow.  Melon and lemon curd on the nose.  Silky honeydew and citrus fruit flavors are given a refreshingly bitter edge by quinine and pear skin qualities.  The dry, focused finish features a dusty mineral nuance and very good persistence.

90 Points
2011 Conde de Hervias Mencos Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($16) (sourced from a single vineyard of 45-year-old vines called El Romero):  Bright ruby.  Bright red fruits on the nose, with peppery spices and a floral element adding nuance.  Pliant and sweet but energetic as well, conveying an appealing vibrancy to its raspberry and bitter cherry flavors.  Silky tannins build on the long, sweet finish, which leaves a subtle smoky note behind.

90 Points
2012 Doniene Gorrondona Tinto Bizkaiko Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($28) (all hondarrabi beltza):  Deep ruby.  Pungent aromas of black and blue fruits and espresso are complemented by black pepper and licorice.  Dense, sweet and smoky, showing very good definition to its cassis, bitter cherry and violet pastille flavors.  Displays impressive energy and finishes firm, spicy and long, with lingering smokiness.

90 Points
2012 D. Ventura Vina do Burato Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($20) Bright ruby-red.  High-pitched red berry and Asian spice aromas, with a zesty mineral topnote and a hint of rose oil.  Tangy and incisive on the palate, offering intense cherry and redcurrant flavors and a touch of bitter rhubarb.  Very refreshing wine with strong finishing cut, gentle tannins and lingering floral and peppery spice notes.

90 Points
2012 Finca Vina Mein Mein Fermentado en Barrica Ribeiro
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($26) Green-tinged yellow.  High-pitched aromas of citrus pith and pear, with a floral overtone.  Dry and precise on the palate, offering intense lemon and quince flavors that become fleshier and sweeter with air.  A fennel note comes up on the finish, which clings with very good tenacity.  I prefer the nerviness and bite of the regular bottling of this wine today but can see this being the best choice for richer, assertively seasoned food.

90 Points
2012 Bodegas y Vinedos Garciarevalo Casamaro Verdejo Rueda
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($13) Pale gold.  Green apple, fennel and lemon thyme on the nose.  Spicy, focused and dry, with a citrus zest flavor lifted by tangy acidity.  Finishes dry, aromatic and long, leaving suave herbal and floral notes behind.

90 Points
2012 Luberri Monje Amestoy Orlegi Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($15) (100% tempranillo):  Brilliant ruby.  Sexy, fragrant black raspberry, floral and spicecake scents show very good energy and clarity.  Lively and precise, offering silky red and dark berry flavors and a touch of cola.  The floral note comes back on the finish, which clings with very good tenacity and just a hint of tannins. 

90 Points
2012 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($14) (no oak):  Light yellow-gold.  Smoky, expansive pear and melon aromas are complicated by notes of vanilla and buttered toast.  Smells like some oak is in play here, but none was used.  Spicy and broad on the palate, offering juicy orchard fruit flavors and a hint of honeysuckle.  Closes smooth and long, with very good energy and lift.

90 Points
2012 Uriondo Bizkaiko Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #170, Sept/Oct 2013 - Josh Raynolds

($17) Pale, green-tinged yellow.  High-pitched citrus fruit and floral scents, with a smoky mineral overtone.  Dry, nervy and focused, offering bitter lemon/lime and quince flavors and a hint of honeysuckle.  Closes zesty and long, with lingering spiciness and very good clarity.

New Releases from Spain

>Printer Friendly Reviews, Issue #164

All reviews were written by Josh Raynolds and were published in issue 164 (September/October 2012) of Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Original reviews can be found online at http://www.wineaccess.com/expert/tanzer (subscription required). Tasting notes, wine and winery names, and technical information appear as published on http://www.wineaccess.com/expert/tanzer and may contain errors in spelling and content. The wines were tasted in 2012 and reflect vintages that were current at the time.

By Josh Raynolds

Coming on the heels of the challenging 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages, the mostly very good to excellent 2009, 2010 and 2011 trio is providing welcome relief to growers and importers, not to mention wine lovers.  The most recent of those vintages, 2011, is reported to be uniformly excellent across the country and more than a few producers and importers I spoke with praised the wines' blend of forward, vivacious fruit and firm underlying structure.  Based on my early look at the vintage I'll go out on a limb and call '11 a cross between 2010 and 2009, combining the precocious character of '09 and the focus of '10.  Keep in mind that vintage 2010 produced some of the finest wines since 2005 in most of Spain's growing areas, but some lower-lying regions like Rueda experienced more extreme heat than normal, with subsequent loss of vivacity in the wines.

Two thousand nine in northern Spain's premier growing regions continues to be a mixed bag of thrilling, intensely flavored and concentrated wines along with others that show roasted character, loose structure, high alcohol and serious tannins due to thick grape skins.  While the tannins achieved in ripe vintages such as 2009 are beneficial to aging, what is really gained if the fruit loses its freshness?

How do they do it?  Bear in mind that most of Spain's best red wine regions are situated at higher altitudes than other growing areas in Europe, apart from the Alpine regions of Italy.  This contributes to diurnal temperature shifts that help to prolong the growing season and to preserve the natural acidity in the grapes.  Most of these vineyards also enjoy the benefit of cooling winds and, thanks to mostly arid conditions, the vines are rarely under mildew or rot pressures.  Vineyard pests are also less common in Spain than in most of Europe, so the vines can be productive well past the average lifespan of vines in cooler, more humid regions.  Indeed, many vineyards in Spain, particularly those planted on sandy soils, were never hit by the phylloxera of the late 19th century and some vines planted before and during that period are still viable.  Couple that with low land prices and production costs in areas like Calatayud, Jumilla, Yecla and Campo de Borja and you have a recipe for what I consider to be the greatest red wine values in the world.

The market today.  Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that tastes here for Spanish wine have swung decidedly in the direction of elegance, even understatement, in recent years, especially in the upper-tier category.  That's a trend that I'm seeing for wines from across Europe, actually, if not from around the world.  Red wines made in a traditional, minimal-intervention style, with minimal new oak and moderate alcohol levels, are the fastest movers, according to most importers, wholesalers, retailers and sommeliers I talk with regularly.

That said, there is still a thriving market for oak-influenced wines in the under-$25 category from Spain, a situation that many importers handle very creatively.  Basically, an importer who works with wineries that offer wines at varying price levels will move new and used barrels around, from winery to winery, through their useful lives, which usually run up to five years.  For example, if a high-end Rioja is destined for extended aging in a new, expensive barrel, that cask might do its first couple of months of duty at a winery in, say, Calatayud or La Mancha, where an inexpensive wine is briefly aged in the barrel, to "season" or "rinse" it before it is shipped to its new home.

Alternatively, wineries that rely heavily on new barrels as part of their winemaking regimen need to move their used and unneeded barrels out to make way for new casks and new wine.  Because those barrels are now being put to use at wineries that produce modestly priced wines (the barrels have already been amortized by the primary user), many inexpensive wines now enjoy the luxury of spending at least part of their lives in a quality of oak unheard of for wines selling for under $100 a bottle, much less under $25.  That's a huge boon for the many consumers who like oak character in their wines but whose budget won't permit dropping $50+ on a daily bottle or two.  In contrast, how many people who drink everyday French, Australian or California wines will ever get to experience the sexy perfumes and textures imparted by barrels from tonneliers such as Taransaud, Chassin, Dominique Laurent and Darnajou?

As for white wines, the racy style produced in Spain's northern regions has been one of the great success stories of the wine world in recent years.  It seems like only yesterday that the words "lively, fresh and vibrant" and "Spanish white wine" were never uttered together, at least in the United States.  Now, wine lists and retail shelves are packed with current-release white wines from Rias Baixas, Rueda, Ribeiro, Valdeorras and even Basque country, whose Txakolis simply did not exist here a decade ago; today the top wines from these regions are actually allocated.  For an old-timer like me this is nothing short of astonishing.

Looking ahead.  As good as Spain is at putting excellent wine into the bottle, many producers have a lot to learn when it comes to projecting a serious image to consumers who are increasingly spoiled for choices.  Way too many wines are bottled with sub-par corks, packed in flimsy boxes, or look like they were labeled in a garage, at night, with the lights off.  On the flip side, a number of Spanish wineries are among the industry leaders when it comes to over-the-top packaging, especially in their use of oversized, overweight bottles, although I did see fewer of these this year than previously.

It would also be nice if the Spaniards could get their collective act together sufficiently, for example, to address the endlessly confusing use of regional dialect with grape varieties.  Here's a very brief cheat sheet for the most common offenders, and the synonyms you'll likely run into while exploring Spain's amazing and often bewildering range of wines:

samso = cinsault
mazuelo = carinena = carinyena = carignan
ull de llebre = tempranillo = tinto de pais = tinto de toro
garnacha = garnatxa = garnatxa negre = garnacha tinta
garnacha tintorera = alicante bouschet
sira = syrah
macabeo = macabeu = viura
monastrell = mourvedre (though there isn't universal consensus on this)

I actually see the grape names interchanged on labels from the same producer, meaning that the label for one of their wines says "garnatxa" while another says "garnacha."  Confusing the consumer is never a good business strategy, but since the Spaniards have a long history of protecting their regional, even micro-regional traditions, especially when it comes to language, don't expect things to get clearer anytime soon.

I tasted all of the wines for this article over the last few months in New York.

94 points
2007 Vina Sastre Pesus Ribera del Duero
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($750) (85% tempranillo, with cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot):  Inky ruby.  Explosively perfumed aromas of candied dark berries, incense and potpourri, with cola and vanilla accents building in the glass.  Lush, palate-staining blackberry, cherry and violet pastille flavors show impressive depth and sweetness, with a velvety texture and emphatic spiciness.  Finishes on a sweet note, with outstanding thrust and persistence.  This may be the best wine of the appellation from this erratic vintage.

93 points
2009 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Rioja Blanco
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($80) (made from a blend of garnacha blanca, roussanne, marsanne, viognier, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, moscatel and petit courbut):  Bright yellow.  A heady, complex bouquet evokes candied citrus fruits, pear skin, honey, vanilla and ginger, with a spicy overtone.  Deeply pitched orange and poached pear flavors show very good breadth and are braced and lifted by tangy acidity.  Closes on a gently sweet note, with impressive power and lingering spiciness.  This wine is delicious now but it also has the concentration to reward mid-term cellaring.

93 points
2010 Do Ferreiro Albarino Cepas Vellas Rias Baixas
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($39) (made from vines that are reportedly over 200 years old):  Light, bright yellow.  Intense, mineral-accented aromas of orange, green apple and melon, with chalk and floral accents and a touch of anise.  Dry and racy on the palate, with impressive depth to its vivid orchard fruit and citrus zest flavors.  Finishes bright and very long, with resonating spiciness and excellent clarity.

92 points
2010 Joan d'Anguera Finca L'Argata Montsant
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($30) (60% garnacha and 40% syrah, aged for 12 months in new and used Allierbarriques):  Bright, youthful purple.  Sexy, oak-spiced aromas of black raspberry, cherry-cola, smoky minerals and violet.  Sappy and precise, with intense red and dark berry flavors and supple texture.  The mineral quality comes back strong on the finish, which shows gentle tannins and assertive spice notes.   

92 points
2006 Conde de Hervias Torre del Conde de Hervias Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($45) (90% tempranillo and 10% graciano, from vines that are reportedly over 80 years old; raised in 80% French and 20% American oak):  Ruby-red.  Sexy, spice-accented aromas of cherry-cola, cassis and candied rose, with subtle vanilla and pipe tobacco nuances.  Sweet and supple in texture, with deep dark berry and bitter cherry flavors that show very good energy.  Finishes sweet and very long, with gentle tannins and lingering smokiness.

92 points
2008 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($38) (mostly tempranillo, with garnacha, graciano, viura and malvasia):  Ruby-red.  Redcurrant, cherry, rose pastille and spicecake on the highly perfumed nose and in the mouth.  Silky, sweet and penetrating, with slow-building tannins and excellent finishing cut and length.  A very successful wine for this difficult vintage, and it's built to reward at least another ten years of aging.

92 points
2008 Dominio Do Bibei Lalama Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($38) (90% mencia, 7% garnacha and 3% mouraton, fermented in a combination of oak and concrete and then raised for 20 months in a combination of large and small French oak casks, all used 1 to 3 times):  Vivid ruby.  Assertively perfumed bouquet brings forth cherry pit, black raspberry, potpourri and anise, along with mineral and cracked pepper accents.  Sappy, tightly focused red and dark berry flavors of great depth and energy, with a floral pastille quality building in the glass.  Finishes spicy and long, with persistent mineral and floral notes. 

92 points
2009 Vina Sastre Ribera del Duero Crianza
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($33) (100% tempranillo, from vines between 20 and 65 years of age, raised in 100% new French oak):  Opaque ruby.  A complex, highly perfumed bouquet evokes red and dark berry preserves, incense and cola, along with a sexy floral nuance and a touch of cracked pepper.  Juicy, sweet and expansive, offering vibrant cherry and blackberry flavors and a velvety texture.  Finishes with impressive clarity and lift, leaving a candied violet note behind.

91 points
2010 Joan d'Anguera Planella Montsant
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($22) (45% carinyena, 45% syrah and 10% garnatxa, aged for 11 months in French and American oak):  Bright violet color.  Fresh red berries, Asian spices and anise on the fragrant, mineral-accented nose and on the palate.  Bright and youthfully nervy, with impressive finishing cut and lingering spiciness.  This wine should put on weight with a few more years of bottle age but holds plenty of appeal now.

91 points
2009 Joan d'Anguera Finca L'Argata Montsant
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($30) Bright ruby-red.  Aromas and flavors of ripe dark berries, cherry skin, licorice and smoky herbs.  Fleshy and broad on entry, then tighter in the middle, tasting of sweet cherry compote, blackberry and a touch of bitter chocolate.  Dusty tannins help shape the long, floral- and spice-accented finish.  This wine drinks nicely now with a couple hours of aeration.

91 points
2011 Adegas A Coroa Godello Valdeorras
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($23) Pale gold.  High-pitched aromas and flavors of orange, green apple and fresh fig, with a gingery topnote.  Lithe and precise, with excellent finishing clarity and lingering floral notes.  This suave, seamless wine would work with light as well as with richer foods, or all by itself.

91 points
2011 Doniene Gorrondona Tinto Bizkaiko Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($28) (100% hondarri baltza, from vines that are reportedly over 150 years old, raised in stainless steel):  Vivid ruby.  Intense, spice-accented aromas and flavors of redcurrant and cherry, with mineral, cracked pepper and anise nuances.  Lively and precise on the finish, which leaves zesty mineral and spice notes behind.  Fans of taut, linear Loire Valley red wines will really groove on this.     

91 points
2011 Bodegas y Vinedos Garciarevalo Tres Olmos Verdejo Rueda
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($17) Green-tinged straw.  Bright, pungent aromas of quince, lime pith and herbs.  Silky and precise, with  energy and depth to its flavors of lime, lemongrass and peach pit.  The long, incisive finish has noteworthy focus and length.

91 points
2006 Luberri Monje Amestoy Seis de Luberri Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($31) (100% tempranillo, aged for 16 months in French and American oak):  Deep red.  Complex, smoky aromas of red fruits, potpourri and musky herbs, with a spicy topnote.  Sappy and precise, showing very good depth to its sweet cherry and rose pastille flavors.  Soft tannins come up with air and add shape to the long, fruity, focused finish.  I'd drink this over the next few years while the fruit is to the fore, but I have little doubt that it will continue to show well over the next decade.   

91 points
2010 Do Ferreiro Rebisaca Rias Baixas
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($25) (90% albarino and 10% treixadura, aged on its lees in stainless steel for seven months):  Light yellow.  Aromas and flavors of honeydew, pear and lemon curd, with hints of chalk and white pepper.  Juicy and focused, with excellent finishing clarity and lingering mineral and floral notes. 

91 points
2011 Do Ferreiro Albarino Rias Baixas
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($27) Light, bright yellow.  Vibrant, mineral-inflected aromas of citrus zest, quince and agave, with a floral topnote.  Bright and taut on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, presenting intense orchard and citrus fruit flavors and a deeper nectarine quality.  Closes with impressive energy and lift, leaving a candied ginger note in its wake.

91 points
2010 Vina Sastre Tinto Ribera del Duero
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($20) Saturated ruby.  Sexy, spice-accented aromas of black raspberry, mocha and cola, with intense floral and mineral accents adding lift.  Juicy, penetrating red and dark berry flavors show very good intensity and focus, taking on weight and gaining sweetness with air.  Fine-grained tannins build on the lingering finish.  Pretty impressive for an entry-level wine, but this promises to be a top vintage in the region.

91 points
2009 Granja Nuestra Senora de Remelluri Lindes de Remelluri Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($32) Bright ruby-red.  Sexy, floral-accented aromas of candied red fruits, cherry-cola and Asian spices, with slow-building tobacco and licorice nuances.  Fleshy and expansive on the palate, offering sweet cherry and black raspberry flavors and a touch of cracked pepper.  Finishes with very good energy and length, leaving floral and cola notes behind.

91 points
2010 D. Ventura Vina Caneiro Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($30) (100% mencia, from vines that are reportedly over 80 years old; no oak):  Bright violet color.  Mineral- and floral-accented aromas of dark berries and cherry, along with a peppery overtone.  Bright, precise and gently sweet on the finish, leaving spice and bitter cherry notes behind.  I really like this wine's tension.

91 points
2011 Arabako Txakolina Xarmant Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($17) Pale yellow.  High-pitched aromas and flavors of lime pith, lemongrass, white flowers and chalky minerals.  Racy and precise, with impressive power and cut on a finish that features zesty mineral and ginger nuances.

91 points
2007 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Reserva
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($33) (100% tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa, raised in French oak for 16 months):  Saturated ruby.  Sexy, oak-spiced aromas of cherry-cola and raspberry with suggestions of licorice and dark chocolate adding depth.  Rich and broad for the vintage, offering sweet dark fruit flavors and a suave touch of candied rose.  Finishes smooth and smoky, with impressive vibrancy and a lingering floral note.

91 points
2011 Ameztoi Txakoli Getariako Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($19) Bright straw.  Citrus fruits, green apple and herbs on the highly fragrant nose and in the mouth.  Stony and tight, with impressive finishing clarity and lingering honeysuckle and lemon nuances.

91 points
2011 Ameztoi Rubentis Getariako Txakolina
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($19) (made from a blend of 50% hondarribi beltza and 50% hondarribi zurri, from vines that are reportedly over 150 years old):  Very pale pink.  Ethereal, mineral-accented aromas of citrus fruits, strawberry and white flowers.  Dry and tightly focused, with energetic orange peel and red berry flavors that show very good clarity.  Clean and tangy on the precise finish, which leaves white pepper and mineral notes behind.

90 points
2011 D. Ventura Vina do Burato Ribeira Sacra
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($20) (100% mencia; all stainless steel and 12.5% alcohol):  Vibrant ruby.  Intense, mineral-accented aromas of red berries and cherry pit, with a hint of Asian spices in the background.  Juicy, penetrating red fruit flavors pick up a bitter herb quality with air and show impressive energy.  Closes spicy and long, with silky tannins and very good clarity.

90 points
2009 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Crianza
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($23) (almost all tempranillo, with bits of garnacha, mazuelo and graciano):  Bright violet color.  Spicy aromas of ripe red berries and cherry, with notes of cola and vanilla adding complexity.  Broad and fleshy but lively, with good lift and cut to its sweet cherry-vanilla and floral pastille flavors.  The spicy quality comes back on the finish, which clings with very good authority.

90 points
2011 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Rosado
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds
($16) (made from a blend of tempranillo, garnacha and viura):  Light, bright pink.  A bright, assertive bouquet of blood orange, strawberry, honeysuckle and a spicy topnote.  Juicy and precise, with very good energy and lift to its tangy citrus fruit flavors.  The floral note comes back strong on the long, incisive finish.

90 points
2009 Luberri Monje Amestoy Seis de Luberri Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($18) (100% tempranillo, fermented in stainless steel and aged in a combination of French and American oak):  Bright ruby-red.  Aromas and flavors of cherry, red- and blackcurrant and candied rose, with a smoky accent.  Shows very good vivacity for this ripe vintage, finishing with strong cut and lingering spiciness.

90 points
2008 Luberri Monje Amestoy Biga Rioja Crianza
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($22) (100% tempranillo aged for one year in French and American oak):  Bright ruby-red.  Dried cherry and redcurrant on the pungent nose, with suggestions of cured tobacco, anise and cedar adding complexity.  Juicy and taut on entry, then fleshier in the mid-palate, offering sweet red fruit flavors and a hint of licorice pastille.  Closes on a gently tannic note, with firm grip and lingering spiciness.  This wine drinks well now with some air but will be even better with a couple more years of bottle age.

90 points
2009 Vina Sastre Flavus Blanco Vino de Mesa
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($20) (100% jaen, a.k.a. palomino, aged in stainless steel):  Light yellow.  Musky, mineral-accented aromas and flavors of pear skin, melon and ginger, with an herbal overtone.  Dry and smooth in texture, offering hefty orchard fruit flavors and a touch of bitter quinine.  Finishes sappy and long, with lingering spiciness and very good length.

90 points
2011 Finca Vina Mein Ribeiro
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($19) (80% treixadura, with godello, loureira, torrontes, albarino and lado):  Pale yellow.  Intense, mineral-accented aromas of tangerine, melon and white flowers.  Pliant, palate-coating citrus fruit and honeydew flavors show good depth and a bracing note of ginger.  Rich but lively, with strong finishing punch and spicy persistence. 

89 points
2011 Avinyo Petillant Blanc Vi d'Agulla
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($15) (100% moscatel de grano menudo; 10.5% alcohol):  Bright straw.  High-pitched scents of pit and orchard fruits, with white pepper and floral accents.  Juicy and bright in the mouth, offering tangy orange zest and pear flavors and a hint of ginger.  Finishes racy, dry and clean, with lingering floral and spice notes.  This reminds me a lot of a Txakoli.

89 points
2011 Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($14) (90% viura and 10% malvasia; no oak):  Light gold.  Bright, expressive aromas and flavors of lemon curd, green apple, honeysuckle and mint.  Fresh and intensely flavored, with silky texture and good weight.  Finishes clean, long and tangy with a lingering citrus note.

88 points
2011 Luberri Monje Amestoy Orlegi Rioja
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($13) (100% tempranillo, all done in stainless steel):  Vivid ruby.  Bright, intensely perfumed aromas of red berries and cherry pit, with a peppery accent.  Juicy and silky in the mouth, with tangy redcurrant and bitter cherry flavors lifted by a spicy nuance.  The nicely focused finish leaves a tart berry skin note behind.

88 points
2011 Bodegas y Vinedos Garciarevalo Casamaro Rueda
International Wine Cellar, #164, Sept./Oct. 2012 - Josh Raynolds

($13) (90% verdejo and 10% viura; made from the property's youngest vines):  Bright straw.  Vibrant aromas of pear, orange zest and mint.  Sappy and expansive, offering fresh citrus fruit and pear flavors lifted by a suggestion of white pepper.  Good bite with a bit of warmth on the refreshingly brisk finish.

The Best New Roses: 2012

>Printer Friendly Reviews, Issue 10114, July 2012

All reviews were written by Josh Raynolds and were published in issue 10114 (July 2012) of Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. Original reviews can be found online at http://www.wineaccess.com/expert/tanzer (subscription required). Tasting notes, wine and winery names, and technical information appear as published on http://www.wineaccess.com/expert/tanzer and may contain errors in spelling and content. The wines were tasted in 2012 and reflect vintages that were current at the time.

By Josh Raynolds

Americans seem to have finally become comfortable with the fact that rose wines aren't just for summer drinking.  They also seem to be realizing that a great rose--and there are more than a few--is a truly great wine, with no apologies for being pink.  They're even coming around slowly to the realization that the best roses can actually last and improve with a little time in bottle, or even a lot of it in the case of some bottlings.  Those of us who have lost a bottle of rose in the cellar and popped it a few years later, expecting the worst, can often vouch for that but I doubt that many wine lovers are going to make a habit of laying down pink wines for the grandkids, nor do I recommend it. 

Broadly speaking, there are two types of rose: the classic version is in a delicate style made from the juice of red grapes that are pressed and and then left to macerate briefly together, which usually imparts a pale pink color.  The second style is made by the saignee method, where juice is drawn off of fermenting red wine, which typically means darker color, richer flavors and more weight.  The paler versions are well-suited to drinking by themselves or with lighter foods while the saignee renditions are usually better with food, and in many cases they can even stand in for red wines at the table.

I tasted a large number of excellent roses this year and due to the sheer volume of them we are only publishing full notes on those that I rated 88 points or above.  Those wines that scored 87 points are in the "Also recommended" section of this article, along with those that rated 86 and 85 points.  In many cases these wines sell for somewhere in the $10 range, which makes them seriously good values, so don't hesitate to try these too.  Note that there are no Spanish roses in this year's rose article as they will be included in our annual Spanish coverage, which will be published in the next issue of the IWC.

92 points
Clos Cibonne
2010 Tibouren Cru Classe Cotes De Provence Rose
International Wine Cellar, #10114, July 2012 - Josh Raynolds

Light orange.  Wild, intensely perfumed bouquet of blood orange, cranberry, rhubarb, potpourri and minerals, with subtle almond and mace accents.  Bitter cherry and orange pith flavors show impressive depth and energy, with candied lavender and anise notes adding complexity.  Sappy, penetrating and focused on the tenacious finish.

93 points
Clos Cibonne
2010 Cotes De Provence Rose Cuvee Speciale Des Vignettes
International Wine Cellar, #10114, July 2012 - Josh Raynolds

Orange-pink color.  Potent, mineral-accented aromas of dried red fruits, floral oils, herbs and spicecake, with smoke and anise overtones.  Offers an array of red fruit and floral flavors, with bitter orange peel and mineral qualities adding lift and focus.  Wild, singular pink wine, with strong finishing power and lingering lavender, mineral and cherry pit qualities.  Not your father's rose, but maybe his great-grandfather's.

The Best New Wines from Spain - Sept/Oct 2008

By Josh Raynolds
Reviews by Josh Raynolds

Our second installment of new Spanish releases, like last issue’s coverage, is chock full of remarkable bargains at all price points. Even with the dollar just off its lows against the Euro I cannot think of a single region in the world that offers as much bang for the wine buck as Spain. This is mostly attributable to the fact that Spain is rich in old vines, with most of these vineyards situated in regions that offer virtually care-free growing conditions (Yecla and Jumilla notably) and planted to user-friendly varieties such as garnacha (grenache). Usually made in an exuberant, fruit-forward, low-tannin style, these wines are typically bottled early and shipped to market within a year of the harvest. They do not require extended or even mid-term cellaring to express their charms. Indeed, the vast majority of Spain’s under-$15 wines are made to be drunk on release, although giving them a few years of bottle aging usually does no harm, as el cheapo bottles from 2001 and the late 1990s have shown.

At the upper end, I found a lot to like from the regions that are noted for producing Spain’s most complex wines: Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat. There are also plenty of noteworthy wines at the high end coming out of previously obscure (for Americans) regions such as Bierzo. While the best wines are not inexpensive, when I look at the prices commanded by big- and even not-so-big-name Bordeaux, Burgundy and Napa Valley wines, I have to admit that most of these bottles look like bargains. That is, if you can accept the concept that any wine selling for more than $50 a bottle can ever really be considered a good value.

Also exciting are the more serious bottlings being produced from regions that have mostly been known for making cheap and cheerful wines but that boast well-situated vineyards and ancient vines. It will be interesting to see how high-end boutique wines from Calatayud, Jumilla, La Mancha and Campo de Borja, often made by famous wineries or winemakers from more lauded regions, will be accepted by a market that has been trained to think that only the marquee regions are allowed to command over $20 a bottle, or much more, in the competitive American marketplace. The quality of these wines can be impressive, and what I am seeing bodes well for the future. But I get a nagging sense of déjà-vu as I consider the pain that producers in Australia and Chile are currently experiencing as they try to convince the world that there is more going on in their cellars than industrial production of high-volume, low-price guzzling wine.

90 Points
2007 Ameztoi Txakoli
Getariako Txakolina
$22; 90% hondarrabi zuri and 10% hondarrabi beltza, the latter a red grape

Pale yellow. Spicy lemon and pear aromas are underscored by talc and quinine. Pleasant bitter, light-bodied citrus and green apple flavors pick up salty minerality with air. Refreshing and extremely easy to drink, this would be great with a light shrimp or clam dish. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

91 Points
2007 Ameztoi Upelean Hartzitua
Getariako Txakolina
$22; 90% hondarrabi zuri and 10% hondarrabi beltza; just 10.5% alcohol

Limpid straw color. Lime, grapefruit and talc on the nose, with subtle jasmine and white pepper qualities. Light and refreshingly bitter, with precise citrus and mineral flavors braced by juicy acidity. Taut and incisive on the spicy, gently tart finish. I get more depth and texture here than I did from the previous wine. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2007 Ameztoi Rubentis
Getariako Txakolina
$22; a 50/50 blend of hondarrabis zuri and beltza

Pale pink. Fresh redcurrant, strawberry and lime aromas are complicated by chalky minerals and white flowers. Light and crisp, with concentrated red berry and ruby-red grapefruit flavors and gentle back-end minerality. More gentle than usual for this wine but far from soft, with sweet finishing notes of strawberry and raspberry and a late jolt of lemon zest. This is way too easy to drink. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

91 Points
2007 Xarmant
Arabako Txakolina
$19

Bright straw color. Pink grapefruit and lime on the nose, with a strong chalky component gaining power. Citrus flavors are refreshingly bitter and precise, with an exotic saffron quality on the back end. There's almost painful concentration to this light-bodied wine, and the finish is dry, incisive and persistent. This would be great with oysters. -J.R. (IWC 9/08)

88 Points
2007 Vi D'Agulla
Penedès
$17; 100% petit gran muscat; 10.5% alcohol

Pale straw with a light froth. Pungent lemon-lime and green apple aromas are complemented by white flowers and quinine. Brisk and sharply focused, with racy citrus flavors and good back-end minerality. Clean, refreshing and light in body, finishing with good clarity and cut. This is extremely easy to drink. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

88 Points
2007 Vi D'Agulla Rosado
Penedès
$17; 100% merlot

Bright pink, with a gentle CO2 fizz. Redcurrant and cherry on the nose, with a kiss of pungent herbs. Light and crisp, with bitter red berry and cherry skin flavors and a jolt of minerals on the back end. Straightforward and refreshing, this would be excellent with young goat or sheep cheeses. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

88 Points
2007 Arbanta
Rioja
$15

Inky ruby. Grapey dark fruit aromas are youthfully reductive but quickly freshen up to display deep raspberry and blackberry character. Light-bodied red and dark fruit flavors are firmed by palate-numbing black pepper and clove, with no obvious tannins showing. A clean, brisk wine that would be good with a light chill. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

93 Points
2006 Albariño Cepas Vellas
Rias Baixas
$39

Pale chartreuse-green color. Strikingly complex nose displays fresh lime, herb and white flowers, along with dusty minerals and a suave note of anise. Light in body but concentrated, with intensely spicy citrus and orchard fruit flavors and mounting richness. Leaves sweet melon and nervy lime notes behind on the long, chewy finish. A very impressive wine with admirable balance, clarity and persistence. I'd love to see this in five years. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2007 Gorrondona Tinto
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$30; 100% hondarrabi beltza

Bright red. Peppery redcurrant, cherry and herbal aromas reminded me of Chinon. Firm on entry, but quickly fleshes out to offer sweet strawberry and raspberry flavors, along with a hint of bitter cherry skin. Light in body but packs impressive flavor punch and finishes with very good focus and lift. Those who demand fat in their red wines will not go for this. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

89 Points
2007 Casamaro Blanco
Rueda
$14; a 90/10 blend of verdejo and Viura

Light yellow, with a faint CO2 haze. Pungent lemon and pear aromas are complemented by subtle floral and herbal qualities, picking up dusty minerals with air. Medium-weight orchard fruit and melon flavors are given bite by bitter quinine and lemon zest. Becomes deeper and sweeter on the finish but retains very good energy, leaving Meyer lemon and candied pear notes behind. I wouldn't hesitate to serve this with richer seafood dishes. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2007 Gurrutxaga Txakoli
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$22

Limpid straw. Racy lemon and pink grapefruit aromas are complicated by white flowers, dusty minerals and fresh herbs. Tightly wound and strikingly pure, offering energetic citrus and green apple flavors underscored by tangy minerality. Refreshingly precise and nervy wine with outstanding finishing clarity and cut. I could drink this all day long. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

91 Points
2007 Gurrutxaga Txakoli Rosé
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$22

Bright pink color. Pungent strawberry and peach pit aromas are complicated by fresh herbs and white flowers. Fleshy red berry flavors are given a firm edge by dusty minerals, which add grip and back-end bite. Gains weight with air, picking up a deeper bitter cherry quality. The cherry quality carries through the very long, chewy finish, which is refreshingly dry and precise. This would work with all kinds of food, or on its own. I wish that it came in magnums. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

89 (+?) Points
2006 Planella
Montsant
$24; 40% mazuelo and 20% each of syrah, grenache and cabernet sauvignon

Inky ruby. Powerfully scented nose displays ripe dark berries and candied plum, with an undercurrent of smoky minerals. Deep blackcurrant and cherry flavors are still a bit primary but flesh out with air. Turns sweeter on the finish, leaving behind a suave floral quality behind. I'd wait a year or so to open this. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

91 Points
2006 Finca L'Argata
Montsant
$32; 40% each of syrah and grenache, with 20% cabernet sauvignon

Saturated ruby-red. Powerfully scented nose offers sexy black raspberry and cherry-vanilla aromas, along with sweet tobacco and floral qualities. Broad red and dark berry and cola flavors are reined in by silky tannins, which add welcome focus. Nicely balances sweetness and spiciness, and finishes with very good clarity. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2005 Biga
Rioja
$24

Vivid red. Mineral-driven aromas of raspberry, cherry and baking spices, with a suave floral undertone. Light-bodied red berry flavors are seductively pure and sweet, with fine-grained tannins adding grip. Finishes brisk, with sneaky length and a strong echo of cracked pepper. Really intriguing wine, and sure to be flexible at the table. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2007 Ostatu Blanco
Rioja
$19

Pale peach skin color. Quince, pear skin and green apple aromas are complemented by minerals and honeysuckle. Stony citrus and orchard fruit flavors are nicely focused, turning juicier with air and picking up a melon quality. Finishes on notes of dusty minerals and dried flowers, with very good clarity and persistence. This will be extremely flexible at the table. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2005 Crianza
Ribera del Duero
$36

Deep ruby color. Ripe cherry-vanilla, black raspberry and cola on the nose; a dark chocolate note arrives with air and carries onto the palate, adding depth to the ripe dark fruit flavors. The oak comes on strong on the finish but the sweet fruit keeps pace through a long, sappy finish. Traditionalists will like this sexy wine less than I did, but I suspect that the oak will be absorbed with a few years of patience. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

93 Points
2004 Regina Vides
Ribera del Duero
$234

Opaque ruby. Exotically perfumed nose displays sexy, oak-spiced red and dark berry liqueur, floral and smoky mineral scents. Lush and creamy black raspberry and blackcurrant flavors are given spine by juicy acidity and pick up suave vanilla and cola qualities on the back end. Finishes sweet and impressively long, strongly repeating the black raspberry and floral notes. This doesn't want to let go of the palate. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

95 Points
2005 Pesus
Ribera del Duero
$750; 85% tempranillo, with cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot

Inky ruby. A kaleidoscopic bouquet runs the gamut of red and dark berries, joined by cherry-vanilla, Asian spices, cola, high-test chocolate, floral oil and smoky minerality: this smells like the spawn of a florist shop and a head shop, if they met up at a fruit stand and got acquainted over Valrhona chocolate. Deep, sweet and pure, offering luscious black raspberry, cherry and candied licorice flavors, and picking up rose and violet pastille with air. Velvety tannins add gentle grip but are overwhelmed by the powerful fruit. The minerality adds lift and urgency to the endless finish, which leaves suave berry, mocha and spice notes behind, in due time. Wow! -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2007 Pena do Lobo
Ribeira Sacra
$25; 100% mencía

Vivid red color. Peppery red- and blackcurrant aromas are complicated by musky underbrush and minerals. Smoky redcurrant and bitter cherry on the palate, with tangy acidity contributing cut and spine. Very fresh, food-flexible wine with noteworthy finishing lift and spiciness. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

90 Points
2007 Viña do Burato
Ribeira Sacra
$21; 100% mencía

Medium red. Musky cherry and cassis on the nose, with subtle floral and mineral qualities. Juicy red fruits on the palate are framed and lifted by tangy acidity. Becomes sweeter with air, taking on a black raspberry quality and finishing with sneaky, sweet persistence. There's a pinot-like elegance here that I find appealing. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

89 Points
2007 Viña Mein
Ribeiro
$19; a blend based on treixadura

Light yellow, with a CO2 haze. Spicy pear and melon aromas are complemented by floral honey and herbs. Light in body but full-flavored, with deep citrus and orchard fruit complemented by slow-mounting spiciness. Finishes broad, creamy and persistent. This is concentrated enough to pair with richer fish dishes but precise and nervy enough to work alone. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

88 Points
2007 Yunquera Albillo Blanco
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon
$14

Pale straw color. Spicy lemon and lime aromas are dusted by talc and white flowers. Juicy citrus flavors give way to richer peach and melon with air while tangy minerals maintain focus. Finishes with a blend of nerve and pliancy, repeating the lemon and peach qualities. The albillo variety is indigenous to the Ribera del Duero area. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar 9/08)

The Best New Wines from Spain - Sept/Oct 2007

By Steven Tanzer
Reviews by Steven Tanzer and Josh Raynolds

As my tasting notes in this issue illustrate, there are myriad Spanish wines for under $12—even under $8—that deliver vibrant fruit, impressive balance, and often startling complexity compared to similarly priced wines from anywhere else. And these are rarely cynically made wines designed in response to market trends or based on the usual international suspects—chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. These incredible bargains are made possible by a felicitous combination of factors: A mostly warm, dry climate in which rot is rare outside the cooler and damper northwest regions. A low incidence of pesky critters that wear down and eventually kill vines, which has allowed for the survival of a high percentage of old vines of the native varieties grenache (garnacha) and mourvèdre (monastrell). A growing number of ambitious and increasingly worldly winemakers. Lots of cheap vineyard land, including much that was virtually useless before temperature-controlled winemaking facilities made it possible to bottle fresh wines from hot areas. And a tireless group of American importers whose idea of a good time seems to be to deliver outrageously tasty wines at the lowest possible price—often in spirited competition with one another.

And those are the wines that you’ll see dominating this article. But rest assured: consumers with fat wallets will also find plenty of no-expense-spared, fancy-oak wines from infinitesimal crop loads that will help lighten your load. Some of these wines are even deserving of their high prices.

As I noted in the last issue, 2006 marks the third consecutive year of above-average to outstanding quality across Spain. Comparing my impressions of high-end 2004s to my notes for their 2005 siblings, I find that most wines from the more recent vintage possess more clarity and energy than the 2004s—and not just because they’re a year younger. The other side of the coin is that 2004 appears to have produced riper and more powerful wines, often with greater concentration, but for the most part without the roasted or pruney qualities that characterize so many 2003s. Both 2004 and 2005 are impressive, even great, vintages, and I’d hate to be forced to choose one over the other. At this early stage 2006 looks to be a solid, above-average year for red wines across the country. And I implore fans of nervy, pure white wines to seek out the increasingly available Txakolis from 2006: they are addictive.

90 Points
2006 A Coroa Godello
Valdeorras
$23
Greenish gold. Musky melon and white peach aromas are brightened by lemon zest and dusty minerals. Deeply concentrated citrus and melon flavors are dry and sharply focused, picking up a bitter lime pith quality on the finish. This is irresistible. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

92 Points
2006 Ameztoi Txakolina
Getariako Txakolina
$17; 11% alcohol
Light straw. Lime, grapefruit, jasmine and anise on the nose, with impeccably pure minerality. Racy, sharply defined citrus and pear flavors offer impressive cut and palate-staining concentration without any impression of weight. Finishes with outstanding thrust, clarity and remarkable persistence. With its captivating mineral and floral character, and impeccable balance, I could drink this by the hectoliter. Wow! - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

93 Points
2006 Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina
Getariako Txakolina
$17; a 50/50 blend of hondarribi beltza and hondarribi zuri, for those keeping score
Pale pink. Ethereal lime, blood orange, redcurrant, white flower and mineral aromas offer remarkable precision. Weightless, lightly spritzy citrus pith and wild strawberry flavors are deepened by a cherry pit quality that insinuates rather than declares itself. If this were from Champagne, with this clarity and precision it would cost $300. Spring this on your friends who find red Txakoli too mainstream. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

89 Points
2006 Xarmant Txakolina
Arabako Txakolina
$14

Light straw. Zesty quince, ginger and white flower aromas, with a fine mineral overlay. Racy, sharply focused citrus flavors offer impressive cut, expanding on the finish and picking up a bitter peach pit quality. Rounder than most Txakolis, but hardly fat. Try this with clams casino. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

88 Points
2006 Arbanta
Rioja
$11

Dark red. Smoky cherry and blackcurrant on the nose, with a whiff of musky underbrush. Pliant cherry/berry flavors offer good palate coverage, with light tannins adding support on the juicy finish. This is deep and sweet for the money. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

92 Points
2004 Conde de Hervías
Rioja
$65
Opaque ruby. Explosively perfumed nose offers a sexy bouquet of red and dark berries, Asian spices, candied licorice, black cardamom and yellow rose. Mouthfilling red fruit flavors are wrapped in supple tannins, with vibrant minerality adding lift. Impressively fresh and focused for such flavor impact, finishing with superb mouthcoating persistence. Primal but delicious already. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

89 Points
2006 D Ventura, Viña do Burato
Ribeira Sacra
$16; 100% mencia

Light purple. Primal redcurrant and raspberry aromas are brightened by peppery minerality. Racy, sharply focused red berry flavors are admirably brisk and palate-staining. Gains riper cherry and dark berry qualities on the long, gently tannic finish. Serious flavor with minimal weight here. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2006 D Ventura, Pena do Lobo
Ribeira Sacra
$19
Medium red. Spicy redcurrant and rhubarb on the nose, with a fine mineral overlay. Tangy, focused red berry flavors benefit from nervy acid lift and show no noticeable tannins. Finishes with excellent precision and mineral grip, with no excess fat. I love this wine's elegance but suspect that some will find it austere. This is the polar opposite of Mollydooker. – J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

91 Points
2006 D Ventura, Viña Caneiro
Ribeira Sacra
$26
Dark red. Intensely aromatic nose offers pungent red berries, minerals and dried flowers. Firm redcurrant and wild strawberry flavors possess admirable energy and a sappy quality, picking up light tannins with air. The tightly wound finish features a deeper bitter cherry quality and outstanding length. I find these wines awfully intriguing. – J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

89 Points
2006 Do Ferreiro, Rebisaca
Rias Baixas
$23; 85% albarino and 15% treixadura

Light gold. Musky pear and lemon zest on the nose, with a lively dusting of chalky minerals. Firm and dry, displaying incisive citrus and green apple flavors that carry forcefully through the very persistent finish. This may be too dry for some, but mineral freaks ought to check it out. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2006 Do Ferreiro, Alabriño
Rias Baixas
$27
Light yellow. Herb- and floral-accented citrus aromas are further complicated by white pepper and anise. Firm lemon and quince flavors are complicated by an intriguingly spicy pepsin quality. This gains weight and flesh on the impressively long, juicy finish. Pair this with full-flavored food. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

92 Points
2005 Do Ferreiro, Cepas Vellas Albariño
Rias Baixas
$40
Pale gold. Incisive, deeply concentrated aromas of lime, pear, peach pit and jasmine, along with a piquant ginger quality. Powerful citrus and orchard fruit flavors take on a ripe melon character with air but not at the expense of clarity. Remarkably pure, stony and penetrating wine with a long, citrus zest-dominated finish. I wouldn't hesitate to stash this away for a couple of years to see what happens. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

88 Points
2006 Doniene Txakolina
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$21

Pale yellow. Intensely perfumed nose presents a complex bouquet of citrus and orchard fruits, wet stones and floral honey. Fleshy pear and white peach flavors are gently firmed by bitter citrus pith qualities, finishing with good cling. A bit less severe than most Txakoli. – J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2006 Gorrondona Txakolina
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$21
Deep red. Pungent, mineral-accented red berry and cherry aromas are complicated by tobacco, black tea and musky underbrush. More tangy red fruits on the palate, with vibrant minerality adding focus and extending through the finish. A suave graphite quality emerges with air, adding complexity to the juicy cherry and raspberry flavors. Utterly intriguing wine. – J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

91 Points
2006 Emilio Rojo
Ribeiro
$53

Pale yellow. Bitter citrus, minerals and honeysuckle on the nose, with a bright white pepper quality adding spice. Brisk, sharply focused lime and orange zest flavors offer striking depth and energy, staining the palate with mineral-accented flavor. Finishes with superb thrust and clinging citrus and bitter pear skin flavor. This won't quit. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

87 Points
2006 Casamaro Blanco
Rueda
$11; 90% verdejo and 10% Viura

Light yellow. Spicy citrus and apple aromas are complicated by dusty herbs and minerals. Fleshy orchard fruit flavors possess bright minerality and fan out on the back. Nicely combines energy and ripeness. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2006 Garciarevalo, Tres Olmos
Rueda
$16
Yellow-gold. Pungent citrus fruit and zest on the nose, with a complex bouquet of herbs and white flowers. Racy lemon and lime flavors are given depth by an intriguing floral honey quality. This supple wine offers an excellent combination of body and energy and finishes with excellent cling. - S.T. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

89 Points
2006 Viña Sastre, Roble
Ribera del Duero
$19

Opaque ruby. Earthy cherry and cassis aromas are complicated by tobacco, menthol and mocha. Lush dark berry compote flavors are broad and sweet but reined in by zesty acidity and a bitter cherry pit quality. Finishes with concentrated, almost medicinal cherry flavor and good persistence. Drinking well now. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2004 Viña Sastre, Crianza
Ribera del Duero
$29

Inky purple. Ripe kirsch and plum aromas, with a strong vanillin oak quality. Dark fruit flavors verge on jammy but are given structure and chewiness by supple tannins. More energetic on the finish, which features bitter cherry and raspberry preserve flavors and excellent length. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

91 Points
2003 Viña Sastre, Pago de Santa Cruz
Ribera del Duero
$75

Deep ruby. Dark cherry, blueberry and plum compote aromas are complemented by cocoa, espresso, licorice and sweet vanilla. Deep, fleshy and sweet, with powerful dark fruit flavors and a smoky black cardamom quality. Solid tannins build on the broad, inky finish, which leaves a bitter cherry impression. Plenty ripe but not roasted; still, I'd err on the young side with this. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

95 Points
2004 Viña Sastre, Pesus
Ribera del Duero
$500

Glass-staining purple. A room-filling bouquet evokes Asian-spiced blackberry, mulberry and blueberry liqueur, with suave vanillin oak and mocha undertones. Deeply concentrated and energetic, with precise cherry/berry flavors and sweetness to burn. The tannins seem completely melted into the ripe fruit. Bright minerality on the close adds vivacity to this remarkably pure, sexy beast. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2005 Joan d'Anguera Finca L'Argata
Montsant
$27
Inky purple. Exotically perfumed aromas of sexy cherry, blueberry, cinnamon and clove, underscored by vanilla and mocha. Juicy red and dark berry flavors are gently lifted by suave minerality and gain sweetness on the finish. Impressively focused wine with surprising elegance for its flavor impact. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

92 Points
2005 Joan d'Anguera El Bugader
Montsant
$60
Dark purple. Powerfully aromatic bouquet of blackberry, cherry-vanilla, cracked pepper, mocha and clove, with a suave mineral underpinning. The chewy, deeply concentrated black and blue fruit flavors are given structure by youthfully firm tannins, which seem to melt into the sweet fruit with aeration. Sexy baking spices add interest. Finishes with brighter red fruits and a suave floral pastille flavor. Let this relax in the cellar for a couple of years, minimum. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

89 Points
2005 Seis de Luberri
Rioja
$16
Bright red. Youthful but seductive strawberry and raspberry scents are complicated by cracked pepper and licorice. Pure, juicy red berry flavors are tannin-free and energetic, finishing bright and crisp. Drink this young for its exuberance. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2004 Luberri, Biga
Rioja
$18
Deep red. Suave strawberry and cherry aromas sexed up by fresh and dried roses, minerals and tobacco. Sweet red berry flavors are impressively energetic, with bright minerality adding cut. This clean, light-bodied, rather delicate Rioja reminded me of pinot noir. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

88 Points
2003 Luberri, Monje Amestoy M.A.
Rioja
$25
Dark violet. Ripe, smoky cherry and cassis aromas display a slightly roasted quality, with complicating anise and black tea qualities. Deep bitter cherry, dark berry liqueur and plum flavors are complemented by a grilled meat character and are lifted on the back by gentle minerality. Distinctly warm and suited to hearty braised or grilled meats. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

92 Points
2004 Luberri, Finca Los Merinos
Rioja
$61
Inky purple. Explosively perfumed nose offers an exotic array of incense-accented red and dark berry scents, along with sexy vanillin oak, baking spices and graphite. Deep blackberry and cassis flavors are sweetened by mocha and gently supported by suave tannins. Gains ripeness on the finish, which features a powerful bitter cherry liqueur quality and excellent focus. This boasts impressive depth and persistence. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2004 Ostatu Crianza
Rioja
$20

Bright ruby. Sexy blackberry and blueberry aromas are complicated by licorice and mocha, with zero herbal character. Sweet red and dark berry flavors are impressively clean and deep, showing a seductively silky texture and finishing with very soft tannins. Impressively pure, sweet and long: the best version of this bottling I've ever had. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90(+?) Points
2004 Ostatu Reserva
Rioja
$29
Dark purple. Cinnamon-spiced kirsch and blackberry aromas are a touch brooding, with strong espresso and bitter chocolate character. Bitter cherry and licorice flavors are brightened by a spicy cracked pepper quality and firmed by dusty tannins that extend through the long, chewy finish. A youthfully firm wine in need of patience. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2005 Pucho
Bierzo
$15

Bright purple. Sexy raspberry and blackberry aromas are complicated by licorice, cured meat and musky underbrush; the interplay of sweet fruit and earth reminds me of pinot noir. Intense bitter cherry and dark chocolate flavors are braced by zesty acidity, which carries through the finish. Impressively structured wine with the concentration and balance to reward a couple years in the cellar. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

90 Points
2006 Uriondo
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$14
Pale straw. Incisive lime zest and talc on the nose. Brilliant citrus and ginger flavors offer impressive cut, with a tangy, white pepper quality emerging on the finish. Those who require flesh on their white wines will be terrified of this. - J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 07)

The Best New Wines from Spain - Sept/Oct 2006

By Josh Raynolds

Spain today continues to offer unbelievable wine value, especially in the under-$12 range. And thanks to the universally high quality of the 2004 vintage these cheapies are better than ever. Best of all, most of these wines are virtually unoaked, offering striking purity and sweetness of fruit. Yes, there are still plenty of funky, even dirty, inexpensive Spanish wines kicking around the market, but I saw precious few in my six weeks of tasting through nearly a thousand examples. What you will find in the following report are some of the best wine values that I have ever tasted—bottles that drink way above their category, at prices that seem impossibly low. Best of all, these wines are usually plentiful and widely available. If there was ever a time to seek out a forward-thinking, attentive wine merchant, this is it.

Spain has experienced a rollercoaster ride of vintages in the new millennium, with the superb 2001s followed by the mostly light and rain-weakened 2002s. Then came the often roasted, full-blown 2003s, from Spain's warmest growing season in over 60 years. The resulting wines frequently showed very high alcohol levels and obvious signs of overripeness. The normally hotter areas such as Jumilla and Toro baked in the sun, though sites with old vines were able to draw on deeper water reserves. Ribera del Duero was particularly successful in ’03, while regions such as Priorat and Montsant suffered the most, with many wines showing a heavy quality. On the plus side, cooler regions experienced a growing season that provided the opportunity to make wines of greater richness and power than ever, many showing a style they had not previously communicated. It is generally agreed that most 2003 reds (the whites have mostly been drunk up—or should be by now) will be best consumed during their first decade in bottle, before the roasted notes and alcohol take complete control.

Every importer I met with this July and August expressed the opinion that 2004 was a magical year, with near-perfect conditions allowing harvesting to take place over an extended period unprecedented in the past generation. The season was coolish and disaster-free, giving growers the chance to pick their vineyards at leisure rather than at the mercy of the weather. "Normally the harvest is a race, taking maybe a week," said importer Patrick Mata (Olé Imports), "but in 2004 things were so perfect that grapes could be picked in small parcels, according to their ripeness, instead of all at once." "It's a spectacular vintage across Spain, and I hate blanket statements," added the Rare Wine Company's Blake Murdock. "The wines benefited from extended hang time and have fully developed aromatics and unusual complexity. They’re not missing anything." My own experience echoes these views as I tasted an incredible number of '04s with beautifully complex bouquets, deep and sweet but not overripe fruit, and impressive, finely integrated tannins.

Two thousand five is currently being hyped as an outstanding vintage across Europe, but it should be noted that this was an incredibly dry year in Spain, the beginning of a severe drought that threatens to affect the 2006 harvest. In 2005, vines in areas that don't have the kind of clay subsoil that Rioja enjoys, as well as those that were too young for their roots to drive down to water beyond four or five feet beneath the surface, often shut down. The result was that while sugar levels rose, the grapes were not actually maturing and much of the harvest in the hottest zones saw grapes come in with green pips. Under these circumstances, macerations were often shortened and the wines can be forward and highly aromatic but lacking the stuffing for long-term cellaring. André Tamers (De Maison Selections) describes these wines as generally "finished, meaning that they are perfumed, fresh and delicious, with polished tannins." They should mostly be drunk before the ‘04s, Mata believes. This appears to be a red vintage for fans of size rather than finesse. The normally cooler, damper northern zones, from Galicia east to Basque country, were notably successful in this dry year.

There is much grumbling among devotees of old-school Spanish wine that the best days are over and that Spain has now become just another source of internationally styled—which is to say anonymous—wine. I find this point of view a bit curious as the overwhelming number of wines I tasted through were made from indigenous varieties such as tempranillo, monastrell, garnacha and cariñena for reds, and, for whites, albariño and viura. Most of the whites were raised in stainless steel, or in large or neutral oak. Yes, there are plenty of wines whose élevage could have taken place in Napa or the Barossa Valley, but these tend to be small-production, luxury cuvées priced for, and targeted to, a particular audience. Those who decry the modernization of Spain’s wines should spend more time drinking at the lower end of the scale. I’ll bet they’d change their tune about the death of Spanish wine.

Following are the best new releases from Spain that I tasted in June, July and August. Due to space constraints, many additional very good wines that I rated 85 or 86 points are listed as "also recommended."

88 Points
A Coroa
Godello 2005
Valdeorras
$20

Pale gold. Serious, almost brooding aromas of fig, apple, pear and lees. A dense, thick wine, with powerful, mineral-accented pear and apple flavors and a musky, smoky note (but this was made without wood). Intense and structured on the finish, with lingering notes of fresh herbs. This has the guts to stand up to highly seasoned food. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

90 Points
Ameztoi
Txakolina 2005
Getariako Txakolina
90
$16

Bright yellow. Nervy and focused on the nose, with aromas of lemon and lime zest, grapefruit, minerals and jasmine. Firm, racy and concentrated, showing superb energy and thrust and powerful citrus flavors. Finishes with building citrus flavors and excellent persistence. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

91 Points
Ameztoi
Upelean Hartzitua Txakolina 2005
Getariako Txakolina
91
$16

Bright straw color. Complex, seductive scents of fresh flowers, apple, pear and melon. Juicy and intensely flavored, with excellent precision and structure. The fresh orchard and melon flavors pick up more tangy and mineral-tinged qualities with air. This really clings on the finish, showing impressive vibrancy and focus, not mention superb length. I could drink this by the gallon, and might just try it. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Xarmant
Txakolina 2005
Arabako Txakolina
88
$13

Light gold. Vibrant, racy and brisk, with scents of chalk, green apple and pear. Firm and juicy, with sound acidity but also good flesh and a gentle quality to the orchard and citrus flavors. The finish deepens and expands with air, picking up a note of tangerine. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Avinyó
Cava Avinyó Brut Reserva NV
Penedès
$15

Green-tinged straw. Clean, brisk, minerally nose offers citrus and green apple scents. Fresh, firm and dry, the apple flavor nicely braced by juicy acids and complemented by a subtle leesy quality. A firm, dry, elegant Cava, finishing on a stony note and showing as much finesse and complexity as many non-vintage Champagnes. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

89 Points
Avinyó

Cava Avinyó Brut Nature Reserva NV
Penedès
$20; this got no dosage and was aged 24 months on its lees

Bright straw. Fuller and deeper than the regular Brut Reserva, with rather powerful pear, apple and succulent herb aromas. Fresh, solid and deep in orchard fruit flavors, with a complicating note of anise on the back. Serious stuff, with a spicy, long finish. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

89 Points
Avinyó

Cava Avinyó Rosado Reserva NV
Penedès
$20

Orange-tinged pink. Stony and fresh, with bright raspberry and redcurrant aromas tinged by minerals and white pepper. Creamy and supple in texture but with a firm edge to its red berry flavors; an exotic note of peach emerges with air. Finishes clean, plush and persistent, with an almost sweet expression of raspberry. This would pair well with strongly seasoned dishes. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Avinyó

Vi D’Agulla 2005
Penedès
$ 11; 100% muscat

Bright straw, with a light CO2 fizz. Intense, fruit-driven aromas of peach, apricot and poached pear. Exotic and expansive in the mouth, with peach, apricot, lichee and pear flavors accented by cinnamon. Juicy, fresh and vibrant on the finish, with an echoing note of peach. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

87 Points
Biurko Gorri
Arbanta 2005
Rioja
$10

Light red. Fresh, floral, mineral-tinged aromas of red berries, rhubarb and licorice. Bright and energetic, with precise raspberry and wild strawberry flavors; firm minerals and acidity add intensity and focus. Finishes tangy and persistent. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

87 Points
D. Ventura
Viña Caneiro 2005
Ribeira Sacra
$22

Bright red. Fresh, perfumed aromas of cherry, blackberry and licorice. There's good weight and a stony quality to the dark fruit flavors, which are firmed by fine tannins. Finishes with good grip and a lingering note of blackcurrant. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Do Ferreiro
Albariño 2004
Rias Baixas
$22

Green-tinged gold. Floral, stony aromas of grapefruit, dried flowers and honey. Powerful and minerally on the palate, with strong citrus flavors firmed by bright acidity. Expands and deepens on the finish, picking up notes of apple and pear and showing good focus and length. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

89 Points
Do Ferreiro

Albariño 2005
Rias Baixas
$22

Pale gold. Vibrant, spicy, impressively focused scents of minerals, green apple, pear and white flowers. Highly concentrated, the bright apple and pear flavors showing excellent intensity and focus, with fresh, lively acidity providing lift. Finishes with very good clarity and length. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

91 Points
Do Ferreiro

Albariño Cepas Vellas 2004
Rias Baixas
$40; some of these vines are reportedly over 200 years old

Light gold. Wild floral, herbal and mineral notes accent bright, tangy green apple and citrus aromas. Concentrated and powerful, the apple flavor strongly tinged by saffron, sassafras, licorice and crushed stones. Singular wine, finishing with wonderful focus and length, the herb and mineral notes repeating. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

87 Points
Doniene Gorrondona
Doniene Txakolina 2005
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$20

Bright, green-tinged gold. Wild aromas of honeysuckle, jasmine, green tea, lime zest and minerals. Sappy and rich, with bracing acidity and firm citrus flavors. Finishes with a supple note of pear and good length. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

90 Points
Doniene Gorrondona
Gorrondona Tinto
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$20; made from the rare hondarribi beltza variety, from pre-phylloxera vines

Ruby-red. Gorgeously perfumed, mineral-driven cherry, rhubarb, tobacco and floral aromas show noteworthy precision. Firm and fresh, with taut red berry and cherry flavors underpinned by bright minerality and juicy acids. Powerful but elegant on the finish, with repeating mineral notes and excellent length. Only 120 cases made. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

91 Points
Emilio Rojo
Emilio Rojo 2005
Ribeiro
$45

Pale straw. Fresh, explosively perfumed bouquet of citrus zest, crushed rocks, anise and white flowers. Deeply concentrated but bright and fresh, with vibrant lemon and pear flavors and a strong impression of minerality. The finish offers excellent intensity and focus, with a lingering note of minerals. Only 50 cases imported. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

87 Points
Rozaleme
Bobal Tempranillo 2004
Utiel-Requeña
$17

Dark red. Spicy aromas of bitter cherry, tobacco and mocha. Firm and juicy, with bright red fruit and mineral flavors and good freshness. Nicely focused and crisp on the finish, with lingering red fruit tones. This is just 12.9% alcohol. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Viña Sastre
Crianza 2003
Ribera del Duero
$30

Medium red. Spicy, intensely floral aromas of zesty red berries and minerals. Firm, juicy and medium-bodied, the red fruit flavors showing good clarity and depth. Finishes with fine tannins, good grip and a persistent note of graphite. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

91 Points
Viña Sastre
Reserva 2000
Ribera del Duero
$45

Light red. Wild, intensely floral, sweet nose features red berry and cherry tones complicated by a musky forest floor quality. Supple and velvety in texture, with deep, sweet red fruit flavors; gentle tannins and ripe acidity lend focus to this midweight. Finishes impressively sweet and long, with a building note of anise. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

95 Points
Viña Sastre
Pesus 2003
Ribera del Duero
$495

Deep red. Explosively rich bouquet of blackcurrant, boysenberry, cherry liqueur, smoked meat and licorice. Deep, inky and brooding, the dark fruit flavors showing porty depth and richness but given lift and precision by a captivating mineral quality. The endless finish features silky tannins and compelling sweetness. A remarkable wine recommended to anyone who can find and afford it. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Joan d'Anguera
La Planella 2005
Montsant
$19

Light red. Tangy red fruits, flowers and minerals on the lively nose. Zesty and light in weight, with fresh red berry and cherry flavors lifted by dried flowers and anise. Finishes clean, brisk and long, with a lingering note of cranberry. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

90 Points
Joan d'Anguera
Finca L'Argata 2004
Montsant
$25

Deep red. Spicy cherry and dried red berries on the nose, with suggestions of cracked pepper and minerals. Peppery, chewy and fresh on the palate, with redcurrant and red licorice flavors complicated by a tangy mineral tone. The juicy finish features dusty tannins and very good length. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

92 Points
Joan d'Anguera
El Bugader 2004
Montsant
$60

Bright red. Impressively complex aromas of raspberry, wild strawberry, game and minerals. Elegant and silky, with medium weight and a fresh, juicy red berry character framed by subtle, fine-grained tannins. Strikingly pure on the finish, showing excellent energy, cut and length. This has the concentration and balance to age. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Luberri
M.A. 2001
Rioja
$24

Medium red. Spicy, vibrant aromas of bright red berries and cherry. Smoky and sweet on the palate, with a subtle coconut tinge to the ripe red fruits, along with a hint of cured tobacco. Finishes expansive and long, with a note of fresh rose. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

90(+?) Points
Luberri
Finca Los Meriños Reserva 2001
Rioja
$60

Dark red. Exotic, fresh and expansive on the nose, offering scents of cherry, blackcurrant, chocolate, smoked meat and minerals. Rather brooding and impressively concentrated on the palate, showing serious extract and strong notes of bitter cherry and plum. Finishes with solid tannins and a lingering note of bitter cherry. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

87 Points
Ostatu
Blanco 2005
Rioja
$11

Light yellow. Zesty floral scents of apple, pear, honeysuckle and mint. Fresh and energetic yet gentle, with apple and pear flavors and good weight. Finishes with a juicy orange note and good length. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Ostatu
Crianza 2004
Rioja
$19

Dark red. Sexy aromas of raspberry and blackberry, complicated by a hint of fresh rose. Lush and silky in the mouth, with deep, sweet dark berry flavors and no apparent tannins. An easygoing, fruit-driven wine with good depth and length to its blackberry flavor and a round finish. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

87 Points
Ostatu
Crianza 2003
Rioja
$19

Ruby-red. Suave aromas of red and dark berries, with intense licorice and oak spice suggestions and a sweet mocha note. Round and supple but also focused and fresh, with sweet dark berry flavor. Finishes sweet and persistent, with a fine dusting of tannins. Very easy to drink. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

89 Points
Ostatu
Gloria de Ostatu 2003
Rioja
$75

Deep ruby. Rich and smoky on the nose, with blackberry, blackcurrant and dark chocolate aromas complemented by vanilla and baking spices. Velvety, polished and sweet, with liqueur-like dark fruit flavors and a distinctly modern cast. The persistent finish shows a penetrating sweetness. Very easy to like. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

88 Points
Pucho
Pucho 2005
Bierzo
$15

Bright red. Pungent, floral aromas of cherry, bitter chocolate, licorice and tobacco. Vibrant and nicely focused, with precise red fruit flavors and a chewy texture. This has very good cut thanks to firm acids and a strong mineral tone. Finishes on a note of cured meat, with youthful tannins and good length. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)

90 Points
Uriondo
Txakolina 2005
Bizkaiko Txakolina
$14

Green-tinged yellow. Intensely mineral nose offers explosive aromas of fresh-cut grass, lime, grapefruit, mint and fennel. Spine-tinglingly fresh citrus and mineral flavors show wonderful energy and cut. Finishes spicy, clean and long, with lemon and lime flavors. It's impossible to stop drinking this. -J.R. (International Wine Cellar Sept/Oct 2006)