In the Press

From Wine & Spirits Magazine

Ameztoi

Best Low-Alcohol Whites
Ameztoi 2005 Getariako Txakolina
11% alc., $17

With light spritz and wieghtless, dry mineral flavors, wine from Txakoli in Spain's Basque country are the sort that can weather endless rounds of tapas - and make it possible for you to, as well. T.Q.T. (Fall 2006 Special Issue)

Joan D'Anguera

90 Points
Joan D'Anguera La Planella 2004
Montsant
$19

One of the main players in Montsant, Joan d'Anguera produces La Planella exclusively for the US market, blending cariñena, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon and syrah; extending maceration; and using only American oak. The result is a caramelized red, full of liqueurlike flavors with floral, spicy scentsand gental acidity. (June 2006)

89 Points
Joan D'Anguera El Bugader 2002
Montsant
$60

Like a light weight boxer, this blend of syrah (80 percent) and garnacha (20) is intense, its fibrous tannins focused on supporting the spicy blackberry flavors, powerful acidity framing at all. Pour with prime rib. (June 2006)

90 Points
Joan D'Anguera El Bugader 1999
Tarragona
$45

Grown from some of the oldest Syrah vines in Spain, this is as saturated with flavor as its vivid purple color would suggest: blackberries ripe off the vine, sweet and juicy, playing off against a black pepper spice. It's generous and grand, not to mention substantially oaky for the moment (the wine spends 18 months in new French oak); but that ebullient fruit can more than handle the wood, as could a slow-roasted leg of lamb- 4,000 bottles (Oct. 2002)

88 Points
Joan D'Anguera Vi Dolc 1998
Tarragona
$45

An unusual dessert wine, similar in its deeply Spanish way to a French Banyuls. Grown from 100 percent Grenache, its fermentation is stopped with natural grape spirits at a four percent residual sugar, then, as is characteristic for this region, the wine is aged 16 months in old open casks. That may account for the slightly cloudy appearance; and it definitely accounts for the sweet red cherry liqueur flavors, laced with suggestions of licorice and rancio. (Oct. 2002

Viña Sastre

91 Points
Viña Sastre Reserva 2000
Ribera del Duero
$40

From a selection of old vines Viña Sastre owns around La Horra, to the north of Ribera del Duero, this has the charm of a cooler vintage, its crisp acidity brightening its juicy yet profound dry cherry and blueberry flavors. Open it for roast venison in a fruit sauce. (June 2006)

90 Points
Viña Sastre Crianza 2002
Ribera del Duero
$18

Supringly rich and expansive for a 2002, this opulent red offers black fruit and sweet spice in a corpulent mass of tannins. If you like massive wines, decant it for aged Manchego, or save it for two or three years. (June 2006)

90 Points
Viña Sastre Pago de Santa Cruz 2001
Ribera del Duero
$65

Behind the curtain of coconut and vanilla aromas, this has rich, ripe, dense fruit supported by round, fat tannins. It's generous and expansive, to decant for lamb or to save for five years. (June 2006)

100 Wineries of the Year (2003)
Viña Sastre

Viña Sastre suffered a terrible blow this past December, when cofounder Pedro Sastre died in a car accident, but Jesus and wife Isabel have bravely chosen to carry on. The bodega came into being when Pedro, Jesus and their father Rafael decided to stop selling off the fruit from their 47 acres of old-vines Ribera vineyard in 1992 and bottle it themselves. Since then, the Sastres have kept the bodega's growth slow and deliberate, while the wines have received abundant acclaim.

The Sastre wines are entirely estate grown, from vineyards in the Burgos region, particularly the municipalities of La Horra and Roa. These are clay, limestone, and sandy-clay soils, farmed by the Sastre family without insecticides or herbicides, and with organic composts. At the same time, their wine-making keeps to the modern edge, with temperature-controlled fermentations, hand-selection of grapes and the occasional micro-oxygenation.

The results, particularly from their old vines, are some of the finest in the region. The '99 Pago de Santa Cruz, from a superb vintage and 64-year-old vines, has scents of cinnamon and chocolate, resolving into layers of deep black fruit, luxurious but bolstered by gripping tannins. The impressive ... '99 Pesus comes from 82-year-old vines: It's black as coal, massive, full of crushed berry flavor, and, for the moment, sealed up under a layer of oak. The third of the triumvirate, the '98 Regina Vides, has sweeter, more black cherry fruit; a bit more unsettled, it needs a year or two to achieve balance.

The Sastre's organic viticultural practices mix with modern-style vinification to produce wines that look to the future while still suggesting Spain's wine-making heritage. If you're interested in seeing where Ribera del Duero is headed, Viña Sastre is a good place to start. -R.I. (Winter 2003)

93 Points
Viña Sastre
1999 Pago de Santa Cruz
Ribera del Duero
$70
100 Best Wines

Sastre's tiny Santa Cruz vineyard, with its 64-year-old tempranillo vines, grew a great Ribera 1999. From the cappuccino aromas, dusted with cinnamon and chocolate to the generous layers of ripe black fruit, this is a heady combination of size and grace. Like a great boxer, the movement is so fluid you don't realize the punch is coming. And there is a punch: coating tannins, decadent blackberry and black cherry flavors, lush texture, and a rolling wave of a finish. An ambitious, impressive wine, not least because despite all that power it's perfectly drinkable now. RI (Winter 2003)