2006 Campo Viejo Tempranillo Crianza

2006 Campo Viejo Tempranillo CrianzaPrice: $9.99 imported by Pernod Richard

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “This blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo is an intense ruby red wine with aromas of black fruit and vanilla. Velvety and elegant, it’s an old world wine with a new world attitude, and it is downright addictive with roasts and firm cheeses.”

What I Think:

Given I’ve been having a rough patch with Tempranillo of late when I was offered the opportunity to sample this Campo Viejo which is the gold standard for a value offering in this category I didn’t hesitate to accept. Random aside, do you know what Crianza indicates? I didn’t but Wikipedia did. Spanish wines are often labeled based on their ageing. The three most common designations are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva. Crianza is aged two year with a minimum of six months in oak, Reserva three years with a full year in oak and Gran Reserva five years with eighteen months in oak. That requirement for two years of ageing makes this 2006 the current release from Campo Viejo. There some wine trivia for you. Now let’s get back to the wine.

Dark fruit and spices on the nose with barrel notes omnipresent throughout. This wine is warm and comforting on the palate with soft cherry and floral notes. It almost reminds me of wrapping up in a familiar blanket on a cold winter (or San Francisco summer) night. The mid palate shows a firm acidity to keep this one nicely balanced before giving way to a creamy vanilla finish laden with barrel notes and sour cherries. A simple, enjoyable wine that it is widely available and better yet affordable. Given that you can always consider this a safe choice when you have paella (or a simple BBQ dish) on the menu. Also a great place to start if you’ve yet to try Tempranillo. How about you? Anyone out there have a favorite Tempranillo of their own to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

Rating: 12th Bottle

*as indicated above this wine was indeed received as a sample

2008 Terracita Tempranillo

2008 Terracita TempranilloPrice: $9.00 @ Pasternak Wines imported by Pasternak Wine

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Feel like dancing the Flamenco, running with the bulls or lounging on the Costa del Sur? Grab a bottle of Terracita, gather your friends and share a little piece of authentic Spain. Terracita is elegant and full bodied, balancing the signature red raspberry flavors of Tempranillo with vanilla and toasted coconut. A solid choice with barbeque spicy sauces and tapas of course.”

What I Think:

This one is made by Bodegas Roqueta and hails from the “region” of Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla which is similar to Vins de Pays designation of France. The “Vinos de la Tierra” designations are, according to Spanish law, a transitional term for areas that can, after 5 years, apply for “Denominación de Origen” status. During this time they benefit from greater freedom than exists under the D.O. system to produce wines as they wish. This gives them leeway in terms of more flexible vineyard management, vinification and aging techniques with more “approved” varietals. The result can be wines that are more innovative and exciting than those of D.O.s. What was the result here? A nice, light wine (which I received as a sample some time back) bursting with bright cherries integrated onto a dry, herbal, earthy backbone with hints of oak, toast and vanilla on the finish. In a word quaffable. Feel free to grab this one whenever that fits the bill.

Rating: 12th Bottle

If you’re interested in another take check out what Rob had to say about this one on the Wine Post.

2008 La Granja Tempranillo

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Evaki

What They Said:

2008 La Granja TempranilloPer the bottle “La Granga 360, means in Spanish “The Farm 360″. It is located in a traditional Tempranillo grape wine growing region in the north of Spain. The little pig is flying because it expresses a song which the Spanish children sing when somebody has asked for something which is impossible to realize, has a dream or says something absurd.

An everyday drinking soft rounded, juicy red wine, with rich ripe raspberry flavors. A great match for barbeque roasted pork chops, spare ribs, sausages, grilled vegetables, and cheeses.”

What I Think:

This one is from the same producer, and the same region, as the company behind the Abrazo label and imported by Evaki who also brings other familiar names such as Condesa de Sarabella and Panilonco to Trader Joe’s. These wines are generally priced in the $5 neighborhood and deliver on that price point. That said, none have had me scrambling back to buy that next bottle. Most leave me with a lingering curiosity of whether the next bottle might be better. In a nutshell, they do just enough to make you think about coming back for more. With that context in mind we cracked the screw cap on this one.

On opening this one was super tight with the acid notes overpowering all else so back went on the cap. I tried it again the following night, what an improvement. The bottle description on this one is extremely accurate, at least the tasting notes I can’t really attest to the rest. On the palate you are greeted with juicy berry/cherry flavors that are met with a dry, herbal component towards the middle that integrates nicely. The finish coats the mouth dry cherry fruits that don’t necessarily last, they just stay. Literally. It leaves you smacking your tongue until you decide to wash them away. I mentioned early most bottles from this imported leave me wondering if the next bottle can be any better, I’m just hoping this one is as good as my first experience as it has the potential to be my favorite Spanish red in recent memory from Trader Joe’s. I’m going to grab a few more bottles; you might want to do the same. I’ll confirm with my 2nd bottle but, as mentioned, be sure to give this one some time (perhaps even overnight) if it starts off wound up a little too tight.

Rating: Buy It

If you’re interested in another take check out what Jeff had to say about this one on Viva la Wino!

2006 Albero Tempranillo

2006 Albero TempranilloPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Tempranillo Barrica is made by Spain’s Oldest Estate Bottled Winery. Spain’s finest, proudly made with hand selected certified organically grown grapes. Albero Tempranillo Barrica is perfect when enjoying with friends or in giving the gift of wine.” <– thanks for all the helpful information :)

What I Think:

Reading the bottle I find two bits of information for me to start my investigation. The first is to Iranzo Vineyards. Checking the site there is no mention of this offering there. As we learned from the Terrenal Mendoza Cab it could be the case that they are relabeling one of the offerings we see here as the Albero that landed in Trader Joe’s. That is pure speculation of course. The second clue is to Latitude Wines. If anyone from either of these companies is listening I have some advice. Please, I repeat please, never post your web address somewhere (like the bottle!) when you have nothing for me to see on the other end!

Ok, got that off my chest. Now let’s move on to the main event, the wine. As you can see from above the world, nor the winery, has much to say about this one. My friend @oenanist does. He tipped me off to this one via comments and posted a review on cork’d as well. What did I think? On the nose I sensed dark fruit with hints of spice (and possibly some green vegetal) aromas. Sage? Or maybe it was floral, violets? On the palate a nice dose of cherries greeted me that turned a bit sour towards the mid-palate. That was followed by a nice dry finish on the back of the throat that tickled with light tannins. This was night 5, hardly remember day 1 but it seems a lot smoother. Compared to a typical light, juicy Tempranillo this one seems a bit heavier in the mouth and darker in fruit. My verdict, drinkable but not all that memorable. I’d stick with the Raimat over this one but that is just my opinion. Let me know what you think…

Rating: 12th Bottle

2004 Montebuena Rioja

Price: $7.99 @ K&L Wines imported by J & D Selections

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “90 points Robert Parker: “A contender for best value in my Spanish tastings, this delicious Rioja is dark ruby in color, with aromas of earth, spice, and red fruits. It has surprising depth, ripe, smoky, cherry flavors, light tannin, and an excellent pure finish. This terrific bargain can be enjoyed over the next 2-3 years.” (02/07)”

What I Think:

While I gave my guests the option of the Gewurztraminer or this one, there was no doubt which was going in my glass. This was part of the two case set I bought back in early May from K&L. The results for this group had been favorable to date. Given that I had recently red that Rioja and Merlot were the food friendliest red wines I figured with enchiladas on the table we give this one a go. On the nose this seemed hot and showed spiciness with light fruit lingering on top of a drier backbone. On the palate these light fruits continued to lead the way. I caught hints of cherry and some lighter berries flavors that had a light touch of brambles towards the mid-palate. There was no fruit that made it to the finish as this wine faded quickly and ended spicy and dry. A nice wine, but despite what they said there is nothing to get excited about here. It must be a bad career move not to agree with Parker, especially given the praise he lavished above. Fortunately, I have a day job as I much prefer this Barahonda Carro Tinto (to which he also gave 90 points) I had a while back. Perhaps I am wrong. We will get a chance to see soon as there is still another bottle in the rack. I’m guessing Parker is the safer bet for your money in that showdown.

Rating: Skip It

2002 Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva

Price: $11.99 @ Friend/Gift imported by Shaw Ross International Importers

What They Said:

Per the winery “The reserva wines of Marqués de Riscal are made principally from Tempranillo vines which are over 15 years old. This is a variety that ages well in wood, producing wines with a good tannic structure, colour and acidity. The reserva wines of Riscal spend approximately two years in American oak barrels, forming a wine that adheres to the principles of classic Rioja wines.

Aroma: Slightly closed initial impression on the nose but quickly opening up to reveal ripe fruit and vanilla notes.
Colour: Intense colour with a crimson rim and a deeper more concentrated ruby red core.
Palate: In the mouth, the initial impression is of freshness from the acidity with soft ripe red fruits and and American oak on the mid palate. The wine has good concentration and length.

What I Think:

Another wine with which I have an illustrusious history. This was one of the first ever upscale bottles I though I ever bought. At the time I was close to fresh out of college and was living in Germany for a spell. My time there was winding down so I started bringing back some wine with each visit. This one made it home and with the fancy wrap managed to age for some time. At least four years later I made some paella for friends, still might be the best meal I ever cooked, and we had that bottle of wine with it. Ever since I always look at this longingly at TJ’s before moving on because of the price tag. We were lucky enough to have some friends bring it over for dinner and it was certainly good but I seem to remember it being much better. I wouldn’t hesitate to get the bottle againn, but it would have to be to go with the paella.

Rating: Pricey