2009 Bodegas Vinae Mureri Xiloca

2008 Pegasus Bay Sauvignon Blanc - SemillonPrice: $9.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Classical Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Located just outside of the Calatayud D.O. (famous for Las Rocas, amongst other inexpensive Garnachas), Xiloca actually reminds me of the incredible value these wines presented about 10 or so years ago: big, juicy, spicy, plump berry fruit, without the sense of overt fruitiness nor dumbed down to simplicity, which unfortunately has become very common in many Spanish (and French) Garnachas of late. Produced from vines averaging 80 years, yielding only 1/3 ton per acre (!), in arguably one of the world’s best suited terroirs for Garnacha, this wine offers a whole lot for the money. Highly recommended.” (Joe Manekin, K&L Spanish Wine Buyer)

What I Think:

(14%) 100% Grenache – Picked this one up after receiving an email offer from K&L Wines. Rich, earthy nose loaded with cherries. On the palate this one is rich, lush and juicy but yet balanced. Nice spice and berry fruit but backed by a mineral, rocky acidity that adds dimension to this wine. Very enjoyable with nice layers of complexity and an earthy finish that goes on and on. Granted I’m a sucker for Grenache but at $10 this is a gem! Just bought 3 more bottles…

Rating: Buy It

Wine Geek Notes: Imported by Classical Wines; Produced from vines averaging 80 years; Yields managed to only 1/3 ton per acre

2006 Chapillon Priorat Reves

Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

2006 Chapillon Priorat RevesPer Trader Joe’s (pdf) “Tenacity and grace—that’s Priorat. This small region, southeast of Barcelona, is known for its steep hillsides, hot days and unforgiving, slate-based soils (known locally as licorella). Cultivated since the Carthusian monks in the Middle Ages, this formidable terroir, now a Spanish Denominació d’Origen Qualificada (DOQ1), gives rise to grapes that are equal parts perseverance and elegance. Their juice is surreal: intense and stunningly structured with soft tannins. Experience it in Rêves.”

What I Think:

(14%) 40% Carignan, 35% Garnacha, 25% Syrah – Dense and dark in the glass. Aromatically interesting with dark fruit, sweet cigarbox, spice and graphite notes. Supple and dense (again) on entry with tart blackberry flavors this one shows slight creaminess and vanilla on the mid-palate before leading to a short, dry leathery finish with mild tannins. On open it seemed overly oaked but this blew off with time. This wine showed nice structure and balanced throughout. Certainly an interesting find for $9.

Rating: Buy It – This wine might not be for all but if you like a dry, rich, dense wine or are comfortable trying something new at this price point it is worth giving this one a shot.

For those willing to spend just a bit more Joe over at Good Cheap Vino recommends the 2003 Les Mines Priorat which you can pick up as part of the 5 cent sale at BevMo for $12.52 a bottle. Joe has this to say; “This bottle is severely under-priced and could easily take on bottles that are $40-$50.” and compared it to the Reves as so “for $4 more, the Les Mines Priorat 2003 is 20 times better”. I know I am going to try and track a bottle down and you may want to do the same…

2005 Monte Ducay Cariñena Reserva

2005 Monte Ducay Cariñena ReservaPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Latitude Wines

What They Said:

Per Bodegas San Valero (on the ’06) “Beautiful morello cherry colour, with brick red sparkles. Fragrant and delicate in the nose. Refined bouquet, rich and well balanced. The aftertaste is long and persistent.”

What I Think:

As mentioned in a previous post this one has some interesting packaging as it comes wrapped in brown paper. From a marketing perspective I’m not sure how that would have affected me but we will never know as buying this one was a foregone conclusion based on a mostly positive review by Jeff over at Viva la Wino!. Funny enough like him I ripped the wrapper offer expecting to find something underneath but alas no. Either way, no matter. Let’s get to what’s in the bottle.

This one is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Cabernet Sauvignon (special shout out to Æsop for tracking that one down!) On opening you get all wood on the nose with the only exception being some barrel spices that manage to sneak through. The palate starts with an overpowering herbal acidity which takes a moment to reveal some sour, under ripe cherry flavors that come across on a juicy backbone before leading to a hot finish. This wine becomes more approachable with time showing some dark fruit aromas on the nose and remnants of the same on the finish. This leaves me in somewhat of a conundrum as initially I almost hated it but found a trace of enjoyment towards the finish. Couple that with the fact that others have liked it and perhaps I’ll give it another try but not likely. If I do, one thing is for sure I’ll be giving it lots of air and pairing it with strong foods or cheeses. Hoping for better I tried the 2008 Darien Tempranillo ($6) the same night and that one didn’t work for me either.

So how about you? Have you had any Spanish wines you’ve enjoyed lately? If so let me know in the comments below. I look forward to hearing!

Rating: 12th Bottle

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!

2007 Condesa de Sarabella Viura

2007 Condesa de Sarabella ViuraPrice: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Evaki

What They Said:

Per the Importer “Made from ancient low yield viura bush vines planted in the Denomination De Origen high in the mountains of northern spain. It has rich aromas of banana and citrus fruits. Serve as a aperitif or with rice dishes, fish and shellfish.”

What I Think:

Viura was a new grape to me so I did some research. The Wine Info Site was the first stop where I learned this; “In Spain, Macabeo is an important variety for the production of white wine. In Rioja this variety is called Viura.” I paused for a second before moving on as this one is from Catalyud which is a nearby neighbor of Rioja where they apparently use Viura to describe the grape as well. Next, the Wine Geeks clued me in to that “Together with the varietals Parellada and Xarel-lo it is used in the production of the sparkling Spanish wine Cava.”. I dig Cava, cool.

Thoroughly educated I open the bottle. Take a sniff…No banana that’s for sure. Some light fruits on top of notes of grass and hay. On the tongue the initial impression is of Viognier based on the up front viscosity. As we reach the mid palate my thought shifts to a light Sauvignon Blanc which lasts all the way through the citrusy finish. All in all, this wine does not stand up and get noticed and could easily be considered plain. I’ve seen it referred to as a “pleasant little white” which I think is a perfect description. Interested in experiencing something new? Give it a try. Otherwise look elsewhere.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Bodega Pirineos Mesache Blanco

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Winebow Brands International

What They Said:

Per Wine Advocate “The 2005 Mesache Blanco is an intriguing blend of 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel. Light gold in color, the bouquet of this crisp, refreshing effort is given a lift by the Gewurztraminer component. In addition to the lychees, there is a hint a banana and other tropical fruits. On the palate, this dry, medium-bodied wine is surprisingly ripe, rich, and long. Drink it over the next two years. 2/28/2007″

What I Think:

Wow! Nice stuff! I was shocked here…A very unique mixture that attracted me as something new. This was a winner, a lovely combination. Chard usually leads to my dismay but provided great balance here vs. the sweet, crispness of the gewurzt which introduced the hints of citrus fruits. Amazingly full bodied with a long finish. Like nothing you have ever had before, get some now.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 Abrazo Del Toro Carinena Tinto

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

What They Said:

Per quaffability “First was a new 2006 vintage of the Grenacha Tempranilo blend; like the previously reviewed 2004 and 2005 versions, this is an amazing value with much more in the way of spicy fruit flavors than anybody can expect these days for $3.99 (sometimes it’s $2.99). A great wine for the price.”

What I Think:

After reading about this one over on quaffability I decided to heed John’s advice and pass on the syrah but give this Grenache/Tempranillo (80/20) blend he has been enjoying for years a go. On doing some research I found this wine comes from the far north of Spain from a region named Aragon bordering France and the Pyrenees. I enjoy many of the wines from the French side so this seemed like a good indicator. Other notes of interest include; Calatayud is the big appellation in this region which also includes the sparkling area of Cava.

With carne asada on the menu this seems like the logical answer and it didn’t disappoint. Slightly similar to the Aglianico I had recently enjoyed, I found light red fruit on the nose with hints of spice running along the backbone. A bit on the dry side there were tastes of strawberries that led to a earthy, spicy finish. This is quite a pleasing effort and a wine worth having around for everyday drinking and then some.  I know I’ll be getting more.

Rating: Buy It