Category Archives: Spain

2010 Volver Single Vineyard

2010 Volver Single Vineyard (Photo taken from the importer’s website)

We picked up the 2010 Volver Single Vineyard a while back at Costco where it retailed (and still does) for $12 a bottle. We’ve lately had a couple of Spanish wines and thought it was worth trying this one, which Costco displayed with the more expensive wines. That might have been due to the praise that past vintages of this wine has received from Robert Parker in the past. I usually stay away from wines that Parker praises because I often find them to be too much on the oaky and smokey side. One of the things I learned when I looked into why I had problems with wines he suggested.

This wine comes from the La Mancha region in Spain, which is part of Castille. It is made with 100% Tempranillo grapes hand harvested from vines that were planted in 1957. Weirdly, the bottle does not tell us which vineyard the grapes are from which I found a bit curious. But the website states it is from 28 hectares (72 acres) called Finca Los Juncares. The wine has 15% ABV. According to Wine Exchange, a wine seller, the wine was created by the importer Jorge Ordonez, harvested at less than 2 tons per acre and aged some time in French oak barrels.

When I opened the wine and had a first sip to see how it was, I exclaimed that I really liked it. The wine is of a deep, rich crimson red color with a high viscosity. In the nose it was perfumy and alcoholic, followed by dark red fruit (cassis) and dark raspberries. It also showed herbal aromas. On the palate, Volver showed a silky mouthfeel and was medium bodied. In the beginning it was still pretty closed up, slightly smoky with strong tannins. There were bitter notes in the middle, but the finish was medium to long and felt very balanced. After 45 minutes to an hour, the wine had opened up. There were now aromas of raspberries, velvets and some pepper. The wine also felt a bit sweeter in the end after that time. I liked it more after that hour.

All in all, this was a pretty decent wine and the price seems good. I do recommend decanting it or leaving the bottle open for a bit before you start drinking, though. It is just too much of a powerhouse straight after opening. Parker says it should age well for a 4-5 years. Might be worth storing a for another year.

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2009 Armantes Calatayud Old Vines Garnacha Tempranillo

2009 Armantes Old Vine Calatayud DO

2009 Armantes Old Vine Calatayud DO

Last Friday, it was almost weekend and I realized I didn’t have a single glass of wine all week. Frustrating. While a casserole was simmering in the oven I decided to open up this wine that we picked up at Plum Market a while back for $8 (marked down from $12).

The wine is produced by San Gregorio Sociedad Cooperativa Limitada, a cooperative in the Calatayud region of Spain. I had to check where that is because I am not very familiar with Spanish geography or wines. According to Wikipedia Calatayud is a city and and municipality located in the western part of the province Aragon, pretty much in the heart of the Iberian peninsula. Calatayud has its own denomination of origin (DO), see here. Unfortunately the website is only available in Spanish, and my Spanish is virtually non-existent. It seems like the area boasts 60 vintners and some cooperatives. In 2009, it produced 5.72 million bottles of wine and is supposed to be a “muy buena” year.

The winery’s website can be found here. The website states that DO Calatayud was established in 1989. The team at the winery is said to have an average age of 34 (exciting!) and is producing for the international market, whatever that means. It looks like this wine is their basic wine (it better be at that price), although they changed things up a bit from the website. This wine has, according to the bottle, 90% Garnacha and 10% Tempranillo and 14.5% ABV.

Armantes poured in a dark, ruby red. The nose is initially a bit sour and alcoholic. After 15 minutes in the glass that is reduced. Then it smells fresh, earthy, a bit of red fruit. On the palate it shows some smokiness, medium tannins and a nice touch of acidity. It’s light to medium bodied, feels silky at times and is actually enjoyable in the middle. The short finish, however, is rather harsh with bitter and unripe notes which are even too long for this short of a finish.

Not sure what to make of this. The finish definitely ruined the wine for me, although the initial stages of tasting were alright. Nothing special, definitely not fun. Not something I will likely pick up again.

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2010 Melini Chianti Borghi d’Elsa and NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva

2010 Melini Chianti and N.V. Seguras Viudas Brut Reserva

As I indicated last Thursday, we had these two magnum bottles to accompany our Thanksgiving festivities.

I have written about the Melini chianti previously, you can check out the review here. All of what I said back then held true, and the nice acidity in the wine helped with the rich sauces and dishes on our table.

We started the day (around 1pm) by popping the NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, a cava that we had bought at a previous Costco run. I think the bottle was $12. Cava is the Spanish equivalent of a sparkling wine. According to the producer of this particular sparkler, it is a non-vintage blend of Macabeo (50%), Parellada (35%) and Xarel-lo (15%) grapes (YAY, great for our Wine Century Club application – see more here -, three more grapes to tick off!!) and was made in the traditional method of making champagne.

I love magnum wine bottles, but I love champagne magnum bottles even more: Because of the pressure in the bottle, the glass has to be much thicker and sturdier which makes these bottles look even more humongous. Add the pop when opening a champagne bottle, and everything is in the right place. Our friends’ kids loved how the fog came out of the bottle after opening (they called it smoke), and I couldn’t wait to try the wine. One more caveat: As much as I like champagne bottles, I am not the biggest fan of sparkling wines. I drink them, I can enjoy them, but they don’t do as much for me as for others (cough, cough, thedrunkencyclist, cough).

But to this one. There was not much of a nose going on, quite low on aromas. But on the palate, this one really hit all the right notes: apple and citrus, refreshing and balanced with nice acidity. One of my biggest problems with a lot of sparkling wines is that the bubbles are offensive to me, which was not the case with this one at all. Really pleasant. It was so good that Nina opted to drink it straight, without the helping of crème de cassis that I offered her. And that says a lot, because who can resist a Kir Royal? :) But seriously, even without that “helper” this one is really good for its price. I have had champagne that cost a lot more and was not better…

We used the crème de cassis pictured below, a gift from my exchange partner in France. We go back to 7th grade, and he is like a brother to me. So I did not want to open this cassis without a proper reason. And this Thanksgiving seemed just right. In Dijon, Burgundy, where I spent my school exchanges, crème de cassis, a red currant liqueur is added to either white wine to make a Kir, or sparkling wine (usually a crémant de Bourgogne) to make Kir Royal. The result is startlingly good in either case, and has become one of my go tos when in Burgundy. It is a great aperitif, sweet and acidic, fruity and zesty. Just right. If you get a chance, pick up a bottle at your booze store and add about 1/4 or a 1/5 to your dry chardonnay or sparkling wine. Be warned: It is addictive.

Edmond Briottet Creme de Cassis

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