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A pair of Spanish wines purchased in MoCo

I was in need of some beer to bring to my mom’s annual Shark Week BBQ.  This gave me cause to stop by local beer and wine stores in Montgomery County which is an exceedingly rare event for me.  To my surprise I found a couple of bottles imported by The Rare Wine Co which are, of course, priced high given the county I live in.  At the correct price the 2014 Olivares, Altos de la Hoya, Jumilla is a fine bargain which will continue to develop through the end of the year.  It is a bit tight and structured right now but it is still enjoyable at this time.  The 2014 Bernabeleva, Camino de Navaherreros, Madrid is far more open and generous than the previous vintages I have tasted.  You can drink the Bernabeleva while the Olivares ages!

2014 Olivares, Altos de la Hoya, Jumilla
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is 90% Monastrell sourced from old ungrafted vines and 10% Grenache fermented in stainless steel then aged 6 months in French oak barrels. Alcohol 14%.  Black fruited, fresh, and structured this left the impression that it could stand another half year to open up.  **(*) 2018-2021.

2014 Bernabeleva, Camino de Navaherreros, Madrid
Imported by The Rare Wine Co.  This wine is old-vine Garnacha fermented in foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The mixture of red and blue fruits is completely open and generous from the first pour.  There are no hard edges since the wine combines supple and juicy aspects.  **(*) Now – 2018.

Excellent 2008 Bründlmayer, 2008 Cayuse, and a few others

A few weeks ago I joined Lou for a game meat  (moose, rabbit, etc) dinner party at his house.  I took few pictures and even fewer notes but I did stop when I tasted the 2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling.  Lou purchased this bottle a few years back when he was in Vienna.  Lucky me that he opened it. Bründlmayer produces this wine from a 4 hectare parcel in Steinmassel.  This area was originally a quarry and that stone nature clearly comes through in the wine.  This is really good stuff!

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2008 Weingut Bründlmayer, Kamptal Steinmassel Riesling
This wine is 100% Riesling that was fermented in both stainless steel and large oak casks.  Alcohol 12%.  The nose is aromatic with fresh floral notes and a petrol hint.  In the mouth this vibrant wine begins with white fruit that morphs into petrol followed by a decidedly stoney finish.  There is richness to the wine but the flavors are dry with a citric, grippy finish.  This is on the upslope of maturity and will only get better.  **** Now – 2026.

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There were other wines too.  A 2002 Robert Hunter, Brut Blanc de Noir, Sonoma Valley really hit the spot.  It is mature with the right amount of bubbles and brioche.  Others liked it as well for the bottle was rapidly drained.  The 2010 Palazzone, Orvieto Classico Superiore Campo del Guardiano is far more mature than the Bründlmayer.  The acidity is more piercing with flavors of orchard fruit, dried herbs, and lychees.  A solid wine in comparison.  We finally had a solid bottle of 1970 La Mission Haut Brion, Graves.  It was completely drinkable, not too far over the hill, but not worth writing any more about.

I really liked the 2009 Pascal Aufranc, Vieilles Vignes de 1939, Chenas.  It was four years ago that I last drank this and I now believe it is fully mature.  There is less strawberry and Kirsch flavor now.  It leans towards an autumnal spectrum with the tannins fully integrated.  We soon swung towards the modern spectrum with the 2011 Clos St Jean, Chateauneuf du Pape (16% ABV!) and 2008 Cayuse, God Only Knows, Walla Walla Valley.  Both wines were double-decanted for several hours.  The Clos St Jean showed rather well with plenty of grip and some complexity.  But it was the Cayuse which wowed me.  My best description is as if Chateau des Tours made wine in Walla Walla.  Ethereal yet backed by substance, complex with no assertive structure.  Great stuff.  There was a bottle of 2013 El Nido, Clio, Jumilla which I did not like at all.  Too modern, clean, and massive.  We wrapped the evening up with a bottle of 1986 Fetzer, Port, Mendocino County.  This actually bore a resemblance to a traditional Port.  It was a bit simple, short, and spirituous but the flavor profile was right.

Three, No Six, Wait…Nine wines from Spain

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

We have tasted these nine Spanish wines over the past two months.  Except for the 2007 Casta Castillo, Valtosca at $26 all of these wines cost between $10 and $18. At the inexpensive end the 2011 Zestos, Old Vine Garnacha for $10 and the 2011 Leceranas, Monte La Sarda for $12.50 offer good flavor for the price.  Both are high-altitude, old-vine Grenache.  The 2010 Breca, Garnacha offers up a lot of deep flavor but also alcohol as well.  I kept wanting to like it more but could not.  At the more intellectual end the 2009 Tampesta, Fina los Vientos is made from 100% Prieto Picudo.  This varietal appears to get some bad press but I thought this a decent wine.  I got the impression it should open up with a little bit of bottle age.  By the way, it is imported by Peninsula Wines which according to the website import wine “made from single-vineyard, unknown varieties and up-and-coming wine regions.”  This is another label of Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata of OLE Imports.  Next up the 2010 Joan d’Anguera, Garnatxa and 2007 Casa Castilla , Valtosca are nice wines.  The Joan d’Anguera is a pure, clean wine which sees no oak whereas the Casa Castilla wears its new oak well.  My favorite of the lot was the 2010 Monasterio de Corias, Seis Octavos.  It is Mencia with a twist since it also include Carrasquen and Verdejo Negro.  It is also from Asturias where there are only a handful of producers.   These wines were purchased at Despana Vinos y Mas and MacArthur Beverages.

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2010 Joan d’Anguera, Garnatxa, Montsant – $15
Imported by De Maison Selections.  This wine is 100% Garnatxa sourced from 15 year old vines on chalky soils at 250 meters.  It was fermented in stainless steel then bottled without aging.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The light nose was of cranberry and cherry.  In the mouth the fresh fruit follows the nose but with a little weight.  There was integrated acidity, which was a little juicy in the finish.  The black and red fruit became a touch ripe with air.  A clean, pure wine.  *** Now-2016.

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2010 Bodegas Breca, Garnacha, Calatayud – $13
Imported by The Country Vintner.  This wine is 100% Grenache sourced from vines planted between 1925 and 1945.  It was aged for 21 months in French oak barrels.  Alcohol 15.5%.  The nose revealed smoky fruit.  In the mouth the flavors were smooth at first with cool blue fruit then they burst in the mouth with blue and black flavors.  There were some minerals and quite frankly, a lot going on.  There were powerful tannins in the finish which coat the inside of the lips.  You can feel the heat in the back of the throat as cinnamon spice came out in the aftertaste.  Make sure to drink this cool.  ** Now-2014.

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2007 Casa Castillo, Valtosca, Jumilla – $26
Imported by Eric Solomon.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from 22-year-old vines at the Valtosca vineyard. The soils are sandy and at 750 meters.  It was aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels.  The color was a medium+ black cherry.  The light nose revealed sweet spiced vanilla, blue fruit, along with low-lying darker aromas.  The flavors were focused in the mouth with darker black fruit and minerals followed by textured tannins in the finish.  The aftertaste had good acidity.  *** Now-2020.

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2010 Bodegas Monasterio de Corias, Seis Octavos, Calidad de Cangas, Asturias – $18
A Jose Pastor Selection imported by Vinos & Gourmet.  This wine is a blend of Carrasquen, Verdejo Negro, and Mencia.  Alcohol 12.5%.  The nose was light and delicate with spiced, fresh berries.  In the mouth the somewhat tart red fruit was integrated with the acidity and tickles the tip of the tongue.  There were black and red fruit in the middle becoming juicy towards the finish.  There were minimal spiced tannins which became grapey and a touch citric.  There was red fruit and some pepper notes in the aftertaste.  *** Now-2015.

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2011 Bodegas Leceranas, Monte La Sarda, Vieilles Vignes, Tierra del Baja Aragon – $12.50
Imported by Weygandt-Metzler.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 50+ year old vines located at 500-600 meters.  It was fermented then underwent malolactic fermentation in stainless steel.  Alcohol 14%.  The light+ nose revealed plummy red fruit and ripeness.  In the mouth there were raspberry fruits, spices, minimal tannins, and a focused finish.  ** Now-2014.

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2009 Soligamar, Crianza, Rioja – $17
Imported by C+P Wines.  This wine is 75% Tempranillo and 25% Garnacha aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol 11.5%.  The color was a light to medium grapey garnet.  The light nose revealed plummy, balsamic aromas of dark red fruit.  In the mouth there were medium weight red fruit which followed the nose.  Then black red fruit, a clean modern aspect, soft expansiveness, and a drying finish with textured tannins.  ** Now-2015.

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2009 Tampesta, Finca los Vientos, Tierra de Leon – $15
Imported by Peninsula Wines.  This wine is 100% Prieto Picudo sourced from vines on soils of clay at 730 meters.  Alcohol 13.5%.  The color was a light to medium ruby garnet.  The nose revealed fresh blue black fruit and was almost yeasty.  In the mouth the flavors were tighter with lighter body and blacker fruit.  There was a dry structure and lighter weight flavors towards the finish.  There was a red tingle.  Almost tastes like it was co-fermented with white fruit but it isn’t.  Black minerals come out with air.  **(*) 2014-2018.

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2010 Traslascuestas, Roble, Ribera Del Duero – $15
Imported by Moonlight Wine.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo which was aged for six months in American and French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The color was a medium purple ruby.  The light nose bore vanilla and blue fruit then it became a little pungent or perhaps assertive with aromas of spice.  In the mouth there was dry, blacker fruit, dry tannins, a wood note, and almost tastes like it should be hot.  But the flavors were clean with some density, and good acidity.  The finish revealed more black fruit and a little, powdery tannins.  ** Now-2017.

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2011 Zestos, Old Vine Garnacha, Vinos de Madrid – $10
Imported by OLE.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 40-50 year old vines at 870 meters.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was fresh with berries and fresh herbs, along with tart, black fruit.  In the mouth it was a little powdery, showing some young tartness, tang, and a little [can’t read my handwriting].  Easy to drink and well done for the price.  ** Now-2016.

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A Pair from Jumilla

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Both of these wines are produced from vineyards located in Jumilla.  Jumilla is wine region in southeast Spain where the land transitions from the Mediterranean coast to the high plateau of Castile-La Mancha.    The vineyards are on wide valleys where the altitude varies between 400 and 800 meters.  Here there is little rain with long hot summers.  The soils are poor in organic materials, brown with lime, and have good water retention.  The combination of weather and soils result in low-yielding vines which may produce highly alcohol wines.  The region largely resisted phylloxera until the late 1980s when it finally succumbed and significant portions had to be replanted.  Today there are many younger vineyards planted with grafted vines.

Vineyard in Jumilla, Image from Casa Castillo

Vineyard in Jumilla, Image from Casa Castillo

The 2010 vintage is considered Very Good by the Jumilla DO.  Both of these wines showed well with the Bodegas Bleda revealing more of its hot, arid origins.  It is a good solid wine which should hold up well to food grilled over a camp fire.  The Casa Castillo reveals pure fruit flavors which have both weight and acidity.  Jenn fell for its charms right away whereas I preferred it on the second night.  Regardless of the timeline it is certainly well done.  These wines are available at Despana Vinos y Mas.

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2010 Bodegas Bleda, Castillo de Jumilla, Monastrell, Jumilla – $13
Imported by Roadhouse Wine Merchants.  This wine is 100% Monastrell sourced from some 250 hectares of vineyards.  Alcohol 14%. In the mouth this young wine delivers sweet ripe red fruit, a little woodsy note, cinnamon flavors, and slightly chewy personality.  This is a solid wine, “good for camping” as Jenn put it, which will be best with several more months of aging.  ** 2013-2014.

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2010 Casa Castillo, El Molar, Jumilla – $19
Imported by Eric Solomon/European Cellars.  This wine is 100% Garnacha sourced from 6-year-old vines located on soils of sand and gravel at 2230 feet.  The wine was aged for 12 months in foudre.  Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose is light with powdery red fruit, pure aromas of strawberry and with air, red candy.  In the mouth the red candy flavors have a little supple weight then black red fruit comes out.  The acidity is well-integrated becoming noticeable in the aftertaste where it causes juicy salivation.  There are black minerals and cinnamon spices in the finish along with coarse tannins which stick to the teeth and inside the lips.  Lots of sediment.  Best to decant for an hour.  *** Now-2018.

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2003 and 2008 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil, Jumilla

Phil Bernstein (MacArthur Beverages) in front of old-vine Monastrell at Juan Gil, Image by Phil Bernstein

Jumilla is a DO located in the southeast portion of Spain.  It is characterized by wide valleys and plains and surrounded by mountains.  It is very dry with only 300mm of erratic rain per year and hot temperatures of 104 F during the summer.  These conditions produce wines of naturally high alcohol levels.

According to Phil Bernstein of MacArthur’s Beverages , Jumilla is “[o]ne of the most unique wine growing regions I’ve visited in my travels.  A very quiet, dusty place full of very old vines.  The potential to make consistent, excellent wines is here, but sometimes the wines can taste ‘baked’ or ‘pruney’ if growers aren’t careful.”

The Juan Gil Winery, Image from Bodegas Juan Gil

This estate started in 1916 when Juan Gil Gimenez built a winery in Jumilla.  The grandsons Juan Gil Gonzalez and Paco have worked to bring technical advances to the estate.  They have recently completed a new winery that is fully temperature controlled and located in the middle of the estate.  There are 350 hectares of vineyards that lie between 700 and 850 meters.  The winery sits in a 120 hectare parcel with their remaining 230 hectares scattered about.  All parcels are located in Termino de Arriba.  The majority of the vineyards are planted with Monastrell but Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Petit Verdot are planted as well.

Juan Gil Gimenez, Image from Bodegas Juan Gil

The vineyards are not irrigated.  The soils very greatly so the grapes are vinified separately then blended at the end. The Silver Label wine is 100% Monastrell from 40-year old vines. These parcels have soils that are shallow, chalky and on top of limestone and rock. The wine is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.

A Vineyard, Image from Bodegas Juan Gil

Based on my limited experience and this experiment, I would heed my original advice and drink this wine within a year or so.  Looking at my notes from November 2005 I rated this a zero out of five for future potential.  With all of the extra age, the 2003 has lost the nice texture in the mouth and alcohol becomes distracting as it comes through on the nose and in the mouth.  The 2003 cost $13.94 back in 2005.  Now this wine is readily available in the DC area for $15 at MacArthur’s and $16 at Calvert Woodley.  It is worth trying out as a modern, but still somewhat coarse and gutsty, style wine from Jumilla.

2003 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil, Monastrell Silver Label, Murcia, Jumilla
In the glass it has a medium garnet color that looks aged.  There is a light nose, a bit roasty with volatile fruit that makes way to blue fruit aromas.  In the mouth there are coarse red fruits, somewhat tart, then steely red fruit.  There is heat breaking through before the finish.  There are some steely minerals, and fine tannins.  The the second night it was a bit stinky and falling apart.  ** Now.

Here is my tasting note from five years ago:

Tasted February 2006
Dark in the glass.  A restrained nose of toasted nuts.  Fat on the tongue with expanding dark fruit flavors, short finish, and long after taste.  Drinkable now but let breath one to two hours or hold for one year.

2008 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil, Monastrell Silver Label, Murcia, Jumilla
This wine is not as dark as the 2003 but obviously looks younger with its cherry color.  There is a light+ nose, more lifted berries, and gritty toast notes.  There is similar intensity with more blue fruit and some creaminess to the texture.  The finish falls off some with dark/toast flavors coming through and a small amount of light tannins.  ** Now.

Three Wines From Italy and Spain, 06 May 2008

These three wines are a bit different from what I normally drink so I grouped them together. To some degree I enjoyed all three wines but then I don’t know what to expect. At $37 and $28 per bottle I probably would not buy these two Italian wines again…I’d rather drink the 2006 Hexamer, Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg Riesling “Quarzit”! At $15 the Casa Castillo is worth trying but don’t stock up on it for fear of all tannins and no fruit.

1996 Rocche dei Manzoni, Varo dei Manzoni, Monforte d’Alba – $37
This is a chocolate-ruby wine of medium opacity. There is a light, maturing nose of cedar and sour cherry. This light to medium bodied wine has flavors of bitter, dark cherries supported by mild acidity. There are very mild tannins on the tip of the tongue.

2001 Rizzi, Riserva, Barbaresco – $28
This 100% Nebbiolo wine is aged 18-24 months in Slovenian oak casks. A light garnet-brown color. There are sweet spices on the nose, cinnamon, with a touch of tobacco and oak. The spices repeat in the mouth with tad bit of sweet fruit.  A dark tea flavor develops with air. This is a light-to-medium bodied wine that is tart with acidity that provides a mouth-watering finish. The ultra-fine tannins thoroughly coat the mouth.

1998 Casa Castillo, Las Gravas, Jumilla – $15
This is a blend of 60% Monastrell and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged in Allier oak for 12 months. It still has a youthful dark color. The nose has aromas of dark fruits, minerals, and develops a briary aroma with air. In the mouth there are dark fruits and strong tannins that will outlast the fruit.

Leighton House Selections from February 2006

February 1, 2006 1 comment

These three selections were chosen for February 2006.

2004 Hare’s Chase, Red Blend, Barossa Valley
Hare’s Chase was started by Winemaker Peter Taylor and businessman Michael de la Haye. In 1998 they bought an old, dry grown, 40 acre Barossa vineyard. The vineyard contained small, scattered patches of Shiraz along with a number of other varieties. In revitalizing the vineyard they primarily grafted Shiraz while leaving small amounts of the other red varieties. The goal of Hare’s Chase is to produce wines styled after Cote-Rotie in Hermitage, France. This wine is a blend of 70% Shiraz, 16% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 3% Tempranillo, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in American and French oak. Dark ruby in the glass. Sweet, black fruit on the nose. A well-balanced Barossa wine that is not a fruit bomb. Drink now but can cellar a few years.

2003 Bodegas Juan Gil, Juan Gil, Jumilla
Bodegas Juan Gil was founded by Juan Gil Gimenez in 1916 when he built a warehouse in the middle of Jumilla to produce wine. Juan Gil is the higher quality selection. This wine is 100% Monastrell aged 12 months in French oak barrels. Dark in the glass. A restrained nose of toasted nuts. Fat on the tongue with expanding dark fruit flavors, short finish, and long after taste. Drinkable now but let breath one to two hours or hold for one year.

2003 Main Divide, Pinot Noir, Canterbury
Since the early 1970’s the entire Donaldson family has involved themselves in their wineries. They own the two New Zealand wineries Pegasus Bay and Main Divide. Their second tier wines are bottled under the Main Divide label. Main Divide is the local name for the Southern Alps. The goal of Main Divide is to produce distinctive, vibrant wines with lively fruit. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir aged 12-18 months in used French oak barriques. Crimson in the glass. An aromatic nose of cherries and chocolate. Round, ripe fruit on the balance with a good finish that provide for a satisfying drink. Drink now.