Category Archives: Spain

Reales Viñedos 2016 Rosado

Spain (no Denominación de Origen); 13.5% ABV
imported by Quintessential, LLC, Napa, CA
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 18 Aug

GLPease recommended this rosé, so I was glad to try it.  It is very good for the low price.  The flavor starts with nice cantaloupe and red berries with some sweetness of fruit, moves into some white (maybe slightly green) melon, and finishes with balancing tartness and bitterness, and a little sort of chalk-dust minerality.  It stayed good and tasty for a few days.

This bottle was courtesy of Sopheap Yin at the Richmond store.




Pulpo 2014 Albariño

Rias Baixas DO, Spain; 12.5% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 19 Feb

img_00501I’ve quite enjoyed Albariño from Rias Baixas before, and this wine, with its pretty label, screw cap, and low price, was an obvious buy.  It is indeed a good buy, with somewhat delicate flavors of gentle lemon, yellow apple / pear, and  honeyed wood, with crisp acid and a drying minerality.

The next day, the flavors are less delicate, the apple becoming more pineapple, and overall still quite tasty for the low price.  It’s not as good as the previous Albariños, but it is only $3.

Castillo Monjardin 2014 unoaked Chardonnay “El Cerezo”

Navarra DO, Spain; 13% ABV
$3 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 Feb

img_00491This very pretty label and low price were immediately interesting!  I opened it this evening and I think it is quite good wine for the money, but it is very Spanish…

… which means (IMO) that its fruit is quite restrained, with more acid and minerality than most CA Chardonnays.  It tastes of green / yellow grape skin, riper yellow apple / pineapple, and white-fruity mineral oil.  I’d guess that Seedboy would like this pretty well, although bets on his preferences are always risky.  🙂

The next day, the flavors are much the same, although more smooth and perhaps showing a little oxidation.

2012 Castillo Marín

Cariñena, Spain; 13.5% ABV
Purchased for $5.99 at Palo Alto on 1/20/2017

img_9919-1This wine is a 50-50 blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha from a winery about which I sadly couldn’t find much information. Perhaps my bottle needed a few more days to rest after transport, or perhaps the wine is just still really young, but there are some promising components here that, if they come together, might make this a winner down the road.

The real standout on night 1 was the nose. Black cherry, raspberry, some herbal (as in thyme and rosemary) aspects as well as this almost dark violets floral note that was just fantastic. On the palate though, the wine was really muted, bordering on unpleasant. A bit of raspberry liqueur and some saline acidity, giving way to some tart cherry, cork, and a slightly bitter finish. I gave the wine about 2 hours in the glass, trying it at 30 minute intervals. As time progressed it improved, but only slightly. The nose, however, remained fantastic, even intensifying as the evening went on.

Day 2 was another story. The wine needed about 45 minutes to an hour in the glass, but once it finally opened up, it was wonderful. Blackberries, some subtle vanilla and spice oak notes (from what to me tasted like very nice barrels), more of those mediterranean herbs, all in a wine that was rich, but not too heavy or overdone. The nose, sadly, had simplified. It was still pleasant, but lacked the complexity of the night before.

If everything comes together, this could be really good. At this point though, I’m going to rate this as drinkable, bordering on thumbs up. If you’ve got space to lay a few down, at $5.99 / bottle it might be worth the experiment.

Castillo del Moro 2015 Airén – Sauvignon Blanc

75% Airén, 25% Sauvignon Blanc; 11.5% ABV
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 10 Oct

castillodelmoro_2015_airensauvblancAt first, I mentally categorized this as another nondescript Spanish white, but then I noticed it had been selling pretty well, and finally got a bottle.  It is indeed quite tasty for the price.

I had not heard of Airén before, but according to that Wiki page, it represents about 30% of all grapes grown in Spain, but is increasingly being uprooted because it “often produces an acidic and characterless wine.”  However, when I first tasted it, I exclaimed, “That’s delicious!”.  It tasted juicy and crisp, green- and white-fruited, and nicely structured (minerally). With some air, the wine showed a little more softness of fruit, with flavors of lighter yellow and green fruit of grape, apple / melon, Asian pear, balancing bitterness of yellow / green grape skin, and lighter minerality.  While not as amazing as it seemed at first pour, it is pretty tasty for the price.

The next day, the rest of the wine in the bottle was softer, less minerally, and more fruity, but still quite tasty and pleasant.  While not an outstanding wine, it’s pretty good for the price.  (A little survived to the third day, and was still quite enjoyable.)

Campo Marin 2015 “Selection” Grenache

Cariñena DO, Spain; 13% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 30 Sept

campomarin_2015_grenacheA few years ago, we had a Campo Marin Crianza that was quite good, and I wanted to see if this wine was also good for the price.  My answer is yes.

In contrast to a couple other good Spanish Grenaches (or Garnachas or Garnatxas) we’ve had lately (Altés, Proyecto), this wine is made in a more international style.  The wine is pretty good soon after opening, and was fully aired after about 50 minutes in a decanter, although it kept developing well after that.  The medium-weight wine shows tangy, smooth, and delicately complex flavors of raspberry, darker red cherry, maybe blueberry, some bitterness of pit / stem, and wood / earth, with nicely balanced acid.  Even though it’s a 2015, it’s quite yummy now.  It’s not like many of the “Drink Now!” wines we get at the GO, but it’s not very substantially made, so don’t keep it that long, either.

Well, I wrote that yesterday, but today’s saved, single-glass, screwcap bottle was (1) still very tasty and (2) included more of the earthiness I associate with Spanish wine, but was otherwise quite similar.   So.. drink it now or over the next couple years.

Tridente 2013 Tempranillo

from Spain; likely about 15% ABV (have unfortunately already recycled the bottle)
imported by AW Direct
$7 at the Oakland, CA, store probably late August or early September

tridente_2013_tempranilloLike three other Spanish wines imported by AW Direct that showed up recently, this wine was made in a very American style, but was quite good for the money.

On the night, the wine was still a bit rough and closed even after having been decanted for 2 hours.  It was quite tasty, showing ripe, dark purple / black boysenberry / blackberry fruit with black earth and a tannic finish.  It was quite impressive, but my guess was that it should have been aged for at least a few years, although I bet Expat would love it as is.  🙂

A few days later, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle still needed an hour in the glass to show smooth boysenberry / black raspberry, complexities of strawberry jam and blueberry, with touches of roses and licorice, still with a slightly biting earthy tannic finish.  Overall, I thought this was an outstanding wine for the price that could be put down to age for a while.  By now, it’s almost certainly gone from Oakland, and I never saw it at Richmond.

“El Vinculo” 2009 Crianza

from Alejandro Fernández; La Mancha DO, Spain
100% Tempranillo; 14.5% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 2 Sept

elvinculo_2009_crianzaThis wine looked pretty interesting, but my bottle was quite disappointing.  Although with some air, it tasted of softer, tasty ripe fruit of black raspberry / darker red cherry and purple grape, it was marred by a sort of earthy / rubbery funk, especially on the finish.  It has been a while since I’ve had a corked wine, but this matches my recollections of a badly corked wine.  A customer returned a bottle, and wanted me to taste it to see what I thought.  It tasted just like my (likely) corked bottle.  However, G.L.Pease had a bottle that he said was not corked, but was unexciting wine.  Given the higher risks-to-reward on this one, I’m going with Thumbs Down.

Pata Negra 2013 Verdejo

Rueda DO, Spain; 12.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 July

PataNegra_2013_VerdejoI initially wanted to order this wine after having liked the Pata Negra 2005 Gran Reserva (Valdepeñas DO).  When it showed up, I thought its darker yellow color did not bode well.  However, after Seedboy wrote of it, “Delicious, full bodied, balanced white wine,” I got one to try.  In this case, I disagree with him.

I found the wine damaged by oxidation.  It tasted of over-ripe yellow apple / pineapple, with sort of sherry-like aftertaste.  I agree with “full-bodied,” but I think it’s not very well balanced.  The next day, it was still pretty much the same, so, whatever may have happened to it, it’s not on a fast downward slope.

La Hormiga Roja 2015 Garnacha

100% Garnacha (Grenache); 13% ABV
Jumilla DO, Spain
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 June

LaHormigaRoja_2015_GarnachaI was a bit wary of a wine, especially a red, showing up now from last year’s vintage, but the notes on the printed price sign (I find it interesting that GO started including wine notes on price signs in the last year…) sounded pretty good, so…

On first pour, the wine tastes of ripe, slightly syrupy, red cherry with a roughly woody finish, fairly full-bodied.  It’s enjoyable enough right away, but of course the “air guy” thinks it needs about 2 hours in a decanter to fully air.  Then the wine smooths out, darkens, and integrates to show earthy / funky / tangy dark red cherry (I would have guessed this had a good percentage of Monastrell (Mourvèdre)), black raspberry / loganberry, tinge of blueberry, with smoother wood on the finish.  It’s still very fruity / slightly syrupy, in a way that is not very Spanish, IMO.  It’s really almost Californian.

The next day, the saved single-glass, screwcap bottle was very similar.  It’s pretty tasty, but not really structured enough for my taste.  It should hold on easily, perhaps even improve to my taste, for a couple more years.