From Rioja, in north-central Spain, the classic style is a Tempanillo-based blend with Garnacha (aka Grenache) and small amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo with long aging often in American Oak barrels producing a wine with sweet vanilla flavors with less fruit character. Some producers are now experimenting with shorter aging periods in French Oak creating a more fruit forward wine. There are some single variety Tempranillo wines as well.
2006 Lan Rioja Crianza $13
Crianza means this wine was aged for 2 full years with 12 months spent in oak barrel.
Clear, deep garnet color with clean, medium intense developing aromas of cherry, strawberry, plum and leather. Dry, medium body, tannins and alcohol, medium+ acidity with a medium length red fruit finish. Very good, pleasant and easy-drinking. Serve with hamburgers, pizza or non-seafood paella.
2005 Herderos del Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva $18
Reserva means this wine was aged for 3 years with one in oak.
Clear deep garnet color going brickish at rim with clean, medium+ developing aromas of leather, cigar, dried red fruit, licorice and baking spices. Dry, medium body and tannins with medium+ alcohol and acidity. Flavors mirrored aromas with a medium+ peppery, licorice finish. Very good in a more traditional style, serve with grilled meats and mushroom risotto.
Penedes lies south of Barcelona on the Mediterranean coast in Catalonia. Wines from Penedes are very diverse in style using both Spanish and international grapes.
2005 Torres Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva $24(85% Cabernet and 15% Tempranillo)
Clear deep garnet color with brickish rim with clean, medium intense developing aromas of jammy black fruit, leather and a bit of bell pepper. Dry, medium+ body, alcohol, acidity with grippy tannins and a medium finish. Good, Serve with Charcuterie or roasted meats.
Priorat is also in Catalonia but is located further inland. Many of the vineyards sit on steep slopes at high altitudes. The focus is on red wines made from Garnacha and Carinena.
2009 Negre Scala Dei Priorat Garnacha $15
Clear, medium purple color with clean, medium intense youthful aromas of candied red fruit. Dry, medium body, tannins, alcohol and a medium slightly astringent finish. Acceptable.
2004 Idus de Vall Llach $45
Clear, deep garnet with clean, medium developing aromas of black fruit, cedar, vanilla and bit of herbaceousness. Dry, medium+ body, alcohol, tannins, acidity and a long peppery, earthy finish. Very good.
Jumilla is located in the province of Murcia in the Levant which is south of Catalonia along the Mediterranean coast. They are known for their red wine from the Monastrell grape, the Spanish name for Mourvedre, sometimes blended with Garnacha or Tempranillo.
2009 Juan Gil Jumilla (100% Monastrell) $17
Clear deep ruby with clean, medium intense youthful aromas of ripe red fruit with a bit of baking spice. Dry, medium+ body, medium alcohol and acidity with high tannins and a medium length red fruit, peppery finish. Good+, Serve with grilled meat and mushrooms or beef stew.
Ribera del Duero is located in the Duero Valley in Castile-Leon. Tempranilo is the most important grape variety (the local clone is called Tinto Fino), though there is also Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot, as well.
2006 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero $25
Clear, deep garnet with clean, medium intense developing aromas of leather, cigar, dried fruit and cherry. Dry, medium body and alcohol with medium+ acidity and tannins with a slightly astringent finish. Good+. Serve with grilled meat and vegetables.
Tasting Spain - White Wines