The Quiet Giant

    The Wine Guy

    While most people who drink wine know that most of the top wine-producing countries are in Europe, most would not pick Spain as one of them. However, the country produces around 7.5 billion gallons of wine a year-that’s a lot of glasses! The main grape, Tempranillo, produces more juice than almost any other grape in the world and the dry, hot climate helps create its delicious taste. Another popular grape variety is called Monastrell, which we know as Mourvedre. Here are a few to look for and don’t be put off by the relatively low prices; today’s Spanish reds are among the best wine values anywhere.  

    VALSERRANO RIOJA CRIANZA, 2016, ($14.99),James Suckling recently recommended this assertive, structured red, saying, “A very rich and forward style with rich dark berries and chocolate on the palate, with a sinewy, lithe and juicy edge. Drink now.” He’s right on the money, by the way-really long finish, evolving flavors and a full mouth feel. Just a real value for the money. Try pairing this one with light meats such as lamb and pork.

    Marqués de Caceres, 2014 Reserva, Tempranillo / Rioja, ( $31.99)

    Made from a blend of hand harvested Tempranillo (85%), Garnacha (10%) and Graciano (5%) grapes, grown on 25-35 year-old vines, this wine was fermented in temperature-controlled tanks and aged in French oak (50% two-year-old and 50% three-year-old) for 20 months, then in bottles for two years before release.

    Strong aromas of cherry, blackberry, black currant, plum, stewed fruit, dried cherry, dried cranberries, soft honey, perfumy, coffee, soil, slight minerality and granite rocks.On the palate, very distinctive notes of dried cherry, blackberry, plum, pomegranate, light raspberry, kumquat, vanilla, fresh hay, licorice, clove and saline, with light oak, good balance, good structure & texture, really satisfying. On the finish, you’ll taste soft cherries, dark berries, dried fruit, with lingering tannins and oak, a beautiful balance.

    Viña Herminia – Herminia 2015,(Tempranillo / Rioja, ($12.99).

    The grapes for this wine were grown in vineyards noted for sandy soils as well as those featuring calcareous chalk. Following fermentation in stainless-steel tanks, aging took place in barrels for four months and four months in the bottle prior to release.

    You’ll get romas of  cherry, raspberry, red currant, peach, stewed berries, raisins, toffee, orange peel, dried herbs, mineral, leather, roasting meat, tobacco, cigar box, smoke, ripeness. On the palate, it’s a plethora of flavors- black cherry, raspberry, blackberries, blueberry, ripe plum, complex stone fruit, pear, vanilla, chocolate, dill, minerals, slightly peppery, smoky, low acidity, soft tannins, oak, balanced, lively. On the finish, which is pleasantly long,there are black cherries, raspberry jam and an herbal minerality, with light oak and chewy, balanced tannins with a  nice structure-just a soft, elegant wine.

    Eguren Ugarte Reserva, 2013,Tempranillo / Rioja, ( $17.99). This wine was made from 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano grapes that were fermented in a combination of French and American oak for 15 months before bottling. Really distinctive aromas withcherry notes, dried cherry, raspberry, ripe grapes, subtle vanilla, chamomile, mint, shiso leaf, subtle black tea, dried basil, nutmeg, spice. On the palate, you’ll taste dried cherry, vanilla, maple, green berries, mint, spearmint and cloves,  all wrapped up in a spicy, smoky, slightly acid oak influence. Bring on a finish of dried cherry, tomato and pepper that is clean and crisp a classic Spanish profile!

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