All in all a pretty enjoyable bunch of wines. More successful than last year’s Italian tasting.
Rioja. 84 points 14%
The first wine of the night was a young Tempranillo (young vines too). A nice modern interpretation, with clear, clean fruit. Simple, straighforward. Good to see this sort of thing on Australian shelves, perfectly appropriate introduction to Spain. Good cafe wine. Trendy, quite cool label.
Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2001
91 points 13.5%
Wine of the evening for most people. Marques de Riscal is a very reliable producer and 2001 was an excellent vintage. This was fairly oaky, in a classic Rioja style, with some deep flavours. Plenty of stuffing without high alcohol or extract. Should last a good while (drink over the next 10 years).
Dominio de Tares ‘Baltos’ 2004
81 points 13%
A chance to try the local Mencia grape from the ‘hot’ new area Bierzo. Nice colour, interesting aromas, but pretty disappointing to drink. Commercial style without much concentration, no depth, just a bit of plain sweetish fruit. Glasses were poured out, and the bottle was never finished.
d”Arenberg ‘The Sticks and Stones’ 2002
86 points 14.5%
A Tempranillo, Grenache, Souzau blend. Very noticeably Australian with greater body, alcohol and sweetness. Surprisingy undeveloped for its 6 years. There are some interesting flavours, but I find this too ‘in your face’, it’s not food friendly, it’s for impressing on the first taste/glass, after that drinking it gets a bit exhausting. That said, it’s a well made wine, a would make a nice change from shiraz – it deserves its position on retail shelves – though I’m not so sure about whether it deserved to be awarded so many wine show medals.
The Souzau is a Spanish and Portugeuse grape that was added for colour stability, acid, and resistance to oxidation. I wonder if this is part of the wine’s slow aging.
Condado de Haza 2002
88 points 13.5%
A great effort in a difficult year. From one of the masters of Riberia del Duero (Alejandro Fernandez) this 100% Tempranillo is attractive and juicy with some smoky aromas and savoury flavours. It’s a much more open knit style than in previous, riper vintages. This is a well judged style for the vintage. Food friendly, not heavy, not too intellectually demanding.
Finca la Planeta ‘Pasanau’ 2001 and Orlando ‘St Hugo’ Cabernet 2000
88 points 14% and 13%
A Cabernet from Priorat paired with what I thought might be similar, a Coonawarra Cabernet. Of course these wines tasted different, but I was pleased how comparable they were. Both seemed out of place in this tasting though, in that they were so obviously (pungent even) Cabernet, with real cassis berry flavours. More masculine, structured wines. The St Hugo has more extraneous minty aromas and flavours (eucaplypt ?). It would be more intellectually interesting to see these wines in a Cabernet tasting.
Valminor Albarino 2006
This white wine from Rias Baixas is a pleasant aromatic white. Nicely made, though not as aromatic as some Albarino.
I can’t see this grape variety stealing much share (from much more racy) Sauvignon Blanc which seems to have become the great alternative (or competitor) to Chardonnay. It has nothing like the depth of flavour of Riesling nor (Loire) Chenin Blanc.
But it is an attractive grape variety, one that Spain should be pleased with having.