Time to move on…

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If you’re one of the people that occasionally pops by to see if I’ve posted anything, I’ll save you a couple of seconds from now on. I’ve decided to call time on Tinto y Blanco after 6 years, and if you hadn’t noticed there has been a distinct lack of effort on my part over the last 6 months or so. But there is a really good reason why.

Earlier this year, my wife and I were presented with the opportunity to import the  wines of some of our favorite producers in Rioja. We’ve jumped on board and have formed a small import company called Cosecha Imports, our first shipment has just arrived and will be ready for sale in the next month or so. Given that we are now importing wine from Spain, I felt that it was not a good idea to go writing reviews of the other importers wares, regardless of how small the company is or how much wine we import.

So, Tinto y Blanco will be frozen as it is, but with comments and posts turned off shortly, for a little while longer. Of course, if you need to, I can be reached on the same email address.

I do want to say a big thank you to all of the importers who supported the site and sent in wines, invited me to tastings and hooked me up with appointments with their producers in Spain. And to everyone who commented on posts, sent in emails, shared links and conversations along the way. Not forgetting the retailers who gave me discounts and ordered in obscure wines from unknown importers…thanks. I’ve found many friends along way, and for that alone I’ve gotta say thanks.

There is a blog over at the Cosecha Imports site, plus a twitter account, email and even a mailing list, so please keep in touch and keep drinking Spanish booze.

Cheers,

Dave Worthington

Back home after a quick trip to Rioja

img_6109 I’ve just got back from a long weekend in La Rioja that I’d tacked on to the end of a work trip. Not a lot of formal tasting, I did catch up with Scott Wasley from the Spanish Acquisition, plus the crew he’s taking around Spain, for a big session at Roda and visited a few of my favorite small producers.

But the main purpose was to catch up with some friends, eat some home cooking, drink, talk crap and generally enjoy the place. Sunday lunch at Etxebarri was a knockout as always. Followed by a extended afternoon refreshment (about 3 litre of white wine is refreshing apparently) makes for an almost perfect sunday. Oh and shopping for Spanish food products that we either can’t get here or we pay way over the odds for. I’m sure the nice lady at Australian customs thought I was mad having a suitcase full of anchovies, tuna, peppers, olive oil and honey! More to come…

Santiago Ruiz Ablariño 2009

img_6085It’s been a while since I’ve seen this wine around, which is a shame as it’s a very good rendition of Albariño. Plus I’m a sucker for a kitsch label. It is also quite a bit cheaper now. Given the heat wave we’re having in Melbourne at the moment, this was perfect with a bacon, leek and zucchini frittata. The importer is The Wine Company.

The overwhelming flavour here is ripe, but still a bit crunchy pear, which is just how I like my Albariño. In the leaner, acid driven style, yet has the texture and mid palate flavour that just makes it so easy to finish the bottle. Classic aromatics of white peach, pear, jasmine and kaffir lime leaf. Not the most complex of wines,  it’s refreshing, tasty and moreish, what more could you ask from a $30 import?   91 Pts.

Source: Rathdowne Cellars Price: Around $33 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.bodegasantiagoruiz.com

Other Vintages: 2004

Toscar Sauvignon Blanc 2009

img_5802Looks like summer has finally decide to rear it’s ugly head in Melbourne. While I don’t mind the heat, I don’t go out of my way to spend days on end in high 30s/40 degree heat. Much better off spending the day in a restaurant with good air conditioning, which is what we did yesterday. An excellent lunch at La Luna, washed down with a nice selection from the small but well thought out list. La Luna has to be one of the most consistently excellent joints in Melbourne, best steak for my money too.

I am going to be lazy here, this wine is fairly much exactly the same as the 2008, so I’ve just reused the notes here. I must say however, cool fresh, understated white wine at 11% is a refreshing change on a 40 degree day…

The nose shows plenty of herbal and grassy notes, with some fennel bulb and cucumber over the top of lemony fruit. Tight and driving in the mouth, it’s fresh and light and easy to drink. More of that lemon and herb fruit on the palate, the acidity keeps things humming along. More of a food style for my money, but definitely a fun, budget alternative to either NZ or French Sauv Blanc. 86 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $14 Closure: Conventional Cork

Toscar Tempranillo Crianza 2008

img_5795To be honest, this is very similar to the 2007 that I reviewed last year. Consistently good quality and well priced wines are always good in my book. Sure, it’s not the most exciting thing to drink, but for 14 bucks I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better wine to go with those Tuesday night lamb chops…

The important things are all there: warm, ripe plums, dark cherry, vanilla and wood shavings, a bit of chocolate. Round and supple, slightly raspy tannins on the finish, length and a bit of acid to drive things along. 87 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $14 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.salvadorpoveda.com

Other Vintages: 2003, 2007

Latente Crianza 2006

img_5766A quick one today. A very handy wine from Ce Soir, I had the 2004 a while ago, a lovely wine. Just like the 2004, this is made from 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 10% Mazuelo, 12 months in, what I’d guess is older American wood.It’s a classic formula, so why change it? In fact, this perfectly shows some of the things that are going on in Rioja at the moment, it’s modern, yet traditional, well packaged and good value..the binary labels of modern or traditional thing just doesn’t apply in most cases.

One of the things I really enjoy with this wine is that is comes sprinting straight out of the blocks. Cherry and blueberry fruit, vanilla, thyme and cinnamon. It’s not rustic, but not totally refined either, fresh and hearty with plenty of texture and life. Sappy cherries and plums on the palate, I’m finding the 06s quite sappy and I like it a lot. Good finish of herbs and fruit.  90 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $29 Closure: Conventional Cork

Mount Majura Tempranillo 2009

img_5844A busy week at work last week, perfectly capped off by seeing Blues Explosion at the Espy on Friday night. Great to see these guys in a small venue. Anyway, on to the wine. This wine really stood out at the TempraNeo tasting last year (along with the Mayford), and the thing that attracts me to this wine is that it has personality. Sure, there is a nod to Spain, but this shows firmly individual and unique characters that could only be Mount Majura Tempranillo. This is what we should be doing with Tempranillo in Australia.

One interesting thing that I got out of the TempranNeo is that there seems to be something of a trend towards ‘joven’ or unwooded, young wines with Australian producers. Thats just fine with me, a good sappy and wild young tempranillo in summer is great, but the fruit needs to be absolutely top notch…there is a reason why there is a wine lake of young tempranillo from hot climates in Spain. There are a few locally that can really pull it off, Pondalowie for example, but many producers have a way to go. Still, it’s early days with Tempranillo in Australia.

Pleasing nose of earthy dark fruit, cherry liquor, herbs, eucalyptus (a classic note for this wine) and chinotto. Not sarsaparilla or cola, both are a common descriptor for tempranillo, there is some kind of slightly bitter orange/cola note in there. I’m calling it chintto. Classic medium bodied tempranillo with tangy acid and tannins that gently build as the wine gets more air. Well defined and long, plenty of fruit, but its savoury all the way. Sour cherry, herbs, chinotto and pepper. She got the Flavour! This is setting the pace for Tempranillo in Australia. 92 Pts.

Source: Winery Sample Price: $35 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.mountmajura.com.au

Camino del Pelegrino Albariño 2009

Camino del Pelegrino Albariño 2009This is the ‘regional’ wine from Pazo Senorans, in fact it’s mostly from their neighbours. Excellent value and highly enjoyable…

Straight into it with a nose of pear and apple, kaffir lime leaf and lemon. Packed full of flavour, a good spike of acid and good length. Textured. In the mouth there is some gooseberry, fresh pear and a little sage for interest on the finish. Very tidy drinking. 91 Pts. $28

Source: Echalon wines RRP: $28 Closure: Screwcap

Toscar Monastrell Crianza 2006

Toscar Monastrell Crianza 2006I haven’t had a bottle of Monastrell for quite a while. I like the stuff, but it always seems to get pushed aside. Time to remedy that…Toscar Monastrell has to be one of the best value wines from Spain available in Australia, and this is it’s older brother. A year in wood, smooths out the edges and lends a little finesse to the wine, while keeping the freshness and bold spirit. In fact when I had a look at the range a few months ago, this really stood out as a favorite.

The nose opens up with figs, bloody meat and earth, it only gathers interest from there. Pencil shavings, some wild thyme and olives. Lovely. Easy to drink in the mouth, balance is good and the acid drives things along nicely. More of those figs and meaty notes on the palate, this would go well with some lamb shoulder. Tangy and long its a joy to drink now…plenty to like here, and as usual the price is excellent. 90 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $20 Closure: Cork

Telmo Rodriguez El Transistor 2008

img_5976A new wine from the Compañia de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez, a premium Verdejo from Rueda.  Personally, I’m not sure there is a huge market  $60 a bottle Verdejo (or $90-100 on a wine list), but I do admire their spirit in attempting to get the best possible wine out of old vine Verdejo from Rueda and lift it to something more than a Sauv Blanc alternative.

So, what do you do when you are trying to make the best wine from Rueda. Old bush vines are essential, no idea on the age of the vines used here but they are older than those used for Basa. Once the grapes are off the vine, leave the wine making kit bag at home and let it the wild yeast do it’s thing. Sure there might be some cooling used to keep everything fresh during fermentation, perhaps just some concrete tanks for example. Then give it some texture. Let it mature on lees for an extended period or stir it up a bit…but basically leave it alone.

Finish it off with a cool label and name and you’re done. The name is a reference to how they keep the wild pigs out of the vineyard, that old favorite of shopping centres and train stations has been used here: place a radio in the vineyard and play boring or bad music at high volume and they’ll keep clear. I’m told wild boar is good eating, so personally I’d take another approach and live high on the hog.

Lively nose of subtle, tropical fruits, rocky/mineral type notes and a bit of the ol’ mountain herb. Lovely, mealy texture, lees notes, with a bit of old hay and earth. Savoury and super long finish, a shake of minerals, lemon, guava and an apple that’s been in your school bag a couple of days longer than it should have (I  like this). Walks a fine line between texture and acid, you could call it chubby if you where so inclined, but just right for me. This won’t be for everyone, but with some good food (thinking corn fed, free range roast chicken) it will really lift. 92 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $60 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.telmorodriguez.com