Bodegas Muga Torre Muga 1996

1996 Bodegas Muga Tore Muga

This is one of the modern wines made by Bodegas Muga, the other is call Aro. As always with Muga it is a blend: 75% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo and 10% Graciano. The big change is 18 months in new french oak.

Very vibrant, but deep color. A powerful and complex nose, stacks of dark plum, aniseed and asian spices. This isn't easy drinking Rioja, very savory with big structure, but it is elegant and refined. Dark berry fruits, a bit of pepper and spice, there isn't loads of fruit in the mouth, but nice complexity. The oak is a wee bit over done for me, but it’s not a "barrel in a bottle" situation. Soft, luxurious tannins and a huge finish. It could go on for another 4 or so years at least, but after seeing the 94 fall apart after 3-4 years, I'd rather drink up now.

93 Pts.  

Source: Cellar Closure: Cork


Cims de Porrera Priorato “Solanes” 2001

2001 Cims de Porrera Priorato

These guys are apparently one of the stalwarts of Carinena (Mazyelo in Rioja or Carignan in France) for quality wines in Priorat. This wine is a great little blend of 90% Crinaena and 10% Grenacha. I could drink Priorat wines all day, pity about the pricing…

A deep red core, browning at the edges. Great nose of minerals, dark cherry, some floral notes, a bit of smoke and earth as well. Very clean in the mouth, tart raspberries, dark plums and a load of spice and pepper. Its quite integrated and if you're into tannins, you'll love the noticeable but smooth tannins and the long finish. Really enjoyable, I want a second bottle. It could probably improve over a couple of years, but why wait? 91 Pts.

Source: Retail RRP: $65 Closure: Cork

Telmo Rodríguez Dehesa Gago ‘G’ 2004

telmo-corkA fun little wine this one. It is a joven style which sees no wood and is 100% Tinto de Toro, which in itself has a bit of a story. DNA test have shown that it is a clone of Tempranillo, however many still say that a lot of the older vines in Toro are actually Touriga Nacional. Who knows if this is true or not? I don't, but I do know it makes a very morish wine!

I like this style and this wine seems to be consistently good year-in, year-out. It is regularly discounted around town, so you should be able to find it cheaper than the RRP.

I drank this wine over two nights. The first night it was very primary and fresh. Intense dark cherry, animally/meaty on the nose with a toasty, savory palate with a bit of tannin impact. A nice finish. The second night it had improved slightly, smoother with the licorice and cinnamon coming to the fore on the palate. Very good.

88 Pts. Source: Retail RRP: $25 Closure: Cork

Bodegas Bretón “Loriñon” Reserva 2000

2000 Bodegas Breton Lorinon ReservaBretón is a traditional bodega from Rioja Alta. The Lorinon vineyard is a low-yielding estate vineyard with an average vine age of 25 years.

The classic Riojan blend of 85% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano and 5% Garnacha with 19 months in American Oak (25% new oak) and a further 12 months in bottle before release.

Very deep red in color, the nose shows ripe red fruit with some balsamic notes. Dark Cherry, tobacco and herb flavors on the palate. Quite a soft and well integrated wine, it has moderate tannins and good balance, with a touch of spice on the finish. 90 Pts.

Source: Retail RRP: $30 Closure: Cork


Penin Guide to Spanish Wine (2006)

Penin Guide to Spanish Wine 2006This is an invaluable guide for anyone with an interest in Spanish wine.  For many years this guide was available only in Spanish, but it has been published in english since 2005.  You could equate this guide to the popular Australian guides by James Haliday or Jeremy Oliver. 

It is two books really, the first section is almost 200 pages on the varities, wine styles, soil types, climate, tips for the beginner and even a section on how to tell if you are wine wanker.

The remaining 800 odd pages are devoted to tasting notes from just about every region of Spain plus the growing Vinos de Tierra.  Penin uses the 100 point scale, with scores bellow 80 making it into the book (there are scores as low as 56!).  There are translation artifacts and oddities in some reviews, but they don't really take much away from the overall experience.  Another bonus is the contact details and web sites for most of the producers. 

Overall, a very well put together wine guide and a handy reference for about $40.  As far as I know, it is not available in Australia at present, Amazon seems to be the best source for it (just make sure you order the english version!).

Gran Feudo Reserva 2000


A blend of the indginous Tempranillo (80%) and the French Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (the remaining 20%) . I find these blends a bit hit and miss at times, the Cabernet seems to dominate and can add some green/herbal characters that seem out of place in such a wine. Not so with this one, it hits the mark and its priced well to boot.

The Chivite vineyards are located in the Navarra region of northern Spain, in between La Rioja and Catalonia. The grapes come from a number of areas around Navarra, Marcilla and Aberin specifically. The wine sees 18 months in French and American Oak and another 18 months in bottle to meet the requirements of the Reserva label.

Plums and raspberries make up the nose, with a bit of french oak showing through. Medium bodied with dark cherry, blackberry/blackcurrant, oak and a bit a vanilla. I found the tannins a bit rough at first, the finish is rather short. It could sound quite boring, but it’s a solid, rustic wine that would go very well with a beef stew or lamb chops on a cold Tuesday night. 87 Pts.  

Source: Retail RRP: $20 Closure: Cork


Bodegas Roda Roda II Reserva 2001

roda201It seems like every wine blog or website out there has an article or two on how great the 01 Roda wines are. And who I am to argue, they are fantisic wines. I prefer Roda I generally, but it needs 5-8 years to show its stuff, the 01 will be a great wine in about 2008. Roda II is usually quite open in its youth and is intended to be more of a food wine than Roda I.

The difference between the two wines is barrel selection. A simpliefied view would be red fruit notes for Roda II and dark fruit tones for Roda I. Roda II also gets some Grenacha and Graciano in the mix. I find that Roda II can go into a bit of a hole 2 to 3 years after release, a good decant will usually see you through if you find the wine a bit closed. A marketing note on Roda II: it becomes simply Roda from the 2002 vintage.

Roda II has a rich nose of red berrys, espresso, dirt and roasted nuts. In the mouth, the first thing that really hits me is the smooth, velvety tannins. It is medium to full bodied at the moment, it should become softer as it ages and devlop a lovely thick texture. A savory palete with a core of ripe red berries with a host of highlights; spices, a touch of black peper, earth and a hint of oak. It is all very well balanced, with a good long finish. This is full steam ahead, modern Rioja. 93 Pts.

Source: Retail RRP: $70 Closure: Cork


Valdubon Roble 2003

2003 Valdubon RobleNeeding a drink after work, I spotted this in the wine section of one of the big department stores. It turns out that this label is put out by the good people at Freixnet. No real details on the wine available, 100% Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) and I'm assuming that its a joven that sees some wood (roble means oak in Spanish).

Very woody nose with a hint of blackberry. The fruit seems a bit light on, blueberry and brambly undergrowth with a bit of cola. It seems unbalanced and very dry, the acid really smacks you in the face and the harsh sandy tannins go in for round 2. I had a sneaking suspicion this bottle has been scalped, so I tried a second. It was exactly the same. 78 Pts.

Source: Retail RRP: $20 Closure: Cork


La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 1994

thumb-la_rioja_alta_904_94La Rioja Alta is one of the big names in old school Rioja, I'll let their website do the talking for the wine:

"Tempranillo (85%) with the addition of Graciano and Mazuelo. Matured 5 years in cask and 4 in bottle. Bright, brick-red color, with a touch of gold. This wine has a complex harmonious character. Very feminine with a long finish."

Deep red in the centre with some bricking on the rim (I couldn't find the gold). Nose of earth and leather. Red cherries, more earth and licorice in the mouth with some cloves and woody herb undertones. Dusty dry tannins and a nice medium length finish. Still quite young for a Gran Reserva, it has a good hit of acid, it remains in balance however.  I'd drink this with a cheese like parmesan or manchego, anything more would just get in the way. 91 Pts.

Source: Retail RRP: $65 Closure: Cork


Bodegas Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1991

1991 Bodegas Muga Prado Enea Gran ReservaA traditional wine from the chaps at Bodegas Muga, one of my favourite old school producers. A blend of 80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano Aged for 12 months in wooden vats, 36 months in American oak barrels and at least 36 months in bottle before release. True to is roots, this is a very good traditional Rioja Gran Reserva.

Medium in color at the core with orange/tawny at the edge. A very expressive and intense nose, whiskey soaked pipe tobacco, caramel, plus some red cherries, vanilla and lavender. The palate is subdued but very fresh, plum and cherry and highlights of leather, spice and vanilla with very stylish, smooth tannins and the sparkle of acid on the finish. Quite refined, well balanced and medium bodied. If you like to think about your wine and like smooth, complex old wine this will surely bring a smile. 93 Pts.

Source: Auction Price Range: $50-$70 Closure: Cork