Quinta do Crasto ‘Crasto’ 2005

Cransto 2005This is the first, of many probably, Portugese wine I've tasted for Tinto y Blanco.  Spain remains my focus, but its good have something different from time to time.  I've had others in the past, I've even been to Portugal years ago on my first trip to Spain.  There is some Portugese wine around, but the guys at The Spanish Acquisition have recently landed their first commercial shipment and its a great range.  There are tastings of the range in most states over the next month or so, it really is worth while taking the time to have a look.

Quinta do Crasto is one of the leading makers of table wines in the Douro valley. It also has an aussie connection.  Dominic Morris is head of the winemaking team here, you might know him from his work at Pondalowie in Bendigo.  This wine is a blend of four grapes, Tinta Roriz (Portugese for Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Tourigas Franca and Nacional and sees no wood what so ever.  I drank this with a few friends, and opinions were split: two loved it and asked for a second bottle, the other two liked it but weren't that phased.   I like this a lot.

Dark purple/red in colour, the nose is a bit shy but shows plum and blueberry with some tobacco.  Like drinking velvet, lush tannins, ripe fruit and meaty juby fruit.  In the mouth its open an inviting a red and dark fruit jubes: plum, red currents and blueberry.   There is a cola element with some earthy spice layered over the fruit, but that fruit is the real attraction here.  A Perfect wine for late summer and autumn.   90 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $28 Closure: Conventional Cork

Vallformosa Brut MVSA NV

Vallformosa Brut MVSA NVA glass or two of cava is always welcome after work.  For my money, cava is probably the most refreshing and affordable after work drink around after sherry.  Fresh, bubbly, perhaps a bit of sweetness but not too much, not too serious and fun to drink out in the backyard. 

Vallformosa are a mid sized house that make a range of cavas and table wines.  MVSA is a fairly much equal blend of Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada, a touch less Xarel.lo than the other two, and is aged on lees for 24 months. 

Golden straw in colour, the nose offers up apples, bread and subtle spice with a hint of lemon.  Rich mouth feel, but elegant and cleansing in mouth.   A fine bead, just the right amount of fizz.  Apple and spice with lemon sherbet on the finish.  There is a touch of sweetness, that really suits this wine.  Very good value and quaffability.  88 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $20 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.vallformosa.com

Telmo Rodriguez Basa 2006

Telmo Rodriguez Basa 2006Just a quick one today.  I don't know how Telmo does it, but this wine is very good every vintage. It could be that this bottle is a bit fresher, but I like the 06 a bit more than the 05, more tropical fruit and a more lively nose.  The more wines I drink from Rueda, the more I like them.  Always fresh and interesting

A fresh straw colour, the nose shows passion fruit, melon, fresh fennel, pear and light lemon rind.  The oiliness that I love in verdejo is there, with some crisp acid to provide balance.  In the mouth there is melon, apple, and lemon with a quick shake of minerals. A handy wine for the growing "Anything but Sav Blanc from New Zealand" set.  I'd love to see this under screwcap.  88 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $20 Closure: Conventional Cork

Flor de Pingus 2004

Flor de Pingus 2004Pingus is one of those wines that many wine people have heard of, but not many have in their cellar or have even had a glass, me included.  It is expensive, around $1000 here in Australia, not a lot is imported and most of it goes to collectors, top end restaurants and wine obsessives.  But, there is a second wine, Flor de Pingus, is apparently not far off the mark and about $850 cheaper.  I’m not sure how much better a wine can get, but I’m willing to be convinced

Pingus is a domain run by Peter Sisseck, who learnt his trade in Bordeaux and seems very much inspired by that style.  That is not to say that the wines are of the dreaded ‘International’ style, the first sniff of this wine said Ribera del Duero loud and clear with mulberry and currents, woody herbs, and smoke. As you would expect, he uses some fairly extreme methods to make Pingus, desteming by hand, surprisingly short maceration and the very old vines have been reworked to produce even lower yields are just a brief glimpse.

Flor de Pingus is all Tempranillo, or Tinta del Pais as its known in Ribera del Duero, from very low yielding vines.  A 14 month say in new French oak, then straight into bottle and released a short time after. The Pingus wines do not follow the Reserva system, so you’ll have to do your own bottle aging.  And this wine is built to age.  If you are going to open one now, give it a quick double decant and drink over an hour or two.  All the action happens in that time, it closes up as tight as…well, you know the line.  Sure you get a look at the tannins after that, but it isn’t very fun to drink.  I left a small bit overnight, its still closed and tight.  At least 5 years in the cellar are needed to show its stuff, then drink over the following 20.

Deep ruby/purple in the glass,  The nose is all Ribera with mulberry, current and blackberry with sage, smoke, espresso and anise.  The first pour show the wine as medium bodied with a silky texture and light tannins, but heads towards full bodied as the fantastic tannins open up to reveal themselves as abundant and perfectly formed. A wine of great structure and perfect balance while it’s on song.  Intense and concentrated in the mouth, the generous, juicy fruit shows through with mulberry, blackberry and blueberry with some liquorice.  I’ve heard people call this wine a fruit bomb, and it might be if you consider Savoury Shapes a sweet biscuit, but for anyone else its savoury all the way.  A huge, long finish with a mineral element to it.  I wonder if I can put off my house repairs to buy some more of this for the cellar? 95+ Pts

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $125 Closure: Conventional Cork

Other Vintages: 2005

Bodega Enrique Mendoza Estrecho 2003

Bodega Enrique Mendoza Estrecho 2003I've been in Sydney for the last couple of days and had a look around the "Spanish Quarter".   Hmmm… I can see why it is so confusing for many people to identify quality Spanish food and wine.  Most of the restaurants are reinforcing many of the myths about Spanish food and wine, a bit cheesy with average wine and loads of chili in the food (contrary to popular belief there is not a lot of chili in Spanish food, if it is used it's there for flavour not heat).  Good fun none the less and I found a good deli with excellent Jamon.  Thank god for places like Bodega, its a marvel.

Anyway, here is a very interesting Monatrell from Alicante.  This one is from a magnum, which is about the right size for this wine, it's highly drinkable and evolves constantly over a couple of hours.  The vines are up very high at 2300 ft and are over 50 years old.  The wine sees 14 months in 500 litre French oak barrels.  For the Brett nazi's, there is a bit of barnyard on the nose, but I don't think its brett related.  I decanted half of this into a 750ml bottle and will have another look tonight.

Dark reddish purple with cherry red towards the edge of the glass.  A lot of changes in the glass over the couple of hours I drank this, started off with pink musk sticks and cherry on the nose that built into blackberry, smoke, sage and rosemary, a bit of anise and barnyard and minerally earth.  It hovers in between medium and full bodied. Not rustic at all, rather elegant and refined. It does need a good decant to really show it stuff, but the evolution in the decanter is very interesting to watch.  Soft, chalky tannins build a velvety texture, with the acid to keep you mouth fresh.  On the palate there is tart blackberry and boysenberry with earth, herbs and some minerals.  Good length on the finish.  Well worth tracking down, probably the best monastrell I've had to date.  92 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $140 (1.5 Ltr) $65 (750mls)

 Closure: Conventional Cork

Mr. Riggs Tempranillo 2005

Mr. Riggs Tempranillo 2005 The Adelaide Hills region is producing some outstanding Tempranillo based wines.  I liked the 2004 edition of this wine, but the 05 is a step up again.  I can't tell if its the vines getting older, a good season in 2005 or different wine making, but Mr. Riggs has made a very good tempranillo with varietal definition and structure.

Deep red, with a ruby edge.  Coffee, rhubarb and cherry on the nose, a few flakes of dark chocolate sprinkled in for good measure.  The very smooth and silky texture captures your mouth straight away.  Tart dark cherry and  blackberry on the palate with some licorice and spice.  The 15% alc raises its head above the parapet with a bit of heat that adds a cherry liquor flavour. Nice sandy tannins and a spike of acid on the medium length finish. Overall, very enjoyable and drinkable. I'd like a bit less alcohol, but as the wine builds in the glass it disappears into the background.  90 Pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars RRP: $25 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.mrriggs.com.au

Coto de Hayas Garnarcha Centenaria 2004

Coto de Hayas Garnarcha Centenaria 2004We went out to a tasting of the 04 Penfolds at Boccaccio last night and bought home a bottle of the 138 GSM to taste along side this wine.  Not fair on the Penfolds really, this wine is made from 100 year old vines in a completely different style and a step up in price for the Coto de Hayas.  Who says you can't compare apples and oranges. The 138 did very well and its a bit of a favorite at home, but you can read all about it on Winorama.

The Centernaria is a very low production wine from very old Garnarcha vines, there are only 5500 vines available to make this wine.  It gets a quick dip in French oak barrels for 3 months, which would get it a title of media-crianza or roble in many other areas.  I haven't been keen on this process for many wines, it can leave the wine full of oak without the benefit of limited oxygen contact that comes from extended aging in wood.  No sign of that is this wine, the oak is very well hidden.

A brilliant ruby red in the glass, the nose offers up sweet raspberry fruit, woody herbs, violets and desert soil.  An odd descriptor I know, but that's what it smells like.  Smooth and silky in the mouth, not a lot of tannin to get in the way of the beautiful, juicy fruit.  Loads of raspberry and cherry with rosemary, sage and a hint of roasted meat and minerals.  Savory, but with loads of sweet fruit with good balance and medium length finish.  A great wine for the price.  92 Pts.

Source: Woods/Toro Wines Price: Around $35 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.bodegasaragonesas.com

Pindarie Bar Rossa 2006

Pindarie Bar Rossa 2006Anthony at Baccaccio Cellars put this aside for me months ago. Luckily he runs a booze shop and isn't hard pressed to find something to take home to drink with dinner.  

Its been in the press a bit this wine, and it deserves it.  An unusual blend of 70% Tempranillo, 25% Sangiovese and 5% shiraz that is ready to go as soon as you rip the screwcap off. 

Deep red in colour with a purple tint.  The nose is quiet for the most part, a bit of earth and spice with light red berry fruit.  In the mouth is where all the action is.  Its brimming with soft tannins that give the wine a great mouthfeel, plum and dark cherry fruit jubes.  Overall its a savory wine that's not afraid to show some fruit and would be perfect with anything hot of the BBQ. Great value.  88 Pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars RRP: Around $20 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.pindarie.com.au

Alvear Fino en Rama 2002

Alvear Fino en Rama 2002There are a couple of things about this wine that make it a bit different.  Firstly, it is a vintage sherry, apparently the first of its kind to be made.  Also, its not filtered at all, hence the en Rama in the name.  To cap it all off, its made using Pedro Ximénez (PX to most of us) rather than Palomino. I first tasted this wine at a trade tasting late last year.  I was tasting with a Spanish bloke and when we were told that it was made from PX we looked at each other with disbelief.  You would never pick it, blind or otherwise.

Montilla-Moriles is one of the prime growing areas for PX, a lot of the PX that is labelled as being from Jerez is actually from Montilla-Moriles, it is about the only D.O. I know of that allows this.  Anywhere.

Pale straw in colour, the nose has almonds and apple with slight orange peel, honey suckle and sea spray notes.  Bursting with tangy, fresh apple in the mouth with some honey roasted almonds.  Not a lot of acid here, but enough, overall the wine has a nice balance and remains light.  The finish is very long.  I think I may have a new house fino.  89 Pts

Source:  Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $20 (375ml) Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.grupoalvear.com

Bodega Numanthia-Termes Numanthia 2004

Bodega Numanthia Termes Numanthia 2004You'd think Toro was a new region given the press coverage lately, or the lack of in the past. But look at the vine age of a lot of the top wines and they're 40-100 years old.  The Tempranillo vines for this wine are 70-100 years, cropping very low at 1 tonne per acre.  The wine sees all new French oak for 19 months.

If you are after a subtle wine, this is probably not for you.  Yes it is big, powerful and rich.  But it isn't over the top, its well restrained, balanced and complex.  It has structure and all the elements to age very well.  Kind of like the mythical perfect man they talk about in magazines like Men's Health or Cleo.

Deep and dark in colour, you can see that it is going to stain your teeth.  The nose is chock full of aromas: roast meat, coffee, currents, blackberry, mocha, chocolate and cherry liqueur.  I could keep going, but it would be too much.  Starting off shy and medium bodied, this build with time in the glass to a luxurious, mouth coating, full bodied wine with loads of broad, soft tannins.  Constantly evolving in the decanter, there are flavours of dark cherries, black currents, slight pepper, chocolate, cola and minerals.  A lick of minerals on the long finish.  Put this in a cool, dark place for at least 5 years, then drink over the following 15.  If you can't wait, a big decant is in order.  95+ Pts.

Source:  Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $125  Closure: Conventional Cork 

Web:  www.eguren.com