Bodega Enrique Mendoza ‘Estrecho’ 2004

Bodega Enrique Mendoza 'Estrecho' 2004I went to a very interesting tasting yesterday, had a couple of very good wines and some top tier ports.  So I'm all fired up today, not that it takes much.  As a side note, I should have a couple of Spanish wines under screwcap to review in a couple of weeks, along side their cork closed brothers.  Old news for us Aussies, but not for the Spanish.

Anyway, this is clearly the benchmark Monastrell.  A big call as we only have a dozen or so wines available in Australia, but there you go.  High altitude, old vines, careful oak treatment and smart winemaking all add up to a top end wine.  I'd like to try this against some the top end French mourvedre based wines, I think the quality here would shine though.

A nice cherry red at the edge of the glass, a bit darker towards the centre.  An expressive and rich nose of cherry, mulberry, anise/clove,  pepper, a bit of toasty wood and musk that is really enticing.  The approach is very burgundian, elegant, smooth and supple with attention to detail in all the right places.  Foggy, smooth tannins, great balance and just the right level of acid.  Tart cherry, mulberry and plum with sage and minerals.  Very long finish.  Excellent stuff. 95 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $65 Closure: Conventional Cork

Other vintages: 2003

Quinta do Crasto ‘Crasto’ 2006

Crasto 2006Another quick note.  I've stolen GW's good work with the "Other Vintages" tag until I come up with something better.  So you can get all the info on the wine from the my first write up. 

2006 is looking quite good for the Douro so far, the 2005s are undoubtedly excellent however.  A whole raft are now available or on their way in the next month or so.

Dark purple/red in colour, this one bolts out of the blocks with plum, mulberry and blueberry with pepper and meaty notes.  Lots of plush, comfy tannins and a touch of acid.  Juby fruit: plum, red currents and blueberry with a bit of cola and earthy, charry spice.  Far too easy to drink and enjoy.  89 Pts.

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

Other vintages: 2005

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva NV

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva NVJust a quick note on a very cheap, but good cava today.  I bought this bottle at one of the more expensive retail chains, you can find this on special for under $10 at times.  I am amazed that a wine of this quality can be made, exported to the other side of the world at these price points.  Sure, it's not going to put off your next champagne order, but I think it beats the local stuff in the same price point by a mile.

Lots of fizz and bubbles on opening with a pleasant nose of lemons, grapefruit and freshly cooked biscuits.  Its quite creamy in the mouth with plenty of bubbles. Lemons and limes, a touch of minerals with a shot of sugared lemons thought the middle. The finish is dry, but fairly short.  Great value.  86 Pts. 

Source: Retail Cost: $12 Closure: Conventional Cork


Chorizo Croquetas

Chopped Chorizo

Croquetas must be the ultimate bar snack, hot and crispy on the outside, warm, gooey and salty on the inside. I have been to a couple of tapas bars around Spain that specialise in Croquetas, including a great one in Valladolid where I got these tips on how to make them. These guys take their croquetas very seriously and make thousands of them each night. 1 Euro gets you two little balls of crunchy, salty magic to go with your wine.

They are fairly easy to make, but there are some tips to get a really good result:

  • The best tip is to make the bechamel the night before and make it light.  This gives you a light and gooey end result so you can eat heaps of them. I find this recipe to be spot on.
  • cook the flavour (chorizo, mushrooms, jamon etc) in the butter/oil mix, otherwise they will taste like lumps of salty milk.
  • Make sure the entire thing is covered in crumbs, any areas that aren't covered with go a bit nuts when they hit the oil.
  • Make sure your flavour is cut up very fine.  Unless, you want your mates to choke on it. In that case go ahead and leave it chunky.
  • Practice makes perfect.

What you need:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • bay leaves
  • Onion
  • 40g butter
  • A dash of olive oil
  • 60g Chorizo (about 2/3)
  • 35g Plain flour
  • salt
  • bread crumbs 
  • eggs
  • frying oil

 What to do:

Heat the milk in a saucepan with the bay leaves and onion.  Just before it boils, take it off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove the bay leaves and onion.  Add the olive oil and butter to a frying pan and once melted add the flour.  Mix until it forms a kind of runny paste.  Gradually add the milk until you have a sauce.  Spread the sauce on a plate and put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, overnight is best.

The bechamel should be soft and pliable by the time you take it out of the fridge, so shape the sauce mixture with two table spoons, then roll in the egg and bread crumbs.  Heat the frying oil and give them a quick fry until golden.   Eat straight away. 

Bodegas La Purisma Trapio Monastrell 2004

Bodegas La Purisma Trapio Monastrell 2004These monastrell wines seem to get better each year, I’m not sure if its vintage conditions or increasing levels of skill and experience. Probably both. If you tried this wine a couple of years ago, give it another shot. I think you’ll be well rewarded for your $40 outlay.

Opens up with aromas of chary wood, earthy dark cherries and violets. A bit of time in the glass adds pepper and a bit of coco. Smells like it should be thick and full bodied, but its medium bodied and smooth. Quite young and fresh, balanced with a drying finish. Plenty of dusty tannins. Juicy, tart cherry and raspberry initially, with a bit of plum later on. A pin prick of acid on the finish with some minerals. Give this a good decant before drinking, or a couple of years in the cellar. 92 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $40 Closure: Conventional Cork

Raventos i Blanc Reserva Brut 2005

Raventos i Blanc Reserva Brut 2005There's been a lot a talk about the field for the Spring Racing Carnival this year, what with horse flu etc.  But I haven't heard anything about the important stuff, the fizzy booze.

The Raventos range is very classy stuff. Raventos and Juve y Camps are the best cavas you can buy in Australia at the moment.  Sure they aren't cheap, but your looking double the price for something as interesting from France or Australia.

Very pale in colour with plenty of bubbles, aromas of apples and pears, toasty bread and white flowers.  Good presence in the mouth, just the right amount of bubble and acid.  Pure apple on the palate with minerals and lemon sherbet on the finish.  Very cooling.  91 Pts. 

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $30 Closure: Conventional Cork



Valmiñor Albariño 2006

Valmiñor Albariño 2006Rias Brixas apparently had a great year in 2006, and if this wine is anything to go by I'm looking forward to drinking more albariños from this vintage over the next few months. From this vintage so far I see great, fresh fruit with the usual stone fruits, but also some tropical fruits on the nose and palate as well.

Very pale in the glass with aromas of white peaches and lemons with a tropical fruit mix.  A bit more air add some white flower notes.  Smooth, but fleshy with great balance and length.  More tropical fruit on the palate, a bit of melon, pear and lemon with some minerals on the finish.  Good intensity and very pure fruit.  91 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $30 Closure: Conventional Cork


Pollo con Jamón y Queso

Pollo con Jamon y Queso

This is a very handy little dish, it could be a large snack or have a couple for lunch with a salad.  It goes well with verdejo, but really this is chicken for red wine.  Good garnarcha would be my pick.

What you need:

  • 4 Chicken thighs, skin off.
  • 4 long slices of Jamón serrano.
  • 60g manchego, 6 months old.
  • Sage leaves .

What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180.  Open up each of the chicken thighs and put a sage leaf and a good wedge of cheese in the middle.  Season with pepper.  Wrap the jamon around the outside of the chicken and tie it up with kitchen string.  Put it in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.  Eat.

Coto de Hayas Tinto 2006

Coto de Hayas Tinto 2006We are coming into BBQ season at the moment and this a good wine to kick things off.  Grab some lamb chops and a bottle of this to kick off a quiet night at home mid week.  Maybe some a salad if you want to be healthy.  This is a joven wine, made mostly from Garnacha but with a bit of tempranillo, syrah and cabernet thrown in for good measure.

Quite dark in the glass, ruby out on the rim.  Aromas of sunny black and red berries, mostly raspberries with some raspberry leaves and pepper.  Fairly smooth, firmly in the middle weight class with some light tannins.  Raspberries, a bit of mineral and some herbs.  Good length on the finish.  Good BBQ fare.  86 Pts.

Source: Toro/Woods Wines Price: Around $15 Closure: Conventional Cork


Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2005

Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2005I've been fairly critical of wines made using carbonic maceration. The smell of burnt rubber isn't really something that I want in a wine.  This one gets it right, not a hint of Dunlop's finest here.  The result is a wine with fresh juicy fruit that's very easy to drink.

Bright ruby in colour.  Aromas of grilled meats, blackberry bubble gum and white pepper.  Bright fruit in the mouth, with fuzzy tannins and cranberry like acid.  Juby blackcurrant and blackberry fruit.  Really well done.  89 Pts.

Source: Toro/Woods wines Price: $18 Closure: Synthetic Cork