Vilarnau Brut NV

Vilarnau Brut NV

March and April are my favourite months of the year. Not only is the weather starting to get cool so you can drink red wine again, but it's also when a lot of the new release Spanish wines arrive in Australia. The tasting pile (which is really just a shelf in my wine fridge) is full of top names from excellent vintages. I've had a smile on my face for days.
 
So to get back into the swing of things I pulled out this cava, I have 5 different Cavas to taste over the next little while. This is an entry level wine from Vilarnau, who are part of the Sherry giant Gonzalez Byass. Made from 50% Macebo, 40% Pardellada and a dash of Xarel.lo, its aged on lees for 24 months.

Fine nose of lemons, yeasty bread and apples. Focused on the palate with a creamy, sherbet texture and refreshing acid. Pure, fresh apples and lemons on the palate with a touch of bitter herbs and some orange sherbet and minerals on the long finish.  Refreshing with a purity keeps you interested to the last glass. 88 Pts

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $20 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.gonzalezbyass.com

Back from NZ

Picton, New Zealand

New Zealand is such a hard place to leave, great weather, food, views and a big range of Spanish wines at much lower prices than Australia thanks to a much more reasonable tax structure. Oh well, back to work. I should have a bunch of new stuff in to look at later in the week, so more notes will go up next week.

Pleno Tempranillo 2006

Pleno Tempranillo 2006
Looking for a cheap but good quality wine can be hard work, I don't envy the job of importers searching out their next $15 Tempranillo. Having sat at a table with 30 young Tempranillos in front of me, I know its a hard task. Sure, you find the odd treasure, but it can be difficult to remain objective after tasting something truly horrible or utterly amazing in a blind line up. Its educational and demanding of your senses, not the bit of fun many seem to think it is. Luckily, I can reap the benefits of someone else's hard work here, I've got no idea how Heart and Soil found this one, but they've got a winner.
 
Its 100% tempranillo from the Co-op Bodegas Braña Vieja in Navarra and shows the typical characters that the Basques tend to like in the young wine. No wood, just fresh and fruity, but savoury and earthy. Most importantly, it's all to easy to drink. At $13.50 is dozen lots, its cheap too.
 
Good deep colour with a very cherry nose plus some earth, nutmeg and dark chocolate. Warm and rounded in the mouth with some lush tannins and plenty of rustic appeal. Some sour cherry, plum, light herbs and cola shows up on the palate. The finish is longish with drying tannins. A joyful wine that's an easy mark for mid week or BBQ drinking. 87 Pts.
 
Source: Randalls Price: $15 Closure: Synthetic Cork

La Perla del Priorat ‘Noster’ 2004

La Perla del Priorat Noster 2004
I've been lucky to look at a couple of very good entry level wines from Priorat over the past couple of weeks, and this is anther ripper. The Noster is made from 7 to 18 year old garnacha (55%) and crineña (45%) vines. Aging is older french oak for half the blend, while the other half is kept in stainless steel vats. This is right along side the Tar and Roses for great quality at a great price. This shows a bit more refinement, where the Tar and Roses is more in the rustic zone. After seeing the price increase for the 2005 Clos Mogador (which is quite dramatic), its refreshing to see wines of this caliber at this price point.
 
Nice dark colour with a solid nose of soot, boozy cherries, violets, dark chocolate and a touch of raspberry. Quite intense, but smooth in the mouth with a backbone of fine tannins and acid. There is a touch of heat in the background, but this disappears as the wine opens up more air. The palate shows more cherry and raspberry with some minerals and pepper. The finish is long and shows off the smooth tannins. Well worth the money, and a good intro to Priorat.  Drink now and over the next 4 years. 91 Pts.
Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $39 Closure: Conventional Cork

Quinta do Noval Maria Mansa 2005

Quinta do Noval Maria Mansa 2005

I spent saturday diving in and out of air condition spaces, hopefully we'll get some relief later this week. I dropped over to a mate's place for long overdue catchup on Saturday night. Thankfully he has air con, so it was quite comfortable to sit back with a couple of reds. I have a stack of good wines on the way (Mostly 05s: Clos Mogador, Numanthia, Flor de Pingus, with Roda 04s being released soon too), but I won't get the them until after Easter I think, its just too hot. Anyway this went down well.

A fairly straight forward, but quality Douro red, aromas of plum, mulberry and cherry with pepper and clove.  Warm and inviting in the mouth, a bit rustic with big, soft tannins and a lick of acid on the finish.  The palate is more toward the plum end of things, but also shows cherry and mulberry with some earth and clove.  Very enjoyable, it would do well with a good lamb dish. 88 Pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars Price: $33 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.quintadonoval.com

La Perla del Priorat ‘Clos les Fites’ Crianza 2003

Clos les Fites Crianza 2003

The problem with long weekends is that you end up trying to fit 5 days of work into 4. I had one of those this week, loads on at work, plus an unexpected trip to Adelaide and the 35+ degree days have made it a fairly slow week for wine tasting.  Anyway, I managed to get to this one on Wednesday night when it was a bit cooler. Its a blend of Garnarcha, Crineña and Cabernet Sauvignon from 5 to 30 year old vines. No mention of the oak treatment, but I'd say a mostly older American oak is in use here.

 
Deep colour in the glass with a generous nose of soot, rocks, mulberry, raspberry, plum and pepper. A touch of sea salt too. Medium bodied and very agreeable in the mouth, nice fruit, dusty tannins, but a bit short on acid. Rich but quite savoury. Plum, raspberry and rosella with musk stick, a bit of bacon and szechwan pepper. Needs a good decant to show its best now, but a very good effort for the 2003 vintage. Drink now or into the cellar for 2 years and drink over the next 5. 91 Pts.

 
Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $59 Closure: Conventional Cork

Tar and Roses Miro 2004

Tar and Roses Miro 2004

You may have seen a story about this wine in Epicure if you're in Melbourne, perhaps on theage.com if not. If not here's a quick summary: Don Lewis of Mitchelton fame and his partner, Narelle King, scored a gig making wine for Merum Priorati and in 2004 could get their hands on some fruit to make this wine. And its a beauty, and one of the most cost effective ways to introduce yourself to Priorat from the very good 2004 vintage. I've gone with with my raw tasting note here, it just seems to work for this wine.

Nose: Soot, blackberry,raspberry, roasted meats. Light nose, but well flavoured palate. Juicy fruit on the palate: blackberry, raspberry, rosella, mint, liquorice jelly beans, cocoa, fine dusty tannins good length and acid.  Pepper. Smooth mellow and refined, chilled out rather than tough and manic. Medium bodied.  Needs at least a couple of hours in a decanter to show its best. A great value intro Priorat. 91 Pts

Source: Rathdowne Cellars Price: $44 Closure: Conventional Cork

González Lara Fuente del Conde Rosado 2006

González Lara Fuente del Conde Rosado 2006

Given the heat, this was a choice pick over the weekend. I believe this is the first wine from Cigales that I've reviewed. This DO sits just north of Ribera del Douro and is traditionally the land of the Rosado, with some reds and whites also being made. This is 70% tempranillo , 10% verdejo and 20% garnacha and shows more depth than many rose wines in both colour and flavour intensity. I'd prefer this with food, but its fine on its own too.

Dark pink/light red in colour, the tint is quite dark for a rose. The nose has sweet notes of Strawberry and fennel bulb, but the palate show ripe, savoury strawberry and raspberry. The palate adds some wintergreen herbs and a rocky/stoney note. A bit of grip in the mouth and a short finish. One for the BBQ, would be refreshing with some BBQ'd poultry. 88 Pts.

Source: Boccaccio Cellars Price: $18 Closure: Synthetic Cork

Lusco Albariño 2005

Lusco Albariño 2005

It looks like the weather gods are having one last go at making it uncomforably hot here in Melbourne. 37 Today and plenty of 37-40 degree days for the rest of the week. So don't expect many tasting notes of big Reds from Spain this week, although thats mainly what's in the tasting pile at the moment. It cooled down a bit this afternoon, so I popped the cork on this one. The price from the importer is a bit steep, there are plenty of other Albarinos around for about $20 less.

Holding a pale straw colour in the glass with aromas of white peach and lemon with a bit of shaley minerals. In the mouth its more lean and steely than generous, showing some tidy acid and a long finish. Tight fruit on the palate, lemons and peach with some apples that add complexity. There is some sage towards the finish with the swirling minerals. I like it, but its been priced quite above the growing market of Spanish whites. 90 Pts

 

Source: Boccaccio Cellars Price: $44 Closure: Conventional Cork