Raventos i Blanc Brut Reserva 2006

raventos-brut-2006This time of year, Cava has to be a ‘go to’ wine. It’s fresh, high quality bubbly that doesn’t break the budget in these times of Economic Crisis, Recession and the impending doom of 2009. Well, thats what all the papers seem to be saying here. Of course the standard of journalism in most of the papers seems to have fallen to the level where tarot card readers are given more credibility these days…There is some fairly average, cheap cava around, like any other sparkling wine, but choose wisely and you’ll find something to replace that expensive NV champagne…

My note from the 2005 is fairly well spot on for the 2006 as well: 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. This 06 seems to have a bit of mid palate sweetness, and a little more apple and less pear on the nose. Crunchy chalk and, as always, nice bubbles. 91 Pts.

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

Other Vintages: 2004, 2005

meandro do vale meao 2006

meandro do vale meao 2006 As I mentioned the other week, this is the little brother to Quinta do Vale Meao. This one is a blend of 40% Touriga National, 30% Tinta Roriz, 20% Tinta Barroca, 10% Tinta Amarela. Now 2006 wasn’t the best vintage in the Douro, but this is a seriously good wine that is a great introduction to what Douro table wine is all about.

The nose comes on strong from the start: cherry and cranberry with some hot cinnamon and smokey, earthy rocks. Structured and textured in the mouth, velvety smooth with good length and acid. It’s quite a full on wine, full bodied but with the structure and restraint to gain and hold your interest. This wine swamps your palate with more red fruits, a bit of beef stock and plenty of minerals. Very enjoyable and an ideal intro to what the Douro can do. These guys make a stunning Vintage Port too. 91+ Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $50 Closure: Conventional Cork

Castro Martin A2O Albarino 2006

This is another wine from Castro Martin. It used to be called Avian, but due to a large water brand getting a bit nervous it is now called A20. You can read the full story over here on their blog. The whole thing is a bit silly really, but I think the new name is very appropriate given the circumstances.

This wine is more aimed at the and at the bar/bistro set, it’s fun wine to enjoy with your mates and a bit of food. The fruit is sourced from growers in Valle del Salnés (opposed to Castro Martin which is from estate owned vineyards).

Fresh melon and white peach on the nose, with a touch of honeysuckle and lemon. I get the impression of richness from the texture, but there is also a fair bit of rich melon and white peach in here as well. Being an 06 there is a not of minerals about, but enough acid to cut through some oily prawns and shellfish. Good length with a bit of white peach on the finish. This would be great by the glass with some clams. 88 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Cost: $27 Closure: Synthetic Cork

Web: www.bodegascastromartin.com

Rusty Fig Verdelho 2008

rusty-fig-verdelhoNow I’m not too sure how closely related Verdejo and Verdelho are, depending on who you talk to they are exactly the same with different names, or they are completely different. The theory that I like is that it started out in North Africa and worked it’s way up to Rueda via Madeira, then mainland Portugal. It makes sense. However, it would appear that the two are so distantly related that DNA sampling shows very little commonality at all according to the 2006 version of the Oxford Companionto Wine. It’s either Spanish or Portuguese, so that’s fine for Tinto y Blanco…

The nose shows plenty of lemon and grapefruit, very fresh with a touch of melon in there too. A good backbone of acid in the mouth, zippy and tart with fresh fruit to balance everything up. More lemon, with a bit of lime and fennel on the palate, a bit of mineral and a shake of wild herb. Very refreshing, a convincing Verdelho. 89 Pts.

Source: Rusty Fig Wines Price: $23 Closure:Screwcap

Web: www.rustyfigwines.com.au

Telmo Rodriguez Pegaso Garnacha 2005

pegaso-2005Posting has been slow, but I’m working on the backlog now that work is fairly quiet. It’s that great time of year where you can plan for the next 12 months, take it easy and enjoy a few glasses of something nice. The 2005 vintage of Pegaso sit somewhere in between the 2003 and 2005. It has the rich fruit and character of the 03 with the subtlety and herbal aspects of the 2004. Both of these previous vintages were a bit polarising, people either preferredthe 03 or 04 (myself included, I liked the 03). This 2005 hits the mark in my book, but do give it a fair decant before tucking in.

I’m a bit over Priorat/Monsant garnacha at the moment (although I do have a bottle in the tasting pile): too expensive, too extracted, too hyped. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon, but it seems that the every time I buy or drink a wine from Prioratlately, I’m just a little underwhelmed. I find that I get much better bang for my buck in the Douro if I’m looking for something shisty. Anyway, this is a ripping wine that has filled the vacuum perfectly.

The nose starts off with some medicinal herbs, crush rock, raspberry and bright cherry and some pink musk stick. A bit of raspberry leaf and a touch of chocolate creeps in with more air. Medium bodied with light tannins, minerally acid and a touch of richness on the palate. The fruit is concentrated but well balanced. Meaty notes with more of that bright cherry and raspberry, with some spice and gentle wood notes. Some darck chocolate notes apear after a while, as does some sage. While it’s not cheap, it’s fine drinking for this time of year. Plus it’ll do a couple of years in the cellar. Easy. 92 Pts.

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

Other Vintages: 2003, 2004

Faustino I Gran Reserva 1996

Faustino I Gran Reserva 1996

I’ve been waiting for a nice lamb dinner to drink this, it works so well with slow cooked lamb. This thing has just about every marketing/packaging trick known to man (or Riojan man anyway); a marble tinted bottle, gold wire, an iconic label with a huge painting of some dude with a hat. The wine is very good, traditional gran reserva with some very good fruit. Make sure you decant this puppy, Gran Reservas need at least 30 minutes of air time to really show their stuff.

The nose is smoky with a bit of nail polish, stewed cherry, winter green chewing tobacco and a bit of barnyard and cedary oak notes. Super smooth, plenty of stewed red fruits, black currant and blackberry, nutty and woody notes with an excellent backbone of acid, drying finish. Tannin Deluxe. 92 for the traditionalist, don’t bother if old rioja isn’t your thing. A touch of brett might put your nose out of joint…91+ Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $60 Closure: Cork

Web: www.bodegasfaustino.es

Bodegas Jose Estevez ‘Real Tesoro Manzanilla Fina’

egas Jose Estevez 'Real Tesoro Manzanilla Fina'A new manzanilla from new importers Outlandish Imports. It’s always good to see someone importing something new, I’ve got a couple of whites from these guys to look at too. Jose Estevez is a fairly large group In Jerez, they also make Valdespino. Plus this gave me a chance to test out my new toy, a Canon 85mm F1.8 lens.

A fresh and salty nose of orange peel, yeasty flor, dry chamomile tea and almonds. Very clean and fresh in the mouth, well balanced but bold. There is a bit of a mealy texture to it as well. Super savoury and dry, there is a sensation of sweetness on the mid palate that’s nice too. Long, long finish. A very tidy Manzanilla, well worth seeking out. Insane value 88 Pts.

Source: Outlandish Imports Price: $12 Closure: Cork Stopper

Web: www.grupoestevez.es

Rusty Fig Albarino 2008

Rusty Fig Albarino 2008A couple of Aussie whites turned up in the post the other day, an Albarino and a Verdelho from Rusty Fig in Bermagui. I know Bermaguai in Queensland, this one is on the south coast in NSW. I had a look at these on the weekend, they are both really interesting and show plenty of promise. This is the first wine I remember having from this region, so I have nothing smart to say on the climate etc, however these look good.

The nose opens up with plenty of lemon and bay leaf, just a touch of white flowers followed by some melon. Very tight and focused in the mouth, plenty of chalky acid and good length. Lean and fresh. On the palate things are more in the lemon, melon and underripe peach (in a good way) spectrum. I’d like a bit more ripe fruit here, some white peach etc, however it is difficult to get the fruit ripe enough yet keep the acid up in many areas of Australia. None the less, very enjoyable. 87 Pts.

Source: Rusty Fig Wines Price: $25 Closure:Screwcap

Web: www.rustyfigwines.com.au

Quinta do Vale Meão 2005

Meão 2005I’ve been thinking about my favourite wines of the year over the past couple of weeks, and this features towards the top of the list. Considering that many of these top end portugese wines have only been available in Australia for 12 months or so, they have gained huge popularity and a loyal following with wine drinkers around Australia. This wine is at the top of the heap for me.

Quinta do Vale Meao is the top table wine here, with Meandro de Vale Meao being the ‘entry level’ wine. What really enhances the complexity here is the different soil types on the Quinta, while it is all what would generally called schist, areas of slate, granite and alluvial gravel show very different characters in the resulting fruit. The high percentage of Touriga National (60%) also helps a lot. The remaining 40% is 20% Touriga Franca, 15% Tinta Roriz, 5% Tinta Barroca.

A really engaging nose of gun smoke, violets and wild flowers, blackberry, dark cherry and mulberry, wild herbs and hot tarmac. In the mouth it feels quite rounded at the start, gaining more more focus as it gets more air. Well textured with supple tannins, plenty of them too. Juicy and meaty, but smooth and very complex. Rocky/stoney minerals, cherry, blueberry and plum on the palate with plenty of complexity thanks to some spices, wild herbs and liquorice. An excellent wine, decant it for a bit to sharpen things up. The ageing is a question that is difficult to answer for these douro reds, they have only been around for 10 years or so, but this looks like it will improve over the short term, then go 15 years standing on it’s head. 96+ Pts.

 Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $140 Closure: Conventional Cork

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2004

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2004Anthony at Boccaccio Cellars has been raving about this, so I thought I’d better give it a run. The comeback vintage of 2001 was a big hit, and the 2004 is on a similar level. So, I line up the 2004 and 2001, along with the 2004 Roda Reserva after Griff’s call that this is a ‘better’ wine.

I’ve put the note for the 2001 in the ‘From the cellar’ section, but it’s drinking very well at the moment. A few more years in the cellar and it will be a mighty drink. Comparing this wine and Roda Reserva is a bit like comparing a 2005 Burgundy (Roda) to a 2004 Chianti (Marques de Riscal), they are both excellent but different. I favoured the Roda slightly, it is giving a lot more enjoyment at this stage, but I would be very happy to drink either and will put some of both in the cellar. The 04 is the same price as the 01, that’s amazing given what has happened to wine prices in the past 2-3 years.

An almost identical nose to the 2001; cherry and blackberry with brambly herbs, some cigar box and pencil shavings, a touch of mocha. Inviting with rustic charm and complexity. The palate shows plenty of firm tannins and a fine balance between tannin and acid.  Savoury cherry and blackberry fruit on the palate with earthy spices: ground liquorice root, cinnamon and nutmeg. Some chocolate and sage shows up on night 2. Gutsy and robust, but also very enjoyable. Very interesting drinking this beside the 2001, they are very similar. Hold for 5 years, then drink over the following 10. 93+ Pts.

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

Web: www.marquesderiscal.com

Other Vintages: 2001, 2003