Senorio de San Vicente 2004

img_4904Out of the whole raft of wine that the Eguren guys make, I think this is my favourite. What gets me with this wine is the aromatic nose that only seems to get better as the wine ages. If you are drinking these wines young, make sure you decant, or at the very least open the bottle a couple of hours before drinking. I tried a couple of wines made from Tempranillo Pluedo (hairy Tempranillo) while in Rioja, and they all had this very aromatic quality. There are only 4 wines that I know of made with this clone, so who knows if this is typical or not…

A seductive nose of roses and violets, dark cherry, musky dark cherry and blueberry, espresso, dark chocolate, earthy herbs and freshly cut wood. It is the floral notes that really attract me to this wine, it’s highly perfumed. The palate is not slacking off, plenty of chewy tannins and fresh acidity leave me with the impression of prefect balance.  Intense and brooding at the moment, backwards if you will. An intensely flavoured palate, cheery, blueberry with layers of  plum, light cinnamon, earth undergrowth, liquorice root, clove and espresso.  Huge finish. An excellent wine that will live in the cellar for a very long time, leave it for 5 years to brood and then drink over the following 15. 95+ Pts.

Source: Toro Wines Price: $135 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.eguren.com

Other Vintages: 2003, 2005

Bodegas Pirineos Rosado 2007

Bodegas Pirineos Rosado 2007Another quick note. A rose made from 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet. Interestingly, 10% of the wine gets to ferment in wood and a bit of lees action.  It’s a quality rose, in the more traditional rose style (as opposed to the style that is more white wine like).

Notes of raspberry and strawberry dominate the nose, there is a little peach in there as well. Fresh and fairly straight forward in the mouth, good acidity and the slightest shot of tannins on the finish. Raspberry and cherry come out on the palate, a bit of spice and earth for complexity. Long finish with tangy fruit and a touch of minerals. Nice stuff. 88 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $19 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.bodegapirineos.com

Vinedos de Paganos ‘El Puntido’ 2004

img_4908I got straight to ordering some of this wine when I got back from Spain. I’d seen the 2005 a couple of times in Spain and had read great things at about the 2004 on El Mundo Vino, so I just had to have a look this vintage. Now there is lots of talk about which vintage is better, 2004 or 2005 (even 2006 is entering this argument now) and after talking to many of the wine makers and tasting the wines, I would advise that you need to look at each wine on it’s own merrits. They are both excellent vintages and it’s down your own judgement on which you prefer. In this case, it’s the 2004 for me.

It looks very concentrated in the glass, dark cherry red, and emits aromas of dark cherry, plum, espresso coffee, pencil shavings and earthy sage. Lush and luxurious in the mouth, big fluffy tannins that coat your mouth, but with the required acid to leave your palate fresh for the next slurp. The flavour is a big slap in the face, powerful but not over the top with dark cherry, plums, blueberry and freshly cut wood. There is a bit of oak impact here, but nothing over the top. Very primary in profile, it needs a good decant to get the most out of it at the moment. Otherwise, into the cellar for 5 year, then drink over the next 15. 95+ Pts.

Source: Toro Wines Price: $140 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.eguren.com

Tasting with Eguren wines

Tasting with Eguren wines It’s hard to know what to call these guys, they have a number of different brand, 3.5 bodegas (one is being built) and they are a huge family (there are Egurens making wine all over Rioja). But whatever they are called they make a diverse range of wines ine Rioja Alta and Alvesa. We kicked off our visits in Rioja with a look around Vinedos de Paganos where the vineyards and bodega for El Puntido and La Nieta are located, then a quick drive over San Vincente to have a look at the bodega for San Vicente followed by a tasting. One habit I could used to is tucking into some fine jamon y queso after a tasting…

On the rumour front, we had a quick chat about the new Toro venture. The highly successful Numanthia bodega was sold to LMVH for a tidy sum that has allowed the group to both expand it’s operations in Rioja, hence the new bodega, and to concentrate on a new property in Toro. The new bodega is called Teso la Monja and can be found just across road from Numanthia, apparently you can wave to the new owner of Numanthia. A three tier structure of wines will continue here, look for new releases in the next couple of years.

Now these guys have a huge range of wines, so we sampled a range of their Rioja wines – including some of their best wines.

Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2005 – Sierra Cantabria is the more traditional range here and is made in a bodega in San Vicente de la Sonsierra. Full of fresh fruit and plenty of character. The wood is hardly noticeable and flavor profile is the classic red cherry, cola and wild herbs of Rioja. 88 Pts.

Sierra Cantabria Reserva 2004 - while this is the ‘traditional’ range, there has certainly been some work done to bring this wine up to date. You can see that french oak on the nose but it’s not intrusive. Fresh red cherry, herby undergrowth, a bit of clove and cinnamon with some licorice. There is a minerally edge to this wine that really makes it stand out. Excellent value drinking here. 90 Pts.

Sierra Cantabria Cuvée Especial 2005 - This wine doesn’t make it out to Australia, not sure why, but it was my pick of the Sierra Cantabria wines. Its 100% tempranillo from 30+ year old vines with some deft oak work. Lush and fresh with plenty of character, the nose is quite aromatic with violets and earthy notes, long length and good balance. A very smart wine for the price. 91 Pts.

San Vicente 2005 - Now this guy took a while to come around, but when it did it was well worth the wait. For me, the main thrust of this wine is the aromatic nose: violet, rose, cherry, raspberry and blueberry, vanilla, freshly cut wood and subtle herbs. The palate isn’t anything to scoff at either, fine knit tannins, a very long finish and the excellent balance that seems to be a trademark of the house. 94 Pts.

El Puntido 2005 - We had a couple of bottle of this wine during the trip, one at the excellent Restaurante Héctor Oribe in Paganos itself. Gutsy and potent, this shows sappy plum fruit with bright cherry, earth and spice. Definitely full bodied with plenty of oak work that suits this style. This is full strength Rioja, but it’s not over done and everything is impeccably balanced. 93 Pts.

Sierra Cantabria Organza 2007 - This is a white wine made from old Viura, Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca vines and aged in brand new french oak. A very modern style of white Rioja that drinks really well. Textured, but fresh and zippy. Notes of white melons, lemon peel and nutty spices, this is something quite different and shows you can do good things with the traditional Rioja white grapes. 90 Pts.

Bodega Pirineos Moristel 2003

img_4900Moristell is a native variety in Somontanto, high up on the Spanish side of the Pyrenes . Given the name, it sounds like just another synonym for monastrell, but this is actually a very old variety that has a lighter structure but is packed with plenty of flavour.

The nose kicks things off with a grassy/tree sap note, then into some lighter cherries and blueberries. In the mouth it’s rounded and medium boddied, some firm acid keeps things edgy enough to be interesting. Hints of choclate, kind of a cranberry note, with dark cherry and spice. Different, in a good way, and a tasty drink. 88 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $19 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.bodegapirineos.com

Beronia Mazuelo Reserva 2004

img_4874I’ve had a bit of holiday from wine over the past coule of week since Easter, interrupted a quick trip up to Rutherglen to look at some of Australia’s best fortified wines. Stanton & Killeen have done some amazing stuff with their vintage port (or whatever it’s called these days), they must have the oldest tempranillo vines in the country too. I have a very nice 1990 VP to write up as well.

This is about the only single variety Mazuelo from Rioja I know of. I’ve had a couple from Priorat, under it’s more well known name of Cariñena, and they have been really lip smacking wines with plenty of spicy pepper notes. This is more solid and robust, not a monster by any means but plenty of wood has been used here by the looks of it.

A nose of cherries, blueberries and raspberries with earthy notes of hot cinnamon, nutmeg and anise. It’s quite chunky in the mouth, plenty of tannins and a flush of acid to clean things up at the end. Plenty of cherry and plum on the palate, this sits under some nice spice and sage, chocolate,  freshly cut wood and oak notes.  In interesting look at what is normally a minor variety in a Rioja blend. 90 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $35 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.gonzalezbyass.com

Bodegas Pirineos ‘Marbore’ 2003

img_4872I haven’t had a lot of experience with the wines of Somontano, which is a small region in between Catalonia and Navarra in Aragon. It is know for a couple of rare indigenous varieties, Moristel, Parraleta, however most of the important wines from here seem to be made from International (read as French) varieties.  I have three reds, a white and a rose to look at from Broadway Liquor over the next little while….

This is a blend of lots of different things: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Moristel, and Parraleta.  And really I think it suffers because of this. It’s a solid wine, well made and a good drink but it doesn’t really excite me. And for $50 it should be exciting. I do know a number of people who rave about this wine, perhaps I just don’t get it or I’m drinking it too young?

The nose shows a mix of fruit: dark cherry, plum, a touch of blueberry. Then some earthy herbs, chocolate and coffee beans with some nutmeg. Rich and vibrant fruit on the palate, which is very similar to the nose. It’s nicely rounded, but with some firm tannins and a spike of acid on the finish. It’s a little sweet and sunny but with a bit of  tang and moderate length. It’s good drinking, but at this price it would seem that you could find something similar from Australia much cheaper. 89 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $50 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.bodegapirineos.com

Luna Beberide Mencia 2007

Luna Beberide Mencia 2007This is another wine that has had the magic hands of Mariano Garcia on it.  He must be a busy guy with consulting gigs all over northern Spain. Anyway, this is mencia in it’s most elemental form, or as a joven wine if you will. 20 year old vines, planted very high up (up to 2400 feet above sea level) fermented in stainless steal and bottled unfiltered. It’s a very enjoyable wine, and after tasting a couple of reds from Chinon in the Loire Valley on Sunday night I can see the link people have made to Cabernet Franc (DNA tests have now proved there is no relationship apparently).

Earthy and undergrowthy with hints of dark chocolate and clove on the nose. Some nice blueberry and cherry fruit blows in with a bit more time. There are certainly plenty of tannins here, long chalky things that give texture. Medium bodied but full flavoured. Crunchy minerals, raspberry, cherry and blueberry fruit mixed up with some earthy herbs and spices. Character filled and easy to drink, it’s good drinking at $26. 88 Pts.

Source: Negociants Australia RRP: $26 Closure: Conventional Cork

Altano 2003

img_4869This is a fairly cheap and very cheerful wine from the Symington group, who you might know as the makers of ports  like Dows, Smith Woodhouse and Warres. A blend of Tinta Roriz (60%) and Touriga Franca (40%) from the hot 2003 vintage. As far as I can find out, there is no oak treatment here, and to be honest I don’t miss it at all.

Classic shisty nose of smoky, earthy and rocky fruit: a mix of red cherry, plum and blueberry.  It’s gungho with plenty of ripe fruit and chewy tannins. More about a rollicking good time than brain busting thought. The palate shows sunny, but savoury fruit, plums and cherries, wild sage, hot river stones and musk sticks. This value here is outstanding, perfect autumn/winter drinking on a budget. 87 Pts.

Source: Negociants Australia RRP: $17 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.symington.com

Torres ‘Salmos’ 2005

img_4868Torres started making wine in Priorat a couple of years ago. A good move I reckon. Being Torres they aren’t just buying some grapes and renting some space, instead they built a new winery, bought some vineyards and have kept very true to the style and nature of this tiny region. This is the first release, it is cracking value for a wine from Priorat. A blend of garnacha, syrah, carinena, and cabernet sauvignon bunged in new french oak for 9 months. This is much less structured and tannic than many wines from this region, otherwise all the trademark characters are there. Personally, I think it’s good to see the softer side of Priorat from time to time.

It starts off smokey and sooty, then adds some herbs tangled up with some raspberry and plum fruit. In the mouth it has a backbone of acid with some supple tannins, but overall it comes over elegant and rounded. Its quite joyful and easy to drink. Crunchy minerals dominate the palate, with plenty of sunny raspberry and cherry, earthy and spice. Really nice stuff. 91 Pts.

Source: Negociants Australia RRP: $47 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.torres.es