Here is a pleasing wine from Ribera del Duero along more traditional lines. A blend of mostly Tempranillo with a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the 20+ year old vines in Pagos Valderío. Shown through some new French and American oak for the required 12 months, then off to market. From what I can work out, this is a venture of the Riojan house Ramon Bilbao.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to have a look at 5 vintages of one of the standout Rioja wines available in Australia, Lanzaga from Compania del Vinos de Telmo Rodríguez . I tend use the full name of the company these days, as when I visited in February it became very clear that partnership between Pablo Eguzkiza and Telmo Rodríguez has been a key ingredient to building this now very well known company. I still have a load of stuff to write up from my last trip, one of the highlights being a day looking the company’s many operations in Rioja…
This is one of those wines where the point is not the correct expression of grape, the terror, a truck load of fruit descriptors or fancy oak treatment. It is, however, a good bet for putting it down your neck at a party, or when you’re standing next to a BBQ, maybe with a coupe of lamb chops while the girls onMasterchef screw up their suckling pig…
Toscar Monastrell 2007
I’m amazed that this wine is still $14, given all the movements in currency etc that have gone on over the past year. With exchange rates getting back towards the levels they were at 18 months ago (sitting around .57-.58 Aussie to a Euro), things are looking up and hopefully keeping any large price increases at bay. Anyway, I had a bit of a revelation with the classic description for Monastrell about a year ago. While eating a plate of ripe figs, I thought: ‘Hey this tastes like Monastrell’. I think fig and wild gamey notes are the primary flavours in monastrell from these southern regions of Spain.
This is the La Mancha property for the Faustino Group. It’s just a small venture with 1,000 hectares up high at 800 meters above sea level. I’ve had a look at a couple of the wines, and to be honest they are really convincing. Add to that some good packaging and very reasonable pricing and you’ve got a very handy range of wines.
I last looked at the 2003 vintage of this wine, and I think this is a little better. Just a quick note on this one…I have a fair backlog to get through.
What does Sauvignon Blanc from Alicante taste like? Is it another passion-fruit, tropical fruit copy of the now ubiquitous NZ style? Not at all, this is rather herbal and grassy, and to my mind more adult than many of the new world versions we see here (there are exceptions of course, Mahi comes to mind as a big exception). It does have a sense of being more savoury than sweet too.
I needed to take a quick snapshot on the way out, so the old ‘leaning’ photos from previous Tinto y Blanco themes has made a bit of a come back. It’s been a while since I’ve had a bottle of Castro Martin, so I decided to take this one out for some seafood. I was hoping for clams, but settled for salt and pepper squid along with some scallops with lemon grass and chili at Thanh Thanh on Victoria Street. Magic stuff.
Vintage generalisations are usually misleading. But 2007 is turning out to be one of those vintages where hard work in the vineyard and careful wine making will really show results. Yes, it was a wet vintage, but this wine looks positively sunny. So how does that happen? Well the weather isn’t everything in producing wine (it is a lot, granted) and the effects of poor weather can be very localised or broadly distributed over a whole region. Also, a ‘wet vintage’ is arelative term. In Ribera del Duero, the average rainfall is 650mm a year, they got 800mm in 2007. Compare that to the Yarra Valley with an average of 1200mm… As an aside, this is the 500th post on Tinto y Blanco…
It seems to be the shipping season at the moment, a whole heap of samples have arrived and I been getting a load of emails announcing new vintages and wines. There have been a bunch of Rioja Crianzas in this lot, and if this is anything to go by, they look excellent. The theme seems to be good value at around $25 to $30 dollars, excellent drinkability and lip smacking acidity with good fruit.