Vallado 2007

img_5116The 2005 edition of this wine was, and still is, one of my favourite wines from the Douro Valley in Portugal.  It had everything, balances, tons of flavour, only 13.5% alcohol, and seemingly higher than normal acid for red wine from the Douro. You could say it was atypical, but I think it gives us a look at what is possible. I skipped the 2006, I thought it showed to many green characters, but Jamie Goode has just written it up and gave it 90. Now this 2007 is more typical of the what is becoming the classic Douro red: around 14.5 % alc, warm fruit, and the acid takes a back seat…

This nose is spicy and full of fruit, thats not to say there isn’t some smokey minerals and orange peel on the nose too. Fluffy, fleshy tannins with the acid in the background for support on the finish. Kind of rounded, and easy to glug down. The palate is more blackberry, blueberry and plum with a nice minerality to it. A touch of coco too. Not a bad little wine, a bit lacking in the mid palate, but finishes convincingly. 90 Pts.

Web: www.quintadovallado.com

Other Vintages: 20052005

Campo Eliseo 2004

img_5208Now, everything about this wine is big. A comes in a big, heavy bottle, the wine itself it fairly big and it has some big, French names on the front label: Lurton and Rolland. I know a little about Mr. Rolland’s winemaking, but I’ve not knowingly had one of his wines…

Of course I’ve seen the movie, read the comments in articles and forums etc. Industrial and lacking soul I’ve heard, I’ve also heard that many of his wines are fantastic. So I opened this with an open mind, but with wines like Pago la Jara, San Roman and Numanthia as reference points for what I consider to be classic, terroir driven wines from Toro. And to be honest, I thought this was lacking in the identity stakes. I don’t get that this is from Toro, or even Spain, while tasting this wine. That’s not to say it’s not a very well made wine however. I did try to eat some lamb with this, but the wine was too much…

This is good to go from opening, but I decanted and drank over 3 hours. The nose comes barrelling out of the glass with dusty chocolate shop (chocolate, vanilla, sweet creamy coffee etc) over the top of some blackberry and blueberry fruit.  I couldn’t really call this subtle, but it isn’t over done at the same time. In the mouth, its thick and lush, fluffy and soft tannins with just the right level of acid to maintain good balance. It is a little jammy on the palate, and full of warm fruit, however it doesn’t show its 15.5+ alcohol. A bit of a monster all up, but an enjoyable one. 92 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $145 Closure: Conventional Cork

Tribal wines ViRAT 2005

img_5121Thats a bloody big looking dog on the front of the label, and if you didn’t know that Virat is the wild dog of Mallorca you’d be wonder why on earth you’d put that picture on the front label of a bottle of wine. I was anyway.

This is an entry level callet, the indinious grape of Mallorca, made by Ana Martin. I’m really getting into this variety, it offers something very different and more importantly, its a super enjoyable guzzle.

The nose is a little slow to get started but there are some sunny cherries, sage, sea spray, a little tobacco and mocha. medium bodied and lighter in colour than a lot of Spanish wines, but juicy and snappy fruit. Tangy tart cherry and blue plums, dirty herbs and a lemony zing. Give it some time to do it’s thing and you’ll find something lovely. 90 Pts

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $34 Closure: Conventional Cork

Cuatro Pasos 2006

cuatro-pasos-2008The name means four steps. Just about everything about this wine is done in 4s: the grapes come from 4 different villages, 4 different types of oak are used etc. The vines are over 80 years old, wellthat’s a multiple of 4…

As mentioned in a comment by Marcelo last week, Cuatro Pasos is a budget priced Mencia. Smart packaging and good drinking on the inside of the bottle go a long way here. I though I had post this up ages ago, but the pesky draft box was ticked…

I often confuse the nose of mencia for a more rustic red burgundy and this is no different. Earthy cherry, with a kind of swirling blend of spice, floral notes, fine oak treatment, a bit of funky bacon and some coffee on this one. Fleshy tannins are also a give away, chewy and open knit here. The palate shows more blueberry and a touch of plum, with a core of cherry fruit. Nice length with a minerally finish. A little heat closes things out. Possibly the best value mencia on the market…   90 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $24 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.martincodax.com

Pittacum Mencia 2005

img_5123There is nothing like a bit of old vine Mencia in winter. I keep hearing that mencia is the next big thing to come out of Spain, and I’m already convinced that the wines are great, but I never hear much about them in the press. Eric Asimov from the New York Times has writen up some interesting things about mencia in his trip to Ribera Sacra. It’s a good read, but go and have a look for the photos. They make me want to get on a plane…

It can be it a very robust and rustic variety, but when well handled by a thoughtful vinter, a very stylish and textured wine results. While not cheap, this one is very good for the money.  The fruit of 50 to 80 year old vines shown the ol’  French oak treatment for 8 months. The result is this textbook example of Mencia.

Bushy herbs, plums and mulberry, with bright cherry at the core. Dusty and earthy with a bit of tobacco. Attractive and inviting. Palate shows lovely tannins, coco and cherry, loads of  blueberry. Tasty, but a little heat on the finish. Long length with minerals and tangy orange sherbert. Nice stuff. 90 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $42 Closure: Conventional Cork

Salamandra Tempranillo 2007

img_5119This is a new one from Ce Soir. From what I can find out, this is a Jacques Lurton wine from Castilla y Leon, actually in the DO Rueda but the DO is for white wines only at this stage. All tempranillo with a dunk in french oak for 3 months.

The nose is a bit smokey with candied fruit plum, cherry and sweet anise. Warming and rustic is stature, but well integrated in nature. Fleshy, dusty tannins. Palate shows darker fruit with licorice  herbs. As with all the wines I’ve tried from Ce Soir to date,  a tidy package at a great price. 88 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $25 Closure: Conventional Cork

Bodegas Muga Reserva 2004

Bodegas Muga Reserva 2004Robert Parker (and Jay Miller) states that Muga is one of his favourite bodegas in Rioja in a couple of his tasting notes, and it’s one of the few things that I agree with him on. Not that there is anything wrong with that, the world would be a rather boring place if we all agreed. I’d love to sit down and go through a couple of bottles with the big fella, he seems like he’d be a laugh with a few in him.

Embarrassingly, its been nearly 5 months since I did a full tasting at the bodega in February and I still haven’t finished the bodega profile and tasting notes. Oh well, they’ll be up on the site at some stage. However, I will say that the impression I left Muga with was this: absolute attention to detail, extreme energy and passion, but all done with a quiet swagger of confidence and experience.

Spicy wood notes, over some gorgeous fruit: mainly cherry and mulberry with a bit of red currant. Add to that a mix of  oregano and thyme and a little coffee. Lovely acid and flush with fleshy tannins.  You get lovely bit of acid popping in between the fruit, then this suave and subtle expression of fruit that weaves itself in. Just perfect line and length. Tangy minerally finish. Given this tasting, I am going to pull out a fairly big score. However, I think this has greater appeal that the Marques de Riscal 04, and would dock the Riscal a point or two based on this. Drink now with a good decant, or keep it for 3 year then drink over the following 10. 93+ Pts.

Source: Toro Wines Price: $55 Closure: Conventional Cork

Laudum Monastrell ‘Barrica Especial’ 2006

img_5104I’ve done a couple of blind tastings this year with monastrell and blends of monatrell with things like cabernet, merlot, tempranillo, syrah, even some viura. But I come to the same conclusion each and every time:  I’m a much bigger fan of these straight Monastrell wines than the blended wines. I think that says more about me than the wines tho…

This is straight monastrell from older vines (whatever that means) that has a swim in new french and american oak for 6 months. The 6 months in oak thing actually works here.  I find that more often than not, such a short time in new oak makes a very oaky beast.

Nuts, figs, flint and sage are the main impressions from the nose. A bit of vanilla and smoke after a while in the glass. Warm and inviting, and a bit flabby around the middle. Its easy to drink but there is just enough structure to keep my interest. A big lick of fig and minerals on the palate, some Black Forest cake and a little funky animal. Convincing. 89 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $24 Closure: Conventional Cork

Latente Crianza 2004

img_5040-editHere’s anther good Rioja Crianza in $20-30 bracket, this time from Ce Soir Imports. This is about the price where you get an interesting, wood aged Rioja in Australia. We are fortunate that we don’t have the same issue as the guys in the UK. There is truckloads of cheap and not so cheerful Rioja in the supermarkets and booze shops over there. Kind of like NZ sauv blanc here…

This wine uses the classic Rioja crianza formula: 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 10% Mazuelo, 12 months in wood (mostly older I’d say). Fresh, fruity, woody, and tasty.

It opens up all ready running: wofts of  cherry, earthy herbs, vanilla bean and wood spice. It has a rustic edge, the tannins are kind of fat and well rounded leading to a chunky mouth feel. Not too heavy, savoury and food friendly. Cherry and plum show through on the palate, a little blueberry as well. I can really get into this, a winter comfort wine if I ever tasted one. Drink over the next 4 years. 89 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $29 Closure: Conventional Cork

Laudum Crianza 2004

Laudum Crianza 2007 A blend of mostly old vine Monastrell with some Cabernet and Merlot. It goes into new french and american oak for 16 months and in to bottle…

The nose is quite manly, if a bit broad and wandering. Figs and plums, coffee and vanilla, spice and earth. Kinda chunky in the mouth, big fluffy tannins that lend a luxurious texture, but it comes over a bit blocky as it builds in the glass. A bit rustic but very tasty with a beef and guinness pie. 88 Pts.

Source: Broadway Liquor Distributors Price: $24 Closure: Conventional Cork