Capcanes ‘Lasandal’ 2006

lasendal-2006I had a craving for grenache on the way home last Thursday, a quick stop in at City Wine Shop turned up this little gem. The flash new label really stands out, I like the textured paper with bold black ink, great for photos. Packaging is all well and good, but who gives a toss? It’s all about the wine, and in this case it’s a garnarcha/syrah blend (85%/15% respectively) with a spell in older American oak.I’ve been following this wine for a while now, this is the best yet.

This is really bright and vibrant, but with all they savoury, earthy, herby stuff that makes Spanish granache so tasty. Raspberry and black cherry on the nose, hot rocks, sage and rosemary, earthy and musk. It has a core of juicy fruit wound up in a ball of light tannins, minerally acid and good length. It’s smooth and refreshing. Highly enjoyable and drinkable, I’d drink now but there is nothing wrong with keeping it for a couple of years. Excellent value too. And yes, I did buy it for the label… 92 Pts.
Source: The Spanish Acquisition RRP: $40 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.cellercapcanes.com

Other Vintages: 2000, 2004, 2005

Adegas Galegas Dionisos 2008

dionisos-008Albariño season has reared its head a bit early this year, its been bloody hot for the last couple of days in Melbourne. Perfect for sitting in the yard with a bowl of clams after the sun goes down. Pitty I didn’t have any clams. I know I always go about shellfish with albariño, its only because its a perfect combination. If you haven’t already seen it, have a look at Spain on the Road again…. for an example of what happens in Galicia. However, if you do watch it, have the remote handy. Mario Batali must be one of the most boring and annoying people on TV, and there is plenty of him waffling on about crap in each episode he’s in…he should stay in the kitchen.

Anyway, back to the wine. I like the style of this wine, it balances the floral notes with firm acidity very well. There is that trademark minerality that shows up in good vintages in Rias Brixas, along with plenty of green pear, lemon and lime leaf complexity. Its just long enough and has a tangy lemon sherbet/hot rocks thing going on the finish. Very easy to drink, it’s on the firmer side of Albariño which makes it perfect with food. The price is a couple of bucks cheaper than last year too. 91 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $28 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.galiciano.com

Other Vintages: 2007

Mount Majura TSG 2008

mt-majura-tsg-2008Another cracking wine from Mount Majura, this time a blend of Tempranillo (56%) Shiraz (31%) Graciano (13%) aged in older wood. I haven’t seen a lot of Graciano aorund, I’d be interested in seeing what else is being done with this variety here. These kind of blends are really showing potential in Australia, and the resulting show a bit of Spain, a bit of France, but show through very much as Australian. Putting an Aussie stamp on Tempranillo can only be a good thing.

The photos might be a little wierd for the next couple of posts, I’ve upgraded a much more complicated and capable camera (a Canon 7D). However, my skill level still leaves a lot to be desired!

A good robust nose full of cherries and plums,`earthy notes, a little herb and pepper action. Soft and gentle in terms of texture, but the flavour profile is robust. More of that cherry and plum, a little liqorice, some cola notes and black pepper. It’s an open weave kind of wine, easy to drink but highly enjoyable. Excellent value too. 89 Pts.

Source: Winery Sample Price: $21 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.mountmajura.com.au

Balbas Barrica 2008

balbas-barrica-20081Some Spanish wine law is a bit out there. Media crianza, semi joven, or barrica are all names for wines that have seen less than 12 months in oak, making the wine not quite a crianza or a joven wine. Now this isn’t an official term, people just make it up, but Barrica (which just means barrel in Spanish) seems to be winning out in Ribera del Duero and Toro. Confusing or what? Not a particularly great marketing plan, many Spanish people don’t know what it means either. Anyway, this puppy is all tempranillo that has 4 month in oak. It works quite well this wine, rather than adding unneeded wood it adds a nice edge to the wine.

Its a bit meat and savoury on the nose, a bit of herb, a bit of earth and plenty of dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit. Tight and fine in the mouth, a back line of acid and slightly raspy tannins. Licorice and spice, cherry fruit and tangy herbs on the palate. Nice drinking now, it will hang around for a while too, say 5 years, at its best. Very tidy for the price too. 89 Pts.

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

Balbas Reserva 2004

bilbas-reserva-2004The big daddy from Balbas. Reservas from Ribera del Duero are one of my favourites wines to drink, old or young. The juicy fruit with plenty of complexity is super satisfying. This is along similar lines to the crianza, perhaps a little more traditional in its focus. The vintage shows through here: big flavours, big tannins and lots of potential in the cellar.

Again there is 10% Cabernet in this, and it shows. There is a green, herby capsicum note in there that blends in the with the stoney cherry fruit. Fragrant and very fresh smelling, with a bit of varnish, vanilla and spice. The palate on the other hand is initially smooth and gentle but hidden in there are deep, powerful flavours and bold tannins with some cutting acid. All the ingredients for long aging, but don’t be afraid to drink it now, its very approachable now. Substance and style. 93+ Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $65 Closure: Conventional Cork

Mount Majura Tempranillo 2008

Mount Majura 2008There was a little pile of foam wine mailers in my office when I got back from the US, a couple of bottles from Mouth Majura was stashed away at the bottom. Complete with a hand written  note (I haven’t had one of those in years!) from Frank, the winemaker.  I’ve had a couple of bottles of this wine, of various vintages, over the years and I’ve always been impressed. But this is taking Canberra Tempranillo to another level. Canberra has a couple of features that make it, on paper at least, an ideal proposition for growing Tempranillo: climate and limestone in the soil. There is an old wifes tale in Spain that the best Tempranillo grows in soil rich in limestone…

In terms of line and length, this is similar to a crianza from Ribera del Duero: the nose offers up cherry, blackberry, licorice, a bit of woody spice and a slight herby note. Its savoury with a bit of sweet fruit mid palate, fine grained tannins balanced out by tangy acid. This shows depth of flavour, character and style.  A bit of added mineraly cola on the palate, which is always welcome. A solid example of what can be done with Tempranillo in Australia in the right conditions. 93 Pts.

Source: Winery Sample Price: $35 Closure: Screwcap

Web: www.mountmajura.com.au

Balbas Crianza 2006

bilbas-crianza-2006This is a new one from Ce Soir, part of a range of wines from Ribera del Duero. One of the older bodegas in the region making very smart wines. Well worth seeking out. There is a dollop of Cabernet in here is well, which is quite typical and traditional for the region…I’m not usually a fan, but there is always an exception to the rule.

This is interesting straight of the bat. The nose shows bloody salami notes, dark cherry, voilets, gun smoke and hot iron…a little ceadery oak in the background too. Savory and dry, plenty of flaky tannins backed up by tangy acid. Morish. The palate shows plenty of dark red fruits, licorice and herbaceousness. Very tidy, reasonable value and shows plenty of regional character. Drink now and over the next 10 years.  92 Pts.

Source: Ce Soir Imports Price: $39 Closure: Conventional Cork

Back in the saddle….

coit towerAfter a month or so break, I’m back with more tasting notes. I’ve spent the last month or so traveling around lesser known parts of Idaho and Utah (with a quick stop in San Francisco) and recovering from a bout of swine flu, but there has been a few Spanish and Portuguese wine moments along the way. A few high lights: Tasting most of the big name 2007 vintage ports (do believe the hype in most cases, its a great vintage), drinking Martin Codax Albarino while my Mormon hosts look on in horror and disdain, and eating Mexican food in California.

Anyway, I’ve got plenty lined up over the next few months: a couple of tastings, loads of tasting notes, plus another trip back to Spain in late January/February. The this time the idea is to head to a couple of regions that I haven’t been to before: Rueda and Bierzo. Then up along the north coast, Asturias for cider and cheese, Cantabria for the seafood and picos de europa and into the Basque country to have a look around DO Getariako Txakolina. Finishing up with a week in Rioja to chill out and have a look at the latest vintages. Thats the plan anyway.

Anyway, on with the notes…