Santa Cruz de Artazu 2006

I’ve had a look at this wine a couple of times now, both in Spain and here, and I’d have to rate it as one of my favorite of the year. It’s a bit of a hedonistic wine, very seductive and enjoyable, even quite sexy. If you’ve had a look at Artadi’s Vinas de Gain or Pagos Viejos, you’ll find a family resemblance (this is Artadi’s venture in Navarra). This is really compelling garnarcha from Navarra, and to be honest I haven’t seen any this convincing from that region before.

I had the Movida book out to make a tortilla de bacalao (a ‘Spanish omlette’ made with salt cod rather than potatoes). It worked out OK, very tasty but my presentation needs some work. Its a great book, I think it is almost my most used Spanish cookbook now…

The nose is like a layered tiramisu with a fruit filling: vanilla, espresso coffee, chocolate, raspberry, cherry, violets, roses and cold tea. It’s the kind of thing that I could sit and just smell all day, it’s open and inviting, a bit sunny but earthy at the same time. In the mouth its lush and textured with smooth tannins. The acid seemed to take a back seat at first, however give it a few minutes and the acid appears to show excellent balance. To me, this is a wine that is built for food, pork specifically. Excellent stuff. 94+ Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $100 Closure: Conventional Cork

Pleno Viura 2007

Pleno Viura 2007In contrast to the Faustino from yesterday, there is this little number from just across the boarder in Navarra. It’s Viura again with a more Gen Y style (Fun and modern, not sure if it has an iPhone tho).

Spicy and toasty lees character is the first thing I get here, then some lemon and pear, a shake of white pepper. It’s sweet smelling and summery. Like me, it’s a little flabby and sweet in the middle, but overall it’s savoury with more lees characters, pear and tangy baking apples, a bit of talc. Fun and funky, it’s a bit quirky and I like that. A BBQ crowd pleaser. 87 Pts.

Source: Heart and Soil Price: $15 Closure: Screwcap

Artazuri Garnacha Rosado 2007

Artazuri Garnacha Rosado 2007The spring pinks continue… I’m working on a few shots for the Canon Photo5 competition, in the process I’ve realised that I suck at taking pictures of anything but wine bottles or my cat. It’s not that bad, but it seems like it. Anyway, the wine. The chaps at Artazuri have lifted the packing up to the level of whats inside the bottle here. This is another wine that is now under screwcrap.

I love the colour, bright pinky red. Grenache is a very handy grape for rose wines, it tends to give you flavours more in the raspberry range than strawberry, but a few wild herbs to keep things interesting. That describes this wine perfectly: the nose is full raspberry, with a bit of strawberry and red apple with a touch of wild herbs. It’s kind of juicy and textured in the mouth, with an acid kick. Straight forward and bone dry, it shows good intensity and bold flavour for a rose. Very good with food too, I had this with a roast chicken and it matched up beautifully. 89 Pts.   

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $20 Closure: Screwcap

Pleno Tempranillo 2007

Pleno Tempranillo 2007One of the things I love about wine is there is always different every vintage. I had a look of the 06 of the this a while ago and it was fresh and full of fruit. This 2007 is edition is similar, but it shows a green note that seems to be typical of most regions in northern Spain.

The nose opens up a little reductive, this blows off to reveal some lovely juicy red cherry with a touch of raspberry leaf and sage. It’s mostly smooth in the mouth, with some grainy tannins. Otherwise it’s all in balance with some nice acid.  On the palate it’s more cherry and sage, with a touch of cherry pip sourness and slightly under ripe plums. It vanishes all too quickly, too short for me and showing a tad too green. 85 Pts.

Source: Heart and Soil Price: $15  Closure: Screwcap

Pleno Tempranillo 2006

Pleno Tempranillo 2006
Looking for a cheap but good quality wine can be hard work, I don't envy the job of importers searching out their next $15 Tempranillo. Having sat at a table with 30 young Tempranillos in front of me, I know its a hard task. Sure, you find the odd treasure, but it can be difficult to remain objective after tasting something truly horrible or utterly amazing in a blind line up. Its educational and demanding of your senses, not the bit of fun many seem to think it is. Luckily, I can reap the benefits of someone else's hard work here, I've got no idea how Heart and Soil found this one, but they've got a winner.
Its 100% tempranillo from the Co-op Bodegas Braña Vieja in Navarra and shows the typical characters that the Basques tend to like in the young wine. No wood, just fresh and fruity, but savoury and earthy. Most importantly, it's all to easy to drink. At $13.50 is dozen lots, its cheap too.
Good deep colour with a very cherry nose plus some earth, nutmeg and dark chocolate. Warm and rounded in the mouth with some lush tannins and plenty of rustic appeal. Some sour cherry, plum, light herbs and cola shows up on the palate. The finish is longish with drying tannins. A joyful wine that's an easy mark for mid week or BBQ drinking. 87 Pts.
Source: Randalls Price: $15 Closure: Synthetic Cork

Artazuri Garnacha Rosado 2006

Artazuri Garnarcha Rosado 2006Rose style wines aren't just for summer when its 40 degrees and your sitting under a tree eating a dodgy ham and cheese roll from a picnic hamper.  I like to drink rose all year round and it is a perfect match for so many foods.  One of the key things with rose for me is to use it as a food wine, that is its real place in life.  So, you don't want huge flavours but you do want a good wack of acid for freshness, balance and length.  A bit of texture is nice.  Dry or with a bit of sweetness depends on the food, an off dry rose works very well with a salad with bitter leaves and blue cheese.  But of course, you don't make friends with salad.

Anyway, Artazuri is a project from the good people at Artadi, the famed Rioja producer.  100% Garnacha with a little skin contact for that lovely colour.

Looks like petrol in the glass, the old unleaded stuff.  A subtle nose of strawberry, mountain herbs, a little bit of earthiness and raspberry.  Crisp and fresh in the mouth with a pleasing level of acid, good weight and texture.  The palate mimics the nose for the most part, subtle and dry with a mid-length finish.  Excellent with food.89 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $20 Closure: Conventional Cork

Gran Feudo Rosado 2005

Gran Feudo Rosado 2005A lot of people will disagree with me, but I think that rose (or rosado in Spanish) is possibly the most versatile food wine.  In spring and summer it goes with just about anything, especially seafood and spicy dishes.  And it is almost always under $20.

Gran Feudo is an old favorite, its dirt cheap and you can buy it in the supermarket.  Perfect with antipasto or cheese to start off a BBQ or with a paella or salmon.  It looks kind of flash in its tall clear bottle that shows off the colour, I didn't get to take a photo of this bottle before it was all gone! 

Its made from garnarcha and fermented on skins for a day or so until the colour is a deep pink.  

Deep, but bright pink in colour.  The nose is filled with strawberries, with some other red berries for backup.  In the mouth its tart light cherry with some darker fruit in the background and shake of white pepper on the finish.  And don't worry, theres no sugar.  Nice and dry with enough acid to freshen up your mouth as your shovel in some more paella.  87 Pts.

Source: Retail Cost: $13 Closure: Conventional Cork


Gran Feudo Reserva 2000


A blend of the indginous Tempranillo (80%) and the French Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (the remaining 20%) . I find these blends a bit hit and miss at times, the Cabernet seems to dominate and can add some green/herbal characters that seem out of place in such a wine. Not so with this one, it hits the mark and its priced well to boot.

The Chivite vineyards are located in the Navarra region of northern Spain, in between La Rioja and Catalonia. The grapes come from a number of areas around Navarra, Marcilla and Aberin specifically. The wine sees 18 months in French and American Oak and another 18 months in bottle to meet the requirements of the Reserva label.

Plums and raspberries make up the nose, with a bit of french oak showing through. Medium bodied with dark cherry, blackberry/blackcurrant, oak and a bit a vanilla. I found the tannins a bit rough at first, the finish is rather short. It could sound quite boring, but it’s a solid, rustic wine that would go very well with a beef stew or lamb chops on a cold Tuesday night. 87 Pts.  

Source: Retail RRP: $20 Closure: Cork