Latente Crianza 2006

img_5766A quick one today. A very handy wine from Ce Soir, I had the 2004 a while ago, a lovely wine. Just like the 2004, this is made from 80% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, 10% Mazuelo, 12 months in, what I’d guess is older American wood.It’s a classic formula, so why change it? In fact, this perfectly shows some of the things that are going on in Rioja at the moment, it’s modern, yet traditional, well packaged and good value..the binary labels of modern or traditional thing just doesn’t apply in most cases.

One of the things I really enjoy with this wine is that is comes sprinting straight out of the blocks. Cherry and blueberry fruit, vanilla, thyme and cinnamon. It’s not rustic, but not totally refined either, fresh and hearty with plenty of texture and life. Sappy cherries and plums on the palate, I’m finding the 06s quite sappy and I like it a lot. Good finish of herbs and fruit.  90 Pts.

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

Pazo de Señorans Albariño 2009

Pazo de Senorans 2009I have a bunch of notes for samples that importers have sent in over the past 6 months. Poor form on my part for not writing these up sooner, but they’ll all be up over the next couple of weeks…To be honest, I don’t know a hell of a lot about this wine and it’s story. It is one of the most popular and written about Albariños around however, and a bloody good drink.

This is the ‘estate’ wine, there is also a regional wine from bought in grapes from growers sourounding the estate. These guys are most famous for their Selección de Añada, an aged release that sees about 3 years in tank before it’s bottled, which is quite a rare thing for an Albariño based wine.

Super aromatic nose, loaded with pear, apple, jasmine, a slight lemon twist. Nicely textured, more in the fuller figured camp than the striking acidity crowd, but not flabby though. Pear and white peach in the mouth, long finish, talc and minerals. Tangy white peach leaves a lovely after taste. 92 Pts. $38

Source: Echalon wines RRP: $38 Closure: Screwcap

Telmo Rodriguez ‘LZ’ 2009

Telmo's 2009 LZLast year was a write off in terms of blog postings, but it’s almost the new year and time to get back on the horse…I had hoped to see this wine in tank when I was in La Rioja in Feb last year, but alas the snow and conflicting schedules got in the way. Now it’s in bottle and here in Australia, I’ve a very happy boy indeed.

LZ comes from one of the two vineyards that is fully owned and managed by Compania del Vinos de Telmo Rodriguez, this one located just outside the small village of Lanciago on the Basque side of the Rioja. (The other one is in Galacia, where the Gaba do Xil wines are made). Its basically one hill side just outside the village, you could call it and estate if you like, that is loosely modeled on the burgundy quality pyramid of village wines in the lower areas, 1er Crus at the top and Grand Grus in the middle. And I do mean loosely, it’s not quite as hard as that. Setup to be biodynamic (and now certified as such)and modern, but keeping the old traditions in the back of mind, the vines are all trained in goblet (or en Vaso in Spanish).

Up top there is a modern winery that looks like it’s straight out of a Bond film, well a modern, sustainable Bond film. Recycled barrel staves, compressed earth walls, natural temp control and gravity flow instead of pumps, the bodega ticks all sustainable, low input buildings, yet still manages to look like a something out of the thunderbirds (very cool in my book). Built low into the hilside, you wouldn’t know it was there if you weren’t looking for it. But at the heart of the bodega are these huge concrete fermenters. Custom made, trucked up the impossibly small road to the winery and lifted in place, these big grey silos are the key to making LZ the wine it is. Concrete provides excellent temperature control, and in combination with the building itself, keeps fermentation temps low and preserves all of that lovely fruit flavour. Whatever they are doing, it is surely working. I think this might just be the best young wine from Rioja I’ve ever seen…

The wine itself is a joy to drink. I’m a fairly harsh critic of  joven wines from Rioja, I often find them full of green herbs and sulfur, preferring the riper offerings from Ribera del Duero and Toro usually. But this is the polar opposite, lively with a core of red and blue fruits, wild herbs and an earthy quality. Sappy and meaty, lengthy finish that leaves the taste of minerals, ripe fruit and herbs. Middle weight with soft tannins,  spot on for summer and autumn drinking. Just the kind of thing I could drink every day for a month and be totally happy with. Grill up some mushrooms with garlic and oil, lovely. Clearly the best LZ yet. 91 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $25 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.telmorodriguez.com

Other Vintages: 2005, 2006

Bodegas Muga Reserva 2005

Muga Reserva 2005After a good dinner and a bottle of Muga Reserva 1990 a couple of years ago, an older friend told me his philosphy on cellaring wine: stock up on the classic wines that age well, the kind of stuff that goes well with food, and you’ll always be happy with your cellar. Sure, buy a bottle or two of  big, expensive wines in good vintages, but concentrate on the mid range wines from excellent producers. Stuff like classic Riojas, Chiantis, lesser growth Bordeaux, red and white village Burgundy, Chablis, Victorian and Hunter Valley Shiraz.  Sound advice.

Ever since, I’ve been buying two Rioja Reservas in every vintage. This is one of them, the other is Remelluri, which is almost a national treasure in the Basque area and is set to move towards an organic operation with Telmo Rodriguez moving back into the role of wine maker with his sister looking after the vineyards. Getting back to Muga Reserva, it’s a typical Rioja blend of 70% Tempranillo , 20%Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo and Graciano aged in big old vats for 6 months, then into french and american oak for 24 months. While this clearly meets the Reserva requirements, in Spanish speaking countries it’s sold as a crianza…no idea why.

Classic nose of wild thyme and oragano, earthy cherry, mulberry and woody spices. Perfect balance between fruit and structure with minerally acid. Tannins that build and build to give a sense of contrast with the acid. The fruit doesn’t stick out, it’s savoury and fresh, it sits inline with the oak, tannin and acid. Purity, complexity and structure. The finish is long with the sense of clay, minerals and tangy red fruits. Just lovely drinking. Not as imediately rewarding as the 2004 now after a decant, but this is a long term wine, drink over the next 20 years. 93+ Pts.

Source: ?? Price: Around $60 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.bodegasmuga.com

Calo 2008

Calo 2008A cheaky little joven Tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa. While tempranillo is generally a fairly tannic grape, the wines from the most elevated, northerly regions tend to be a little more tannic. A good thing in my book. I’m not going to bang on about this one, enjoyable and good value….

Musky raspberry and violet, black cherry and malty biscuits on the nose. Earthy, a little herbal and fresh. Musky, with plenty of smooth tannins. It is a little lacking in the acid department, leaving it a little flat in the mouth and the finish on the shorter side, this gets better with a bit of air. More dark cherry and pepper in the mouth. Give it a bit of air to open up and your laughing. 87 Pts.

Source: Fourth Wave Wine Partners RRP: $19 Closure: Screwcap

La Vendimia 2008

la-vendimia-08After a fairly indulgent Christmas/New year period and start of a new year, I usually think it’s time for a couple of weeks of detox. Well not detox really, just a couple of weeks to a month of not drinking. Given I’ve got almost a month of eating and drinking in Spain coming up in a couple of weeks, it seems like the wise thing to do. So it will continue to be fairly quiet here at Tinto y Blanco for a couple of weeks…

This time in Spain I’m having a bit more of a holiday and I’m focusing more on food than a full on wine adventure: lazy days with long lunches, lots of jamon and roasted lamb, and of course a bit of wine here and there. Of course I can’t help but have a couple of appointments in and around Bierzo, plus a couple more in Rioja to get the low down on the 2009 vintage. I’ll post up some notes as we going along…Oh and another thing. If you haven’t checked out the new (or not so new) Movida book “Movida Rustica”, do check it out. From the brief look I’ve had so far it looks like its full of ‘real’ Spanish food.

Anyway on to the wine. Love the label and the 2008 is much better than the 2007 that was around for a little while mid last year. Fresh raspberry and earth is the first thing on the nose, it opens out to show some cherry and a little herb. Easy to drink, but still kind of serious and savoury at the same time. Meaty with soft tannins, its a little light in the acid department. Very likeable with a nice hunk of goat. 88 Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $27 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.vinosherenciaremondo.com

Remelluri Reserva 2005

img_5419This is another wine that shows the differences between the 2004 and 2005 vintages in Rioja. Both are great vintages in my book, but they are so for very different reasons. 2004 is a very long lived vintage, but it isn’t really giving a lot of joy at the moment. Its full of promises, but those bottles will have to survive the late night, drunken cellar raids and ‘I just want to see how it’s travelling’ trials. The 05 on the other hand is just a joy to smell and drink at the moment, but it has a long and full life ahead of it too.

Now I liked the minerally bite of the 04 version of this wine, but the lovely perfume coming off this 05 is magic stuff. Treading the fine line between traditional and modern Rioja, this is very much in the savoury camp, yet full of ripe fruit aromas, violets and roses, a little mocha coffee, and a handful wild herbs. Very appealing on the nose, and this continues in the mouth, firm but ripe tannins, a long lingering finish, and plenty of acid to keep the balance. Slightly sour on the palate, good notes of cherry, a little cola, sage and undergrowth and a little chocolate and spice. A pleasure to drink now, this will only improve over the next 3-5 years and drink for 10 years after that. Very compelling stuff. 93+ Pts.

Source: The Spanish Acquisition Price: $60 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.remelluri.com

Other Vintages: 2003, 2004

La Perla del Priorat ‘Noster’ 2005

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I’ve got a couple of entry level on the tasting bench at the moment, this is the first. This was a big hit for me last year, a wine from Priorat at this price level and quality was quite rare at the time. But now wines in the $40-$60 price bracket are the must have item for many importers. And who’s complaining, seeing as the top wines from the region are going up again this year? There doesn’t seem to be one style at the price point, some are big rounded, easy drinking things, others are a bit tighter and focused. This falls into the later camp…

Plenty of Priorat character here, sooty, black coal kind of notes up on the nose first off, then a bit of hot tar and violets. After that the fruit: raspberry, plum and light cherry notes. The tannins are a little gritty and grainy, but it’s all nicely balanced and there is acid, enough to keep the finish sparkling clean, tangy and long. A similar profile on the palate, a bit of licorice and wood spice adds a bit extra. Overall, an excellent example of Priorat that doesn’t wander off in to rustic red wine, it looks like fine wine from Priorat.91 Pts

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

Other Vintages: 2004

Sierra Cantabria Crianza 2004

img_5335The kitchen renos are almost done, as you can see in the photo the tiling still needs to be finished off. But at least I’m not cooking in the lounge room any more…The guys use a lot of sorting to get these wine in this shape, both on the vine and in the winery. 15 months in a mix of french and american oak, most of it older barrels up to 3 years old. I like this kind of forumla, you get the great fruit and the benifit of oak, but not a huge impact.

Now this is one smart little wine. It’s a more traditional version of rioja crianza, but it also made in a moden style using french oak and plenty of fruit flavour. Its a bit tight and young, which for a crianza at 5 years of age is very admirable, give it a quick shake in the decanter to free up the lovely rioja funky herbs. The nose kicks off with some  shaved wood notes, a little coffee and nutmeg, then into the cherry, blueberry fruit. All of that is followed up by a bit of wild herb and some liquorice with more air time. And that’s fairly much the recipe for this wine, the palate is similar but a bit heavier. Nice tannins lead to a bit of structure and edginess, but there is plenty of round, ripe fruit to make this a pleasure to drink. 90 Pts.

Source: Toro Wines Price: Around $35 Closure: Conventional Cork

Web: www.eguren.com

R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva Blanco 1987

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This is a note that has been in draft mode for about 6 months now. Not because the wine is bad or anything like that, its just an increadbly hard wine to describe. Reading an article in the NY Times, I thought it was about time to post it. I bought this bottle after coming back from Rioja and visiting López de Heredia and literaly being overwhelmed by how these people make this crazy wine. By all logic is should be well past it by the time it’s released, I mean who has heard of white wine kept in casks for nine and a half years then in bottle for another 13 or so years before its released?  The people who make it say the secret is the acid, and you can clearly see that when you taste it. It looks oxidized, but tastes like it could do another 10 years standing on it’s head. It sounds like it should be musty and mouldy, but its fresh and floral.

They also make a load of red wines and age them just as long, or longer in some vintages, but for my tastes, its the white wines that are king here. The reds follow some form of noble decay it seems to me, while the whites are on the up and up, dramatically evolving into these highly polished, aromatic wonders that thrill in so many ways: colour, flavour, and scent. They continue to unwrap themselves from years in the dark while in your glass, a touch of orange rind here, some vanilla there, lillies, then lemon, more white flowers, toffee, and on it goes. I’m told they go with rich white meat dishes and fish in heavy saucese, but you’d have to be crazy to drink this wine with food. It demands respect and there is plenty of depth to explore on its own.

A tasting note defeats the purpose here, this is an experiance wine.. There is nothing else like it the world of wine, so what do you rate it against? Other vintages of the same wine, I’d guess. Pitty I’ve only seen 4 vintages and they are all different, but all great, so I couldn’t call one 93 points or the other 99 points. You could pull hundreds of descriptors out too, a bit boring to read really. Your best bet to get any idea of what this wine is about it to buy a bottle, kick back with a book and a nice big glass and drink it over four or five hours. It’s not a difficult wine to like, but more for your wine geek than for your average punter, so why not drink the bottle yourself?

The thing I really like about these wines is that they are actually inovative, but the inovation was done 100 years ago and processes and method have just stayed the same. The family has held fast to the idea and watched many of the other wine trends pass by, and return in some cases. Single vineyard wines are still uncommon in Rioja, but are seen to be a modern thing.  Lopez de Heredia have been doing it for 100 years. There are many modern things going on at the bodega too, but tradition rules.

Source: Toro Wines Price: $180 Closure: Conventional Cork and Wax

Web: www.lopezdeheredia.com