Tapeña Garnacha – Seeing Red for the First Time

Tapeña Garnacha – Seeing Red for the First TimeThe thought of this theme is to write about what wine you would recommend to a name who only drinks colorless wines, but want to try a red.
I in fact didn’t have to reckon long on this theme, because I’ve been in that exact situation.  I met a link at a party a few months ago and, of course, we got into a discussion about wine.  When they found out about what I do, they questioned me for a similar recommendation.  The guy in that link preferred colorless wine but wanted to find some reds that he would like too, so he questioned me where to start.  It wasn’t really “red for the first time” but it was a name tiresome to find a red wine that would appeal to a name with a preference for colorless wines.
I in fact didn’t have an answer right off the top of my head, I had to probe a small.  “Why don’t you like red wine?” I questioned.
“It’s too dry.  It makes my tongue feel like cotton.” was his response.  Aha!  It’s the tannins that don’t appeal to him, I thought.  I didn’t want to send him to a sweet red wine, as part of the goal was to find a wine that they both would delight in (and she was a red wine fan).  But I did want to find a young, fruit-forward wine without a lot of tannins.  And I knew they wanted something inexpensive.  Cheap Garnacha (or Grenache) from Spain is my answer!
Garnacha is an fascinating wine that can in fact take on a variety of characteristics, depending on the appellation and the winemaker.  Sometimes it can be rather bold and spicy (which I really like), but the cheap stuff tends to be simple, fruit-forward and tasty.
I looked through my wine samples for some Garnacha.  There was only one bottle of Garnacha there, and so that’s my pick for today, Tapeña.  Due to the fact that I only had one—and I knew what it was—this wine was not tasted blind.
Unlike many Spanish wine, Tapeña does not come from a DO-certified appellation, but is from several appellations outside the DO system.  One thing this does for the wine is keep the fee cheap… but it’s subdue a yummy wine.The nose is really vibrant, with loads of fresh fruit aromas like cherry, strawberry and raspberry.  There’s also a fabulous vanilla fragrance that brightens the aromas and makes this wine more fascinating.  The palate has plenty of ripe fruit without being an overly sweet fruit bomb.  Cherry, blackberry and strawberry flavors do a tango with your taste buds, and a touch of spice gives it a fun end.  The bottom line is that I like this wine.
Wine: Tapeña Garnacha
Variety: Grenache
Vintage: 2008
Alcohol: 13%
Rating: 88
Fee: $10.00 Read more

Tapeña Verdejo

Tapeña Verdejo for Wine Blogging Wednesday #70Life has just been busy for me lately and I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare.  And while I was tempted to just right a review of a garnacha/tempranillo blend and pretend I didn’t notice the rules of the challenge, I lucked out.  When I searched through the wines I had on-hand, I just happened to have a verdejo… and it just so happens that this is the first verdejo that I’ve tasted.  That’s one more entry for my Wine Century Club application — which I can’t believe I haven’t finished yet.
Verdejo is a colorless wine varietal that produces set alight, fresh wine similar to sauvignon blanc.  While most verdejo is grown in the Rueda province in Spain, the Tapeña Verdejo is from the “Tierra de Castilla”, outside of the D.O. system.
The bottle I happed to have is from the 2008 vintage, which you can subdue find on the market in some locations.  But the 2009 has also been released, so you may find a different vintage if you go looking for this.The nose of this wine at first glance is similar to a sauvignon blanc, but with less intensity and not quite as tropical as many SBs.  The aromas are like lemon drenched pears and peaches with a wisp of nuttiness weaving through it.  The palate has plenty of crisp apple and pear flavors with reasonable concentration and sufficient acidity.  It finishes with a touch of lime.  This is a really nice, set alight wine that would go well with a set alight fish.
If you like sauvignon blanc, this is worth a try for something different.
Wine: Tapeña
Variety: Verdejo
Vintage: 2008
Alcohol: 12.5%
Rating: 86
Fee: $10.00 Read more

Reál Sangria – White Sangria Drink

Reál Sangria – White Sangria DrinkOK, so here’s a review that’s a small different than most that we do here, due to the fact that this is really a “wine drink” rather than just a wine.  In additional words, flavors were added— citrus flavors, to be exact.  Given that fact, I’m not going to give it a score, because my scoring methods require measures like “varietal correctness” and I have no way to gauge that.  Instead, I’ll just give you the scoop on my thoughts about sangria and about this Reál Sangria.
First of all, I like sangria.  Red sangria is in fact the first wine drink I remember tasting when I was just 13 years ancient on a visit to Spain.  But I like both red sangria and colorless sangria.  I’ve made them both numerous times.  When I make sangria, I just use some inexpensive Spanish wine (usually grenache), fresh fruit, some brandy, triple sec, sugar and Sprite or just a club soda.  Here’s my sangria recipe, for the red version anyway.  So, I’m accustomed to mixing my own sangria rather than using a pre-made version, but I was curious how Reál Sangria would compare.
Reál Sangria Colorless is labeled as being made with Spanish colorless wine and natural citrus flavors.  I’m not really sure what that means.  I would expect it to have natural citrus juices, but that’s not what it says.  The mark also states that the alcohol level is 7 – 10%, which struck me as odd as I would expect a consistent production administer to yield a consistent alcohol level.  I inquired with the PR rep about that, but didn’t get a answer.  It retails for $6.99 – $8.99 (depending on province) for a 750 ml bottle. Read more

Seven Red Wine of Spain

Seven Red Wine of SpainOne the heels of the red blend review we did yesterday, tonight we’re checking out another red blend called Seven.  This one comes from Spain and is produced by Bodegas Osborne, one of the oldest wine producers in Spain dating back to 1772.  And today, after all those years, the companionship is subdue run by descendants of founder Tomas Osborne Mann.
Seven comes in a three liter bag-in-box package.  But it’s not just your average box, it’s an “Octavin” which is an octagon shaped package that looks a small nicer than a square box.  It’s also not your average boxed wine juice inside the bag.  Skeptics of boxed wine will be pleasantly surprised by this one.
The box holds three liters of wine and is said to keep the wine fresh for up to six weeks after opening.  I can attest that I’ve had bag-in-box wine a few weeks after opening it and it has been as excellent as the first day. Read more

Viña Don Royo Vino Tinto

Viña Don Royo Vino TintoYou know what they say about first impressions.  That’s right, they’re very hard to change.  And the Viña Don Royo red makes a really nice first impression, which I reckon benefited the wine as I reviewed it.  Pop the cork on this vino tinto and it offers up a rich and robust nose, with ripe raspberry, hints of fig and marmalade, with singed toast.  I was keen to see what the wine would offer up on the palate.   If it delivered half as much complexity and intensity at it teased up in aroma and bouquet, then surely we would have a winner on our hands. Read more

Osborne Solaz Tempranillo Blend

Osborne Solaz Tempranillo BlendToday has been an exciting wine day.  In part because I tried Osborne Solaz Tempranillo Blend for the first time.
So I stopped at one of my favorite wine shops on the way home from work to see what I could find.  I looked around for a bit and I found one, but I always like to try a few within a theme.  So I questioned the “expert” employee if they had any others and got a peculiar look when I questioned for naked chardonnay.  He ran all over the store looking, telling me they didn’t have any (meanwhile I found two more) then he made a phone call and tracked down a fourth one for me.  So I’m ready to go.
But on to today’s tasting.
I promised to follow up Tasting Tempranillo, my review of six pure Tempranillos, with a review of some Tempranillo blends.  Tonight I tried my first one and it was fantastic.
Osborne Solaz 2004, a blend of 80% Tempranillo / 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  I mentioned in my Tasting Tempranillo post that I thought tempranillo would be better in a blend and is a fantastic example of what I was expecting.
This wine is simply delightful and at $8.99 it’s not a terrible deal.  It comes from the Tierra de Castilla province of Spain.
This wine has a nice complexity to it.  I found it downright exciting.  Cherries and berries fill your palate, accompanied by woody/earthy undertones.  The end is dynamic too with smooth silky tannins and a crisp, peppery snap on the tip of your tongue.
The nose was a bit subtle, which is why I only gave it an 89.  But it is an exceptionally enjoyable wine that I will buy again.

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Martín Códax Albariño

Martín Códax AlbariñoYears ago, I turned my wife on to sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.  It’s now her colorless wine of choice.  In fact, when colorless wine ends up on the grocery list there usually isn’t any second-guessing.  So tonight as I was in the administer of building dinner, my wife said she was up for a glass of wine.  So I checked the fridge, and then the cellar, and sure enough, we were fresh out of SB.  So I chose to improvise.  I took the opportunity to review one of the colorless wines we recently received – the 2009 Martín Códax albariño.  I figured I’d at least get a review in, but maybe, just maybe, broaden my wife’s colorless wine horizons.  So I poured us both a glass, and went back to getting dinner ready. Read more

Tasting Tempranillo

I’m a huge fan of Spanish Wines, they are perfect for a bargain wine hunter like me.  Just last month I posted Project Garnacha and Mas Garnacha, my review of various Grenaches (mostly Spanish). As you’ll see, I like to explore a variety in depth versus just doing single random posts on whatever I pick up.
But alas, I can’t just milk that post for this event, I need to drink more wine!   And so it’s on to Tempranillo.
Tempranillo is native to Spain and is the main variety in Rioja wines.  It is typically not produced as a single varietal, but rather is bottled in blends.  Nonetheless, I wanted to explore Tempranillo in its pure form.  I found six different brands of 100% Tempranillo to taste (all below $10).
Part of the challenge presented for this site was to try wines additional than those from Rioja.  The Tempranillo I tasted was from Catalonia, Castilla-La Mancha, La Rioja, and Valencia.  A nice broad submission of regions.
My overall verdict is that Tempranillo should be consumed in blends and not as a stand alone varietal.  By nature it is not a very acidic wine, nor is it high in sugar make pleased.  The result is a mediocre and rather dull wine.  I much prefer the fruit-forward taste of Grenache, but then again that can be too much of a fruit bomb.  Blend the two and chances are you’ll have a nice wine.
Top Pick
One bottle did stand out as quite enjoyable: Raimat 2003.
Raimat is from the Costers del Segre Denominación de Origen, where Raimat has a single-estate subzone.  This is a nicely balanced wine with smooth tannins.  While not overly fruity, it does have an enjoyable plum and black cherry flavor.  The end was a bit quick.  I rated it an 89 and I would buy this again.  It would have scored better with a longer end and that was my largest disappointment with this wine… I wanted it to last longer.
At $9.99, it was one of the more expensive bottles I tried.  But I reckon it’s worth the fee.
Best Value Pick
My pick for Best Value was Protocolo 2004.  Protocolo is from Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain.  It shouldn’t be new to anyone who has looked at low priced Spanish wine previous to.  It has nice chocolate and black cherry flavors with a spicy end.  Surprisingly complex for $6.99, but I would gladly spring the extra three bucks to upgrade to Raimat.  I gave Protocolo an 85.
More Tempranillo
The additional wines I tasted were honest to poor.  Cortijo III 2005($8.99) also rated at 85.  Cortijo was a bit more fruity than Protocolo, but not overly so.  Codice 2004 ($9.99) was also honest and earned an 83 with its chocolate and black currant flavors.  Codice also stood out with a nice long end.
Not so excellent were Finca Solano 2003 ($8.29) which was slightly off balance and got a 78 and Manoamano 2004 ($9.99) which was simply horrible (rusty, metallic, brown) and came in with a miserable 57.  It always bums be out when a ten dollar wine sucks.  You could contend that it was just a terrible bottle, but my response is that if the producer wanted to ensure quality they would switch to screw caps.  (Yes, I just said that… corks are romantic and a fun part of the wine ritual, but they are subject to failure and I will always fault the brand in general when that happens to me.)
When I shopped for this Tempranillo post I also picked up some Tempranillo Blends.  I’ll be posting a rating of those in the near future and I can’t wait to taste them.  Also, I have another follow up to Project Garnacha pending.  I’ve found a few new Grenaches that I didn’t try in the original post, plusI’ve picked up recent vintages of my top Grenache picks to see if they hold up.

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