Perelada Finca Espolla 2011 – Empordá, Spain

The moment you open this beauty, the heady balsamic notes come rolling off the glass, letting you know that you have indeed popped a bottle of Empordá wine.  Blackberries and balsamic do a dance with lower notes of vanilla and chocolate on the nose.  This one hits the front palate hard with black fruits, tarry leather, and floral-laced hit of acid.  Having first experience their wines at a wine festival on the Costa Brava (gracias, PGJ), I actually expected to be bowled over by the tannins.  Not so here.  As the dark fruits give way to cherries, vanilla, and cocoa flavors, balanced tannins come in to help the long, lightly peppery finish, hold its notes.  This one really surprised me in that I expected it to be good, but not a cherry-pepper vanilla cocoa bomb of Catalan love!  I had this with assorted fuet, aged roncal, piquillos, and cherries – and the peppery notes just kept giving.

  • Rating: Stunning
  • Name: Perelada, Finca Espolla 2011
  • Winery: Cavas de Castillo Perelada
  • Region: Empordá
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa
  • Price: 15 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Barcelona wine shops

Finca L’Argatá 2011 – Montsant, Spain

Lots of black tar, dark fruits, raisins, prunes, figs, dark chocolate and just the right tannins.  Excellent, silky smooth and just the right hint of saddle leather.  I had this at Salero in Chicago with a cheese plate and pulpo – it was just right.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Finca L’Argatá
  • Winery: Joan d’Anguera
  • Region: Montsant
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 85% Garnacha, 15% Syrah
  • Price: $–
  • Where to Buy: Salero Restaurant

Puntiapart 2009 – Empordá, Spain

Concentrated cherries, leather, currant, and violets on the nose.  Nice, crisp red fruit greets the front pallet, with roses and more leather.  Soft tannins bring along cocoa and tarry tobacco flavors, with just a hint of smoke on the tight, somewhat tart finish.  Echoes of balsamic notes typical of the region on the finish.  A lovely, concentrated wine that’s gorgeous alone or with rich seafood preparations, a la Catalan.  I picked this one up at a great little wine shop in Louisville, Kentucky called The Wine Rack with the help of the proprietor, John.  Full stop.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Puntiapart 2009
  • Winery: La Vinyeta
  • Region: Empordá
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 85% Cabernet, 15% Samsó (Carignan)
  • Price: $22
  • Where to Buy: The Wine Rack

 

Borsao Berola 2011 – Campo de Borja, Spain

This one starts with musty mushrooms blended with lots of red fruit preserves and blackberries.  Strawberry and fresh sour plum hit the front of the palate, with white chocolate and hazelnuts following.  Everything comes together with a soft airy tannin finish reminiscent of burnt sugar, with hints of cocoa and coffee.  I’m putting this one as an everyday wine, though it borders on impressive.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Berola 2011
  • Winery: Borsao Bodegas
  • Region: Campo de Borja
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Price: $16
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits

Jaspi Negre 2011 – Montsant, Spain

Cherries and blackberries on the nose with a hit of mustiness and fresh flowers.  This is a powerful beauty, true to its name of Black Jasper.  She starts with luscious red fruits, moving to dried prunes, raisins, and leather.  It develops a further mustiness as it sits on the mid-palate, chewy and reminiscent of autumn leaves decaying.  As the tannins show up late to end the party, you’re left with a faint history of tart strawberries.  Just a gorgeous wine.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Jaspi Negre 2011
  • Winery: Coca i Fitó
  • Region: Montsant
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Garnatxa, Samsó, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah
  • Price: $22
  • Where to Buy: Astor Wines & Spirits

Tamaral Roble 2013 – Ribera del Duero, Spain

Fresh blackberry and currant on the nose, with faint nutmeg spice.  Violets and dark berries, laced with a faint strain of vanilla come together to finish with a solid, abrupt tannin finish.  A chewiness, with peppercorns and aromatic herbs, lingers after the finish.  A nifty little wine, well balanced and nimble, how a Mazda Miata might compare to a Ferrari.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Tamaral Roble 2013
  • Winery: Bodegas y Viñedos Tamaral
  • Region: Ribera del Duero
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Tempranillo
  • Price: $17
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits

Quindals 2007 – Empordá, Spain

Powerful blackberry, bordering on blueberry, and slight woodiness notes on the nose. Violets, black pepper, and powerful charcoal and black rubber notes on the palate. Muscular, typically Catalan, tannins keep the powerful flavors all honest. Dark chocolate and roses come on in a soft shift from the rubber and charcoal. Tannins are chewy, raisiny, almost like cherry chewing gum. This is a wine that will teach you why the Catalans call red wine “black wine” – so dark that only words like black-red can describe it. I picked this beauty up at Calvert Woodley simply because it was from Empordá for about $20.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Quindals 2007
  • Winery: Mas Estela
  • Region: Empordá
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 90% Garnatxa Negra, 5% Syrah, 5% Samsó
  • Price: $20-25
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley Wines & Spirits

Bula 2013 – Montsant, Spain

IMG_3786Mazuelo, Garnacha, and Syrah. A powerful iteration of the Montsant DO. It comes on strong with bursting black fruit, currant, rose petals, and leather flavors and a full mouthfeel. The tannins are slighter than most Catalan wines, but present enough to provide some structure. Strawberry and flint notes on the nose are subtle, with everything stretching out into a nice, warm peppery finish. This is a great Everyday Red at $13-16 at your local Whole Foods.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Bula 2013
  • Winery: Aviva Vino
  • Region: Montsant
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Mazuelo, Garnacha, and Syrah
  • Price: $13-$16
  • Where to Buy: Whole Foods, Washington D.C.

M2 de Matallana 2011 – Ribera del Duero, Spain

img_3643The nose smells exactly like blackberries. Blackberries. Like blackberry pie. It evens out a bit with some slate and vanilla notes as it opens. A luscious, voluptuous and generous wine. Strong, percolating vanilla, black fruit, and salty stone notes and a great mouthfeel. The tannins pull together in just the right way, at just the right time. It is amazing with pata negra jamón and valdeon cheese. I picked this one up in San Sebastián and am so glad I did. Just a lovely wine. For around 20-25 euros – I will find this one again.

  • Rating: Stunning
  • Name: M2 de Matallana 2011
  • Winery: Vinos Telmo Robriguez
  • Region: Ribera del Duero
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Tempranillo
  • Price: 20-25 EUR
  • Where to Buy: N/A

Menut 2013 – Priorat, Spain

img_3648Chocolate, cherry, and raspberry on the nose. Cocoa and tart berry pie flavors and tight, tannic mouthfeel. This is a big beast of a wine. Gorgeous and effervescent (figuratively, not literally). Musty leather and tobacco come together with muscular tannins to make a full body that’s better when slightly warmer than I normally drink a red – right at 70-72 Fahrenheit. Goes great with just about anything, but particularly robust and rich Spanish hams or paella. I picked this one up at Astor in SoHo NYC for around $20-24, and will do so again.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Menut 2013
  • Winery: Clos Martinet
  • Region: Priorat
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Grenache and Merlot
  • Price: $20-$24
  • Where to Buy: Astor Wines & Spirits*, 399 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10003

*The 2013 isn’t available online, but the 2014 can be purchased via this link.