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
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Terra do Zambujeiro 2011 – Alentejo, Portugal

Leather, dry leaves, and crushed flowers on the nose, with a faint hint of dark berries.  Red and black fruit, with vanilla on the front palate.  Dusty, chewy tannins come in on the mid-palate, with tobacco and more leather and pepper.  The rear palate is the real revelation where briny cherry flavors burst forth, complementing the dark, leathery and peppery finish.  I had this with a spicy pasta and the wine more than doubled the strength of the cayenne pepper in the pasta as it all washed down.  This gorgeous wine spent two years in French Oak and is unfiltered.  It was recommended to me by Tatyany Matos at Garrafeira Nacional in Lisbon.  Spot on recommendation (the woman’s a genius), true to the tagline on the label:  every drop, a drop of perfection.

  • Rating: Stunning
  • Name: Terra do Zambujeiro 2011
  • Winery: Quinta do Zambujeiro
  • Region: Alentejo
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Aragonez, Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Touriga Nacional
  • Price: $?
  • Where to Buy: Lisbon

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

Abadal 3.9 2009 – Pla de Bages, Spain

IMG_0012A powerful nose of baked berry pie, leather, crushed flowers with a hint of jasmine at the end. Some strawberry notes develop as it sits open in the decanter. A really amazing bouquet worth lingering on. Chewy leather, cocoa, and dark red fruit at the front end with a powerful, typically Catalan, tannic finish with stone and slate. This is a fascinating and powerful expression of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. About 30-45 minutes after decanting the nose shifted to a strong maple note – sheer stunner. Truly a roller-coaster; it opens, concentrates, opens again. A deep black garnet color. Cherry popsicle near the end. Yes, I said cherry popsicle. Melted. Cherry. Popsicle. I picked this up in Barcelona on Patricia’s recommendation. Damn glad I did. Wine Searcher can’t seem to find a bottle in the U.S.

  • Rating: Stunning
  • Name: Abadal 3.9 2009
  • Winery: Bodegas Abadal 
  • Region: Pla de Bages
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah
  • Price: $25
  • Where to Buy: N/A