12 Volts 2013 – Mallorca, Spain

I admit to expecting something different when I popped this one open.  Bright red fruit on the nose, gave way to elegant, silky vanilla flavors and bright sour cherries.  This was definitely a lighter wine than I had expected, but the bright (notice the theme) and luscious notes on both the palate and the nose made for a lovely little wine.  I picked this beauty up in San Sebastian or Barcelona some time in 2015, but it appears that T. Edward New York is bringing it in to the U.S.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: 12 Volts 2013
  • Winery: Apol-lonia Viticultors S.A.T.
  • Region: Mallorca
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: 50% Callet; 30% Syrah; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; 10% Merlot
  • Price: 30 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Edward New York
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Arenes Sauvages 2010 – Cornas, France 

Another Georges dos Santos selection.  Complex, intense nose of roses, vanilla, old wood, and fig.  An acidic kick to the front of the palate, with more wood, intense florals, with a hint of cocoa.  I find myself reaching for the name of a flavor that just eludes me.  Tannins come in with hints of slate and red fruits, in a deep, powerful attack.  Just wow.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Arénes Sauvages 2010, plot selection
  • Winery: La Cave de Tain
  • Region: Cornas
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: Syrah
  • Price: 30 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Antic Wines, Lyon, France

 

Emmanuel Darnaud 2014– Crozes-Hermitage, France

So here’s a wine I was not going to review.  I picked this up on Georges’ recommendation, from Antic Wine.  Georges is, in a word, the man.  I talk about Georges more in the Antic Wine entry, but much of what you need to know about Georges you can pick up from the way he marked this bottle in the photo.  antic-pricingWhen I first opened this wine, I shouldn’t have.  But I came back the next day and found that she is a delicious beauty of blackberry pie, cherry tart, autumn leaves, moss, and dusty dried flowers, with a perfectly balanced tannic closing, to boot.  Wow.  I haven’t had a French wine do this for me in a while.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Emmanuel Darnaud 2014 Crozes-Hermitage
  • Winery: Emmanuel Darnaud
  • Region: Crozes-Hermitage
  • Country: France
  • Varietals: ?Syrah?
  • Price: 15 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Antic Wines, Lyon, France

Altosiós 2011 – Costers del Segre, Spain

This one takes a while to open up – it needs to breath a bit.  But once it has, a complex bouquet of roses, cocoa, slate, and faint tobacco notes gets things started.  The opening attack has more acid than expected, with somewhat lemony notes and red fruit.  Not exactly what you would expect from the bouquet, or color of the juice.  The red fruit gives over to an echo of luscious pear and grass, before chewy tannins come in to help deliver raisiny cocoa and hot stone notes (yes, that’s a thing, thank you very much).  This wine was a blind faith purchase from Javi at Vinalium.  There will be more such purchases in the future.  It was gorgeous with fuet and piquillos, and opened up in exactly the way Javi described that it would.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Altosíos
  • Winery: Bodegas Costers del Sió
  • Region: Costers del Segre
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: Syrah, Tempranillo, Garnacha
  • Price: 17 Euros
  • Where to Buy: Vinalium, Barcelona

Vinalium, Barcelona, Spain

Go here.  Wine shops are not all created equal, nor are they equally endowed with knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and patient owners that are happy to have an actual exchange about wine, rather than rush to sell you on whatever bottle they are getting margin on at the moment.  I knew I’d found a kindred spirit when we stumbled upon the subject of the prevailing wine rating system – Javi and I shared our mutual disdain for the commercial, silly 100-point system and how certain wine illuminati manage to warp the market with high-ranking reviews of often pedestrian offerings.

Yet I digress.  At Vinalium you will find a focused selection of wines from all regions of Spain, including some commercial favorites, all at friendly prices.  However, it’s in the sections devoted to regional offerings and smaller producers where you’ll find some exciting stuff.  From Cava to Penedés, Empordá to Montsant, Javi and Karen, his American partner and wife (whom I did not get to meet) have your number.  To top it off, they run a thriving online store that will deliver cheaply and quickly in Barcelona, as well as abroad.

So what are you waiting for – go!

Vinalium, Carrer de Casanova 33, 08011, Barcelona, Spain

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

Pacheca Grande Reserva 2011 – Douro, Portugal

This powerhouse greets the nose with a blend of peppery spice, moss, black fruit, raisins, and cocoa.  The front palate gets a kick in the face from fresh strawberries and cocoa, and a hint of pepper.  Black rubber, old leather, cocoa, faint vanilla, and red fruits are pulled together by powerful (but no too) tannins and a peppery finish.  This is a true reserva, with all the aged wisdom that comes with that.  It was fantastic with roasted pork, and I imagine it paring well with any version of parillada.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Pacheca Grande Reserva 2011
  • Winery: Quinta da Pacheca
  • Region: Douro
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Touriga Nacional
  • Price: $?
  • Where to Buy: Lisbon

 

Vale da Poupa 2015 – Douro, Portugal

A bursting fresh nose with kiwi, citrus, pear, and passion fruit.  If you’re more familiar with New Zealand’s Marlborough Valley Sauvignon Blanc, this will feel comfortable.  Acid, grapefruit, and passion fruit hit the front palate like, well, a mallet.  So full and vibrant it almost feels bubbly in the mouth.  Slides across the center of your tongue like a flaming snake, delicious and unpredictable.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Vale da Poupa 2015
  • Winery: Consultores, Lda – Quinta da Faisca
  • Region: Douro
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Moscatel Galego Branco (Muscat Petits Grains)
  • Price: $?
  • Where to Buy: Lisbon

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

Herdade do Peso Reserva 2013 – Alentejo, Portugal

Cherries and violets on the nose.  Nice acid, cherries, and cocoa hit the front of the palate.  Chocolate and leather notes intensify as it flows across the tongue, with woody notes shored up by powerful tannins.  The finish is long and chewy, and you’ll feel and taste the red fruits in your jaws as you swallow.  Herbal and earthy notes linger after the finish.  A nice red, worthy of the Portuguese label.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Herdade do Peso Reserva 2013
  • Winery: SOGRAPE Vinhos SA
  • Region: Alentejo
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: Alicante Bouschet, Syrah
  • Price: $?
  • Where to Buy: Lisbon