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

Langhe DOC Rosso 2013 – Piedmont, Italy

Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Freisa, Pinot Noir, and Albarossa. Violet and mineral notes on the nose with just a hint of autumn mustiness. Fresh cherry, plum, and florals attack the palate on the front end, rounding quickly with brief tannins and a longer greenish mineral finish. This is a bright, acidic red just right for the onset of spring. I would call it light bodied, if not for some stubborn tannins on the backend that provide some depth and backbone. With toast and goat cheese, it’s stellar and I could not imagine a better foil. I picked this one up at Calvert Woodley for $16 on Mark’s recommendation. Verdict: Everyday Red.

  • Rating: Everyday Red
  • Name: Langhe DOC Rosso 2013
  • Winery: G.D. Vajra
  • Region: Piedmont
  • Country: Italy
  • Varietals: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and Barbera blended with small quantities of Albarossa, Freisa and Pinot Noir
  • Price: $16
  • Where to Buy: Calvert Woodley, 4339 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008


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.

Lyric 2012 Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara, CA

img_8557I’m not a fan of the California wine makers who try to make every red grape they produce into an in-your-face, high alchohol, meaty, power-hungry Cabernet Sauvignon. And I find it particularly off-putting when they do this to Pinot Noir, which is such a delicate varietal.

That being noted, this Pinot from Etude is perhaps the one exception. First things first, do not buy this wine if you are hoping to drink what is supposed to be a Pinot Noir. It is much more full-bodied and lucious than a Pinot, but it stops before over-reaching into Cabernet territory. It has a spicy earthiness that tastes more like a Zinfandel to me, but maintains its softness like a Pinot should.

I am quite partial to the wines of Santa Barbara, so I’m not surprised that this Pinot in disguise hits the mark for me. Overall verdict = impressive.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Lyric 2012 Pinot Noir
  • Winery: Etude
  • Region: Santa Barbara 
  • Country: USA
  • Varietals: Pinot Noir
  • Price: $14-$20
  • Where to Buy: N/A

Sidónio de Sousa 2009 Baga – Bairrada, Portugal

100% Baga. A traditionally fermented Portuguese table wine, fermented in clay ancas with traditional maceration (i.e. trodden). Crushed cherries and violets on the nose. Chocolaty, velvety body with red fruit and a hint of vanilla flavors. Tough, Portuguese tannins give it a lot of structure. Faint slate and coffee notes on the finish. I picked this up at Brooklyn Wine Exchange for around $35-40. Solid, but I won’t buy it again at that price point. The M2, which we drank along with it, kicked its ass thoroughly. In fact, this wine and its Robert Parker 92 point rating is the poster child for why I started this blog: meaningless ratings by people who have sold their name to producers.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: 2009 Baga
  • Winery: Sidónio de Sousa 
  • Region: Bairrada
  • Country: Portugal
  • Varietals: 100% Baga
  • Price: $35-40
  • Where to Buy: Brooklyn Wine Exchange, 138 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

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.

Castillo de Anna Gran Reserva 2005 – Valencia, Spain

This has all the hallmarks of a classic Spanish wine: flowers and red fruit on the nose, dark, chocolaty, leathery, and mossy notes with tight tannins on the finish. For whatever reason – perhaps in the traditional style – the bottle tells nothing about the varietals. I picked this one up at Schneider’s of Capitol Hill in DC for $15.

  • Rating: Everyday Reds
  • Name: Gran Reserva 2005
  • Winery: Castillo de Anna
  • Region: Valencia
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: N/A
  • Price: $15
  • Where to Buy: Schneider’s of Capitol Hill, 300 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002

Coma Vella 2010 – Priorat, Spain

The nose bursts into a froth of red fruits, violets, white pepper, and freshly hewn wood. This is a deep ruby-garnet, medium to light bodied beauty. Not exactly what I’d come to expect from Priorat. The typically Catalan tannins put a muscular structure on what would otherwise be a light bodied day-drinker. Strawberries, blackberries, and membrillo play on the palate with a faint cocoa-melting-to-slate tannin finish. As she opens up, the body deepens and becomes more powerful, with flavors of cassis, chewy cocoa, pepper, and faint vanilla come on. At 15%, and with plenty of acid, she’s got a kick to her that accentuates and stiffens the spine of the tannin. Very interesting Priorat estate bottling. I picked this up as a recommendation at Goñi Ardoteka in San Sebastián, Spain. Just over 43,500 bottles made. This was bottle No. 03983. Online research says that you can grab a bottle for $30-50.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Coma Vella 2010
  • Winery: Viticultors Mas d’en Gil
  • Region: Priorat
  • Country: Spain
  • Varietals: N/A
  • Price: $30-$50
  • Where to Buy: Goñi Ardoteka in San Sebastián, Spain

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

Fabre Montmayou Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Selection 2009 – Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina

img_3531Dark cherry, cassis, and white pepper notes on the nose right out of the bottle. Rich, bold leather and balsamic notes, some creamy vanilla flavors on the front end with tight tannins bringing up the rear shutting it all down just before you get bowled over. This has been one of my favorites for a few years now and I’m working my way through the final few bottles of a case I’ve been nursing. An hour after the cork pops and after some of the 15% alcohol burns off it opens a bit further, the tannins combine with a creamy cocoa note and chewy leather. The nose takes on a faint greenness, like crushed flowers. It’s more common to run into this wine’s cousins by Fabre Montmayou – the Mendoza Malbecs are nice, but can’t quite keep up with this Rio Negro, Patagonia Cab. I believe this ran around $20-25/ bottle when I bought it. Attempts to find it in the myriad, noisy online wine resources (ya know, the reason why I started this blog in the first place) ran on several later vintages hovering in the $16/ bottle range.

  • Rating: Impressive
  • Name: Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Selection 2009 
  • Winery:Fabre Montmayou
  • Region: Rio Negro, Patagonia
  • Country: Argentina  
  • Varietals:Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Price: $20-$25
  • Where to Buy: d’Vines, 3103 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010