Spain located on the Iberian Peninsula, has over 2.9 million acres planted—making it the most widely planted wine producing nation but it is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. This is due, in part, to the very low yields and wide spacing of the old vines planted on the dry, infertile soil found in many Spanish wine regions. The country has an abundance of native grape varieties, with over 400 varieties planted throughout Spain though 80 percent of the country's wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo. Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, drunk by Unamuno and Hemingway, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Spanish wine laws created the Denominación de Origen (DO) system in 1932 and were later revised in 1970. The system shares many similarities with the hierarchical Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system of France, Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and Italy's Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) system.
- Item #: i_380691Bottle Size: 750MLJeb Dunnuck: 95 PointsJEB DUNNUCK 95 POINTS - "The 2015 Aalto is a gorgeous wine, and even at the retail price of $50, is a value. Loaded with notions of blackberry and cassis fruits, vanilla, graphite, and high-class oak, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, has beautiful concentration, and ripe, polished tannin. It certainly has a modern slant, yet is balanced, has terrific purity, and a great finish. Give it a few years."
Bodegas y Vinedos Aalto is a partnership between legendary vigneron Mariano Garcia and Javier Zaccagnini, former President of the governing body of the Ribera del Duero DO. Aalto is sourced from 7 different villages on a variety of soils with vineyard age ranging from 40-100 years and was aged for 24 months in French and American oak.
- Item #: i_381071Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 93James Suckling: 94JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "The black-cherry, warm-earth and delicate, smoky notes on the nose make this enticing. On the palate, there’s great balance between ripe and dry notes, the generous tannins polished and already well integrated. Long, silky and subtle finish."
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS - "Rich and dense, this red shows a brooding character, with woodsy and loamy earth notes framing a core of currant and tar. Muscular tannins are well-integrated, and juicy acidity keeps this lively. Harmonious. Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Drink now through 2030. 30,000 cases made, 5,000 cases imported."
- Item #: i_381033Bottle Size: 750mlBodega Granbazan is located in Tremoedo, in the Salnes sub-zone of Rias Baixas. Owners Manuel Otero and his nephew Jesus Alvarez own 17 hectares of 30-year-old Albarino vines that is supplemented by long-term contract with growers. Grapes are hand-picked, de-stemmed and undergo six to eight hours of cold maceration, while fermentation is undertaken in concrete and steel tanks using both natural and cultured yeast. I adore their evocative, rather old-fashioned labels with their maritime-themed drawings and equally, more importantly, I loved the wines inside. These are pure Rias Baixas Albarinos that brim over with crispness, flavor and authenticity.
- Item #: i_350109Bottle Size: 1.5LWine Advocate: 94+eROBERT PARKER 94+ POINTS:: "The 2005 Alion has a captivating perfume of smoke, pencil lead, violets, truffle, cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it is medium to full-bodied, firm, sweetly-fruited, layered, and splendidly balanced. It has several years of aging potential and will offer prime drinking from 2013 to 2025."
- Item #: i_350102Bottle Size: 6LWine Advocate: 94+eROBERT PARKER 94+ POINTS: "The 2005 Alion has a captivating perfume of smoke, pencil lead, violets, truffle, cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it is medium to full-bodied, firm, sweetly-fruited, layered, and splendidly balanced. It has several years of aging potential and will offer prime drinking from 2013 to 2025."
- Item #: i_378524Bottle Size: 750MLBodegas Alto Moncayo is a winery located in the area covered by the Campo de Borja Denominación de Origen (DO, wine quality standard). It was founded in 2002 with the aim of turning it into a world reference for Garnacha wines of the highest quality, prepared from native vine clones.
‘Veraton’ is the third wine we produce from the Garnacha grape, from vines between 30 and 50 years old, and aged in barrels for 16 months. It is a wine with an attractive collection of balsamic notes, of chocolate and black fruits, very warm in the mouth and an extremely pleasant finish.
- Item #: i_377592Bottle Size: 750mlGUIA PENIN (PENIN GUIDE OF SPANISH WINES) 94 POINTS
Bodegas Alto Moncayo is a winery located in the area covered by the Campo de Borja Denominación de Origen (DO, wine quality standard). It was founded in 2002 with the aim of turning it into a world reference for Garnacha wines of the highest quality, prepared from native vine clones.
‘Alto Moncayo’ is the flagship of the winery (though they make a special wine above this called "Aquilon"). It is also another single-grape variety of Garnacha, from vines between 40 and 70 years old, aged in new barrels for 20 months. It has a remarkable complex nose, with balsamic aromas, redolent of black fruit, roasted notes and a very good structure in the mouth.
- Item #: i_378696Bottle Size: 750MLVinous Media: 92 PointsJames Suckling: 92Decanter: 92 Points55% Garnacha & 45% Carinena
DECANTER 92 POINTS - "Luxurious aromas of plums, violets and cedar with delicious red fruit quality. Palate is fresh, with nice concentration and soft tannins."
JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "Enveloping black-cherry and blueberry aromas, but also notes of licorice and smoke. A bold and powerful Priorat with discreet oak and plenty of freshness. The tannins are supple and beautifully integrated, the finish generous and polished."
While originally conceived of as a value wine, Les Terrasses "Velles Vignes" has slowly evolved into the essence of what makes Priorat special. Drawing on 15+ years of study, Terrasses is sourced from many of the region's steepest and oldest vineyards-many of them north-facing to avoid the intense afternoon sun. With the 2007 vintage, Alvaro acknowledged Les Terrasses' "graduation" by adding the "Velles Vignes" designation to the label.
The son of the owners of Rioja's Palacios Remondo, Alvaro Palacios spent his early 20s working and studying winemaking outside of Spain. His experience abroad - particularly in Bordeaux - instilled in him a deep passion for great wines and led him to return to Spain. With the ambition to make wines that could be world-class. To achieve this dream, Palacios was drawn to the historic hillsides of slate soil and its traditional grape varieties of Garnacha and Carinena. Now widely considered to be among the more important new Spanish wineries in a generation, Alvaro Palacios embodies the spirit of "The New Spain."
- Item #: i_380775Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 9440% Garnacha (aka Grenache), 20% Samsó (aka Carignan), 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah.
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "A layered and very dense Priorat with crushed-raspberry and slate character, as well as black tea. Full body. Ripe yet tight tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Drink now or hold."
- Item #: i_377777Bottle Size: 750mlThe vines that are made into Txakoli (chah-koh-lee) wine grow like little trees among the rolling hills that flow into the moody Atlantic ocean of Northeastern Spain. For generations, the Ameztoi (ah-mess-TOY) family has made their wine around the fishing town of Getaria, near San Sebastian. Just as this Basque country has had its own culture for many centuries, it has its native grapes like Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza that make distinctive, authentically regional wines. The main lineup of Ameztoi family Txakoli (white, rose, and red) all share in common a very light body with refreshing acidity & natural spritz left over from fermentation.
These are wines that inspire us to get out there and enjoy the day as it passes into night...as they say in Basque country, "Aurrera Txalupa!" (onward, the boat!).
WINEMAKER NOTES - This light and crisp wine is bottled with residual carbon to give it its signature natural spritz. Bright briny sea salt combined with limey fruits. Fresh and eminently quaffable.
Grape: Hondarrabi Zuri
A wine that captures mornings on the coast. Lightly fizzy, with citrus like lime, tart apple, a cool herbal note like mint, and even a minerality reminiscent of the briny Atlantic breezes. Serve with grilled or tempura squid, Caesar salad, chilled mint & pea soup, and ceviche.
Suggestion: Keep this one chilled around 45F, or about 30 minutes in an ice bucket.
- Item #: i_382148Bottle Size: 750mlPRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING
The 2016 AN is a blend of Callet with small amounts of Manto Negro and Fogoneu from 36 small plots on red soils rich in limestone. It fermented in oak and concrete vats with their own selected yeasts, and it aged in oak barrels and one 2,000-liter oak foudre for 15 months, with some 10% of the volume kept without being in contact with oak. Very balsamic, with a Mediterranean profile of aromatic herbs intermixed with notes of cigar ash and graphite.
- Item #: i_383631Bottle Size: 750mlPRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING
The color is an enticing straw-lemon in color with greenish highlights. Quíbia has aromas of white peach, pear, sea brine and jasmine. On the palate the wine is weighty with silky olive oil texture and concentrated flavors of ripe peach, Anjou pear and capers. Crisp, lively and well balanced. This wine pairs beautifully with bay scallops, langoustines, mussels in a butter broth, and seafood paella.
- Item #: i_380598Bottle Size: 750mlBurghound: 91GUIA PENN 92 POINTS - High, cherry-colored depth with a ruby rim. Explosive notes of red and black fruit, fig preserve, hints of toast, Arabica coffee, toffee, spices, menthol and a dash of violets. Bold, meaty and full-bodied, yet a suprising freshness. Good acidity and round through under-ripe tannins give tension and complexity. Long finish.
- Item #: i_380789Bottle Size: 750MLPRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING
While Parker compares this wine to Grand Cru Chablis, we think it's more like some beautiful Spanish re-working of classic Meursault. Either way, it's delicious and unlike nearly any other Spanish white which leads to fanicful, far-away comparisons. The nose begins with honey and perfectly ripe pears complimented by waves of nutmeg and baking spices that build in richness and explosive flavors. Avancia is one of Jorge Ordonez's terroir discoveries. Jorge hunted out and acquired parcels of old-vine Godello planted between 1904 and 1910 in hard-scrabble hillsides of slate and quartz. A touch of oak is part of the style here, but to better frame these wines, Jorge looked to Didier Dagueneau and his famed Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs rather than Burgundy. Dagueneau had specially formulated barrels that were more than twice the size of a standard barrel, but also aged for much longer as wood staves in the open air before the final barrel was made and toasted-the end result is subtler and marries better with medium bodied whites. When Jorge started planning to make this style of white wine, the waiting list for Dagueneau's special barrels was years long. No matter, Jorge "cut in line" when a very famous Sonoma producer refused a few of Dagueneau's prized barrels at the cellar-door. Jorge Ordonez bought them on the spot and paid to fly them from California to Spain. "
- Item #: i_350125Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 96eROBERT PARKER 96 POINTS: "The 2006 La Vina de Andres Romeo is sourced from a single vineyard. Opaque purple-colored, the wine’s legs ooze slowly down the glass. Aromas of smoke, cedar, pencil lead, underbrush, and blackberry are enticing leading to a tightly wound, dense, powerful Rioja that will evolve for another 8-10 years and provide a drinking window extending from 2018 to 2030."
- Item #: i_377420Bottle Size: 750mlThe beautiful 2018 rosado from Bermejos has arrived. 100% Listan Negro from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, grown at the bottom of painstakingly-tended hoyos (the local name for the craters dug into the crunchy, black volcanic ash topsoil that coated the island of Lanzarote following a series of volcanic eruptions that started in 1730). One vine is planted at the bottom of each hoyo, which protects the plant from Lanzarote's relentless trade winds. Stone walls of volcanic rock rim the hoyos, an effort to prevent the soils from blowing onto the vines. In turn, the walls are constantly blown down and rebuilt. This is high-maintenance viticulture! Bermejos' visionary winemaker, Ignacio Valdera, makes it look easy. His wines are fascinating and crystal-clear expressions of this unique and mystical vinescape. The rosado is pale, dry, and refreshing, with hints of tangerine, orange blossom, dried oregano, and ash on the nose, followed by flavors of salty citrus and strawberries, blood orange, brine, and cherry pits, with ash, orange oil and rind on the finish. Complex yet crowd-pleasing.
- Item #: i_381221Bottle Size: 750mlIt is an exciting time for Spanish winemaking and particularly for the Priorat region which continues its evolution as a producer of thrilling red wines. Although winemaking has taken place in Priorat for centuries, the region really caught the public’s attention in the 1990’s when several producers blazed a trail, focusing on quality. Today, this area is thriving and the demand for its wines continues to grow.
One of the great names associated with winemaking in Spain is Juan Gil, maker of the hugely popular Clio and El Nido wines, which sell out quickly once we get them in the store. One of Gil’s newer ventures is his exciting project in Priorat which he calls Bluegray, named for the color of the slate soils in his vineyards. Bluegray is a blend of 45% Grenache, 30% Mazuelo (Carignan) and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, which is lush and powerful, yet artfully balanced with pure fruit flavors augmented by minerality imparted by the soils. It is made in a ripe, fruit-forward style which seems tailor-made for the American palate.
Deep ruby with heavy staining of the tears, the nose shows focused ripe black fruit and cherry flavors accented by fresh autumn spices, mineral and spicy notes. On the palate, this wine is full-bodied with very smooth tannins. The fresh fruit flavors on display include blackberry, cherry, currant and blue plums. This shows good balance and drinkability with a long, lingering finish. Enjoy on its own or with grilled and roasted beef, aged cheeses and hearty dishes.
- Item #: i_380037Bottle Size: 750mlPRACTICING ORGANIC FARMING
"Greenish yellow with bright green reflections, very attractive. The nose is powerful, dominated by balsamic aromas with herbal notes and background of peach and pineapple. Tasty, balanced and fresh. Persistent long aftertaste of a stream of fruit.
Serve with avocado and shrimp, bagel with smoked salmon, boiled lobster , bouillabaisse, ceviche, chicken, grilled fish. " - WINERY NOTES
- Item #: i_378495Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 93Another incredible value from Spain that will pair well with late spring and early summer dining scenarios, quarantine snacks or simple solo sipping? But, of course! Wines from Spain often find their way into our cellars as there are so many differing dimensions to their existence. The country is big on tradition but willing to adapt and innovate for good reason (while not forgetting their history); they have a mostly mediterranean climate, similar to ours in California, so offer wines to drink in our like temperatures; their food traditions and staples are amazing, making for out-of-this-world pairings; they offer world class bottlings at all price levels (some of the best bargains on our ‘ramp o’ value’ are from Spain).
Care Garnacha Nativa checked all the boxes on its way to being featured this month.
The nose offers up scents of ripe red berries, forest floor, dark spices and a touch of old growth forest. Upon tasting, the fresh fruits dominate again with some excellent backup structure and secondary traits. Red plum and raspberry lead the charge as the rich mouthfeel is tempered by ample tannins. Black pepper, earth and cherry cola join the sweet berries as a hint of smoke and cut wood linger in the finish. Simple but serious, this wine offers a lot for its entry price. 93 Points from James Suckling is a pretty impressive calling card, as well. As the weather warms and we start to thinking about grilling and chilling, especially as we’ll be at home for a while yet, it seems, and we want a good warm weather red wine, Care covers it all!
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "A juicy and delicious garnacha with crushed berry and chocolate character. Full-bodied yet tight and balanced with ripe tannins and flavor. Drink now or hold."
- Item #: i_381799Bottle Size: 750ml100% Garnacha (Grenache)
A Hi-Time staple! Full-bodied and softly textured with floral, fruity, and spiced character along with toasted accents.
WINERY NOTES - "Hand harvested from very old vineyards, “Monte Alto” and “La Sarda”. These vineyards are located on very arid slate soils on the slopes of the Iberian Mountain range, close to its highest peak, El Moncayo. Aged on its lees in new French oak barrels for 4 months."
- Item #: i_383406Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 94We have a new Spanish red that is so distinctive in relating its origins and winemaking style that we felt compelled to bring to your attention. It doesn't hurt that James Suckling rated it 94 points and it's only $16.98!
Coming from the Terra Alta region of Catalonia, the "Via Edetana" from Bodegas Edetaria is, above all, a wine about mouthfeel. Its aromas show resinous wood and subtle ripe berry, while in the mouth there is a cool and mellow quality with a mouth-filling mix of chalky and crushed velvet tannin, along with other skin extract, which seem to meld onto the palate. The flavors are dominated by restrained boysenberry and old mahogany wood, with a subtle licorice-like sensation. The tapered finish shows a glint of brightness before ending with the flavor of perfectly ripe fruit skins and a warming sensation. Overall, there is a firmness and restraint in this wine's character that sets it apart from some of its "internationally-styled" Catalonian neighbors. It's also an appetizing wine that can be chewed over, perhaps along with a New York strip or slow-cooked Lamb shank!
The winemaking is traditional with some modern improvements: the grapes are grown organically, then kept cold before being fermented with native yeast, and ageing takes place in medium-sized French oak barrels that are more appropriate for Garnacha.
The varieties that compose the wine are familiar throughout the Catalonian wine regions like Priorat and Montsant: Garnacha, Syrah, and Carignan. But there are actually two types of Garnacha at play here: the more common Garnacha "Fina" along with a type that evolved a fuzzy leaf-bottom, called Garnacha "Peluda." It's the latter that winemaker Joan Angel Liberia particularly likes to include in the family wines, as it brings a richer extract, brighter acidity, and lower alcohol to the mix.
Another key to this distinct wine is, of course, where it comes from in Spain: the southern Catalonian wine region of Terra Alta ("highland"), which encompasses foothills and valleys on the inland side of the small but dramatic mountain range that separates them from the Mediterranean Sea (the famous Priorat wine region is further up that range). This makes for a mostly Mediterranean climate with some extreme inland influence, which is particularly great for growing ripe but balanced Garnacha and Carinena grapes!
Try a bottle today and taste this dramatic landscape in liquid form!
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "I love the licorice accents here, which work so well with the overtones of blueberries, citrus, boysenberries and brambles. Firm and tight on the taut palate, which is medium-bodied and so lithe and restrained. Clear-cut and precise. Drink now."
- Item #: i_382655Bottle Size: 750mlIf you know and like the wines of Jorge Ordonez, you've got to love this. To refresh your memory, he introduced the world to Moncayo, El Nido "Clio", Emilio Moro and more. Ring any bells yet? How about Volver, Breca, Tarima Hill, Triga, Vatan, Tres Picos, Ramirez de la Piscina and Muga? Yes, this pioneer has brought bottled pleasure to plenty of grateful wine drinkers.
The make-up of Vatan is truly "Jorge" - the dirt comes first as Jorge discovered a small 14 acre plot of austere old vines ageing in range from 72 – 105 years old with miniscule yields. The Toro region built its reputation with a power and depth unlike any other Tempranillo-based wine. The Vatan is upfront and hedonistic for sure, but it is Vatan's excellent clarity and vibrancy, its pretty perfumes, fine-grained tannin and surprising layers that make it so much more than a one-note fruit bomb. Call it hedonism at its best. Delicious.
- Item #: i_382152Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 96James Suckling: 97WINE ADVOCATE 96 POINTS - "The 2016 La Estrada is from a northeast-facing 0.64-hectare plot, one of the highest vineyards in the village of Lanciego, at 610 meters in altitude. This vineyard was planted in the 1940s on a shallow plateau with mostly Tempranillo with a little Graciano, and the altitude provides freshness and balance. The 2016 feels very harmonious and elegant, clearly above the 2015 I tasted next to it. There is more precision and finesse here, the finest bottling of this vineyard to date. 1,880 bottles produced."
JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - "The purity and beauty of the wine are so impressive with crushed berries and flowers. Medium to full body. Dense and gorgeous. Spice, dark fruit and asphalt, yet always long and beautiful. Real Rioja. Drink now or hold.