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: 95JEB 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 Advocate: 93James Suckling: 95JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "This is a stunning Ribera that shows a plethora of finely judged mulberries, blackberries, oyster shell, rust, iron, citrus, vanilla, undergrowth and licorice. Full-bodied and powerful with muscular tannins, but a wealth of dark fruit. Long and chewy on the finish. Drink in 2025."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "Selección Especial is Abadía Retuerta's reliable red blend produced in enough quantities to have good availability and with an approachable and easy-to-understand profile that reached great quality with the 2016 Selección Especial, from one of the best vintages in recent times in the region. It's 75% Tempranillo, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah, 3% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot, a blend that can change with the conditions of the year, as it's decided by tasting the wines. If in the past this wine was quite oaky, this 2016 feels quite integrated and balanced, ripe and medium-bodied, with a soft and tender palate, round tannins and moderate influence from the élevage of 13 months in French and American oak barrels."
- Item #: i_380625Bottle Size: 750MLAppearance: attractive straw color with hints of green in the rim. Clean and brilliant.Nose: very expressive and harmonious nose. Fine notes of white fruit (green apples, pear) and lemony aromas. Hints of herbs (basil) and flower blossom base notes. Surprising aromatic intensity.Palate: Clean and textured. Seductive exotic palate of pineapple and mango intermingled with refreshing citrus flavors amplified by minerally accents. Silky but yet full bodied, with long lingering finish. Round and very tasty.
- 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_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_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_377848Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 94ORGANICALLY GROWN GRAPES
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Impressive, rich, dark-cherry and blackberry aromas with nicely cut oak influence. The palate has a sleek, smooth-honed feel with such impressive freshness and depth. Stunning, vibrant finish. 100% tempranillo from several plots around Laguardia. Drink or hold."
Located in the heart of Álava (in the Rioja Alavesa region), Artadi owns 83 hectares of vineyards planted in soils with a wide geological diversity. Clay, gravel and limestone primarily compose this particular balance of nutrient-poor soils with varying microclimates. These unique vineyard sites give singularity to the wines, whose most notable qualities are transparency of fruit and finesse of tannins.
This is Artadi’s entry-level ‘village wine’ of the village of Laguardia, made from twenty-to-thirty year-old selected vineyards located in the plots of San Martín, Las Ventas, Paulejas, San Julián, Santa Águeda, Castejones, Majadales, Ribaltayo Viejo
- Item #: i_380598Bottle Size: 750mlBurghound: 91James Suckling: 91GUIA PENIN 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."
JAMES SUCKLING 91 POINTS - "Dark fruit with dark tea and hints of mahogany on the nose. Full body. Dense and very rich with walnut and gum-tree flavors. Juicy finish. A rich and decadent wine."
- Item #: i_383451Bottle Size: 750mlORGANICALLY GROWN GRAPES
"Intense aromas of forest fruits, strawberries, raspberries and blackberry jam. In addition, there are balsamic overtones of eucalyptus and mint. On the palate, a freshness and pleasant, subtle tannins, with pleasingly-integrated notes of coconut and vanilla." - WINERY NOTES
"This project was created in 1987 by a couple of oenologists with deep roots in the business: jerezano Eduardo Gómez Palma and riojana María Isabel Bernardo Córdoba de Samaniego. They discovered in La Puebla de Labarca “our own special place, a magical land that offered us everything we needed to create the wines we had imagined”. Their old vines, planted in the banks of the Ebro river, thrive thanks to the sheltering effect of the Sierra Cantabria and to their perfect southwards orientation. Since their very beginning, María Isabel and Eduardo strived to bring to La Rioja Alavesa the innovative techniques they learned while studying abroad, in a time when the labels Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva had lost most of its original sense. Their obsession for quality and innovation is showcased in their recent “Belezos Ecológico”, a great representation of the powerful Rioja Alavesa terroir, made with organic grapes." - ANTALVA IMPORTS
- Item #: i_377420Bottle Size: 750ml100% 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_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_380255Bottle Size: 750MLJames Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "The sliced plum and black-cherry aromas are so enticing. Flowers, too. Medium to full body. Integrated and polished tannins. Round and lengthy, giving intensity and beauty."
Pago Florentino is one of only 13 Denominaciones de Origen de Pago existing in Spain as of 2009. This is the highest category on the quality scale of Spanish wines and means that in addition to having a proven track record of consistent quality, the wines have to be both produced from single estate-grown vineyards and also have to be processed and aged in the winery (bodega) located on the estate. This DO de Pago is located in the municipality of Malagón, in the province of Ciudad Real (Castile-La Mancha, Spain) and acquired its status on 20 August 2009.
- Item #: i_381415Bottle Size: 750mlThis amazing Garnacha (Grenache) with the eye-catching label offers so much for so little. The fruit is bright and fresh, the palate is silky smooth, and there is surprising complexity for a wine at this price-point. Enticing flavors of raspberry liqueur, black cherry, licorice, and exotic spices reveal themselves with each sip. Bodegas Ateca Honoro Vera is made by the Gil Family Estates who also make the famed El Nido Clio amongst other top values from Spain. They source grapes from the estate’s 60 year old Garnacha vines in Calatayud, Spain and the results speak for themselves. The quality-to-price ratio for the Honoro Vera Garnacha is off the charts and represents an incredible value in the world of wine. Delicious!
- 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.
- Item #: i_382622Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 97+WINE ADVOCATE 97+ POINTS - "2017 was marked by the frost of April 27 and 28, but the 2017 Tabuerniga was miraculously untouched, as the narrow valley where the vineyard is located escaped the cold northern winds that caused havoc in many other places. But it was a warm and dry year, and the harvest was the earliest ever, delivering ripe wines. The grapes are from organically farmed vines at 540 to 630 meters altitude on terraces, with a field blend of mostly Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano. It fermented in 3,000-liter open-top oak vats with indigenous yeasts, and the wine matured in 1,500-liter oak foudres for 14 to 16 months. This is incredibly elegant, floral, expressive and aromatic. It has superb balance, refined tannins and gobsmacking balance. This clearly transcends the vintage, and it's nearly as good as the 2016, perhaps a little more structured. 2,004 bottles were filled in May 2019."
- Item #: i_383947Bottle Size: 750mlAugust 2020 Wine of the Month
If ever there was a wine meant to enjoy during hot summer days, balmy nights, socially-distanced barbecues and pandemic times-- this is it!! Flor de Goda is out of the Gil Family Estates portfolio and you should be fairly familiar with this group by now-- we have sung their praises many, many times (most recently with an email in late July for the Juan Gil "Blue Label"). Why? Because they make a panoply of excellent wines at varying prices from numerous terroirs and regions in Spain, wines we believe are stellar, enjoy drinking and that have found resonance with our friends and customers here in the store. Strong their track record is (as Yoda would say).
So, what about this Flor de Goda? 100% Garnacha (Grenache) from Campo de Borja, it drinks way above its price point with a multi-layered, nuanced approach. The nose exudes scents of plum, raspberry, river rock minerality, rose garden and mixed baking spices. Lovely! In the mouth, ripe, jammy fruit is kept grounded with brisk acidity and silky tannins. Beautiful flavors of cherries and berries are joined by notes of peppery spice, dark cacao and a finish filled with hints of blueberry and blackberry fruits. This is a lovely quaffer, filled with fruit but balanced by excellent structure. Big enough for the grill, balanced enough to enjoy under the summer sun.
Bodegas Morca is the winery, it has been built to be modeled after Bodegas El Nido. So every parcel, which ranges in age from 45-85 years old, and free run vs first press is fermented and aged separately so that the blends will be perfect; they make four 100% Garnacha wines ranging from El Nido/Clio level in the Touran and Morca wines, to Flor de Goda. In the case of Flor de Goda, the winemaker wanted to highlight the elegant floral and fruit notes that Campo de Borja Garnachas are known for, so they used 80% free run juice and aged the wine just 6 months in 2nd and 3rd use barrels.
In addition, this winery has been built in accordance to LEED specifications. They are still in the process of getting full certification, but at this point in time it is fully off the electrical grid (solar) and zero-waste. The Gil Family has been investing every year to get more of their wineries off the grid (total of 3 now are) to further lessen their footprint. Also, their vineyards are farmed organically-- no pesticides or herbicides are used-- however, the vineyards have not yet been certified organic. It's a long process, but that will be the direction. Also, as the vines are old and all planted in the traditional vaso (goblet) style, they are hand-harvested. All of their wines are Vegan as well.
Guía Peñín 90 Points
[La Guia Peñín is Spain's most famous and comprehensive wine guide. It is compiled by José Peñín, whose impressive knowledge of international and Spanish wines has been gathered over more than 25 years as a professional wine writer and journalist.]
- Item #: i_382927Bottle Size: 750mlGrape Variety: 93% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 2% Garnacha
A wine with strength, young, with many things to tell but with the fresh voice of the youth. Very pleasant to drink, easy to blend it with food and especially delicious and fresh. Black cherry, tobacco, toast and mineral flavors mingle in this focused red, with light, firm tannins and crisp acidity. Supple, fresh and balanced.
- Item #: i_382919Bottle Size: 750mlLegendary Australian Winemaker Chris Ringland and partner Jorge Ordonez have set out to make explosive, rarified bottlings twice before, with Alto Moncayo & El Nido “Clio.” Triga is the newest of these partnerships, this time centered on a local partnership with Tarima/Tarima Hill in Alicante, Spain. The blend is very similar to the early bottlings of El Nido “Clio,” made primarily of extremely low-yielding Monastrell (aka Mourvedre), from mountainside vineyards (the oldest planted in 1925), with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon added to the blend (planted in 1981).
Triga is the hedonistic luscious masterpiece that fans of Alto Moncayo and El Nido “Clio” would expect. Look for an inky, purple black color; ripe blueberry and liqueur-like blackberry fruit complimented by a range of exotic spices. Triga overflows with richness and power, but the vineyard sits on a mountain of fossilized chalk. This limestone influence shows with added minerality and a vibrant, red currant-like raciness underlying the fruit.