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_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_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_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_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_306230Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 92JAMES SUCKLING 92 POINTS - "A super brambly red that has abundant rich and ripe, dark berry and cherry aromas. The palate is a riot of fresh dark berries and delivers a very plush, sweetly spiced, powder-dry finish. Drink or hold."
Winemaker Notes - "Very intense cherry red color with tones of purple. Great concentration of aromas of ripe red fruit with floral nuances on the nose. In the mouth, it is a well-structured rich wine that evokes tastes of blackberry, plum and tones of leather and vanilla, with soft and silky tannin. Mountain vineyards with an age of 35 to 60 years situated at an altitude of 600-700 meters, on stony, slimy soils with clay and limestone."
- Item #: i_383410Bottle Size: 750mlORGANICALLY FARMED
60% Garnacha Peluda, 30% Garnacha Fina, & 10% Carinena
Driven by the distinctive fuzzy-leaf form of Garnacha called "Peluda", this combines a delightful floral and deep red-fruited bouquet with a velvety texture, and a counterpoint of slight chewiness and savor on the palate. The vines are up to 40+ years old, growing on an old riverbed. Aged in large (500L) French oak barrels for 12 months.
WINERY NOTES - "Deep red coloured, the wine displays balsamic and mint aromas. After a light glass swirl, rich aromas of red ripe fruit, spice, cocoa and tobacco leaf and mineral appear. Upon palate shows powerful, silky, with smooth and well integrated tannins. The wine stands out for its elegance and complexity, thanks to a balanced acidity."
- Item #: i_382194Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 98WINE ADVOCATE 98 POINTS - "The floral, aromatic and citrusy 2016 Espectacle del Montsant has unusual finesse and freshness. It's a powerful Garnacha that feels light on its feet but with great inner strength, refined tannins and great acidity. There is no oak, extraction or excess ripeness whatsoever, but the label says the wine is 16% alcohol! It has structure, freshness and that citrus touch that supports the alcohol, and the wine comes through as really balanced. This is a unique wine, always with the aromatic signature of this north-facing vineyard and the limestone soils that provide those chalky tannins and a dry, tasty, almost salty finish. 6,500 bottles produced."
- Item #: i_385101Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91ORGANICALLY FARMED
WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The 2016 Pegaso Zeta is the first wine completely made with the help of winemaker Marc Isart and reflects the change in direction towards fresher wines with less oak, helped by the natural conditions of the vintage. This is floral and quite expressive, with fully ripe flavors from a vintage with a slow ripeness given the good yields. It has nice balance and great drinkability, with good citrus freshness, reminiscent of blood oranges that to me represent the bright red fruit and the citrus spark. It has the depth and complexity of great dry farmed wines that deliver great grapes. Delicious. There were 16,500 bottles produced and bottled in July 2018."
- Item #: i_383697Bottle Size: 750ml100% Garnatxa Fina (aka Garnacha aka Grenache)
This is a deliciously savory wine, medium-bodied but with a subtle chewiness to the crushed velvet and chalky tannin. Amongst the umami sensations is a plummy fruit with subtle spice like white pepper and herbs. This is wonderfully drinkable due to its uncomplicated nature, balance of it components, and elegant flow from start to finish.
"Sindicat La Figuera is a small co-operative in the Montsant Mountains founded in 1932, producing wines of brightness and integrity. One must navigate very narrow, winding roads up the mountainside to reach the town of La Figuera, which sits at 600m elevation and has a mere 80 residents. The town appears to rise up out of the peak of the mountain, with the surrounding mountains and the Priorat region in view in all directions. La Figuera is known for the beauty and elegance of their pure Garnatxa wines and is one of the few places where it is bottled on its own. Famed Priorat-based winemaker, René Barbier, also took note of La Figuera’s Garnatxa wines and decided to join forces with the members of the co-op to help with winemaking. Rene says that you can always tell when a wine is from La Figuera, because there is a unique limestone content in the soil that brings lightness to the Garnatxa.
Wines are fermented with wild yeasts in underground concrete tanks with minimum temperature control, where they spend around 9 months aging on fine lees before being bottled. " - Jose Pastor Selections
- Item #: i_381699Bottle Size: 750mlBorsao's wines have been a corner stone of our Spanish section for years and years. Familiarity sometimes means we don't taste these wines as often as we should. It's true! Just grab a glass of Borsao's $6.98 Vina Borgia Garnacha, it is probably the best wine for the money on the planet. The color is a rich dark purple. Warm spices enveloped in blackberry and blueberry. The richness and spice carries through on the palate as the darker fruit tones showing on the nose are brightened by notes of red cherry and pomegranate. The folks at Borsao own nearly 3 thousand acres in Campo de Borja, roughly three quarters of the appellation. This rocky zone in the foothills of the Pyrenees is one of the original homes of the Garnache grape. There is an old church on the property that has records of Garnache plantings that go back to the 900's...
- Item #: i_383554Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 91Wine Enthusiast: 91While we are never surprised tasting great Spanish wines, as their history, traditions and culinary lineage are the perfect setup for a country to generate great juice, it’s when we find such high quality in the bottle for such a fair price that sets off fireworks in both our wallets and palates. With 91 Points from Wine Advocate, this one’s at the top of the charts as one of the best Spanish wines we've ever seen for such a banging deal! (Mic drop).
Beautiful berry fruits fill the nose, with strawberry and cherry in the fore, as notes of white pepper, scrub brush and background florals lend depth and diversity. The bright berry fruits continue on the palate, with red plum and black raspberry taking the lead as notes of orange peel, orange pekoe tea and mixed dark spices fill in the gaps. Vivid acidity and light tannins keep the wine grounded and even-keeled. We love a good Garnacha anytime-- but especially when it’s at such a wallet-friendly price! Enjoy with grilled octopus, Manchego cheese, roasted chicken, steak, filet mignon, or on its own (p.s. also pairs well with ‘June gloom’ or bright sunshine!)
WINE ADVOCATE 91 POINTS - "The young 2018 OGV Old Garnacha Vine has a mealy nose with notes of cereals and ripe berry fruit. It's a collaboration with the family and Alonso López and sold through Mesa Imports in the US (a different importer). It's nicely crafted, varietal and ripe without excess, juicy and keeping the balance and freshness. 32,000 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2020."