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_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_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_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_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_382032Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 92PRACTICING ORGANIC & BIODYNAMIC FARMING
WINE ADVOCATE 92 POINTS - "The 2017 Mauro, from a very challenging year, feels like a real triumph over the conditions of the harvest, as they had some zones where they didn't have any frost. The wine feels complex and with moderate acidity. Furthermore, they now use 4,000-liter oak foudres for the élevage of part of the wine. This some tannins, and it has grip and balance, a chalky texture and a dry, serious finish. They did shorter macerations and managed to keep the freshness."
Incisive fruitiness, concentrated, creamy and packed with aromas. Opulent, full-bodied and precise on the palate with energy, vitality, balanced acidity, and juicy tannins.
- 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_382231Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 94ORGANICALLY FARMED
100% Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo)
WINE SPECTATOR 94 POINTS - "This full-bodied red is generous yet structured, featuring depth and balance. Ripe flavors of plum and currant mingle with cocoa, clove and mineral notes, supported by mouthcoating tannins and balsamic acidity. Harmonious and long. "
No artificial fertilizers or systematic chemical treatments in the vineyard. Fermented with indigenous yeast, with no additives such as acids, tannin, glucose, enzymes and so on. Aged in 80% French, 20% American oak (60% new, 40% once used).
- Item #: i_382501Bottle Size: 750mlVINOUS MEDIA 91 POINTS - "Aromas of dried cherry and red berries are complemented by suggestions of succulent herbs and coconut. Chewy and focused on the palate, offering bitter cherry and red currant flavors that pick up smoke and spice flourishes on the back half. Dusty tannins build slowly on the finish and frame lingering cherry and licorice notes.”
- Item #: i_383314Bottle Size: 750mlWine Spectator: 90What to drink when we’re able to enjoy poolside and patio picnics, summer gatherings and friends and families getting together, again, hopefully very soon? Well, when it comes to red wines in the summer, we’re always on the lookout for the right one-- something loaded with flavor and texture while not being so structurally huge as to turn day drinking into nap time. Heeeeere’s Carlos! But who is Carlos Serres?
"Wine has a history. And history is full of wine. That of Carlos Serres (Charles, in French) is one of them. One of those which happen once in a lifetime and perdure. Not only because he saw in Haro a perfect place to make wine of great quality but, above all, because he envisaged a new horizon for Rioja wine not considered until then: international exports.
A perfect place to make wines that met the quality, flavor and personality expectations of the most discerning international palates. Elegant wines with a Rioja flavor, ready to conquer; even overseas."
Nose: Plum, redcurrant, balsa wood, hint of mint, pepper spice.
Palate: Dried plum, fruit reduction, strawberry/cherry, white pepper, cacao nibs, hillside florals, forward tannins with balanced acidity, finish of fruit and earth. Balanced, not heavy, great with grilled foods, tapas, cheeses, etc., great bang-for-the-buck value!
WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS; BEST VALUE - "This supple red is balanced and expressive. Cherry, vanilla, orange peel and spice notes mingle over light tannins, supported by citrusy acidity. Not a big wine, but has focus and energy. Drink now through 2025."
- Item #: i_383634Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 97JAMES SUCKLING 97 POINTS - "Fabulous aromas of black tea, soya, cinnamon, and dark fruits. Very floral. Full body, very deep and beautiful. Superb depth of fruit. The tannins are total melted in the wine. Wonderful finish."
- Item #: i_379499Bottle Size: 750mlJames Suckling: 94CVNE (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana), which has been a leader in Rioja since 1879,started working with the owners of the Contino estate in 1973 to establish a Rioja "chateau," akin to those of Bordeaux. The vineyards are all located in the Rioja Alavesa subregion, which benefits from high altitude and a combination Atlantic-Mediterranean climate.
Contino 2012 Reserva is aged for two years in French and American oak, then rested in bottle for another two years before release. It's made from 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo (aka Carignan) & Garnacha.
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "Aromas of wet earth, spice and dark berry follow through to a full body, round and soft tannins and a long and decadent finish. Black olive and dark fruits. This is the only wine made from Contino in this year. Drink now."
- Item #: i_376010Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The classical 2012 Viña Real Gran Reserva is produced with 95% Tempranillo and 5% Graciano, fermented in stainless steel with neutral dry yeasts and aged in new oak barrel for two years. It's very spicy and creamy, with developed aromas, open and expressive. The palate feels very polished, with a fine thread of acidity going through its core. There is good balance between power and elegance. It should develop nicely in bottle, even if it's approachable now. "
- Item #: i_383003Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 93Wine Spectator: 93Vinous Media: 94James Suckling: 95JAMES SUCKLING 95 POINTS - "A tight and linear red now with very long and direct palate that is driven and intense. Medium to full body, bright blackberry and mineral character. Just a baby now. Give it three to four years to soften. A beauty. Try in 2021."
ANTONIO GALLONI; VINOUS 94 POINTS - "Saturated, brilliant ruby. Explosive, seductively perfumed aromas of dark berry preserves, cherry-cola, incense, floral oils and vanilla, along with suggestions of mocha, licorice and woodsmoke. Sweet and seamless in the mouth, offering intense blackberry, cherry preserve and violet pastille flavors and allspice, coconut and star anise flourishes. Distinctly rich yet energetic as well, finishing with resonating floral and spice character, well-integrated tannins and superb mineral-driven persistence."
WINE SPECTATOR 93 POINTS -"This balanced red shows muscle without losing grace. Black cherry, leafy, forest floor and toasty notes mingle over well-integrated tannins in a silky texture, with fresh acidity giving way to a floral, minerally finish. Not showy, but harmonious. Drink now through 2030."
WINE ADVOCATE 93 POINTS - "The analysis of the 2015 Imperial Reserva is almost identical to those of the Viña Real Reserva from the same vintage, but the profile is quite different. This is the more serious Haro-style red, and it has slightly darker fruit and a medium to full-bodied palate with very good grip, powerful but with great balance. The blend is also similar—85% Tempranillo and the rest split between Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha—but these are grapes from Rioja Alta fermented with yeasts selected from their own vineyards. The wine matured in French and American oak barrels for two years. The wines are different, but the quality level is similar."
- Item #: i_377415Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 90James Suckling: 9385% Tempranillo with 15% Garnacha, Graciano, & Mazuelo
JAMES SUCKLING 93 POINTS - "A very fresh and clean wine with plums, dark berries and hints of cedar. Medium to full body, integrated tannins and a bright finish. Excellent now."
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The 2015 Cune Reserva is the classical blend of Tempranillo with 15% Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo. It's approachable and easy to drink without being banal, the entry-level wine of the Reserva range if you like. It has a mixture of red and black fruit and good ripeness without excess. In fact, it feels quite fresh for the natural conditions of the year, which was very warm and dry."
- Item #: i_381381Bottle Size: 750mlWine Advocate: 90Wine Spectator: 90Wine Enthusiast: 90WINE SPECTATOR 90 POINTS - "Black cherry, red plum, licorice and smoke flavors mingle in this round red. Shows good density, while orange peel acidity and light tannins keep this focused. Drink now through 2028. 375,000 cases made, 10,000 cases imported."
WINE ENTHUSIAST 90 POINTS - "Berry, spice and tobacco aromas work in unison to give this Crianza a nice start. A firm palate avoids jamminess and shows grip. Dark plum, raspberry, spice and pepper flavors hold on through the finish. For everyday Rioja, there isn't much better than this."
WINE ADVOCATE 90 POINTS - "The red 2016 Cune Crianza is an affordable and classical blend of Tempranillo with some 15% Garnacha and Mazuelo that is easy to drink and understand, with a soft palate and an approachable profile. It has a bright nose with red fruit rather than black, quite aromatic and expressive. The palate is soft and approachable, very easy to drink, with a touch of freshness. They produced a whopping 4.5 million bottles of this! The bottle I tasted was bottled in April 2019 after 12 months in barrique. There are eight different lots of this wine that are bottled throughout the year, for which they try to make the most homogeneous blend possible, but some variation is inevitable. But the overall quality of this year is certainly higher than the previous one."
In Rioja, wines are labeled according to the amount of time spent aging in oak. A wine designated as Crianza must be aged in oak for a minimum of a year while the Reserva and Gran Reservas require more extensive aging. As you probably know from previous emails, Cune is one of our favorite producers from Rioja and consistently over-delivers. The name Cune is actually an acronym for Compania Vinicola del Norte del Espana (the Northern Spanish Wine Company). It was founded in 1879 in the famed Rioja Alta region and the winery is still run by descendants of the founding family. Since its inception, Cune has been focused on the production and aging of wines based on Spain's great noble grape.
- Item #: i_380629Bottle Size: 750MLCune has been a long time staff and customer favorite from Rioja. Over the years we have had the privilege of tasting their Gran Reservas as far back as the 50’s. Our reactions are always the same, we ooh and awe, treasuring every sip. Cune is one of the most renowned and historic bodegas in all of Spain. Founded in 1879 by the Real de Asúa brothers, the company has been an integral part of Rioja’s ascendance in the world of fine wine. The company is still run by descendants of the Real de Asúa brothers and remains a constant in the cultural iconography of Spain. Their combination of traditional roots and innovative vision, has made them one of Rioja’s most reliable sources for high quality wine.
- Item #: i_380010Bottle Size: 750mlWINEMAKER NOTES - "The 2009 Dehesa La Granja is uniquely silky, powerful, balanced and elegant. It contains lush notes of ripe blackberries, vanilla, cigar box and licorice on the nose and palate."
100% Tempranillo aged 2 years in American oak followed by years of bottle age.
- Item #: i_380784Bottle Size: 750MLWine Advocate: 94WINE ADVOCATE 94 POINTS - "I had already tasted the unbottled 2018 PSI, which saw a jump in quality after they got a new winery where they had much better working conditions. This wine is produced with purchased grapes from 200 hectares in around 750 plots and 20 different villages throughout Ribera del Duero (they now rent and work 50 hectares of these vineyards themselves). In 2018, they were able to use some 12% Garnacha and 2% other grapes, including whites that are found intermixed with the Tinta del País/Tempranillo in the old vineyards. Garnacha adds freshness, and the wine shows it—the character of the grape comes through in the blend. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and matured mostly in 5,000-liter and 10,000-liter oak vats, but 20% of the volume aged in used French barriques for 18 months. The color is quite light (relatively speaking), bright and lively, the nose perfumed, floral and elegant, like no PSI before. The palate is medium-bodied, with fine tannins, and it feels terribly balanced and beautifully textured. It's elegant more than powerful but full of energy. This is without a doubt the finest PSI to date. Viva Garnacha!"
Winemaker Peter Sisseck has already been pushing the limits of top-end Ribera del Duero but has also, for some time, dreamt of capturing the soul of Ribera through a new project named after the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet. In 2006, he began working with a select group of growers willing to convert their old vines vineyards into organically- and ultimately biodynamically farmed sites with the goal of unleashing the potential of Ribera by creating the purest expression possible.
- Item #: i_382679Bottle Size: 750mlDecanter: 97DECANTER 97 POINTS - "This dark, relatively tight-knit Rioja proves that the Gran Reserva category doesn't just indicate the supremely well-aged, relaxed and reposeful style of Rioja, but can also serve to draw drinkers' attention to outstanding wines of density and tenacity which still have a way to run along their potential ageing trajectories. Look out for dark, urgent fruits here sweetened and back-lit by cunningly angled oak, with intense, deep, fresh and searching flavours in which the 10% of Graciano seems to be working overtime. A Rioja of innate drama." - Decanter Magazine