Amanda Schuster

Wine and spirits writer/consultant/marketer. Spirits expert w in depth knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese and Loire/Languedoc wines (you might say "bi-spiritual.") NYC born and bred food lover. Sometime jewelry designer. Overall broad about town.

The Reign in Spain

Rank Wine Rating Price
1 Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell Jumilla (2006)
Comments: This was my "gateway" wine in many ways. The first time I realized I was tasting something other than just grape juice. The first time I learned what Monastrell (Mourvedre was and what it's capable of). It's dark, velvety, smooth, seductive. It's the Barry White's voice of wines. Deep berry fruits, black olives, dark chocolate. Fantastic with fall and winter roasts, cheeses or vegetable dishes with a lot of peppers. Haven't had a vintage so far. Plus the pretty silver label makes it very presentable for a gift. Great value.
Average price: $12.81 from 1 store
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2 Hijos de Juan Gil Wine Juan Gil (2004)
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3 Sela (2009)
Comments: Love the brightness and minerality of blackberry and rhubarb balanced with coffee and berry seeds. Flavors are generous and rich. Think one will keep getting better and better over the next few years.
Average price: $19.36 from 1 store
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4 Mas la Mola la Vinyete Vella Priorat (2005)
Comments: Gorgeous expression of Priorat. Dark berries and plums with balanced minerality, warm, earthy flavors, a little cocoa, black olive and espresso. Was very sad to finish this bottle.
Previously available for $64.95
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5 Rioja Vega S. A. Tempranillo Blend Rioja Crianza (2009)
Comments: Good balance of fruit, minerality, earth, and spice. Blackberry/blueberry/plum/rhubarb, some dark chocolate and toasty vanilla. Cola spices. Ole!
Previously available for $11.99
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6 Petalos de Palacios (2008)
Comments: Such a pretty wine, as the name suggests. A very elegant Bierzo (many are more rustic and concentrated). Dark plums and blueberries are balanced with minerals and purple flower aromas. Nice, long, giving finish. Tastes way more expensive than it is. Very versatile.
Average price: $25.75 from 2 stores
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7 Raspay Primitivo Quiles (2004)
Comments: So velvety, luscious and comforting. The black cherry and blackberry flavors with dark chocolate and coffee are deep, but not overpowering. Plays nice with Mediterranean cuisine, roasts and spicy food. These bottles can handle long cellaring too. If you can possibly wait to drink it, that is. 100% Monastrell goodness.
Previously available for $24.99
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8 Wrongo Dongo Orowines Jumilla Tinto Murcia Do Jumilla (2009)
Previously available for $8.49
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9 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil Wrongo Dongo Spanish Red (2008)
Average price: $8.99 from 112 stores
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10 Bodega del Abad Abad Dom Bueno Godello (2008)
Comments: 2010 vintage. Fantastic nose of white peaches, pineapple, mango and lemon. But those tropical flavors get completely overpowered by the searing acidity on the palette. Searing! As if your mouth were a paper cut and you just poured lemon juice on it. Might be better with food and more of a chill.
Previously available for $14.99
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11 Martín Códax Albariño Rías Baixas Burgáns (2010)
Comments: This was my first Albarino, and still a go to bottle. This vintage has more of a saline quality, but still good balance of grapefruit and honeysuckle. Definitely a great seafood match and summer quencher.
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12 Naveran Brut Vintage (2009)
Comments: Wonderful, toasty, citrusy method traditionelle Cava. Unbelievable bargain for the price. I'd rather use this to toast special occasions than some Champagnes twice or thrice its cost.
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13 Gramona Cava Brut Gran Cuvee (2008)
Comments: One of the best value sparkling wines around. Tastes way more expensive than it is. A little toasty from some Chardonnay in the blend, which gives it a Champagne-y feel, yet with the typical crispness of a cava. Great bottle to have around just in case.
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14 Llopart Rose Cava Brut Reserva (2007)
Comments: Can't go wrong with this beauty. Luscious berry notes, crisp and refreshing. Great summer wine that matches everything from snacks to BBQ, also perfect in colder months as an aperitif. One of those perfect "shape-shifting" wines that suits a variety of moods and occasions.
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