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Snooth User: Youkie

Anyone know Spanish wines

Posted by Youkie, Jan 8, 2011.

Hi I am new to Snooth and also just moved to Barcelona. Anyone knows Spanish wines and can recommend good wines to try. I just stumbled on a wine called Senorio de Nava (Criaza 2006) and it's an excellent wine. It's in researching this wine that I stumbled on Snooth...:)


Reply by Degrandcru, Jan 8, 2011.

If you live in Barcelona you are very close to Priorato and Montsant. Thats were some of Spains best wines come from. Go on a day trip and explore. You have some of the worlds best wine regions right in front of your door.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 9, 2011.

Find a local merchant who can advise you, too....

Reply by GregT, Jan 9, 2011.

I like the idea of finding a merchant.  You are indeed near Priorat and Monstant, but good luck finding anything from Priorat in the same price range as the wine you tried.  They're also different in style - the grapes are different and they're usually quite ripe. 

The wine you tried is from Ribera del Duero, a few hours away northwest of Priorat, and the climate is a bit different there.  If you liked the wine you tried, you might want to look for some more.  That particular winery was created by a group of people who used to sell their wines to a co-op.  That was actually the case with many, perhaps even most, vineyards in the area - they sold to a co-op or to Vega Sicilia, but in the 1980s a few brave souls saw what Mr. Fernandez  had done with Pesquera (which you should try) and they wanted to do the same so there are a number of bodegas like the one you found. 

Tell the store owner that you found a good crianza from Ribera del Duero and you'd like something similar and see what he or she can come up with.  Also keep in mind that sometimes people make wine for foreign markets under different labels than they use at home, so you may find a few wines that don't exist in the US under the names you have.  It doesn't mean the wine is better or worse, mostly has to do with the preferences of the importers and the regulations governing any relationships the bodega may have with them.

Good luck searching though - Ribera del Duero makes some magnificent wines! 

Reply by momdom, Jan 9, 2011.

We traveled to the Basque Country in northern Spain and lived with friends of ours for 15 days.  Our experience with wine is to purchase wine from the Rioja Valley.  A sure bet!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 10, 2011.

I got hooked on RdD wines a while back.  Really a nice transition from California wines--familiar, but still new to me.  And the prices can be, outside Vega Sicilia, really a good deal.  Exploring has been fun and I am lucky to have a good Spanish restaurant right around the corner to taste at.

GregT, what do you think of Scala Dei, up in Priorat?  I've had a few bottles and really liked it.   They are one of the oldest wineries in existence, I believe--in operation since 1163 or so?  And I am seeing the Negre right now on the web for about $12.  One thing that's kind of cool about it is the label--it's in Catalan, not Spanish.

Reply by spikedc, Jan 10, 2011.

Scala Dei , translated means 'Stairway to the Gods' almost worth trying just for the name.

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 10, 2011.

Youkie, some great suggestions have already been made, but as a former resident of Spain (just for a year), my suggestion is to first learn more about the varietals of grapes grown in Spain to determine what your palate prefers. Then move on to their regional differences. Priorat, Borja, Rioja, Ribera del Duero all produce fine wines, but do you prefer Granacha or Temperanillo is the pertinent question in my opinion anway. Ciao, and enjoy your stay in a land of great food and wine!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 10, 2011.

spikedc--Take a look at the website or google images for Scala Dei.  You'll see why the name--it's the old monastery. 

Reply by GregT, Jan 10, 2011.

Foxall - it's a place that's been producing wine for a long time.  In fact the name "Priorat" is obviously because there was a priory there and that dates from the Middle Ages.  In principle, I like those old time places.  There's a winery in Hungary that is actually imported to the US now (one of the places I wanted to get) and they date back to the 900s.  And in Valencia I visited some archaeological sites that dated back to the Phoenicians.  Here and there in Europe you feel a kinship with people who existed eons ago but you feel the connection through wine.

Anyway, to be frank, I've never loved their wines as much as I love the backstory.  Their wines are largely based on Garnacha, which I do love, but somehow I've never rated these wines all that highly.  No knock  here - it's just personal taste.  And FWIW, I'm not a huge fan of many acclaimed Priorat wines, so that gives you some context.

They make a white too, Les Brugueres, and I do like that one.  I don't know the cepage of that wine but it's interesting.  I think it's Garnacha Blanca, not entirely certain.  


Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 14, 2011.

GregT--thanks for the input.  I bought Scala Dei a couple times, liked it enough to buy it the second time, but didn't run out and get a case or make much effort past that.  I admit the backstory and the label in Catalan appealed to me.  What are some of the affordable garnacha based Spaniards that you like, just to get an idea?  What  do you think is a good deal in tempranillo, esp from RdD?  I keep buying random bottles and liking them, and once in a while find something I want to go back to, but I feel like I am skimming in the world of Spanish wine.  Of course, I am skimming in everything now that I have branched out (after 30+ years of drinking) from my California upbringing.

Reply by rolifingers, Jan 15, 2011.
Marques de Caceres
Founded in 1970, with its first release in 1975, Marqués de Cáceres the Rioja bodega was established by Henri Forner, whose family has been active in the wine business for generations. The winery is named for a Spanish peer who was also an investor in the winery and a friend of Henri Forner.

The Forner family fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War and settled in France. In the early 1960s, Henri Forner and his brother Elysée bought and restored two abandoned châteaux, Château Camensac and Château Larose-Trintaudon. These châteaux are now recognized as two of the finest properties in Bordeaux. When Henri decided to establish a bodega in his homeland, he selected what he considered the finest viticultural area in Spain: Cenicero in Rioja Alta.

Emile Peynaud, former professor and chief wine researcher at the University of Bordeaux, was initial consultant to the winery. Today, Michel Rolland is wine consultant at Marqués de Cáceres and Henri and his daughter, Christine, are at the helm. The vinification methods at Bodegas Marqués de Cáceres are similar to those used in Bordeaux. Thus, French winemaking techniques and expertise have been applied to native Spanish grapes to produce one of the finest modern Riojas.

I have tried wine from this Bodega and I loved it.

Reply by rolifingers, Jan 15, 2011.

Make sure you pick the best vintages.

Reply by GregT, Jan 15, 2011.

Foxall - there are a lot of decent wines and of course a lot depends on how much you want to spend.  But for example, if you stay around Burgos, you have Condado de Haza, which is the little brother to Pesquera but to me is often much better.  It's also cheaper and it ages.  Since he started making that wine, a lot of other wineries have sprung up in Ribera so you have far more choices than you did, but that's a stalwart and I think it's a good one to know.

As mentioned before, many of the people who used to sell to co-ops or to Vega Sicilia now make their own wine so it's hard to keep up with everyone.  Still, there's a winery called Cillar de Silos that puts out really nice wines.  They're only about 12-15 years old.  The wines tend to be big but also tannic and they need time to soften.  The Revilla is a single vineyard wine that will rival many Bordeaux in years to come.  There is a local co-op that was so impressed by the wines they asked the winemaker to make wine for them too.  His name is Oscar Aragón and the wine he makes for them - El Quintanal, can be wonderful.  Same sensibility - ripe but not over-ripe fruit, chewy tannins, great balance, no alcoholic heat. Nearby is J.A. Calvo Casajus - very similar style.  I should let you know that I have an interest in this bodega but I stash these wines at home for myself, too.  Again, the top wines from here will amply reward aging, if you can find them.

Then you have Bodegas Ismael Arroyo, which produced Val Sotillo, a wine that kind of disappeared from the US for a while. They had some problems but had been turning out great wine that again started hitting its stride at 10 years.  Bodegas Felix Callejo is another one that's putting out pretty good wine.  All of these producers put out wines at various price ranges.

There are plenty more, but moving away from Burgos, you can and should try any of the wines put out by the Garcias - Aalto, Mauro, Astrales.  Mariano made Vega Sicilia for 30 years and knows a bit about the Ribera del Duero - he and his sons have to be among the top winemakers in the world. He tends to have a heavy hand with oak, however, and some object to that, but the wood integrates well over time. And his nephew seems to have the touch too - try Palomero from Bodegas Uvaguilera Aguilera, or his J.C. Conde "Neo" or the wines from Valderiz. These are a little different from the earlier ones and the Palomero seems to have a lilttle brett in recent vintages, but some people don't mind that.

And don't forget the Emilio Moro wines.  Again, they tend to be ripe but to have a lot of depth to the fruit, with fine tannins and they tend to be better with a few years on.  The Malleolus is the top wine but the crianza levels are really good. 

All of the above have some stylistic similarities which reflect my own personal taste, but they're some of the best wines around these days IMHO.  You should at least try the wine from Vega Sicilia.  Not necessarily the Unico, but the Valbuena or even the Alion.  The Alion was supposed to be a $25 wine but Parker gave it 94 and 95 points so now the price is up to $70.  It's a shame, but same thing happened to Brunello, CdP, and many wine areas, so I guess we have to live with that.  But it was considered the benchmark for Ribera.  And more recently, Pingus.  That's a hyper-modern style, lots of oak, really ripe, and very expensive. 

That should get you started anyhow and I know the wines are imported since I know the importers.

The Caceras noted above is an OK wine. Rioja obviously but it's widely distributed and if you're somewhere w no wine and nothing on a wine list, it's a safe bet.  Not brilliant, but solid and a decent value and I wish we had more from CA like that one.  It's one of the things that Spain does really well, maybe better than anyone.  That one, Riscal, CVNE, and a couple others manage to put out vast quantities of wine that somehow maintains quality.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 15, 2011.

Thanks, GregT, this will make my forays into Spanish wines much less haphazard.  I assumed you had some financial interest in Spanish wines based on earlier comments, but given how blunt you are about things generally, I can't see you recommending things other than on your personal taste.  We talk about our friendly wine shop owners, but our fellow Snoothers can be good guides even when we don't share the same tastes.  Once I try a couple of these, I'll be much better able to use you as a bench mark, whether we like the same things or not.

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