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Madrid, Spain

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Protos 1996
DO Ribera del Duero (Bodegas Protos)


The Ribera del Duero region is better known for barrel aged "crianzas" and "reservas". However, wines like this year's Protos show they can also produce pleasnt, easy drinking young wines. A good companion for a variety of dishes: meats and roasts, fowl, rice and casseroles, pasta, etc.

100% Tinto del País (Tempranillo). Dark purple color, good depth and beginning to lose its violet tinge. Pleasant, medium strength aromas of red and black berry fruit with a hint of yeasty youthfulness. Medium body, tasty fruity palate with the merest hint of carbonic fizz. *[$L]
{20 May 1997}

Martinet Bru 1993
DO Priorato (Mas Martinet)


The DO Priorato region has made a name for itself in recent years, and this wine shows exactly why. This is the first time we've sampled a wine from this region - this one is truly superb and a good value as well.

Made from Cabernet, Garnacha, Merlot and Syrah. Color is a beautiful deep cherry-red. Complex aromas of ripe fruit with mineral overtones and a hint of raisins. Full bodied and delightfully complex on the palate with potent fruit and tanins, and a long finish. *[$M]
{11 May 1997}

Marqués de Griñón 1995
DOC Rioja (Marqués de Griñón)


Last year we tested the 1994 version with Abraham García, and and found it to be excellent. This year's model looks just as good - a tasty, slightly aged Rioja with body that will go well with meat and cheese.

100% Tempranillo. Deep cherry red color. Aromas of rich red berry fruit and quality wood. Medium body, showing good varietal fruit flavors of red currants, blackberries, etc. Balanced and long, but with some extra emphasis on the oak. An excellent value, and should hold up well for 2-3 years. *[$L]
{2 May 1997}

Table Wine (Berberana)


Described as a "Mediterranean wine" by it's producer - the Rioja based, Berberana winery - Marino is indeed a pleasant surprise. This humble table wine took a gold medal at last year's Bacchus 96 wine tasting, and at under $2 a bottle in Spain, it's a terrific buy, and a good companion to meat, fowl, cheese or pasta.

Good dark red color, with depth and violet tints which show its youth. Medium bodied, with a combination of peppery, youthful freshness, and plummy notes of early maturity derrived from grapes grown in sunnier climes. *[$L]
{2 Apr 1997}

Table Wine (Marqués de Griñón)


Durius is the Latin name for the Duero River - home to such wine regions as Ribera del Duero, Toro and Rueda. Rated "table wine" because it doesn't carry a DO label, the grapes for Durius red come from the Toro district. A good value with the power to hold up to hearty food.

Deep dark cherry red color. Fruity aromas. Thick, rich palate with plenty of body and an interesting peppery-spice taste. *[$L]
{22 Mar 1997}

Viña Albina Gran Reserva 1982
DOC Rioja (Riojanas)


A classic well aged Rioja from one of the region's larger producers and exporters. 1982 is a top rated Rioja vintage, certainly one of the best in the last 20 years or so. A good complement to dishes on the stronger side of the spectrum: aged cheeses, game, red meats, etc.

The color of medium intensity is garnet going to brick red. The nose shows oak, fruit, peppery spice and the leathery notes of a well aged wine. The taste is well evolved, not powerful, but with a pleasant mix of oak, fruit, animal-leather overtones, and a moderate finish. *[$H]
{11 Mar 1997}

Duque de Azara, 1992
DO Somontano (Viñas del Vero)


This is a very attractively priced barrel aged wine from the lesser know Somontano region. A medium weight red, it should combine nicely with a broad spectrum of dishes ranging from casseroles, pasta and rice, to fish, fowl and meat.

Made from Tempranillo, Moristel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Good bright garnet red color. Aromas of medium intensity show blackberry fruit and a hint of oak. Light and pleasant on the palate, with wood tones gently overshadowing the red and black berry fruit. *[$L]
{26 Feb 1997}

Tempranillo 1996
DO Somantano (Viñas del Vero)


Now's the time that the young wines from the last harvest begin to appear on the market. This week's selection, which arrived in December is a good multi-purpose wine which goes well with a wide range of dishes from fish and chicken to casseroles and meat. In the tasting, it combined nicely with a first course red bean stew, followed by lovely piece of Mediterranean fish in a wine sauce.

The color is a lively deep purple red color. The aroma is of medium intensity, lots of fruit and a touch of spice. Light on the palate, but at the same time rich and chewy. Plenty of ripe blackberry fruit, spicy overtones and just a hint of "carbonic" - a minimal fizzy sensation, typical in very young wines. *[$M]
{16 Jan 1997}

* Vino Primero 1996
DO Toro (Bodegas Fariñas)


While young wines have long been favorites in the Basque region, only recently have we seen the appearance of young fruity "vinos jovenes" from all over Spain. Vino Primero, which first appeared in 1995, is made by the same semi-carbonic maceration method used in making Boujolais nouveau. A good match for pasta, rice, chicken or veal.

The color's a deep, dark, rich purple. The aroma is pure, delicious grapey, rasberry-blackberry fruit. Despite its youth, and strength (13%), it's smooth full of ripe, rich fruit and delightfully drinkable with a terrific finish. *[$M]
{7 Jan 1997}

Guelbenzu "Jardin" 1995
DO Navarra (Bodegas Guelbenzu)


Tasted after just about a year, "Jardin" (which means "garden") is still in very good condition for a young wine. Bright and fresh, it combines very well with pasta, rice dishes and fowl. To drink now (until the '96 is ready in a few months' time).

Deep purple color with violet tints. Potent aromas of ripe, juicy fruit. The taste is pure Garnacha grape, powerfully fruity with a nice spicy background, youthfully astringent. A wine to enjoy!
{23 Dec 1996}

Barón de Oña 1990 Reserva
DOC Rioja (Torre de Oña)


An excellent example of a Rioja Alavesa wine - just out on the market. Lots of body, fruit and a special taste. Good to combine with heartier, savory dishes and red meats. A wine that will continue to improve for a few years.

Mainly Tempranillo with a touch of Mazuelo. The color is deep cherry red, good intensity. The aroma shows spice, vanilla and good fruit. This is a big, meaty wine with a good finish. Barón de Oña, may throw off a bit of sediment, so you might want to decant before serving. *[$M]
{9 Dec 1996}

Solagüen Crianza 1990
DOC Rioja (U.C. Labastida)


A delightful, and very typical, Rioja Alavesa red, from a small town cooperative - full bodied, but not overpowering. Lots of fruit, and just right to go along with casseroles, stews and roasts. Ready to drink, but with years of cellar life left.

Made from Tempranillo grapes with 18 months in American oak, plus 6 months more of bottle ageing. Color is bright cherry red with no signs of ageing. Aromas of medium intensity very much in line with the variety and the region, showing red berry fruit and nice woody/vegetable overtones. The taste is rich and tasty with plenty of ripe fruit with a nice spicy background, slightly astringent, hints of tar and tobacco. *[$M]
{27 Nov 1996}

Montesierra Moristel 1995
DO Somontano (Bodega Pirineos)


A rich, original and very tasty young wine made from Somontano's own Moristel grape. A fruity medium bodied red, just right to accompany roasts and caseroles, or a nice chunk of cheddar cheese.

Made for 100% Moristel. The color is deep cherry-red with the violet highlights of a young wine. The aromas show backberry and raspberry fruit and perhaps mere hint of herbs. The taste is rich and chewy, with heaps of woodsy wild berry fruit. A superb young wine! *[$M]
{18 Nov 1996}

* Artadi "Pagos Viejos" Reserva 1991
DOC Rioja (Cosecheros Alaveses)


A fine full-bodied "reserva" made from 50+ year old vines. A truly excellent Rioja which will go well with roasts, steaks, stews and well cured cheeses. This is a wine to keep and which will continue to improve for years to come.

Deep, dark cherry-red color. Aromas of medium strength, but delightfully complex which combine vanilla-oak, chocolate, peppercorn spice and aromatic, balsamic overtones. The taste is smooth, balanced and very elegant with red berry fruit and healthy tannins over a nice spicy background. *[$M]
{3 Nov 1996}

Raimat Merlot 1989
DO Costers del Segre (Raimat)


Yet another fine varietal from the Raimat winery. A smooth full-bodied wine, good to go along with roasts, casseroles and cured cheeses.

Made from 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet with 12 months in oak. The color's a deep dark cherry red. The enveloping aroma shows red fruit with a woodsy touch. The taste is smooth, with lots of silky body and delicate tannins. *[$M]
{18 Oct 1996}

Gandía Tempranillo 1992
DO Utiel-Requena (Gandía Wines)


A good example of the Spanish classic oak-aged Tempranillo. A full-bodied wine which will go well with a wide range of dishes - caseroles, rices, and red meats.

Part of the newly introduced Gandia "Hoya Valley" varietal line. The color's a nice bright cherry red, not too dark. The aroma is powerful with plenty of fruit and just a hint of oak (vanilla). The taste is full of blackberry fruit, smooth with a very respectable finish. *[$M]
{13 Sept 1996}

Montesierra 1995 DO Somontano (Bodega Pirineos)

A good "broad-spectrum" young red wine which goes well with solid red meat dishes as well as lighter caseroles, rices dishes and fowl.

An attractive combination of Tempranillo, Moristel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The color's deep with young purple tones. The aroma is crisp, and powerful with plenty of red fruit and floral overtones. The taste is smooth, well structured and most enjoyable. *[$l]
{7 Sept 1996}


DO Campo de Borja (Santo Cristo)


Here's a real bargain for sweet wine fanciers. Produced in the Campo de Borja region near Zaragoza, and packaged in a unique cut glass style bottle, Ainzón is a fine Moscatel (Muscat) dessert wine.

Golden yellow color, bright and clean. Aromas of pure Moscatel with ripe, raisiny overtones. The taste is sweet, but not heavy or sticky, with lots of tasty ripe fruit and raisins. *[$L]
{16 Apr 1997}

Extrímismo Bach Semi-Seco 1990
DO Penedès (Masia Bach)


Here's a change of pace - a semi-sweet white wine from Penedès. Purchased as an ingredient for a Christmas dessert recipe, it turned out to be a pleasant and interesting before-dinner wine.

Pale yellow-gold color, clear and crisp. Fruit and a touch of oak in nose and palate. Sweetish, good balance between sugar and oak overtones from barrel ageing. *[$M]
{12 Feb 1997}

Castillo de San Diego 1995
"Tierra de Cadiz" (Antonio Barbadillo)


A bright, fresh varietal white made from the same Palomino Fina grapes that go into the finest sherries. A refreshing "warm-weather wine" that's good with fresh fish and appetizers.

Made from 100% Palomino Fino and cold-fermented at 20°C. Pale golden color, crisp and sharp. The aroma's not overpowering, but pleasantly fruity with interesting spicy floral overtones. Not too dry (but not sweet), the taste is fresh, clean and fruity, and perhaps a bit short on acidity. *[$L]
{11 Nov 1996}

Montesierra Macabeo Vendimia Tardía 1995
DO Somontano (Bodega Pirineos)


This is a dry white wine with lots of character. Serve cool - 12°C (54°F) - not cold, to get the best of its aromas and taste. Goes well with appetizers, and has the backbone to stand up to red fleshed fish such as tuna. Also goes nicely with patés or foie.

Made from 100% Macabeo ("vendimia tardía" means late harvest) with a short stay in oak. The color is pale straw, sharp and bright. The potent aromas show apple and pear fruit with floral overtones. The taste is dry, complex and long-lasting with green apples, herbs and a gentle touch of toasty oak. *[$M]
{28 Oct 1996}

* Viñas de Gain 1994 (Fermentado en Barrica)
DOC Rioja (Cosecheros Alaveses)


One of the new generation barrel-fermented Rioja whites. A delicious wine which went very well indeed with a "tapa" of thinly sliced marinated salmon, sprinkled with chopped capers and olive oil; and another of clams marinara.

Made from 70% Viura and 30% Malvasia: cold-fermented and 7 months on the lees. A crisp bright golden straw color with greenish tints. The aroma is full of subtle complexities of fruit, yeast and gentle oak. The taste is crisp, balanced and delightfully complex. A truly fine Rioja white. *[$M]
{11 Oct 1996}

* Belondrade y Lurton 1994
DO Rueda (Belondrade y Lurton)


A first-rate barrel aged Rueda white. An excellent choice to wash down fish or fowl. Good now and designed to last for a few years more.

Made from Rueda's splendid Verdejo grape, barrel aged in Chardonnay-style. Pale straw-gold color, bright and crisp. The potent aroma shows lemonny, green apple tones with a mere touch of oak on yeasty lees. The taste is fresh, complex and mouthfilling. The finish long and lemonny. A superb wine. *[$M]
{30 Sept 1996}


Montesierra Rosado 1995
DO Somontano (Bodega Pirineos)


Here's a good bright, medium-dry rosé. A good choice for the appetizer course, this wine will also go nicely with seafood, casseroles or pasta.

Made from Tempranillo, Moristel, Macabeo and Garnacha grapes. The color's a bright, clean strawberry-pink. The aroma is substantial, showing lots of red fruit with flowery-spicy overtones. The taste is smooth, balanced and lasting. *[$M]
{23 Sept 1996}

Jerez (Sherry) & Fortified wines

Fondillón Alone, 1970 [Fondillón]
DO Alicante (BOCOPA)


Fondillón is a type of fortified wine, typical of the Mediterranean area around Alicante. This class of aged-oxidized wine was very much in decline, but has clearly made a recovery in recent years. Fondillón is a red wine, made from grapes which are "toasted" under the sun before fermentation. The resulting wine is aged in oak in a solera system similar to that used for sherry. The process slowly oxidizes the wine, adding complexity, while the color evolves from red toward brick and mahogany.

The 1970 "Alone" is mahogony colored with reddish tones. Fragrant aromas show raisiny fruit, old oak and grassy-hayish notes. Relatively dry on the palate, it's complex and very tasty, and goes down easily despite the 17% alcohol content. A superb after dinner wine. *[$H]
{17 Jul 1997}

Solera 1847 [Oloroso Sherry]
DO Jerez (González-Byass)


This excellent "oloroso" gets it's name from the fact that the original "solera" was laid down in 1847. Olorosos are not biologially aged like "finos", but once fortified with alcohol, go straight to barrel-ageing using the solera system.

1847 is somewhat unusual, it's a sweet oloroso - not as sweet as the closely related cream sherry, but sweet nonetheless. The color's deep dark mahogany-coffee color. The aroma is old-woody, potent. Mouthfilling, with a good balance between alcohol, sugars and old oak. *[$H]
{30 Jan 1997}

*San Leon DO Jerez (Argüeso)

This is an excellent example of the Manzanilla type of dry sherry. Made by the same process as "fino", the Manzanilla-sherry is produced only in the Sanlúar de Barrameda area around the Guadalquivir estuary. The color is bright, straw-yellow. The aroma is crisp, fresh and slightly saline. It's very tasty, with the characteristic sherry "flor" taste with the typical saline overtones of Manzanilla. *[$M]
{8 May 1996}

Romántico Pedro Ximenez (Bobadilla)

This is a sweet, dark dessert wine made from Pedro Ximenez grapes in the Jerez region. The color is dark black-coffee color. The aroma shows ripe rasins and typical signs of "solera" ageing. The taste, though not particularly complex, is sweet, smooth and most enjoyable. *[$M]
{25 Feb 1996}

Cavas (bubbly)

Louis de Vernier Brut Nature, '92
DO Cava (Josep Masachs)


Rated "reserva" by the winery - meaning the base wine is barrel aged. A tart, tasty cava that's good as an apetizer and also goes well with meals - in this case the tasting group washed down large quantities of a beautiful seafood rice dish with excellent results.

Made of 60% Parellada and 40% Macabeo grapes. Clean golden color, well supplied with small-medium sized bubbles. Crisp aromas of fruit and yeast with a hint of oak and a pleasant citrus background tang. Dry and tasty on the palate - while the taste is not overpowering, it's clean, with a pleasant, slightly bitterish aftertaste. *[$M]
{6 Jul 1997}

Freixenet Cordon Negro, D.O. Cava, (Freixenet)

This popular cava in the black bottle is rather well known. There's a hint of ageing, and perhaps a touch of almonds in the aroma. The taste is dry and crisp. A good value from the Freixenet winery. *[$M]

{9 Jan 1996}

Prices: To minimize confusion, and country to country differences, I'll use a Spanish Relative Price (SRP) approach. That is the normal price of the wine here in Spain, expressed in $ USA.

*[$L] = Low (less than $5)
*[$M] = Medium ($5 to $10)
*[$H] = High (more than $10)