Two everyday Spanish reds

albaicampo-vTwo Spanish reds take to the stage this time, easily available from most supermarkets and for the quality, reasonably priced.

Both from the Rioja region of Northern Spain, one a 100% Tempranillo and one 100% Garnacha and made in a modern style, with the focus very much on the pure fruit.

Campo Viejo has been around for along time is very well known and features on the shelves of many supermarkets, the Albai you can find mainly in Tesco and Sainsburys.

As I mentioned earlier both these wines are made in a modern style and are very fruit forward, so lets start with the Albai. Firstly the bottle itself which is surprisingly heavy and chunky, when poured the wine has a fairly dense dark purple colour with prominent aromas of cherries and strawberries this follows through in the taste which gives an instant mouthful of juicy bright red fruits. Although slightly tart initially there is a hint of appealing sweetness which comes through on the finish. For an entry-level unoaked Rioja 13% ABV, this wine may well hit the spot for a lot of people but if you prefer a bit of oaked woodiness in your wine that’s still made in the modern style then perhaps for a few pounds more the Reserva is the one to go for, which is in my opinion, excellent.

Next, I think most people would have heard of Campo Viejo with its distinctive labels, most of you guys must have tried their Rioja Crianza, Reserva or Gran Reserva but how many of you have tried their Garnacha ? ( if you click on the link you will see my thoughts on this CV Garnacha, second review down, when I was a member of the Tesco Wine Forum under the name spikedc, although it was for the 2012 vintage). Unlike the Albai this CV wine has been aged for 4 months in American oak barrels and this comes through in the taste, so as well as the sweet red fruits (think of those cherry drop sweets) there is a soft vanilla creaminess about it. Be warned though this is 14% ABV and can creep up on you pretty quickly.

So overall, both pretty good everyday wines without being too complex, both appeal in their bright fruity flavours and both are very easy to drink.

7corks

Castillo de Albai Rioja 2015

My Rating 7/10 Cork

 

7corks

Campo Viejo Garnacha 2015

My Rating 7/10 Corks

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My top ten wines reviewed in 2015

top10 2015So another year comes to an end, a year in which I’ve drunk some very good and not so good wines and the elusive search for my first 9/10 corks ends up fruitless (excuse the pun).

In this review I will reveal some of my top 10 wines of 2015. Most of the wines reviewed I have bought, some have been donated, I have also sampled a lot at various tastings and events throughout the year.

Some of these events and tastings have offered some fabulous wines, some pretty expensive, I’ve purposely left these out concentrating on wines that are readily available from various outlets and are on the whole reasonably priced, although some may well be unavailable now.

So click on the links below to see the full reviews and here’s to finding many more brilliant wines in 2016, perhaps my first 9/10 or you never know, a 10/10.

So in no particular order here are my ten favourite 8.5/10 Cork scoring wines….

FaustinoI Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja 2001

Probably the most recognisable labels in the  wine world with its portraits of Rembrandt, El Greco and composer Gluck  and the use of Roman numerals are on the Faustino range. My earliest memories of this wine is seeing these bottles lined up on the shelves and noticing how they stood out with their frosted bottles…Read more

 

Honoro Vera6(450 x 600) Honoro Vera Garnacha 2012

Honoro Vera Garnacha 2012 from Bodegas Ateca in Calatayud Northern Spain , the wine served during the Gala Dinner at the 2013 Oscars in which Argo the American political thriller won best film First tasted this wine at the Good Food & Wine Show Olympia a couple of years ago where I attended the wine…Read more

 

BrancottletterBrancott Estate Letter B Sauvignon Blanc 2012

New Zealand 14% Although Sauvignon Blanc is perhaps not my favourite white wine, if I had to pick a SB to take to a desert Island this would be it. I’m a big fan of Brancott Estate wines in general, from their entry levels right the way through to their premium range including the excellent…Read more

 

Mount Pleasant semillonMcWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2005

I’ve been singing the praises of Aldi wines in my last post but this time it’s a big round of applause for Tesco with this superb tasting 10-year-old Aussie Semillon currently selling at an unbelievable £5.99. My only regret is that I didn’t try this earlier because unfortunately this wine will be unavailable soon, so…Read more

 

PrimitivoWaitrosePrimitivo Di Mandurie Paololeo 2012

Italy 14.5% If you’re looking for a reasonably priced Primitivo (Aka Zinfandel) and you enjoy the big hitting Zins from California look no further than this beauty from the very heel of boot in South east Italy’s Puglia region. When I picked this up I was amazed at how heavy this bottle was and it…Read more

 

Bierzo Otero2011(450 x 600)Pizarras de Otero Bierzo 2011

Spain 14% First discovered the Bierzo region of North West Spain a few years back when on holiday touring the north following the Camino route to Santiago de Compostela although I must stress this was done on a coach staying in government backed Parador hotels not on foot or bike travelling hundreds of miles. This…Read more

 

stoneleigh2 (311 x 600)

Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2013

New Zealand 12.5% With the temperatures soaring here in the UK what better way to relax and cool down than sitting in the shade of a Gazebo, eating barbecue food and drinking a chilled glass or two of this very nice New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. I Love Marlborough wines especially anything from Brancott Estate…Read more

 

Yalumba duoYalumba Old Vine Grenache 2013

I first discovered the joys of Yalumba many years ago when I attended a wine show in London, I bumped into wine expert Oz Clarke at the event and chatted for a while, I must say he was very amiable and talked with great ease and enthusiasm about this wonderful liquid we all enjoy. I…Read more

 

porta 6Porta 6

Porta 6 Vinho Tinto Portugal First tasted this in the Majestic store in Calais a few months back, it was on the tasting counter and one of their featured wines. I was initially drawn by the bright cartoon like label which was painted by Portuguese artist Hauke Vagt. This wine was also featured on the…Read more

 

DomaineLarocheChablis(337 x 599)Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru 2008

France 12.5% I must admit I don’t drink enough Chardonnay but I hope to remedy this, especially with the better weather on its way. So it’s time to fill your fridges with a selection of quality whites and you may well find that every now and then you come across a wine that you drink…Read more

 

Dominio De Morfeo 2010

MorfeoSpain 13.5%

First alerted to this by a friend on Twitter whilst he was stocking up at his local Majestic store, although he hadn’t tasted it he thought I might like it. Was he right? well, a resounding yes from me.

Another bonus was the fact that it features a new grape for me Prieto Picudo from the northern Spanish region of Castilla y León which has been blended with Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) and Garnacha.

Be warned though, if you’re not into tannic wines this may well dry the inside of your mouth for a week. Dark and brooding in the glass aromas of black cherries. a touch of smoke and dried herbs.

On first taste the juicy dark cherries burst in your mouth quickly followed by the tannins which  douse the juiciness a bit. Oak is prominent and a smokiness (bonfire ash) give this wine a real edge while still being rather drinkable as long as it’s with food, this is definitely a food wine and not a wine for the faint-hearted.

Left in the glass for a while it did mellow slightly and I kept a little back to see if it softens a bit the next day, I will add a comment on the bottom of this post after tasting it again.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks  Majestic £6.66 on Multi Buy

 

** Update** Second day the tannins had softened a little, still noticeably tannic but the cherry flavour and acidity coming through more. Still very nice !

Papa Luna – Divine wine

Papa Luna

Spain 14.5%

Named after the last pope to reign under a dual papacy in the 14th and 15th Century in Avignon, Pedro Martinez de Luna who was born in Calatayud and was a local and historical icon. This wine is made as a homage to him.

I first tasted this at my local Majestic store a couple of years ago, I bought a couple of bottles stored them away and then forgot about them until now. What a pleasant surprise it was when I opened it and took that first sip, as the title says it was divine.

Inky black in the glass, after a quick swirl (the glass not me) and a deep sniff there were powerful aromas of dark ripe fruits mainly cherries and plums, with my nose still in the glass more aromas of cigar boxes, chocolate and a whiff of lavender emanated.

Drank this straight out of the bottle after opening (poured into a glass first) but I think it would benefit from a little more air although it still tasted pretty good as it was.

Smooth is mentioned a lot when people first taste wine but this is exactly what this was, almost velvety and elegant, intense taste of dark cherries that have been dipped in chocolate burst in your mouth along with liquorice. Bordering on jammy it also had a spicy savoury kick to it, mild tannins and an extremely long finish.

This was really very good and much better than you would expect from a wine this price, I will be back in store to get more

8.5corks

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic currently  £7.86 on Multi Buy

And the winner of best Red Wine is…..

Honoro OscarsHonoro Vera Garnacha 2012 from Bodegas Ateca in Calatayud Northern Spain , the wine served during the Gala Dinner at the 2013 Oscars in which Argo the American political thriller won best film

First tasted this wine at the Good Food & Wine Show Olympia a couple of years ago where I attended the wine Tube Map event run by Nikki Welch. Here this Garnacha was voted the best of the reds in their excellent tasting, when i arrived home I immediately ordered a case from Hatties Wines and now I’m down to my last bottle of this wonderful stuff. When I first tasted this I was blown away by it, for the price it was one of the best Garnacha’s I’ve tasted in a while, balanced intense fruit with a spicy earthiness and creamy finish and a brilliant label.

Honoro Vera medleyVery brooding and inky black in the glass with wonderful heady aromas of rich ripe plums, cherries, cranberries and dark chocolate with an underlying essence of smoke and perhaps a little church incense.

On first sip, this was full-bodied, full of ripe sweet dark fruits including plums, raspberries and cherries, creamy tasting with an impressive smokiness about it. This had a brilliant mouthfeel bursting with that sweetish acidic fruit and mild tannins.

Drank this with Sirloin Steak and chips and it paired beautifully.

Must admit I am partial to a good Garnacha and this is a wonderful example of it and for £9.99 excellent value, better than some Garnacha/Grenache I’ve tasted at three times the price, although I have seen this in Spain for as little as 4 Euros, which is a steal.

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Hatties wines £9.99

 

Picasso, Painting and Wine

Cubist GarnachaSpain 14%

Picking a wine on nothing but the name, label or bottle sometimes works, more often it doesn’t. That’s exactly what I did when buying this ‘Cubist Old Vine Garnacha 2012’ that was made in the mountains south west of Aragon in north eastern Spain with 100 year old vines, hence the ‘Old Vine’ on the label.

I paint a bit and Picasso happens to be one of my favourite artists, so I actually picked it because I liked the name and bottle which I must say was particularly heavy and I loved the Picasso style label of a bunch of grapes on twisted old vines. Was it any good? Read on to find out.

Made with 100% Garnacha, it was surprisingly light in the glass, expected this to be a little darker but it did have a really pronounced smell of smoke (bonfire ash), a little bit of cherry fruit and raspberries but it was the smokiness that really stood out which I found quite appealing.

Picasso
One of my Picasso attempts in Acrylics

In the mouth it again felt lighter than I thought it would considering the 14% alcohol content but bursting with fruit and very aromatic with cherries, blackberries and a hint of strawberry, the smokiness was there but not as full on as the nose and finishing with a kick of spice.

This really was fruit dominant but along with that lovely aroma of smoke this was a pretty nice wine that you could drink on its own, with a plate of Tapas or with a main meal.
Around £9.99 in Waitrose this was a great impulse buy and I will be going back for more.

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Waitrose £9.99

 

Cara Nord Negre 2012

Cara NordSpain 13.5%

Off to north eastern Spain in the Catalonian region for my next wine the Cara Nord Negre 2012, a Blend of Syrah, Garnacha and Garrut (Monastrell aka Mourvedre).

An impressively dark brooding wine, so inky in colour that you probably dip a fountain pen in a glass and write a short story with it, if anyone can remember what a fountain pen is.

This wine is made in Conca de Barberà to the north of Tarragona in a region that’s more used to producing Cava. The winery only makes two wines at the moment the other being the Cara Nord Blanc a blend of Macabeo, Chardonnay and Albarino.

When I opened the bottle the aroma was quite stinky and pronounced, rich with blackcurrant, dark cherries, herbs and dark bitter Chocolate. I decided to give it a little air for an hour or so and it did mellow slightly.

My first sip told me that this was very much a food wine full of blackberries, dark cherries with a rich, smokey and a robust earthiness. There was a little woodiness from the oak, dark chocolate and fine dusty tannins. The wine did open up a bit after a little while but there was still a rustic harshness about it which I kind of liked.

With food it was a pretty decent drink, I had a glass after the food and again it was pretty decent but I would say slightly better with something to eat.

Bought this from the Wine Society for around £10 and it’s pretty much what it’s worth, although it looks like they now only stock the white which I’ve yet to try and is on my list.

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 Corks

Wine Society around £10