TN: Spaniards flying under the radar

One of my friends has immersed himself quite badly with German and Spanish wines (immersed so badly that he’s now doing Master of Wine thing with an emphasis on German and Spanish wines; up to his ears, basically). Not that I mind, because every now and then he throws some very thrilling outside-the-box tastings (like this tasting on Spanish island wines) where he and us can geek out over some excellent wines many of us have never tasted - or even heard of - before. Fortunately he has a great palate too, so usually the wines we taste are right up my alley.

In this tasting we had also a few extras. One is a name everybody recognizes: that López de Heredia Rosado was opened after one of the attendees came in late and wanted to make up for it by pulling a bottle of LdH Rosado. Not that he needed to make up for anything - I think he was just looking for an excuse to pop one open and he would’ve done that anyway at some point!

The extra other was my São João Quinta do Poço do Lobo, which I served blind after the tasting. People really took their time guessing the correct country, and even after then the region and the variety were not that obvious! Although after revealing the label people admitted that the wine was very true for Bairrada - apart from being so exceptionally youthful for its age! Somehow Bairrada just wasn’t something they thought of first (but knowing me, they still didn’t start with something very obvious but instead began threwing some very outlandish guesses with very obscure regions and hard-to-come-by varieties - many of which were perfectly sound guesses and not just total shots in the dark).

Anyways, if there are some things I want to highlight, they are:

  • Bodegas Ponce and Marañones were familiar names and they didn’t disappoint. Fantastic producers and definitely worth checking out.
  • Laura Lorenzo / DaTerra Viticultores was a new name to me and I really loved these wines. Absolutely stunning stuff. Need to look into these.
  • I’ve promoted Doniene Gorrondona here earlier and based on the wines here, they are still a darn fine Txakoli producer.
  • R. López de Heredia Rosado still remains as probably the world’s best rosé wine. No news here.
  • And always remember, folks: Spanish wine is so much more than just Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Cava and Sherry!

Here’s what we had. Apart from that LdH Rosado, all the wines were tasted fully blind.

  • 2019 Bodegas Honorio Rubio Macerado - Spain, La Rioja, Rioja (10.6.2022)
    100% Viura macerated with the skins for a period of time that changes a lot according to the sources, ranging from a few weeks to up to a year. Aged in oak barrels for a year or so, bottled on 24th of December, 2020. Bottle #1175 of total 4267 bottles. 13% alcohol.

    Luminous, deep neon yellow color. Very sweet, almost honeyed nose with aromas of honeydew melon, some creamy oak, a little bit of pineapple, light sweet notes of ripe tangerine, light floral tones and a hint of vague waxy character. The wine feels dry, savory and quite round on the palate with a medium body and somewhat mellow flavors of ripe golden apples, some apple peel bitterness, a little bit of cantaloupe, light citrus fruit notes of fresh orange, hints of phenolic spice and waxy richness and a touch of floral character. The medium acidity makes the wine feel rather soft and lack a bit focus. There are no tannins to speak of. The finish is round, quite long and juicy with ripe yet dry flavors of orange, some fresh pineapple, light honeyed tones, a little bit of cantaloupe, a hint of bitter phenolic spice and a touch of resinous character.

    An enjoyably clean, tasty and sophisticated orange wine that is unfortunately lacking quite a bit in the acid department. The overall combination of honeyed richness, phenolic spice and ripe yet dry fruit character is very pleasant, but due to the quite modest acidity the wine comes across as quite soft, dull and mellow, lacking in verve and energy. Although the wine might gain a bit of additional complexity with aging, this doesn't really feel like a wine that would benefit much from further cellaring and is most likely best enjoyed quite young. Nice, but that's about it. Priced more or less according to its quality at 14,50€.
    (87 points)

  • 2015 Orto Vins Blanc d'Orto Brisat - Spain, Catalunya, Tarragona, Montsant (10.6.2022)
    This is the "brisat" aka. skin-contact version of the white Blanc d'Orto wine. Made with Garnatxa Blanca grapes sourced from vineyards planted between 1944 and 2001. Fermented spontaneously and macerated with the skins for a month in stainless steel. Aged for 6 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks, then racked off the lees and aged for another 4 months. 14% alcohol.

    Deep, luminous golden yellow color. Quite sweet, slightly evolved and - surprisingly - subtly Riesling-like nose with nuanced aromas of ripe peach, some floral notes of apple blossom and other white fruits, a little bit of tinned pineapple, light resinous phenolic nuances and a hint of apple jam. The wine feels broad, ripe and juicy on the palate with a rather full body and quite complex flavors of ripe apricots and honey, some fresh nectarine, a little bit of tinned pineapple, light banana tones, a hint of leesy creaminess and a touch of herbal bitterness. The overall feel is quite round and mellow due to the somewhat soft medium acidity, but the friendly tannins lend nice textural firmness to the mouthfeel. The finish is long, round and very subtly grippy with rich, slightly tropical flavors of pineapple, some apple jam, light nectarine tones, a little bit of phenolic resinous character, a hint of evolved nuttiness and a leesy touch of creaminess.

    A nice, balanced and enjoyably nuanced orange wine with a very fruit-driven and quite tropical character. With all its exotic fruit notes, the wine had an almost fruit salad feel to it - just without any syrupy sweetness. While it might sound like an over-the-top wine, the wine isn't particularly exuberant, but instead pretty harmonious and actually quite mellow on the palate - partly due to the relatively modest acidity. And I must say that if I thought the wine was wanting in some department, it's acidity - this is otherwise a very lovely, textural effort, but it really could use a bit more freshness and zip from the acidity. Nevertheless, this was a thoroughly enjoyable and wonderfully clean example of Catalan skin-contact white and I think I must keep my eyes open for any bottles from slightly cooler vintages. Priced according to its quality at approx. 18€.
    (90 points)

  • 2017 Callejuela Las Mercedes Añina - Spain, Andalucía, Vino de Mesa de Andalucía (10.6.2022)
    An unfortified table wine version of Fino Sherry, made with Palomino grapes sourced from the windiest, highest-elevation vineyard of Callejuela, the 8-hectare Añina vineyard located at the altitude of 82-83 meters above sea level. For this unfortified wine, the grapes were harvested slightly earlier than those for the fortified Sherries, crushed and pressed in a more delicate fashion and then fermented and aged on the lees for 7 months in old Manzanilla oak casks. As the wine is Vino de Mesa, the bottle bears no vintage designation, only lot number 12017 - making this most likely vintage 2017. 12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Pale, clear and quite limpid neon-green color. The nose feels dusty, aldehydic and somewhat dull with aromas of sharp green apple, some earthy tones, a little bit of something leafy, light funky mushroomy tones and a hint of apple peel. The wine feels medium-bodied, quite round and somewhat dull with a rather dusty overall feel and flavors of something metallic, a little bit of aldehydic green almond, light crunchy notes of green apple, a hint of something leafy and a touch of cardboard. Typical of Palomino, the wine is quite modest - even rather low - in acidity. The finish is ripe yet dry and somewhat dusty with a medium-long aftertaste of some tangy aldehydic character, a little bit of something metallic, light leafy tones, a hint of mushroomy funk and a touch of green almond.

    Almost immediately I guessed this was an unfortified "Sherry", based on the slightly aldehydic qualities and rather low acidity typical of Palomino. At first I wondered if the wine was just funky and earthy because of the style, but the more the wine breathed, the more apparent the dusty and cardboardy aromas became, prompting us to think this wasn't just because of the style, but because the wine was also corked. I think this might've been a decent Sherry-like wine, had it not been corked, but now it's quite impossible to say anything constructive about the wine. It's hard to say whether or not the wine would've been worth the approx. 25€.

  • 2019 Laura Lorenzo DaTerra Viticultores Ribeira Sacra Gavela da Vila - Spain, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra (10.6.2022)
    A naturalist Palomino from multiple 80-100 yo parcels on the slopes around the village of Manzanera in Val do Bibei. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 22 days, aged for 11 months in new 500-liter chestnut casks. Bottled unfined and unfiltered in August 2020 with a minimal dose of SO2. Bottle #1125 of total 3384 bottles. 12% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Pale, youthful and slightly hazy whitish-green color. Somewhat wild, quite intense and slightly lifted nose with bright aromas of ripe golden apples, some sweet volatile nuances, a little bit of zesty citrus fruit, light crunchy notes of fresh Granny Smith apple and a distinctive yet not unpleasant hint of mosquito repellent. The wine feels wild, sappy and balanced on the palate with a medium body and somewhat sappy flavors of crunchy green apples and fresh peaches, some waxy tones, a little bit of something herby, light sweet volatile nuances of nail polish, a hint of leathery funk and a tangy, slightly bitter touch of pithy pomelo. There are no tannins whatsoever and the high acidity keeps the wine effortlessly in balance. The finish is clean, fresh and lively with rather long and subtly lifted flavors of crunchy Granny Smith apple, some waxy tones, a little bit of sappy herbal character, light bitter notes of apple peel or pithy citrus fruit, a hint of ethery VA and a touch of leathery funk.

    A nice, sophisticated and characterful natural wine that is just on the right side of "wild" - the wine doesn't feel too natty, dirty or sauvage, but it's obvious that it isn't a modern, squeaky-clean wine either. I was surprised to learn the wine sees so much skin contact, because the overall feel was that of a white wine. Also the high acidity surprised me, because Palomino isn't really known for the acidity, but this was just wonderfully zippy and zesty throughout. Really tasty and enjoyable stuff, a good purchase at approx. 20€.
    (91 points)

  • 2016 Ismael Gozalo La Banda del Argilico - Spain, Castilla y León, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León (10.6.2022)
    The fruit is sourced from two ungrafted vineyards in Nieva, Rueda. The fruit is harvested in two tries: the first harvest is to give the wine freshness, acidity, low alcohol and low pH, the later harvest is to give the wine fruit, weight and length. Aged on the fine lees for 6 months, bottled unfiltered. 13,5% alcohol.

    Quite youthful and slightly hazy neon yellow-green color (the first pour was luminous and almost completely clear, the second pour moderately hazy). The nose feels fragrant, slightly wild and very characterful with fascinating aromas of tropical fruits and creamy oak, some vanilla custard, a little bit of fresh pineapple, light lifted notes of VA, a hint of brioche, a nutty touch of slivered almonds and a whiff of farmhouse funk. On the palate the wine feels ripe, broad and surprisingly substantial with a medium-to-moderately full body and quite bold flavors of apple sauce, some wild notes of leathery funk and lifted VA, light notes of ripe nectarine, a little bit of beeswax and a savory hint of umami. Despite its ripeness and sense of concentration, the wine comes across as balanced and not at all heavy, at least partially thanks to the rather high acidity. The finish is rich, long and concentrated with a juicy aftertaste of apricots and apple sauce, some creamy custard notes, a little bit of toasty brioche, light red-toned nuances of strawberries, a hint of savory umami and a touch of leathery funk.

    A very distinctive and fascinating Verdejo that consciously avoids the typical pitfalls of the modern Verdejo made in a style emulating Sauvignon Blanc. This wine shows more depth, concentration and complexity one expects of Verdejo, making it an instantly engaging white. Despite its somewhat funky naturalist tendencies, the wine never comes across as too natty or excessively funky - the sauvage nuances only add to the complexity without overwhelming anything. Even if the wine might be showing a little bit of aged complexity and sense of concentration, I really don't get a feeling that this wine is particularly aged - and I expect it to improve with further aging. A lovely effort.
    (91 points)

  • 2019 Doniene Gorrondona Bizkaiko Txakolina Iri - Spain, País Vasco, Bizkaiko Txakolina (10.6.2022)
    100% Hondarrabi Zuri from the Irimingorrieta vineyard, planted in 2009. Harvested in early-to-mid October. First destemmed, then cold-soaked for a brief period, followed by fermentation with a pied de cuve. Partial spontaneous MLF. Bottled with minimal SO2. 12,8% alcohol, 1,6 g/l residual sugar, 7,8 g/l acidity, pH 3,08 and 16 mg/l SO2. Total production 2600 bottles. Tasted blind.

    Luminous and quite youthful lime-green color. Sappy and slightly herby nose with aromas of birch leaves and chopped green-toned herbs, some honeyed sweetness, a little bit of crunchy Granny Smith apple, light leesy notes of creaminess, a hint of lemony citrus fruits and a touch of apple peel. The wine is dry, crunchy and slightly austere on the palate with a light-to-medium body and intense flavors of lemony citrus fruits, some sharp notes of tart Granny Smith apple, a little bit of tangy salinity, light sappy nuances of birch leaves, a hint of incisive steely minerality and a touch of honeydew melon. The wine packs enough fruit and concentration that it doesn't come across as thin or too lean despite its austere overall character. The bracing acidity lends great sense of structure and electric zip to the wine. The finish is crisp, lively and mouth-cleansing with dry, acid-driven flavors of tart green apples and steely minerality, some honeyed nuances, a little bit of grassy greenness, light sappy nuances of birch leaves, a leesy hint of creaminess and a touch of zesty lemon.

    A beautiful, fresh and very precise single-vineyard Txakoli that packs a bit more punch, depth and intensity than your typical run-of-the-mill Txakoli, yet sporting the bracing acidity, sappy overall taste and mineral austerity that is so typical of the genre. It's hard to say whether this wine is capable of improving noticeably with age, but it is drinking remarkably well at the moment, so it really doesn't call for any additional aging. A superb example of high-class Txakolina.
    (93 points)

  • 2010 R. López de Heredia Rioja Rosado Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia - Spain, La Rioja, La Rioja Alta, Rioja (10.6.2022)
    A blend of Garnacha (60%), Tempranillo (30%) and Viura (10%). Aged for 4 years in oak barriques and for further 6 years in bottles before release. 13% alcohol, 6,5 g/l acidity. Total production 20,000 bottles.

    Pale and somewhat evolved onion-skin color with a slightly reddish coppery hue. The nose feels rather sweet-toned, very complex and much more open compared to the bottle we tasted a few days ago. There are layered aromas of wild strawberry, caramel and browned butter, some sweet exotic spices, a little bit of butterscotch, light bruised apple tones, a hint of oxidative nuttiness, a touch of something vaguely minty and a whiff of shredded coconut. The wine is firm, dry and very complex on the palate with a medium body and quite intense flavors of bruised apple and caramel, some strawberry, light oxidative notes of chopped nuts and old wood, a little bit of cooked cream, a hint of arrack and a touch of stony minerality. The bright, almost racy acidity lends wonderful freshness, intensity and sense of structure to the wine. The finish is dry, crunchy and complex with a very long aftertaste of nutty complexity, some creamy custard tones, a little bit of stony minerality, light sweeter notes of strawberry, a hint of caramel and a touch of something vaguely minty.

    Just like the previous bottle, this is simply a stunning rosé wine by all accounts. The 2010 vintage seems to pack more verve and zip compared to the surrounding vintages, making this not only a very gastronomic wine, but also a rosé wine that is most likely going to age exceptionally well. At 50€ this might feel pricey for a rosé wine, but rest assured - the wine will easily deliver and then some. A stunner.
    (95 points)

  • 2019 Doniene Gorrondona Bizkaiko Txakolina Beltza - Spain, País Vasco, Bizkaiko Txakolina (10.6.2022)
    100% Hondarrabi Beltza, first cold-soaked, then fermented, followed by spontaneous MLF. Bottled with minimal SO2. 12,8% alcohol, 1,3 g/l residual sugar, 5,7 g/l acidity, pH 3,8 and 17 mg/l SO2. Tasted blind.

    Dense, extracted and fully opaque black cherry color with a youthful blueish hue. The nose feels dry, dense and savory with somewhat herbaceous aromas of roasted bell pepper, some smoky notes, a little bit of crunchy crowberry, light sweeter nuances of bilberries, a hint of leafy greenness and a touch of overripe black cherry. The wine feels dense yet relatively lean on the palate with a medium body and quite noticeably ripe yet very dry flavors of juicy dark berries, some blueberry juice, a little bit of leafy greenness, light herbaceous yet sweet notes of cooked bell pepper, a hint of succulent dark plum and a touch of black cherry. The overall feel is enjoyably firm and sinewy, thanks to the high acidity and moderately grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is dry, long and crunchy with somewhat grippy tannins and a ripe yet savory aftertaste of blueberries, some roasted bell pepper tones, a little bit of leafy herbaceous character, light sweet notes of ripe black cherries and a hint of dark plummy fruit.

    Compared to the 2017 vintage I tasted earlier this year, this 2019 vintage seemed noticeably more ripe in style. However, what's remarkable is that despite the ripeness, the wine was still wonderfully dry, lean and acid-driven in style - although this wasn't as herbaceous and green in style, the wine still exhibited those crunchy bell pepper flavors typical of red Txakolina, only with less intensity here. While the 2017 vintage was very lovely, I think this was perhaps even slightly better - the wine was similarly dry, crunchy and lean in style, but showing both more fruit intensity and tannic structure, making the overall feel even more impressive. All in all, a terrific, pleasantly herbaceous red wine made in a style comparable to an old-school Chinon. Highly recommended.
    (91 points)

  • 2018 Carlania Celler Conca de Barberà Els Corrals - Spain, Catalunya, Tarragona, Conca de Barberà (10.6.2022)
    100% biodynamically farmed old-vine Trepat from the 2-hectare Els Corrals vineyard where the vines were planted more than 100 years ago at the altitude of 410 meters above sea level. Fermented spontaneously, macerated with the skins for 8 to 15 days. Aged in chestnut casks, bottled without fining or filtration and with a tiny dose of 4 mg/l of SO2. 12,5% alcohol. Tasted blind.

    Deep, very slightly translucent blackish-red color with a somewhat evolved hue - surprising for such a young wine. The nose feels at first somewhat reductive with its aromas of gunpowder smoke and hard-boiled eggs, but with aeration reveals also bright aromas of ripe dark berries, some red cherries, a little bit of crushed peppercorns, light brambly notes of black raspberries, a sappy hint of herby spice and a touch of struck flint. The wine is dry, crunchy and perhaps a bit closed on the palate with a light-to-medium body and bright flavors of fresh and slightly bitter chokeberries, some smoky notes of reduction, a little bit of crunchy crowberry, light peppery tones, a hint of brambly black raspberry and a touch of gravelly minerality. The wine is wonderfully high in acidity with slightly grippy medium-minus tannins. The finish is dry, crunchy and gently grippy with a subtly reduced aftertaste of tart cranberries, some smoky notes of struck flint, a little bit of chokeberry bitterness, light peppery tones, a hint of brambly black raspberry and a touch of red cherry.

    A very nice, fresh and clean Trepat with wonderful brightness and sense of focus. Even if the modest reduction made the wine feel a bit closed, it still managed to show nice intensity and purity of fruit - most likely this wine will only benefit from some additional cellaring. I guessed this was a Catalan red made with Sumoll - I got the region right with the first go, but we had to do some additional guessing before we managed to arrive to Trepat. A lovely effort and a great purchase at approx. 16€.
    (92 points)

  • 2017 Laura Lorenzo DaTerra Viticultores Azos da Vila - Spain, Galicia, Ribeira Sacra (10.6.2022)
    A blend of Mencia, Merenzao and Mouraton (totaling 70%), the remaining portion rounded out with Alicante Bouschet, Gran Negro and Palomino. The grapes are sourced from multiple 80-100 yo parcels on the slopes on the village of Manzanera in Val do Bibei. 70% of the fruit is destemmed, the remainder vinified in whole bunches. The grapes are foot-trodden, fermented spontaneously, and macerated with the skins for 16 days in 500-liter clay tinajas. Aged for 11 months in 500-liter chestnut and oak casks. Bottled unfined and unfiltered in September 2018 with a minimal dose of SO2. Bottle #2706 of total 4450 bottles. 12,5% alcohol.

    Quite deep and almost fully opaque dark cherry-red color with youthful purplish highlights. The nose feels sappy, dry and slightly sauvage with subtly reductive aromas of flinty smoke, some peppery spice, a little bit of crunchy crowberry and brambly black raspberry, light sweeter notes of ripe dark berries, a floral hint of violets, a reduced touch of rubber and a whiff of something inky. The wine is bright, fresh and crunchy on the palate with a light-to-medium body and very intense flavors of tart lingonberries and crowberries, some saline mineral tones, a little bit of phenolic spice, light bitter nuances of chokeberries, a hint of brambly black raspberry and a touch of elderberry juice. The overall feel is wonderfully focused and firm, thanks to the high acidity and gently grippy medium tannins. The finish is dry, fresh and lively with a little bit of tannic grip and a long, crunchy aftertaste of lingonberries and sour cherries, some smoky notes of reduction, a little bit of licorice root, light crowberry tones and a tiniest hint of sweet VA giving making the wine end on a nice, lifted note.

    A wonderfully fresh, precise and dead-serious Galician red that is stylistically very similar to a top-tier Cru Beaujolais or a serious Burgundy Pinot Noir, but with its own, Atlantic character. A great combination of intensity, fresh acidity and dry yet fruit-driven taste. The wine doesn't feel at all primary anymore, but the overall impression is still very youthful and most likely the wine will age gracefully for years more - even if it is drinking really well already now. Superb stuff, it's hard not to love it!
    (93 points)

  • 2017 Bodegas Ponce Manchuela La Casilla - Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, Manchuela (10.6.2022)
    100% organically farmed Bobal from a vineyard planted in 1935. Vinified in whole bunches which are foot-trodden for a few days. Fermented spontaneously, aged for 10 months in old 600-liter oak barrels. 12,5% alcohol.

    Moderately translucent dark red color that doesn't seem to be aged nor particularly young. The nose feels sweet, fragrant and quite floral with attractive aromas of blueberries, some elderflower, a little bit of dark plummy fruit, light cherry tones, a hint of blood and a touch of ripe blackberry. The wine is lively, juicy and fresh on the palate with a rather light body and bright, dry yet fruit-driven flavors of blueberries and forest fruits, some floral notes of elderflowers and violets, a little bit of ripe black raspberry, light sweet nuances of dark plums and a hint of fresh red cherry. The wine is quite high in acidity with light, friendly and easy tannins. The finish is dry, juicy and gently grippy with a long aftertaste of blueberries, some licorice root, a little bit of peppered meat, light floral notes of violets, a hint of blackberry juice and a touch of brambly black raspberry.

    A wonderfully fresh, fragrant and seductive Spanish red from the lighter end of the spectrum. The wine is bright and playful, like a good Pinot Noir made in a Burgundian style, but has a very unique, floral and relatively fruit-driven overall character. Despite its fruit-forward nature, the wine stays wonderfully dry, bright and zippy throughout. Truly a lovely wine, brimming with depth and character. Recommended.
    (91 points)

  • 2018 Bodega Maranones Vinos de Madrid Labros - Spain, Madrid, Vinos de Madrid (10.6.2022)
    100% organically farmed Garnacha from the 0,7-hectare parcel Viña de los Lloros, planted 70 years ago. All fruit vinified in whole bunches, crushed and cold-soaked prior to fermentation, then fermented spontaneously. Aged for a year in old 500 and 700-liter oak casks. Bottled unfiltered. Total production 3100 bottles and 18 magnums. 14,5% alcohol.

    Luminous, slightly translucent cherry-red color with a youthful purplish hue. The nose feels a bit restrained, but also very fine-tuned with savory and slightly sappy aromas of licorice, some ripe raspberry, a little bit of wild strawberry, light cherry tones, a hint of lingonberry and a touch of alcohol. The wine is rich and juicy yet quite dry on the palate with a medium body and intense flavors of cherries and wild strawberries, some licorice root, a little bit of brambly raspberry, light earthy notes, a hint of sappy dark fruit and a touch of alcohol. The overall feel isn't particularly ripe, yet the wine doesn't feel at all green or unripe either. The moderately high acidity and quite assertive and rather grippy tannins make the wine feel enjoyably stern and sinewy. The finish is crunchy, rather tannic and still wonderfully juicy with a lengthy aftertaste of ripe black cherries and fresh raspberries, some licorice root, a little bit of savory wood spice, light sappy notes of tart lingonberries, a hint of wild strawberry and a touch of alcohol warmth.

    A very stern, serious and assertive Grenache that is so far removed from the sweet, ripe and flabby red wines Southern Rhône and the new world churns out annually. This wine is recognizable for a Grenache with its moderately high alcohol and acidity that feels a bit lower one would expect from a wine that is this low in ripeness, yet the wine doesn't feel it is harvested one bit too early - on the contrary, it feels as though the grapes have been grown in a climate that is just barely warm enough for Grenache, but the grapes have had enough time to attain full ripeness, resulting in a wine that is both typical of Garnacha, yet almost atypically fresh, bright and crunchy for the variety. Simply excellent stuff and in all likelihood the wine is capable of aging much further from here - drink or keep. Highly recommended.
    (94 points)

  • 2016 Luis A. Rodriguez Vazquez Ribeiro A Torna Dos Pasás Escolma - Spain, Galicia, Ribeiro (10.6.2022)
    This Escolma ("selection") label is a special bottling that is not made in lesser vintages. It is a blend of Brancellao (aka. Alvarelhão), Caíño Longo (which, to my understanding, can be both a synonym for Brancellao or a distinct variety altogether), Ferrol (aka. Manseng Noir) and Caíño Redondo (aka. either Camaraou Noir or Manseng Noir) from very old vineyards. Partly destemmed (70%). Fermented spontaneously in open-top fermentors and aged for about a year in French oak barrels. Bottled in December 2017. 13% alcohol. Total production 3800 bottles and 200 magnums.

    Dense, almost fully opaque black cherry color with a youthful blueish hue. The nose feels youthful, sweet-toned and still almost primary with intense aromas of blueberries and licorice, some smoky tones, a little bit of cherry juice, light oaky nuances of vanilla, a hint of savory wood spice, perhaps a slightly creamy or buttery touch of diacetyl and a whiff of coniferous forest. The wine feels ripe yet dry and crunchy on the palate with a rather full body and intense flavors of tart chokeberries and crowberries, some sweeter notes of dark plums, a little bit of sour cherry bitterness, light boysenberry tones, a hint of vanilla and a touch of toasty oak spice. The overall feel is quite firm and fresh, thanks to the quite high acidity and moderately grippy medium-plus tannins. The finish is rich, juicy and quite tannic with intense flavors of savory spices and woody oak, some blueberry tones, a little bit of sweeter vanilla character, light juicy notes of blackberries, a hint of cherry marmalade and a touch of buttery diacetyl.

    A very firm and impressive Galician red that is packing quite bit on intensity and concentration. I'm not sure if the wine had picked up a bit of buttery diacetyl, or if it was just that sweetish oak toast, but the wine had a slightly glossy and polished overall feel that stood in stark contrast to the otherwise rather lean, bright and crunchy overall feel of the wine. Perhaps a bit of a conundrum, but it might all be something that goes away with age - especially when the wine seemed to be so very young and especially the nose came across as almost primary. A lovely effort with lots of upside - even at almost 6 years of age, this wine really calls for some additional aging. Fine stuff.
    (90 points)

  • 1989 Caves São João Bairrada Quinta do Poço do Lobo - Portugal, Beiras, Bairrada (10.6.2022)
    A blend of Baga, Castelão, Touriga Nacional and Moreto sourced from Quinta do Poço do Lobo. Macerated with the skins for 1½ to 2 weeks, then aged for a year in old oak pipes. 12% alcohol.

    Dark, luminous and somewhat evolved black cherry color with a mature brick-red hue and an almost colorless rim. The nose feels savory, somewhat evolved and even slightly roasted with aromas of tar and charred game, some sweet nuances of wizened dark berries, a little bit of crunchy chokeberry, light notes of tobacco, tertiary hints of meat stew and raisiny dark fruit, a touch of tobacco and an earthy whiff of forest floor. The wine feels relatively ripe yet pretty dry on the palate with a silky texture, medium body and juicy, fruit-forward and somewhat evolved flavors of blueberries and ripe red plums, some earthy tones, a little bit of pipe tobacco, light ferrous notes of blood, tertiary hints of old leather and balsamic richness and a touch of dried raspberries. The structure seems to rely mostly on the high acidity at first, as the tannic structure seems quite light and rather resolved, but slowly the wine turns into quite firm and grippy, as the still quite healthy tannins arrive a bit late into the party. The finish is savory, moderately tannic and somewhat tertiary with a lengthy aftertaste of old leather, some wizened black cherries and dried red berries, a little bit of pipe tobacco, light evolved nuances of balsamic richness, a hint of earth and a touch of raisiny dark fruit.

    These old Portuguese reds - perhaps old Bairradas more often - seem to be capable of aging like crazy. Despite its affordable price, this wine was not just drinking quite nicely, but was actually remarkably vibrant and youthful for its age, packing quite a bit of ripe, youthful fruit along its more evolved, savory characteristics. The overall feel here is relatively light and fresh, thanks to the quite light and lean body of the wine and its high acidity. Although an excellent food wine, thanks to its quite gastronomic overall feel, the wine drinks mighty well on its own, too. Although in a prime drinking spot right now, I wouldn't be surprised if this wine continued to age gracefully for another decade or two - seeing how wonderfully bright and full of life the wine is at more than 30 years of age, I don't see it impossible if this wine actually was performing even better at the age of 50. At just 13,93€, the value here is simply crazy.
    (94 points)

  • 2017 Ca'N Verdura Manto Negro Binissalem-Mallorca SuperNova - Spain, Balearic Islands, Binissalem-Mallorca (10.6.2022)
    100% Manto Negro from a handful of 35-70 yo goblet-trained parcels around DO Binissalem-Mallorca. Fermented and macerated for 1-2 weeks in stainless steel tanks and old foudres. Aged for 8 months in old oak barrels and casks, ranging from 500-liter demi-muids to 3000-liter foudres. Total production is around 15,000 bottles. 14% alcohol.

    Luminous, moderately translucent and quite evolved brick-red color with a deeper, blood-red core. The nose feels fragrant and remarkably Pinot Noir-like with vibrant aromas of brambly raspberries and violets, some autumnal spicy notes of coniferous forest, a little bit of meaty character, light fragrant notes of leather, a Mediterranean hint of garrigue and a touch of olive. The wine feels quite ripe, dry-ish and silky on the palate with a medium body and quite sunny flavors of sweet dark berries and slightly wizened dark fruits, some spicy Pinosity, a little bit of peppery character, light cherry tones, a hint of meaty umami and a touch of balsamic richness. The acidity feels moderately high, whereas the tannins are quite mellow and stay pretty much out of the picture. The finish is quite long, round and very gently grippy with ripe, sweet-toned flavors of peppery spice, some wizened black cherries, a little bit of wild strawberry, light meaty notes of umami, a hint of earthy Pinosity and a touch of allspice.

    A very nice, balanced and juicy Mallorcan minimal-intervention red that doesn't suffer from the typical pitfalls of the genre: excessive softness or ripeness, heavy-handed use of oak or too natty and funky overall character. No, on the contrary, the wine is surprisingly acid-driven in style, somewhat noticeably but not excessively ripe and very judiciously (ie. barely perceptibly) oaked. Just like all Manto Negros (which are prone to oxidation), I doubt the wine is really built for aging, but it doesn't seem like the wine is going to fall apart anytime soon. Drink now or in the next few years. Pleasant stuff.
    (89 points)

Posted from CellarTracker


Boy I wish LdH Rosado would be available on this side of the pond for 50 monetary units. It’s almost 3 times that here.

Let’s bring it down to 29.8 in a restaurant in Rioja (One year and a half later and I still can’t believe it) :wine_glass:


I would have started a drinking competition against myself at that price. Wow!

Thanks for the note, Otto. I’m holding onto my '10s for a few more years. It’s the most structured vintage of the LdH Rosado I’ve tasted by far.

You note 20,000 bottles produced. Considering the scarcity of the rosado in the US these days, I wonder where all of that goes? Drunk domestically in Spain maybe?

I asked that question to a retailer in Haro, Rioja. LdH tends to prioritize highly allocated wines to restaurants, whatever is left to one or two distributors and the few remaining for the rest of us. He mentioned that LdH asks him to purchase 1 case of Tondonia red in order to be eligible to buy 1 bottle of white or rosado.

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That used to be the case. From what I’ve heard from the importer, now they have to order a pallet of Tondonia Reserva for a case of Rosado or a single bottle of Gran Reserva Blanco. Or it might’ve been two. Hard to remember these word of mouth things.

And yeah, that’s 2008 Rosado you had there. I bought it for 27,20€. :sweat_smile: 2009 was already 27,50€.

But as people have said, they are highly allocated wines. I think we had something like 36 bottles available here in Finland, so they sold out in three minutes or so.

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I’d take that deal in a heartbeat here :slight_smile:

You’re not the only one - I did say the wines sold out in like three minutes. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I mean order the pallet of Tondonia for a case of Rosado :slight_smile:

Oh. Right. :grin:

I can trade my bottle of 1991 Gran Reserva Blanco for a pallet Bosconia (preferably) or Tondonia Reserva any time :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

[quote=“Otto_Forsberg, post:1, topic:297072, full:true”].

  • Laura Lorenzo / DaTerra Viticultores was a new name to me and I really loved these wines. Absolutely stunning stuff. Need to look into these.

Everything I have had from her has been very good!

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Serious Golf Clap on all of this. I haven’t dug much into Basque wines outside of the odd Txakolina blanco and I’ve never seen a tinto.

I’ve had a handful of Daterra and I’m definitely a fan. There’s a lot of cool and interesting stuff happening in Ribiera Sacra right now and they’re at the forefront of what I’ve had (which is limited tbf)

It’s almost 3x on Otto’s side of the pond as well- in the UK.

You should try to visit Caves Sao Joao some day. Amazing cellars and unreal prices. Lots of magnums as well.

Me and one of my wino friends are planning on doing a wine trip to Portugal next year. I have no idea for how long or where we are going, but the producer is definitely on my list if we ever make it to Bairrada.

Should also go to Filipa Pato and Quinta do Baixo while in Bairrada.

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