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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Don Quixote Rides Again - The Wines of Castilla - La Mancha

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Don Quixote Mural at Bodegas Aresan, La Mancha

Castilla-La Mancha: Don Quixote Rides Again
(Published in Santé Magazine September 2005, with minor revisions in this version.

Text & Photographs By Gerry Dawes

Spain is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’s immortal novel of the Man of La Mancha. Cervantes himself was quite a wine lover, and throughout the book there are references to wine. Historically, however, scorching summers in central Spain’s vast Castilla-La Mancha wine region have contributed to flabby, low-acid, quick-to-oxidize white wines and rustic, acid-deficient red wines that were often four parts Airén-based white wine blended with one part red Cencibel (the traditional Manchegan name for Tempranillo) macerated with the red grape skins to pick up color. The wine was warm-fermented in upright baked-clay tinajas, a king-sized version of ancient amphorae, which used to transport and store wine, water, olives and other commodities all over the Roman Empire. The Manchegan idea of vino tinto was and in some wineries still is, a pale purplish-red wine, which was usually served chilled to mask its crude rusticity.

Industry Modernization

All that has changed within the past few years. The wines of Castilla-La Mancha have become fresher, fruitier, and, in some cases, quite sophisticated. The region’s vanguard red wines, like many of their international-style counterparts, are well-built, rich, ripe, sometimes impenetrably dark, and lashed with new French oak. Fledging efforts to make quality white wines are showing flashes of promise in cold-fermented Airén and Viura, sometimes blended with Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc (Ercavio); Chardonnay from Manuel Manzaneque; and Viognier from Finca Vallegracia. Spurred by the successes of warm-country wines such as those from Napa Valley and Australia, quality standards in Castilla-La Mancha (indeed, in all of Spain) have evolved rapidly over the past decade. Although quality is still a relative term, the massive production of wines in this intemperate region has changed substantially for the better.

Enormous resources have gone into modernizing the La Mancha wine industry. Existing wineries have made serious investments in upgrading their equipment, vinification techniques, and vineyard management. New wineries have sprouted like the saffron crocus flowers which color parts of the Manchegan landscape in the fall, and new wire-trained, irrigated vineyards have become common throughout the area.

Airèn and Other Grapes

The La Mancha DO (Denominación de Origen, the equivalent of France’s Appellation d’Origine Controlée) rules were relaxed in 1996 to officially allow the inclusion of foreign grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, which were only “experimental” varieties up until the revision. The white native grapes, Viura (or Macabeo) and Pardilla, and the red grapes, Garnacha Tintorera and Moravia, are also approved varieties. But the overwhelming majority of La Mancha wines are still made from either the white Airèn or, increasingly, the red Tempranillo, Spain’s greatest native red wine grape. Although there are more La Mancha red wines in the American market, there is so much Airén in La Mancha that the acreage makes it the most planted white grape on the planet, outdistancing the prolific Ugni Blanc/Trebbiano of France and Italy. The grower-members of Tomelloso’s Cooperativa Virgen de las Viñas, the largest cooperative in Europe, alone have cultivated a staggering 45,000-plus acres of Airén, which---as preposterous as it may seem in a country known for red wines---is more than double the vineyard acreage of the entire Ribera del Duero DO.

Because of its Airén production, Tomelloso makes more wine than any town in the world. According to Miguel Angel Valentín, Director of Bodegas Centro Españolas (producers of the well-made Allozo red wines and some surprisingly good brandy), Tomelloso harvested 275,600 tons of grapes in 2002. The cooperative’s prodigious production highlights the massive dimensions in both size and production capacity of Castilla-La Mancha, which includes five provinces (Ciudad Real, Toledo, Cuenca, Albacete and Guadalajara). The region boasts half the vineyard land in Spain (1.5 million acres) and produces half of Spain’s wine (500 million gallons annually).

Dry Climate

In My Fair Lady, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” But what rain really falls on La Mancha’s high plains (manxa was the Moorish word for dry land) is less than an annual average of 16 inches. La Mancha averages 3,000 hours of sunlight per year (eight hours per day) and, during the relatively short but very hot, nearly rainless summers, temperatures can and do soar to more than 110ºF, causing Manchegans to pray for “rain on the plain.” Temperatures sometimes dip below 0ºF and bone-chilling winds sweep across the high plateau called the Meseta (“tabletop”) during the long cold winters.

The intense summer heat prevents the grapes from ripening evenly, a recurring malady underscored by Guadalupe Valdes, enologist at Casa de la Viña, who explains, “Due to the high temperatures in this region, the grape pulp ripens much faster than the grapeskins and seeds. This means that the alcohol levels and total acidity are in equilibrium before the skins and pips are ripe.” Traditionally, vines in La Mancha have been grown low to the ground and en vaso (goblet-pruned) to provide a thick canopy of leaves to protect the grapes from the fierce sun. In recent years, however, almost all new vineyards in this region are trained en espaldera (on wires) and use drip irrigation. class=Section2>

There are benefits to this dry climate. The extreme conditions are so inhospitable to insect pests, for instance, that there are still large numbers of old vineyards on pie franco, or pre-phylloxera French rootstock. The vines of La Mancha normally have few humidity-related fungal diseases. Labor costs are reduced because the vineyards need almost no chemical treatments; their upkeep requires only about half as many work days (about 20 per year) as most French vineyards. Many vineyards are essentially organically farmed.

Appellations and Producers

Just one of several DOs in Castilla-La Mancha, the La Mancha DO, which sprawls across all the region’s provinces except Guadalajara, is larger than some countries, occupying nearly 12,000 square miles. Its 475,000 acres under vines make it the largest wine region in the world. The other Castilla-La Mancha DOs are Almansa, Manchuela (where Spanish wine writer Victor de la Serna’s Finca Sandoval is the prominent fine wine to date), Méntrida, Mondéjar, Ribera del Júcar, Valdepeñas, and parts of Jumilla. The increasingly more important designation, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, is one that many wineries are using for often top-quality wines that do not strictly conform to the DO regulations in their regions. For example, many of them contain the not-yet-approved Syrah.

The producers in the most important designations---La Mancha, Valdepeñas, and Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla---fall into several categories. In the Valdepeñas DO, an overwhelming majority of the production is still dedicated to inexpensive, quaffable wine turned out by some of the largest wineries in Spain. While several wines, including the Félix Solis Viña Albali reservas, the J. A. Megia e Hijos Corcovo line, Bodegas Los Llanos Pata Negra’s Videva Aniversario, and the wines of Casa de la Viña are palatable and generally inexpensive, none of them are worthy competitors to the elite wines of La Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Priorato.

The huge La Mancha DO has a number of wineries, many of them newcomers working within the regulatory council’s guidelines, that are a notch above Valdepeñas both in the quality of their vinification facilities and wines. These commercial ventures make plenty of reasonably priced good wine to compete on the world market with wine from Chile, Australia, and South Africa. The majority of these wineries have been established recently by outsiders from La Rioja, Jerez, and Ribera del Duero, and some of their wineries and plantations are impressive.

Ribera del Duero’s renowned Alejandro Fernández (Tinto Pesquera) founded El Vínculo in the windmill-crowned town of Campo de Criptana in Cuidad Real Province and is turning out some very good La Mancha DO red wines from contract grapes. In a remote, high-altitude site (2,854 feet) near Los Hinosojos in Cuenca Province, La Rioja’s Martínez Bujanda family (Conde de Valdemar, Finca Valpiedra) has established a large, ultra-modern, James Bond movie set of a winery and a wire-trained, 618-acre vineyard on a 2,412-acre site called Finca Antigua. The inexpensive Finca Antigua wines---a Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot crianza, a Cabernet, and a Tempranillo---are delicious bargains. Near Finca Antigua is Finca Los Trenzones, a 1,477-acre, high-altitude estate, which was purchased by the Rioja’s Bodegas Faustino Martinez group. They replanted the Tempranillo vineyards (including an experimental 100-acre organic vineyard), installed modern vinification equipment, and purchased new American oak barrels for ageing the wines. The clean, fruity, Condesa de Leganza 100 percent Tempranillo crianza and a reserva are quite inexpensive but with perhaps too much showy oak.

Several other DO La Mancha wineries making a palatable, moderately priced range of wines include Allozo from Bodegas Centro-Españoles, Fontal (Bodegas Fontana), Vega Moragona (S. Coop. La Magdelena), Torre de Gazate (Vínicola de Tomelloso), Señorío de Guadianeja (Vínicola de Castilla), and Veronés (Santa Rita).

Vanguard Wines

For many modern palates, the most interesting wines in this vast region are the Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla, a wine designation that was established in 1999 to allow wineries experimenting with alternative varieties (e.g., Chardonnay, Viognier, Syrah, and Petit Verdot) and using vinification and aging techniques that were outside the approved DO regulations to produce and market such wines as they see fit. Some of the most powerful and unique producers in the region bottle Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla wines. Many other producers market some of their wines under the DOs La Mancha, Valdepeñas, and so forth, but label their flagship wine as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla.
Vitis Terrarum

Among the top wines under this designation are the two Castilla-La Mancha self-proclaimed Pagos DOs (single vineyard DO properties similar to France’s Château Grillet in the Rhône Valley): the Marqués de Griñon Carlos Falcó’s Dominio de Valdepusa near Toledo, which makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, and the top Petit Verdot in Spain); and Finca Elez, theatrical producer Manuel Manzaneque’s high-altitude vineyards in the Sierra de Alcaraz in Albacete Province. Other standout wines include Ercavio from Mas Que Vinos, Gran Calzadilla (Uribes Madero), La Estacada Syrah (Finca La Estacada), Avalón (Arva-Vitis), Quercus (Bodegas Fontana), Pago Florentino (from the producers of Ribera del Duero’s Arzuaga Navarro wines), Vega Ibor (Bodegas Real), plus Dehesa Carrizal and Vitis Terrarum from eponymously named wineries. Sherry producer Osborne has made a huge investment in its new 2,500-acre estate and 270,000-square-meter bodega near Malpico de Tajo, where three Vino de la Tierra de Castilla red wines are produced: Dominio de Malpica (100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon); an Osborne Selección Solaz{ital] blend of Syrah and Tempranillo; and the bargain-priced Solaz, a blend of Tempranillo (80 percent) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20 percent).

While Don Quixote’s wine-loving creator, Miguel de Cervantes, would certainly not recognize the wines of La Mancha today, many of the world’s top wine critics have begun to discover the potential of the world’s largest wine region. Restaurant wine buyers would be wise to taste La Mancha’s exciting new high-value wines and introduce the best of them to their guests.

What is a Castilla-La Mancha Wine?

General Characteristics
Although some of the region’s white wines---mainly Chardonnay and Viognier---are beginning to show some promise, the real interest lies in the explosion of red-wine contenders. They resemble California and Australia wines with very ripe extracted fruit, lush berry-cherry flavors, and plenty of new oak. The best of these wines can be lush, silky, sweet, and delicious, but with a kick that can hit 14.5 percent alcohol and higher.


The majority of Castilla-La Mancha’s reds should be consumed within a year or two of purchase. But a number of producers make wines that need 2-5 years to open up and to integrate some of the surfeit of new oak that many carry. Wines such as Dominio de Valdepusa, Gran Calzadilla, and El Vínculo will improve in bottle and need time after release.

Recent Vintages

In La Mancha, more than just the vintage, as indeed everywhere in the wine world, it is more important to follow the best producers, who must turn out the best wine possible every year to guard their bodega’s reputation.

2004 –-- Hailed as very good vintage in most of Spain, Castilla-La Mancha included.

2003 --– One of the hottest years on record. Massive, fat, very ripe, early-maturing wines.

2002 --– A cool rainy year in many parts of Spain, but better in hot and dry Castilla-La Mancha.

2001 –-- Some very good, rich, easy-drinking wines were made.

2000 –-- Good to very good. Ripe, easy-drinking wines. The best are balanced and ready to drink.

Reviewer’s Choice

By Gerry Dawes

Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Tinto Pesquera El Vínculo 2002 La Mancha
100% Tempranillo

Gutsy nose of crushed ripe berries and violets. Powerful, warm country wine with strawberry compote, licorice, dark chocolate, coffee, and new oak. Roast chicken with potatoes, roast meats, pasta, pizza.

Bodegas Vitis Terrarum Tempranillo Vitis Terrarum 2001
Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
100% Tempranillo

Deep, ripe, fruity nose. Round, soft, and easy-drinking with very rich black fruit and chocolate flavors and a tannic new-oak finish. Grilled or roasted meat, especially lamb, Manchego cheese, chorizo.

Mas Que Vinos La Plazuela 2001 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla
88% Tempranillo, 12% Garnacha

Deep, ripe black and red fruit and restrained oak aromas. Ripe and balanced with velvety, rich black fruit, chocolate, and cola flavors. Lamb, game, steaks, soft cheeses.

Mas Que Vinos: Margarita Madrigal & Alexandra Schmedes

Dominio de Valdepusa Petit Verdot 2002 / Dominio de Valdepusa
100% Petit Verdot

Vivid black fruits, licorice, and violets. Very rich and ripe with plum, strawberry, currant, and mineral flavors. Game, rack of lamb, refined upscale modern meat dishes.

Tasting Notes (When no price is available, the wine may not have a U. S. importer.)

Bodegas del Muni Corpus del Muni 2003 V. T. de Castilla
75% Tempranillo, 20% Syrah, 5% Garnacha

Clean, ripe compote nose. Gutsy, warm, pleasant ripe black fruits flavors with prominent new oak. Drink now, but would benefit from some more cellaring. Manchego cheese, paella, steaks. Fran Kysela et Fils, Ltd., 540-722-9228, $48/case of 6.

Bodegas del Muni Corpus del Muni Viña Lucía 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% Tempranillo

Dark black cherry. Toasty, funky nose. Heady and very ripe, but juicy and decently balanced with jammy red currant and strawberry flavors liberally laced with new French oak. Lamb, sheeps’ milk cheeses, beef. Drink now, cellar for a few years.
Fran Kysela et Fils, Ltd., 540-722-9228, $60/case of six.

Conde de Leganza Finca Los Trezones Crianza 1999 D. O. La Mancha
(Owned by Bodegas Faustino Martínez, La Rioja) 100% Tempranillo

Dark, plummy blackberry. Rustic nose of with vanilla, cloves, compote. Facile, easy drinking, balanced with juicy, sweet fruit flavors and vanilla American oak that needs food. Good by the glass. Chicken, spinach pasta with tomato sauce, grilled mushrooms. Drink now, 2-3 years.
Palm Bay Imports, 800-872-5622, $80/case. Value selection.

Bodegas Fontana Mesta Tempranillo 2004 V. T. de Castilla

Medium black cherry. Clean, fruity nose. Nice, quaffable, strawberry compote with cloves and cinnammon, some chocolate flavors and no oak. Good by the glass (available in magnums). Pizza, pasta, lamb dishes, tuna. Drink now, 1-2 years.
Winebow - VinEspaña Selections, 212-255-9414, $64/case

Fontana Tempranillo Roble 2003 D. O. La Mancha

Deep black cherry. Clean, ripe fruit, light new oak nose. Spices, cloves, ripe crushed berries, a little jammy, but rich, round, inviting. Drink now. Pizza, pasta, lamb, tuna, swordfish.
Winebow - VinEspaña Selections, 212-255-9414, $84/case

Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Tinto Pesquera El Vínculo 2002 D. O. La Mancha

Deep black cherry color. Gutsy nose of crushed ripe berries and violets. Big, powerful, warm country wine with strawberry compote, licorice, dark chocolate, coffee and new oak. Roast chicken with potatoes, roast meats, pasta, pizza. Drink now, hold two-four years.
Classical Wines, 800-257-7225, $200/case.

Bodegas Alejandro Fernández Tinto Pesquera El Vínculo Reserva 2001 D. O. La Mancha

Black cherry. Licorice, ripe fruit, oak. Big, gutsy, tarry, licorice and ripe berry flavors with a liberal lashing of oak. Roast pork loin, lamb, cheese pizza, pasta with Mediterranean sauces. Drink now, hold several years.
Classical Wines, 800-257-7225, $320/case

Osborne Selección Solaz Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 V. T. de Castilla
50% Tempranillo, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep plummy red. Ripe fruit, new American oak. Balanced, easy-drinking, versatile with ripe cherry, plum and berry fruit, brassy new oak bite. Good by the glass. Pizza, pasta, hamburgers, grilled vegetables. Near-term drinking.
W. J. Deutsch & Sons, 914-251-9463 $64/case

Osborne Selección Solaz Shiraz-Tempranillo 2003 V. T. de Castilla
50% Shiraz, 50% Tempranillo

Medium pie cherry color. Light oak, spices, red fruit compote. Ripe fruit, warm, noticeably peppery, strawberry, cherry, brassy oak. Good by the glass. Manchego/Zamorano cheeses, grilled beef, pork chops, pizza, hamburgers. Near-term drinking.
W. J. Deutsch & Sons, 914-251-9463 $64/case

Osborne Selección Dominio de Malpica Vendimia Seleccionada 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark blackberry. Spicey oak, ripe fruit nose. Smooth, easy, fat, round, very ripe with coffee, carob, dark chocolate and licorice flavors. Pork cutlets with leeks, mushrooms and peppers, pasta with cheese, game dishes. Drink now, 2-4 years
W. J. Deutsch & Sons, 914-251-9463, $120/case

Finca Antigua Tempranillo 2002 D. O. La Mancha
(owned by Familia Martínez Bujanda, La Rioja) 100% Tempranillo

Deep black cherry. Pleasant oaky, strawberry compote nose. Bright, ripe strawberry, red currant and chocolate braced with firm oak tannins. Good by the glass with food. Grilled meats, aged cheeses, pizza, barbecue fare. Drink now, 1-2 years.
CIV - USA, 800-669-1972, $80

Finca Antigua Reserva 2001 D. O. La Mancha
75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah

Deep, plummy blackberry. Ripe fruit, mature coffee, tobacco nose. Heady, very ripe black fruit compote, tarry licorice, dark chocolate and new oak. Roast chicken, grilled meats, pork roast, mushrooms. Drink now, 2 years.
CIV - USA, 800-669-1972, $144.

Bodegas Vitis Terrarum Vitis Terrarum Tempranillo 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% Tempranillo (ungrafted single vineyard)

Deep black red. Big, deep, ripe, fruity nose. Big, round, soft, low acid, very rich black fruit and chocolate flavors. Smooth, easy drinking with a tannic new oak finish. Drink now to 5 years. Grilled or roasted meat, especially lamb, Manchego cheese, chorizo.
Boca Wine Imports, 561-212-6095, $320 / case of 6.

Cooperativa Nuestra Señora del Pilar Almedo 2003 V. T. de Castilla
(Special American cuvee) 60% Tempranillo, 25% Syrah, 15% Syrah

Murky plum red. Big, grapey, toasty nose. Strawberry and toast, soft and grapey up front, but with sherry-like flavors and a hot finish that belies the announced 13% alcohol. Pizza, pasta, barbecue grill food. Good value. Drink up.
VinLozano Imports, Inc., 978-297-5477, $60.

Bodega Ecologica Bruno Ruíz Villanueva Roble 2001 V. T. de Castilla
75% Cencibel (Tempranillo), 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah (organically grown)

Med pie-cherry red. Pie cherries and new oak. Pleasant, easy-drinking mix of spices (cloves, cinnamon and vanilla), strawberry-red cherry fruit and new oak. Good by the glass. Grilled chicken, tuna steaks, pasta, tapas.
VinLozano Imports, Inc., 978-297-5477, $60.

Cruzares, S.A. Marqués de Moral Crianza 2000 Valdepeñas
(Owned by Félix Solís)100% Cencibel (Tempranillo)

Deep black-red. Tanky, rustic, baking spice nose. Rustic, with volatile acidity, but a pleasant, if rough-edged country wine (true to the region) with a core of chocolate-red berry fruit. Grilled food, Italian pasta dishes, cured cheeses. Good value, drink now.
Fran Kysela et Fils, Ltd., 540-722-9228, $48/case of 12

Topping bottles with hot wax at Finca la Estacada

Finca la Estacada Selección Varietal 2001 V. T. Tierra De Castilla
Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Mazuelo (Carignane)

Dark plum-cherry. Violets, licorice, toast, black and red fruits. Cola, cherries, red currants, licorice, spices, good acid and firm new oak (18 months). Upscale modern cuisine dishes, pasta, roast chicken, steaks, pork, lamb. Drink now to 3-5 years.
Grapes of Spain, Inc., 703-249-8028, $84/case of 6.

Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Tempranillo Roble 2003 V. T. de Castilla
Tempranillo (usually with some Cabernet Sauvignon)

Deep plum-red. Very ripe black fruits, licorice, baking spices. Rich, very ripe, sweet black currants, black raspberry, cloves, and licorice. Drink now, 1-2 years. Great value. Barbecues, grilled food, sheeps’ cheeses.
European Cellars/704-358-1565 / $80
Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Reserva 2000 V. T. de Castilla
90% Tempranillo, 10% Merlot

Dark plum-red. Ripe black currants, restrained oak. Delicious, rich, but not overripe, soft black cherry, currants and chocolate flavors with oak in harmony. Grilled lamb, game dishes (quail, rabbit), dishes with chorizo. Drink now to five years.
European Cellars, 704-358-1565, $?

Mas Que Vinos La Plazuela 2001 V. T. de Castilla
88% Tempranillo, 12% Garnacha

Dark black cherry. Deep, ripe black and red fruit nose, restrained oak. Ripe, but again not overripe, velvety, rich black fruit, chocolate and cola flavors with oak in balance. Lamb, game, steaks, soft cheeses. Drink now to five years.
European Cellars, 704-358-1565, $360 / case

Bodegas Hermanos Arenas Sánchez Aresan Crianza 2002 V. T. de Castilla
65% Tempranillo, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep plum-red. Ripe, sweet, jammy nose. Simple, easy-drinking, ripe blackberry and currant flavors with firm oak tannins. Charcuterie, cured cheeses, grilled meats. Drink now, 1-2 years.

Pago Florentino Pago Florentino 2002 V. T. de Castilla
(owned by Ribera del Duero’s Arzuaga-Navarro) 100% Tempranillo

Deep, thick black plum. Pleasant, very ripe blackberry-black cherry nose. Very concentrated, incredibly rich, powerful (14.5%) black cherry, chocolate and cola flavors. Cheese ravioli, grilled tuna, rack of lamb. Drink now, 3-4 years. $160 / case

Pago del Vicario Agios 2002 V. T. de Castilla
80% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha Tintorera

Thick, dark blackberry. Intense blackberry jam, licorice. Incredibly concentrated, powerful, rich, extracted with licorice, chocolate and jammy black fruits. Venison, roasted meats, Mediterranean pasta dishes, enchiladas. $220 / case

Arva Vitis Avalon de Arva Vitis 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% old vines Tempranillo

Med-deep plum-cherry red. Sweet red fruit, light new oak. Good balance, easy-drinking, sweet plum, cherry, strawberry fruit and baking spices. Chicken dishes, tuna, game. $?

Bodegas Real Vega Ibor Tempranillo Barrique Crianza 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% Tempranillo

Dark blackberry. Cola, cherry jam, ripe strawberries. Rich, soft, round, low acid with strawberry-cherry, cola and tannic oak finish. Pasta, game dishes, charcuterie, sheeps’ milk cheeses. Drink now, 1-2 years. Grape Expectations Wine Imports, 919-781-1655 $56 / case

Bodegas Real Finca Marisánchez Roble 2001 V. T. de Castilla
80% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot

Opaque, thick, black plum. Nice, concentrated nose, new oak. Very concentrated, rich, blackberry-cherry, plum, chocolate, and carob flavors. Deceptively drinkable, but packs a punch
Grape Expectations Wine Imports, 919-781-1655, $176 / case

Dominio de Valdepusa Syrah 2002 D.O. Dominio de Valdepusa
100% Syrah

Deep black plum. Big, concentrated, stewed black fruit. Big, but well-balanced with rich, round, blackberry fruit and licorice. Drink now to five years. Pates, charcuterie, venison, grilled meats.
$300 / case

Dominio de Valdepusa Emeritus 2000 D.O. Dominio de Valdepusa
Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah

Medium deep black-red plum. Big, ripe, modern Bordeaux-esque nose. Very powerful (14.5%), but smooth with intense stewed black fruit, cola, carob and espresso. Drink now to seven years. Venison, country pates, charcuterie, cheese selections, mushrooms. $520 / case

Dominio de Valdepusa Petit Verdot 2002 D.O. Dominio de Valdepusa
100% Petit Verdot

Thick, dark black cherry. Deep black fruits, licorice, violets. Very rich, ripe, delicious with plums, strawberries, red currants and minerals. Drink now to 7-8 years. Game, rack of lamb, refined upscale modern meat dishes.  $440 / case

Pagos de La Familia, S.A. Summa Varietalis 2001 Vino Tinto de Mesa Tinto de Toledo
(Made at Domino de Valdepusa) Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Syrah

Deep plum red. Big, ripe plummy, herbaceous. Very ripe, concentrated, delicious black currant and cherry fruit. Game, mushroom sauces, Spanish cheese selections, serrano ham. $320 / case

Bodegas y Viñedos Uribes Madero Gran Calzadilla 1998 V. T. de Castilla
75% Tempranillo, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon

Deep black raspberry. Big, ripe wild fruit nose, violets, perfume, licorice, oak. Ripe, intense, sweet fruit with loads of strawberries, red cassis, smoke, licorice, violets with tannic new oak finish. Now to 10 years. Great Napa Cabernet / Bordeaux food.
Charmer Industries, 800-794-9615, $93 / case of 6.

Bodegas y Viñedos Uribes Madero Calzadilla 1998 V. T. de Castilla
60% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.5% Garnacha, 12.5% Syrah

Deep black cherry. Great, sweet, ripe wild fruit nose, licorice, chocolate. Wonderful, sweet fruit with wild strawberries, currants, black raspberry, coffee and licorice with prominent new oak. Now to 10 years. Napa Cabernet / Cru Classe Bordeaux food. 
Charmer Industries, 800-794-9615, $93 / case of 6.

Finca Sandoval 2001 La Manchuela
93% Syrah (Petit Syrah) / 7 % Monastrell (Mourvedre)

Thick, black as coal. Powerful, deep, ripe black fruits nose. Very sweet, smooth blackberry, black cherry, and cassis flavors with hints of black pepper and firm, but not overwhelming new French oak. Now to 5-7 years. Hermitage food, roasted and grilled meats, wild duck, goats’ and sheeps’ milk cheeses. Jorge Ordoñez - Fine Estates From Spain, 781-461-5767, $240 / case

Finca Sandoval 2002 La Manchuela
93% Syrah (Petit Syrah) / 7 % Monastrell (Mourvedre)

Deep black cherry. Deep, ripe plummy, black fruits and licorice nose. Big, ripe, round, silky with easy-drinking, sweet, black fruits flavors and minerals. Perhaps will develop more complexity with cellaring. Now to 5 - 8 years. Hermitage food, roasted and grilled meats, wild duck, goats’ and sheeps’ milk cheeses. Jorge Ordoñez - Fine Estates From Spain, 781-461-5767, $240 / case

Bodegas Martúe Martúe Syrah 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% Syrah

Thick, deep black raspberry. Ripe, sweet black fruits, black pepper, oak. Very concentrated with bright black cherry, clove and pepper flavors and a sweet cola and oak finish. Now to 3-5 years. Duck, roast pork, sheeps’ cheeses, steak with peppercorns. $160 / case

Dehesa del Carrizal Selección Privada 2002 V. T. de Castilla
40% Cabernet Sauvigon, 30% Syrah, 30% Merlot

Murky black plum. Spicey nose, new French oak. Cassis, blackberry and minerals, dominated by new oak. Big Napa style, corresponding dishes, venison, grilled meats, goats’ and sheeps’ milk cheeses. 3-5 years. $?

Bodegas Pago de Vallegarcía Syrah 2001 V. T. de Castilla
100% Syrah

Deep black raspberry. Ripe fruit, minerals, coffee, new oak. Sweet, ripe, intense dark black fruits, some pepper, but bound in new oak. Game terrines, roast pork, lamb rib chops, grilled tuna. Needs 3-5 years. $320 / case

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:57 AM

    We met almost 20 years ago on a Spanish Olive Oil tour. I on the faculty at Columbia University and a consultant to the International Olive Oil Council.
    My husband and I now own a vineryard/winery and are planning a trip to Spain. I thought of you.
    Please be in touch.
    Audrey Cross


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