The cold of winter came quickly this year – no lingering warmth from autumn. In fact, temperatures in December were below average. (Thanks, Harvey Leonard, for the meteorological data.) Then January turned into a marathon of storms. February begins ominously. I received an email from a wine shop this week that stated the one thing you can do in these storms is drink. Thanks for the encouragement. And as the days too slowly start to lengthen, I want more sunshine. If wine be sunshine in a bottle, then I will head to the sunniest section in the wine department – Spain. After an infusion of European Euros and an attunement to the modern wine market, Spanish wineries have been producing reliable – and affordable – wines for several years. In fact, there seems to be an almost deluge of value wines from revitalized Spain. But are they any good? Value and reliability and palatability not being equal. So I was off on patrol to discover some Spanish gems. Click on through for the results of my foray.
- Cellar Espelt Saulo 2006 Emporda. The road to the famed El Bulli runs through the vineyards of this winery in Catalonia. Supposedly, the restaurants serves some of Cellar Espelt’s wines but not this one. In the nose, mixed fruit jam – red currants, strawberries, plums – herbal and earthy; on the palate, the warm fruit aromas come through followed by a noticeable kick form the acidity and tannins which provide a decent finish. If you like very ripe fruit, this wine is a good buy. $12.99
- Lasendal Garnatxa Barrica 2007 Montsant. Made by a cooperative, Celler Capacanes, that began by making kosher wine and then expanded when that venture proved successful. One of their other brands, Mas Donis, is ever present in Spanish wine sections. This wine is a simple pleasure. In the nose, red and black berries; on the palate, the ripe – but not overripe – fruit is followed by enough acidity and astringency to give a bit of structure; a short finish. $8.99
- Pirineous Mesache 2008 Somontano. A blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and 10% Parraleta. In the nose, dark fruit, green leaves, tea; on the palate, the fruit fades, tart; some acidity and rough tannins. $11.99
- Nuvol 2007 Yecla. This and the next wine are mystery wines – the producer is not listed on the bottle nor can any info be found online. Some retail wine sites carry winemaker notes for these wines but with no attribution to the actual winery. My feeling is that someone bought a lot of wine – or in this case – two lots of wine and slapped a label on it. The Nuvol is 100% Monastrell and spends six months in used French and American oak. In the nose, plums, brambles, graphite and a bit of animal; on the palate, the fruit gives way to a soft mouthfeel; the wine finishes with decent acidity and some tannins. This was my second favorite wine of the patrol. $9.99
- Nolia 2009 Catalunya. The wine is 100% Garnacha. In the nose, mixed berry compote, caramel, white pepper, hint of gaminess; on the palate, lots of fruit and a mineral softness, some acidity; a short finish. $6.99
- Castell del Remei Gotim Bru 2008 Costers del Segre. The wine is a blend of 35% Tempranillo, 32% Garnacha, 5% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. The winner of the patrol! I used to drink this wine regularly but the price continued to move upward and out of the plonk range. Now, here it was more reasonably priced – it was like meeting an old friend. The winery was once owned by some Bordelaise who came south: the influence of Bordeaux shows. In the nose, back berries, plums, smoke, a little heat; on the palate, sour cherries and almonds, smooth; decent acidity and tannins. This has become this winter’s house red, replacing the Louis Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon of last year. $11.99
Had I lost my plonk mojo? For the most part, these wines, though serviceable, were boring. The best part of this patrol was being reacquainted with The Gotim Bru. And the other part was not having to shell out for that pesky sales tax. My total – $62.44; well within my Plonk Patrol guidelines. So much for Sunny Spain.
These wines available at Kappy’s, Wellington Circle, Medford MA.