The Wines of Spain meet approval from local testers
Aug. 29, 2001
There's nothing from which we get more pleasure than discovering a relatively unknown quality wine at a reasonable price. But when we find a whole new category of fine tasty wines at every day prices it makes the pleasure even better.
That's what happened at the recent Wines of Spain tasting. There are some remarkable wines being made in that country, wines almost totally unfamiliar to the average American. Equally exciting was the value. As anyone who attended can tell you, the wines were eye opening and the guest narrator, famed wine expert Reid Rapport was charming. Rapport was the wine buyer for the Walt Disney Corporation for seven years. He came to Meridian from his home in Orlando, Fla.
Wine writer Tom Stevenson critiqued Spanish wines like this in one of his articles.
He's right. Not too many years ago Spain produced jug wines, bulk wines poorly produced and without character. The wines we tasted last week were much more than that.
The evening started with Montsarra Cava Brut Non Vintage, a sparkling wine in the under $12 class. It was crisp with good fruit and well balanced flavors. There are several French champagnes that sell for much more but are not any better, if as good.
Next was a full bodied white wine, the Cantonella Cervoles. It was a little pricey at nearly $24 and it is certainly not competitive with a $40 Puligny Montrachet from France, but it can compete with most of the better California chardonnays. It is a bit heavier with a fuller flavor than the lighter more citrus tasting American white wines but it is a style that will please many people. It and the sparkling wine were the only white wines of the evening.
The Enate Somontano red wine at under $11 was a real find. Smooth and tasty, you may not find it in anyone's cellar for long-term aging, but for pleasant drinking with a hamburger or a roast and just for sipping, we recommend this one.
There were two $14 wines on the table and both were excellent. Try either the Castell Del Remei Coster Del Seg or the Capcanes Mas Collet Tarragonna. I preferred the Capcanes but my taste runs to the big gutsy wines which this one certainly is. The Castell is a lush wine but without the power of the Capcanes.
The familiar red label of Marques De Caceras Rioja is stocked by most package stores and several at the tasting had tried it before. At under $15, it sells well and it should but I still prefer the Capcanes. However, the De Caceras showed very well and I heard excellent comments from those in attendance.
The last two wines of the evening were blockbusters. One was the Artadi Rioja and it is very special. Rioja is considered to be the finest wine producing region in Spain and the Artadi shows why. Full bodied, nice bouquet, well balanced flavor, the wine sells for about $25. To the best of my knowledge, there wasn't a single negative comment. It reminded me of a French Burgundy but at a fraction of the price. Critic Robert Parker rates it a 90 on a scale of 100 points.
Wine of the evening
The wine of the evening, however, was plainly the Hacienda Monasterio Ribera De Duero. This bottle can compete with most of the better California cabernets as well as some of the second and third growths from Bordeaux. It retails for $43, so it is not an every day wine but it is rich with good clean fruit and a very desirable satiny smoothness. Spain can be proud of this one. The audience loved it and said so.
One wine did not meet with our tasters approval. It was the Vega Sauco Toro Joven at $11.50. The bouquet was unpleasant, the wine was thin and with only a few exceptions, most tasters poured it into the table dump bucket. We cannot recommend this one.
I only know of one package store in Meridian that carries these wines but all are in the state warehouse and can be ordered if your wine merchant so desires. The Wines of Spain are equal to and, in my opinion, better than many others from California, France, Chile or Australia that cost the same or a great deal more.
If you've been in a wine rut, same old same old, try a few of the Wines of Spain. They will make the pleasures of wine an entirely new experience and a very pleasurable one.