Spanish Reds Blind Tasting 2009 (ex Rioja & Ribera)

You and I know it; this blog calling itself a blind tasting blog recently generated far too many posts about food stalls and other dispensable topics digressing far away from the serious duty it bears to throw light on the successful and less successful outcomes of the art of winemaking. Yuck :=) … What I actually wanted to say is that it was really time again for a post justifying the name of this blog. And luckily it occurred that our friend Nick offered to host a blind tasting of Spanish red wines. There were 2 simple rules to follow: the bottles shouldn’t stem from any of the 2 main wine regions (Rioja and Ribera) and they shouldn’t be too old. No problem! Offer accepted! Naturally, as abiding by the official wine tasting protocol, all the bottles were properly covered and mixed before the tasting, thus allowing a fair comparison.


2002 Vietor y Leon Reserva, Valdepenas – Beautiful and brilliant colour. Nose is rather discrete, first only some hints of spice, later some plum fruit but never really getting intensive. Palate starts with light vanilla a.k.a. traces of barrel wood, goes on with cherry notes and is altogether medium weighted. Appears very light and balanced, nearly refreshing; acidity is on the lower end. Finish is better than average but not impressive. Nice light wine though that I could well imagine with a fish course. By the way, I would have never guessed it 7 years old; rather 3 – some 88-89 pts.


2005 Inurrieta Sur, Navarra – Very dark and brilliant colour. Nose first with Kirsch-Schnaps but also with animal like notes of leather; after some time developping a typical vanilla-impregnated Tempranillo nose – in a good way. The palate is middle-weighted, but still with slight astringency and a feel of alcohol burning in the finish. A touch of bitterness is also involved. The whole wine evolves though and gets more complex showing leather, spice, rosemary, and suddenly fruit sweetness takes a bit over, maybe a tad too much for my taste, but in the end most in our round enjoyed this wine and for 6,50 Euro one gets plenty of value. About 88-89 points also I’d say. A pretty well done cuvee of Garnacha, Graziano and Tempranillo actually.


2005 Sonorus Crianza, Navarra
– This one shows off weirdly with a nose at first reminding wet cellar, then a little honey or clove added to it, thus remaining weird. The palate is impacted with some massive tannin, but with sweet fruit and spice hidden underneath. Quite short Finish. It evolved several times, remaining weird in each of its phases, and hardly showing potential. Hoping for the best I’d say that this cuvee of Tempranillo, Cabernet and Garnacha goes through a tuff phase. 82+.


2005 Enrique Mendoza Merlot, Alicante – Very dark colour; Beguiling etheroeus nose of creamy blackcurrant -somehow like crème de Cassis. In some way this instantly reminds me of a good Margaux nose; and a Margaux palate follows: middle weighted, slightly astringent still, but then with sweet blackberry and hints of liquorice. Maybe a bit too jam-like but it got rounder with time and more balanced; Still has some potential for development .When I discovered it was a Merlot, the similarity to the Margaux style suddenly made sense. Quite possible that this bottle could successfully infiltrate a Margaux tasting; and all in all quite an interesting wine considering its price of 12 Euro – 89-90+


1996 Palacio de Arganza, Villafranca del Bierzo
– Dark Colour but getting lighter to the side indicating a higher age. Nose gives a second clue with a slight age note, but also shows some round blackberry fruit and hints of coffee. Appears a bit dusty but nevertheless round and balanced. Nice length. This wine definitely won’t get better than this anymore but also had better times before. 85


2005 Dominio Lasierpe Crianza, Navarra – Nearly black in colour. Rather discrete nose. The palate still has some astringency but with some nice fine grained tannins; it shows blackcurrant fruit and some spices. The finish is fair enough in length but shows some flavours of cooked fruit. This wine still needs some time but should be worth its 7,9 Euro. 83+. A much better choice though would be its aged brother the 2001 Reserva which I posted about here (in German): It’s a bit costier with 14 Euro but also plays in another league.


2005 Palacio Quemando Crianza Alvear, Robera del Guadiana, Extremadura – Even more nearly black in colour than the previous wine and with an elegant purple hue. Nose is quite intense, but also very ordinary with red fruit. Palate shows a higher than average acidity, a slight bitterness but also a fruit sweetness and a little vanilla stemming from the barrel ageing. This wine didn’t strike me at all to be honest, but on the other hand I think it might need a bit more ageing. 82+


2005 Anima Negra, Mallorca – Nearly black in colour but not that shiny. Very intensive nose of leather, gunpowder, musk, tar: a very manly mix someone said. Palate has slight astringency still, but then a superb structure with perfect balance between sweetness and acidity; here again aromas are very masculine with a slight bitter tone reminding bay leafs, then olives and herbs, some leather. There was a sweet fruit part in the wine, but flavors all came through as very masculine. And the finish blew all other wines away in length and intensity. Clearly this cuvee of several autochthon Majorcan varieties was a great wine with superb structure and a distinguished character; also it was my favorite of this tasting. 92-93


2004 Enrique Mendoza Pinot Noir – Very intense, nearly jam-like nose of raspberries and some vanilla. The palate shows high astringency and the same raspberry sweetness underneath, the acidity is quite vivid and weirdly has a bitter taste. The finish isn’t very long and picks up that bitterness. It was quite a surprise to find a Pinot Noir in this Spanish wine selection, never had on before, but it was one of the weaker wines in the end, maybe it could still improve with some time though. 83+


2004 Conde Valdemar Reserva, Rioja – One Rioja managed to infiltrate this tasting. Discrete nose of red fruit and some mint. On the palate a very round wine with red berries an some vanilla, quite ordinary actually, seems quite blunt beneath all those characters’ from the newer Spanish wine regions. It also had a very short finish. For 13 Euro I’d rather buy some other wine from this tasting. 82-83

Wow this was a one of a kind tasting involving lots of fun and interesting bottles; and there was a clear winner for me. The Anima Negra comes close to the league of great wines of this world, but on the other hand it’s also the highest in price for 30 Euro. Luckily though, this tasting also revealed some nice bargains such as the Inurrieta Sur which only costs 6,50 EUR and a more than interesting Merlot which I’d love to try again to confirm my Margaux theory. In a conclusive sentence I’d like to thank our friend Nick for the invitation and the delicious Chili con Carne he cooked for us.

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  1. Felix (guest) Said,
  2. alexis2 Said,

    rischtiiiiisch! :)

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