Spaniards are returning armed with great, cheap wine

November 5, 2012

It’s been nearly 500 years since they invaded our shores. The Spaniards  are returning armed with great, cheap wine. The economic problems in Spain and the fall of the Euro have resulted in a flood of good Spanish wine priced reasonably. On the recommendation of some New Jersey friends, I tried a well-reviewed white by RP and red by International Wine Cellars

Columna Albarino, from Rias Baixas 2011 that hails from coastal Spain in a community named Galicia.  Many of Spain’s best whites originate here. The region is reminiscent of Cali coastal regions, with a great deal of fog and mist rolling in from the ocean, surrounded by arid low mountainous areas. This terroir provides lovely, crisp, high-acidity, large floral bouquet-type wine. The Columna wafts a pretty bouquet of pineapples, white peaches and honeysuckle. On the palate, brisk acidity and medium-bodied, intense, concentrated flavors. Drink during 2013; 92 points when priced less than $160/case.

Bodegas Borsao Campo de Borja Tres Picos Garnacha 2010 reminds me of those great northern Rhone reds. Very deep purple, it opens to vibrant aromas of licorice, cherries and blueberries highlighted with herbs, dried flowers and smoky notes. The IWC write-up claimed it was slightly medicinal, but I did not detect that. On the palate, tart cherry and berry flavors ride a firm tannin, acid frame. I particularly enjoyed the finish with its spicy, smoky notes and the hint of sweet flower flavors. This is a great wine. I rate it 92 when you buy it under $150/case or $14/bottle.

The Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2010 written up here a few months back just came on sale under $18. Harvey Steiman, WS, rated it 92 at $25. I said 91 points. It is a very good value now. This product is always a tough review because its profile is assertive. Olive, tar, blackberry and spice on a balanced frame. Will drink through 2020. Large production may cause it to come down another couple of bucks. Try just one bottle at $25 before investing in a case.

Goldwater Estate Dog Point SB 2011 - with  hunting season under way, I had to try it. Maybe James Healy and Ivan Sutherland had some influence. Regulars will recall these guys were behind Cloudy Bay, one of my best finds in several years. They have been sending Marlborough, New Zealand’s best, for 10 years. Recently, Tanzer and IWC (past five years) have been clued in, but I must brag; I beat them to the punch. The 2011 nose is of flint, ramps and grapefruit.

On the palate, pink grapefruit, currant and a slight herbal undertone. A round mouthfeel plus long, clean finish, where the flavors linger, completes the package; 92 points under $210/case.

Snooth’s Wine of the Year 2013: 2008 Lidio Carraro Tannat Grande Vindima is a Brazilian label. I haven’t had the pleasure, but I trust Greg Dal Piaz's palate. He has not let me down. I will try to find some. Tannat originated in southwest France. Cuttings were brought to Uruguay by Pascal Harrigue, a Basque, in 1870. Most claim since Phylloxera never struck Uruguay these may be the last of the old varietal vines. This varietal produces high-tannin wine, thereby the name Tannat. The only review I found claimed cassis, violets, caramel and dried prunes, medium body and good balance. I’ll let you know.