Monday, March 20, 2006


Drinking wine can be like traveling. Each bottle takes you to a new place, a virtual vacation for the senses. Lately, my taste buds have been traveling a lot to Spain where they've discovered vibrant, exciting, affordable reds.

The quality coming out of Spain has never been better. Yet when you visit your local liquor or wine shop, you could be surprised to find a really small section devoted to Spanish wine. They are likely to have lots of Marquis de Riscal Riojas and not too much else. But there is so much more to Spain then riojas. You may need to turn to the internet to order some of the hidden gems Spain has to offer. There are tons of Garnacha (Grenache), Monastrell (Mourvedre), Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan, and Tempranillo/Tinto Fino blends.

Tempranillo is a thick-skinned black grape indigenous to Spain. This "Noble Grape" is low in acidity delivering very smooth, dark wines capable of long cellaring and soft spicy flavors. The Garnacha used in a lot of Spanish wines is also lusher and smoother than the "peppery" Grenache that you find in French Rhone wines. So what you get is very silky, well-balanced fruit with a classic wine structure.


The CAN BLAU MONTSANT shouldn't be too hard to find, except that it has been flying off shelves in my local wine stores. It has a very deep purple color and a pretty berry nose. There is a definite mineral, almost flinty undertone that you tend to find in white wines that have been aged in steel barrels. The wine has a really nice structure to it, slightly bigger than a medium-bodied wine. It is a blend of Carignan, Syrah and Garnacha. Delicious finish. You should be able to find this one for about $13.

FINCA LUZON - JUMILLA ALTOS DE LUZON 2003 ($17) is also another Spanish wine worth sampling. It made Spectator's Top 100 last year as well. It is primarily Monastrell mixed with Tempranillo and Cabernet. It is a top-notch red Spanish blend that grabs you right away the moment it hits your tongue, but I actually found the CAN BLAU MONTSANT to be a more interesting wine and its a few dollars cheaper so it's easier on the wallet.


90 PTS
At $13 a bottle, it is easy to see why Robert Parker has called the CAN BLAU a frugal person's Priorat. If you are looking to experience what Spain has to offer, this is a great wine to start you off. Highly recommended.


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