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Don P

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Spanish Wine Mania!

by Don P » Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:23 am

Hello All:

After joining the news group and having a great time perusing the posts, I saw there wasn't much of a discussion surrounding one of my favorite regions right now - Spain. I got hooked on some of the different Riojas last year, and stumbled across a set of wines from a place called Marques de Riscal Elciego (Alava). They produce a Reserva and a Grand Reserva that rival just about any lighter red I have has from any other region in the world. We had a bottle of the 1998 Gran Reserva with our turkey last Christmas, and after finishing it no longer regretted I passed up my favorite Pinot from Oregon.

Trouble is, I am a taster that when I find a wine I like, I buy a bunch and stick with it exclusively. However, this does not trump that I am not open minded...

Has anybody tried either of these wines and can make a recommendation for related types within (or without, for that matter) the Spanish genre? Spain is somewhat of a mystery to me, and I have had some good ones (like this one) and some baaaaad ones (a nasty one called Wrongo Dongo).

I look forward to everybody's feedback.

DP
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Howie Hart » Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:55 am

Hi Donald and welcome to one of my favorite places.
I suggest you do a search for posts by Joe Perry, both here and on the old WLDG page. He has been posting less lately, but has considerable experience with Spanish wines and has many posts about them in the archives.
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Don P » Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:23 am

Hey Howie:

Thanks for the warm tip o' the hat and some hints on where to look! I look forward to learning everything I can from all of the "Wine Geeks" :-).

Take care.

DP
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Ian Sutton

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Ian Sutton » Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:41 am

Don
And us from you! Welcome.
Ian
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James Dietz

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by James Dietz » Tue Jul 25, 2006 1:30 pm

If you like that wine, which I'm guessing is a Rioja, try Muga or Lan. To me, they are a step up from the one you have tried.. and a small bit more expensive.
Cheers, Jim
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Bill Buitenhuys

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Bill Buitenhuys » Tue Jul 25, 2006 4:04 pm

Hi Don,
First of all, welcome to the board. It's always good to hear from another wine lover and cynic.
I've had the '96 Riscal GR a few times and liked enough to buy what little I could find around here. It has good aromatics, good flavor, and great structure without being all new oaked up and overly processed. I havent had a Riscal Reserva though.

At similar price point (the '96 was $35 around here) I'd suggest Muga Prado Enea, CVNE Vina Real GR, La Rioja Alta 904 GR, and R. Lopez de Heredia Bosconia or Tondonia Reserva. All of those are $30-40. If you can find any 1996 left around, buy them (vs. say 1998). While these are all varying in styles, they are made with more traditional methods.
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Dave Erickson

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Dave Erickson » Tue Jul 25, 2006 5:14 pm

There's so much going on in Spain these days it's hard to know where to start. Just off the top, there's Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha; usually available for $10; the amazing Celler Del Roure Les Alcusses, a blend of tempranillo, cab, mourvedre, and mando, about $16; and the Campo de Borja region, home of Bodegas Aragonesas and the Borja Co-op, which turn out millions of gallons of very acceptable reds at embarrassingly low prices...

And then there's Bierzo, which is the new Priorat, which was the new Toro, which was the new Rueda, which was the new Rioja... :D
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Don P » Tue Jul 25, 2006 5:36 pm

Hey Bill:

Thanks for the suggestions; I'm going to see what I can find at a big outlet store in Laurel, MD next week with yours on my list.

For anybody who's had these wines, Bill makes a good point about them - not too complicated, yet not quaffable either; they have some pretty good structure that lets you sit back and just enjoy the ride, as it were.

Also, for reference, the GR comes with a blue top while the Reserva is a silver top and the price points are higher than you'd expect from a Spanish wine. Both versions also have an interesting gold netting that surrounds them; very pretty bottle.

Thanks again for the warm welcome from everybody!

DP
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James Roscoe

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by James Roscoe » Tue Jul 25, 2006 5:44 pm

Don,
Welcome to the forum. Where do you live? I am a regular shopper at the BAWS in Laurel, MD. They have a decent Spanish selection. Ask for John Webster. He seems to have the best handle on the Spanish wines up there, although almost all the wine assistants are pretty good.

There are a bunch of Marylanders here on this forum. Don't be a stranger. Hopefully Joe P. Or Manuel will chime in with their insightful opinions untainted by any sarcasm or words of doom.

Cheers!
James
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Don P » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:07 pm

Hey Jim:

I used to live across from Corridor off 198 and in the shadow of NSA. I didn't realize I was living across the road from a place as crazy as theirs until I moved out to Mount Airy. The local liquor store guys are good, but the selection is a little dry.

Glad to hear the are a lot of Marylanders in the forum! We need to start a grass roots thing against Controller Schaefer and his obsession with distributors!

Thanks for the post.

DP
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Bob Henrick » Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:26 pm

Don, welcome to the forum. About that Riscal, I first started drinking it in Spain in 1968 while I was there with the USAF. It was my first quality spanish wine. I enjoy them now in good years, but IMO the winery has slipped from it's glory years.
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Jenise » Tue Jul 25, 2006 8:33 pm

Dr. Dietz, I 'member buying a bunch of the Riscal Reserva at Trader Joe's for like $8 a bottle. They were probably 91's. Anyway, they drank very well about five to eight years out and I was sorry I hadn't bought more. They were my first hint that I had missed the boat on Spanish wines. The one Lan I've tasted seemed a lot more modern and oaked, which would be better to some but not for me. But of course the two experiences were years apart.
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by JoePerry » Wed Jul 26, 2006 11:16 pm

Don, there have been some good Rioja suggestions thus far.

To those already mentioned, I'd add that you should try Contino, Cune Imperial, Riojanas, Remirez de Ganuza, Sierra Cantabria, San Vicente, Remelluri and Roda.

You'll get a whole range of styles. If you try a R Lopez de Heredia or La Rioja Alta wine, it'll be totally different from a riper more modern Roda, Ganuza or Cantabria. The Riscal you had straddles the fence of modern and traditional Rioja, the above wines range a bit from that.

For cheap, low-teens Rioja, I buy Reserva (and a few Gran Reserva) from these producers: Berberana, Bilbainas, Castillo Labastida, Bodegas El Coto, Ramón Bilbao and (especially) Riojanas.

Also, I would check out some Ribera del Duero wines. My favorites are Pesquera, Teofillo Reyes and Val Sotillo - these are riper with spicy fruit, but they don’t give you very good bang for your buck (which is why I usually don’t buy them).

Best,
Joe
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Jenise » Thu Jul 27, 2006 1:44 pm

Joe, I'm surprised to see you mention Pesquera. I like the wine (bought both 2000 and 2001 by the case, at around $17/ea), but I have kind of gotten the impression that it's mucho uncool to like this wine. I like it anyway and don't mind saying so, but knowing your passion for Spanish wine (rioja in particular) I would have thought this outside of your range in more ways than one.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Dave Moritz

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Dave Moritz » Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:12 pm

Donald:
Welcome! Just a quick question: Did the demise of the 1957 Rothschild noted in your appended signature line actually take place?

Dave Moritz
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Hoke

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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Hoke » Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:15 pm

Hey, Don:

A bunch of folks have chimed in to give you the info you need, so I'm coming to the party late.

The Marques you cite is one of the standard, very safe, reliable and consistent producers of Rioja. The winery is located in the small town of ElCiego in the Rioja Alavesa (Alava, or the Alevesa) is one of the three sections of Rioja, and it's called Alavesa because it's heavy in Basque population and tradition. Also significant for good wine production.

The Marques has always been one of the standby go-to wines for Rioja, presenting, as I said, a very reliable, consistent and pleasant drinking wine for a damned good price.

The trouble with Rioja is that once the Spanish economy started reviving, new markets opened up (not least of which was the US market) and the EU came to prominence, things started to change pretty quickly. Many wineries quickly adopted new technology (and mostly, new sanitation methods), both of which vastly improved the general quality of the wines, although in many cases it sort of blanded out some of them, made them less distinctive and individualistic. In many cases also, the influx of new technology, new ideas from outside, and mostly new money resulted in the dreaded 'globalization' effect, which meant gobbier fruit, higher alcohol and waaaaay more oak influence. And, sadly, escalating prices.

So Rioja now can be a dangerous minefield to walk through. Things are still in flux, and it's hard to predict what you'll get when you buy a bottle, or whether it will suit your taste. On the other hand, there's far less chance of getting outright bad (i.e, spoiled or flawed) wine these days.

UberGeeks like Perry are generally a good guide to what's going on there, although he's as prone to his own preferences as anyone else, enthusiastically boosting his own faves and just as enthusiastically lambasting those he doesn't like. (Hi, Joe.)

Point is, you've landed on a very good thing with Rioja, and Spanish wines in general (the white as much right now, if not more so, as the reds, imo). Experiment your butt off with the Spanish right now. You won't be sorry. The quality is there, and.....generally...the price is right, and their are treasures to be found.

For instance, the tiny little area of Bierzo makes a red from a variety called Mencia...if you see that around (that is, the lower priced versions, which are generally less goopified and simpler), try it.

But if you stick with trying Riojas, that alone will be immensely rewarding.
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by OW Holmes » Thu Jul 27, 2006 2:45 pm

Welcome, Don, to the friendliest spot on the net for winos. We look forward to your contributions.

Joe Perry, here in Western Michigan, the rioja selection isn't very good. We have the riscal, and a few ribera's like Pesquera, Flor de Pingus, Emilio Moro, etc... but the riojas are limited. What's your take on Montecillo, Palacio y Hermanos, Artadi and Arienzo, which are available here?
-OW
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by James Roscoe » Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:20 pm

In other words Joe, is there a list of the generally accesible Spanish wine that fall into one of the following three categories: Spoofulated and undrinkable; spoofed but drinkable; unspoofed? If Manuel is able to pop his knowledgable head in here I wouldn't mind listening to his sage advice as well. I generally avoid Spanish wines as most of the stuff at the $15 - 20 range is pretty oaky and I am not into beaver food.
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Don P » Thu Jul 27, 2006 3:27 pm

Hey James:

You're right on the money; that's why I threw the question out for everybody to ponder. I have had some really bad runs with Spanish wines in general, but this Riscal rivals a lot of the good stuff I've had and can't figure out what makes it a diamond in the rough. The label has all kinds of awards for some tasting in France, so they've done something right...

BTW, since you're a Marylander, have you been to Corridor liquors at 198 & B/W Parkway?

DP
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Hoke » Thu Jul 27, 2006 4:23 pm

The label has all kinds of awards for some tasting in France


Don: You might want to go back and read the dates of those various awards displayed on the bottles. Not dissing the general quality of Riscal, but those awards might speak more to their history than their present, as I recall. (Though I haven't really paid attention to whether they've changed them lately.) :D
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by JoePerry » Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:33 pm

Jenise wrote:Joe, I'm surprised to see you mention Pesquera. I like the wine (bought both 2000 and 2001 by the case, at around $17/ea), but I have kind of gotten the impression that it's mucho uncool to like this wine. I like it anyway and don't mind saying so, but knowing your passion for Spanish wine (rioja in particular) I would have thought this outside of your range in more ways than one.


In my opinion, I've had either very good or poor value Pesquera. I like the fruit of Rioja better (and prices) so I typically don't get RdD, but to be fair to Don P's experimentations I felt inclined to mention it.

Best,
Joe
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by JoePerry » Thu Jul 27, 2006 5:46 pm

Hoke wrote:UberGeeks like Perry are generally a good guide to what's going on there, although he's as prone to his own preferences as anyone else, enthusiastically boosting his own faves and just as enthusiastically lambasting those he doesn't like. (Hi, Joe.)


Hey, I mentioned the modern and traditional alike (just no ultra-modern since I was using the Riscal as a starting point).

Of course, if I call some of the ultra-modern wines soulless abominations in the eyes of God, it's because it's true. 8)

Best,
Joe
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by Jenise » Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:24 pm

Joe, okay, fair enough. You took the right approach to be sure, I was just wondering if something had changed.
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Re: Spanish Wine Mania!

by JoePerry » Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:59 pm

OW Holmes wrote:Joe Perry, here in Western Michigan, the rioja selection isn't very good. We have the riscal, and a few ribera's like Pesquera, Flor de Pingus, Emilio Moro, etc... but the riojas are limited. What's your take on Montecillo, Palacio y Hermanos, Artadi and Arienzo, which are available here?


From the above list, I like Palacio y Hermanos the most. It is a modern wine, but well done. Artadi is now overblown and overpriced. Arienzo has yet to impress me. Montecillo I'll buy the Crianza from when I stay in Maine since the sell it at the grocery stores, but only with the expectations of a food wine. The Montecillo Gran Reserva is mediocre, though some of the older bottles (esp. the Vina Monty labels) are great.

Best,
Joe
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