After a three-month break, I’m going to try to get back into the swing of typing up some tasting notes. The following wines were drunk with 4 friends at a local tapas restaurant a little ways back, with lots and lots of plates and a fun selection of wines from our cellars and the restaurant wine list.
1996 Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Ribera del Duero Reserva Val Sotillo. This was decanted about 2 hours before we poured it. It features a warm, rich, darkly-enveloping nose of deep tar, lava rock, mushroom, pungent undergrowth, dried sweat, baked cherry and sexy spice aromas that are entirely engrossing and lovely. In the mouth, it leads with a bit of puckering dark citrus acidity but also features plenty of plump, warm cherry and plum fruit riding atop earthy bottom notes that come pouring right through and flesh out the mid-palate quite generously. It is leisurely-textured, with a fleshy character that carries through to a long and delicious finish. This is a really nice bottle.
1999 Bodegas Ismael Arroyo Ribera del Duero Crianza Val Sotillo. This wine is not nearly so sexy or enveloping on the nose, instead leaning toward much more manly scents of smoke, peppercorn, limestone and black currant fruit. In the mouth, it is direct and pushy, with pasty blackberry, black currant and black bean paste flavors riding atop notes of smoke and charred embers. It just doesn’t carry nearly the impression of the first wine, with less distinction and a more straight-ahead sensibility.
1991 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia. There’s a really fun, funky nose to this white--one that shows off all kinds of wool, limestone, lanolin, linen, wax, blue slate, lemon rind and prickle pear aromas that are really delightful and full of unique character. In the mouth, it is layered and complex, lush and engaging, with round rich flavors supported by a fine lemony citrus underpinning. The first few sips seem to come up a bit short on the finish, but over time it really lengthens out and shows off its true qualities. It shows less obviously oxidative qualities than I think I am used to with this style of wine, and I very much enjoy what it has to give right now.
2010 Emilio Rojo Ribeiro. According to our hostess, there are only about 5 cases of this wine for the whole state—which is really too bad since it’s a fantastic wine. It has a very pretty, flowery bouquet to it, with aromas of meadow flowers, chamomile, peach, pear, chalk, green herbs, oyster shells and orange blossoms. In the mouth, it is extremely nervy and vital, with very clean flavors supported by a wonderful sense of drive and a taut, springy structure. Fine flavors of herb, green apple, pear, chalk and all kinds of seaside notes really expand and fill out the whole mouth and lead to an excellent finishing kick that demonstrates fantastic staying power and impeccable balance.
1996 Mas Martinet Viticultors Priorat Clos Martinet. This opens with some troubling balsamic and soy overtones before pulling in more appealing scents of baked cherries, macerated berries, pressed rose petals, mace, leather, tar, and blacksmith hearth. In the mouth, it is open for business, with a warm but dark-fruited core of flavor that also features some chocolate, baked fig, caramel and iron notes. It is fairly full-bodied, but it’s kind of soft-bellied and open-knit textured at this stage—making me think it is time to drink up.
2009 Forja del Salnes Rías Baixas Goliardo Caiño. This is another unfortunately small-production wine that I find myself liking a good deal. The nose on it is dark and savory, with black olives, briny bisque notes, dark soil, Belgian chocolate and crisp cool fruit aromas that are dense, tight and full of interesting character. In the mouth, it shows refined and smooth flavors of ripe black and red berry fruit, tangy currants and bright spices—shot through with a freshening squirt of acidity. It has a classy, fine-knit texture that carries pure flavors on a light to medium-weighted frame and leads to a grippy, lithe and persistently flavorful finish.
2004 Bodegas Vinos Pinol Terra Alta Vi de Licor Wine #28 Mistela Blanca. This was my fourth or fifth time tasting this wine. As always, there’s about an inch or more of tan, shaggy fluff resting at the bottom of the bottle. It pours a faded orange color and smells of tangerine peel, crème brulee, yellow raisins, apricots and liquid caramel. In the mouth, it’s loaded with dried apricot fruit, creme brulee topping and caramel flavors that are sort of viscous but tangy and juicy all the same. I don’t know that it was everyone’s cup of tea, but I always enjoy it.
2001 Costers del Siurana Priorat Dolç de L'Obac. I’ve had the 1997 and 1999 versions of this a few times, but I’m pretty sure this was my first taste of the 2001. Aromatically, it just slinks into the nostrils in silky sheets of rich chocolate paste, baked plums, blackberry pie and hot tar, eventually taking total control of the olfactory senses. In the mouth, it still seems pretty youthful and even a bit tannic and tacky-textured to me, but it still delivers a lovely shot of bittersweet chocolate, toasted orange peel, baked cherry and baked fig flavors that are a perfect match with chocolate desserts, in my opinion. There’s plenty of time left with this one, though, so no need to rush it.