This Week’s Wine Tasting

Spanish Wine


Bodegas Columna
“Albariño wines this good at this price point do not exist. Columna is a superb wine made from estate owned grapes in the most southern and inland subzone of Rías Baixas (Condado de Tea). Vines are tended in Granite and Slate soil, imparting lots of minerality. Winemaker Rodri Mendez, disciple and right hand man of Raul Perez, vinifies Columna in the same winery where Sketch (the under the water wine) is vinified.”

Columna Albarino 2012
Rias Baixas, Spain. “100% Albariño. Sustainably grown vines planted in 1978. Tended in granite and slate soil at 40 m (131ft) elevation. Bright straw color. Fresh melon and tangerine aromas are brightened by notes of quinine and chalky minerals. Light-bodied, focused honeydew and citrus fruit flavors show good concentration and a hint of saltiness. Finishes tangy and long, with a refreshingly bitter quality and a touch of fresh orange.”

“Columna is a very unique expression of this queenly grape due to its southern and interior location. This results in a style that is bright, floral, mineral and at the same time rich. The vineyards that produce this outstanding expression of Albariño are tended in the local and popular Emparrado trellis system, which was invented by the Romans during the 2nd century to maximize air circulation allowing for a better, drier ripening season. The goal in producing Columna is to showcase the purity of the Albariño grape in a 100% unoaked style from a unique micro-climate that produces richer, fuller, and often more balanced Albariño wines.”



“Old vine Garnacha, dry farmed, tended organically grown vineyards. Produced in the Provence-style method. Zestos old vine is produced from Garnacha vines that were planted in 1969 in the high elevation vineyards of San Martin Valdeiglesias – northwest of Madrid. Today San Martin produces among the most floral and mineral Garnachas in all of Spain. The older the vines the better the wine. Old vines do not over produce. As a result the vines yield fully ripened grapes. Perfectly ripen grapes make wines that improve with time.

‘Zestos’ means ‘basket’ in Spanish. Not too many years ago, baskets like the ones depicted on the label were used to transport grapes from the vineyard to the wineries. Madrid has recently become the center of one of the most interesting and innovative wine regions on the Iberian Peninsula. For example, 90% of Vinos de Madrid DO wines are made from organically grown grapes.”

Zestos Rosado 2013
Vinos de Madrid, Spain. “100% Garnacha. Vines planted from 1960 – 1970. Tended in sandy and limestone soil at 800 m (2,625ft) elevation. This elegant vibrant, mineral-rose from the high elevation mountains of Madrid, showcases aromas of strawberry, pomegranate coupled with flavors of cherries and grapefruit. The finish is crisp with notes of minerality.”

“The objective is to make a bright, pink color Rose that is pale “onion”-skin orange. After harvest, the grapes are pressed and macerate at cold temperature with 30% of the skins for 6 to 8 hours. After this very short time of skin contact, the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout the cold fermentation process. After 30 days of natural decanting the wine is slightly filtered and then bottled in around January.”



Vina Promesa
“Vina Promesa is the young bottling for Vina Bujanda, owned by the brother-and-sister team Carlos and Pilar Martínez-Bujanda Irribarria, whose family has been making wine since 1889. The estate was established in 2009 in the small village of Oyon near Logroño, completing the range of wines offered by Familia Martínez-Bujanda.

The old-vine estate vineyards consist of 14 small parcels, between 20 and 60 years old, that are cultivated separately to take advantage of the various microclimates and soil types. These vineyards are located within the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa subregions of DOCa Rioja. Both areas offer a balanced, structured soil composition of sand, lime and clay. They are also slightly alkaline, with moderate water in the summer. Natural organic matter is used to fertilize the vineyards, as stems, skins and pruning remains are put back into the earth. This combination of soils and natural farming infuses the fruit with distinctive characteristics that result in wines of exceptional quality.”

Vina Promesa Vino Joven Rioja 2012
Rioja, Spain. “100% Tempranillo. Rioja Alta and Alavesa vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel for 18 days; aged in the bottle for 19 months prior to release. Bujanda Tinto is a Rioja Joven, which means “young” and refers to the fact that it sees no oak aging. It is made from 100% Tempranillo from estate vineyards. The grapes are hand-harvested in September and October before they are fermented in stainless steel tanks. This wine is ruby red with purple highlights. Fresh and fruity it is a perfect sipper and refreshing even in warmer weather (try it with a slight chill!). The nose shows red berry, blue fruit, and spice, while the palate is medium-bodied with food-friendly acidity.”



Bodegas Olivares
“The grapevine and the olive tree – cultural icons rooted in a land bathed by sunshine – have represented the Olivares family from its birth. Pascual Olivares Fernández began producing small quantities of wine in 1930 to supply his region; the genesis of today’s Olivares family winery.

Our love for Jumilla’s harsh, beautiful landscape feeds our passion for wine and its production. That passion moves us to create natural, unique wines; wines that faithfully represent our region’s singular terroir. The transformation of our prized Monastrell into wine is as natural process as possible. We harvest all grapes by allow fermentations to proceed with only wild yeasts; a process that preserves the grape’s character without masking it.”

Bodegas Olivares Jumilla 2012
Jumilla, Spain. “The Monastrell, Grenache and Syrah varieties give structure, softness and aromas to this young wine. 75% Monastrell, 15% Grenache, 10% Syrah. Harvested during second half of September and first week of October. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks. This wine sees no wood aging. Dark berries and cherry notes. Fresh in the mouth, we again perceive a sweet, vibrant dark fruit, with touches of pepper accompanied by good acidity. Ideal for accompanying a wide variety of dishes, from flavorful, meaty-textured fish to pasta, meat and aged cheese.”



Bodegas Juan Gil
“With 60 acreas of hillside vineyards averaging 35 years of age, the Can Blau estate is located in horse-shoe-shaped Montsant, a D.O. surrounding Priorat on three sides. Varietals are matched to vineyard soils, microclimates and exposures, encouraging wines of great depth and complexity: Cariñena is planted in sandy-clay soils, syrah in chalky soils, and Garnacha in llicorella (dark, dense slate soils so celebrated in Priorat). Despite the fact D.O. Montsant has only recently received formal recognition, it has always been considered a historic region. As a longtime wine source, this rugged mountainous area has a long tradition of producing wonderfully robust yet elegant wines.”

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate- “The trio of wines from Cellars Can Blau in Montsant paradoxically seemed to curry less favor the more expensive they become, especially when you factor in their prices. While the entry-level Blau represents outstanding value, with delicious, sappy red fruit flavors, both the Can Blau and Mas de Can Blau seemed labored by comparison. After tasting these wines, I served all three blind to a group of wine-lovers and asked which one they preferred. They all selected the Blau and indeed ranked them in reverse order of price!”

Bodegas Juan Gil Celler Can Blau 2012
Montsant, Spain. “40% Cariñena, 40% Syrah and 20% Garnacha. 12 months aging in French oak barrels. The vineyards of Garnacha planted on soils of slate -llicorella-, Cariñena vineyards grow on clay soils and Syrah vineyards located on limestone soils to obtain this complex wine after 12 months of maturing in French oak barrels.

The Cariñena and Garnacha vines used for the production of these wines have an approximate age ranging from 25 to 40 years, the vineyar ds of Garnacha are around 2,000 ft. altitude in the area of Cornudella de Montsant on slate soils, Cariñena vineyards in Darmós and Masroig area on clay soils and Syrah vineyards are located on limestone soils. Wood smoke, spice box, incense, lavender, black cherry and plum aromas are followed by a mouth-filling, round, dense wine with outstanding grip and length. It over-delivers in a big way. Drink it over the next 6-8 years.”



Bodegas Borsao
“Founded in 1958 in the town of Borja, which was called Bursao in the fourth-century B.C., Bodegas Borsao demonstrates what can be done with the Garnacha grape. Through a meticulous grape-sorting process in the fields and again when the grapes enter the winery, only the healthiest bunches are chosen. Using the most modern winemaking techniques results in wines with emphasis on the fruit; they are the best examples of the region known as “The Garnacha Land of Spain.””

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate- “This has long been a popular source for value-priced wines. Founded in 1958 in the appellation of Campo de Borja, Borsao owns a whopping 3,706 acres of vineyards planted at elevations of 1,300 to 2,300 feet above sea level. The soils are primarily limestone-based and the area is highly reputed for old vine Grenache, but there is also Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah planted as well as a few white varietals. Bodegas Borsao’s flagship offering is Tres Picos. Made from 100% Grenache from yields of less than two tons of fruit per acre, these chalky vineyards are planted at a 2,000 foot plus altitude on the hillsides of the Moncayo Mountains. The harvest is all done by hand, and the wine is aged in a combination of stainless steel and French oak for ten months prior to bottling. If you have not yet discovered the great values of Bodegas Borsao, it’s about time you do.”

Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha 2012
Campo de Borja, Spain. “Stainless-steel fermented. Half aged in stainless-steel and half in French oak barrels for 10 months. The grapes for this wine were harvested from old-vine Garnacha vineyards that cling to rugged terrain on the slopes of the famous Moncayo Mountain with low yields of less than two tons per acre. The mountainside, iron-rich, gravelly vineyards reach an elevation of 2,100 feet. The terrain prevents the use of any kind of machinery; as a result, all of the grapes are hand-harvested.

Red fruit intensity is apparent throughout the aromas and flavors of this wine; sawdust and toast reflect its barrel character, at least some of which derives from American oak. The exuberant fruit is more than matched by the spicy barrel notes with long vanilla, black raspberries, and plums to the finish. A bit of raisin also suggests some slight overripeness, but nothing is out of balance. Drink now or in the next several years.”

92 Points Wine Advocate
“The terrific 2012 Tres Picos is one of the finest inexpensive, Grenache-based wines made in the world. This full-bodied beauty boasts a deep ruby color as well as loads of strawberry and black cherry fruit, hints of lavender and crushed rocks, sweet tannin, and a broad, savory mouthfeel. It, too, should be consumed over the next 3-4 years.”


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