When it comes to the $8-$12 sweet spot for wine of all kinds - red, white & bubbly; Spain reigns supreme. While my heart may be with value wine 'under dogs' like Portugal and Austria, I must give the Kingdom of Spain its due. However, I do have one minor gripe. Many of Spain's wine offerings seem to be of the modern, "kaboom fruit" variety. Still, many of these wines aren't necessarily off-putting. They are more or less easy-drinking, if not slightly generic, wines.
Countries who attempt to throw down with Spain in the 'ten buck' department, are invariably forced to say to España, "No mas. No mas."
One thing I have noticed of late is the gaggle of Garnacha (Grenache) flocking to the wine shop from nearly every Spanish Denomination with which I'm familar (and a few new to me). Take for example, Artazuri Tinto, part of Eric Solomon's seemingly endless supply of Spanish imports. This wine comes from the Navarra region - a neighbor to Rioja. I was expecting it to be the usual bargain-Grenache mix of berry jam scents along with a touch of pepper. Surprise! Artazuri has produced an outstanding character-full wine for ten bucks.
Artazuri Navarra Tinto 2003 ($9-$10)
- Old vine Grenache (~50 years) from Navarra in north-central Spain
- Bright ruby in color
- Scents of fresh red raspberry and cherry; along with some, uhh, briar/brambly notes
- Tart red cherry flavors with distinct acidity. There are also subtle flavors of peppery spice and hints of green bell pepper (Is this wine really from sunny Spain?)
This is one of the more unique expressions of Grenache that I've sampled in some time. I recommend sipping it slightly chilled. It would make a tasty pairing with a satisfying Stephencooks dish such as pork and porcini meatloaf.