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07 September 2007

A Wide Stance Wine

The words, "wide" and "stance" are innocent enough by themselves.  However, taken together, "wide stance" can conjure up less-than-innocent imagery. 

I wish to cleanse this phrase and implement it as a wine descriptor.  To whit, what does the phrase, "this wine takes a wide stance," mean to you?

Perhaps it implies a brawny, lumberjack of a wine. 

Maybe it describes wine with impressive length.


Baltosmencia2005 Actually, in this case, "wide stance" refers to wine that is balanced (it's difficult to knock over) from every perspective.  Wide stance wine runs the gambit of flavor, tannin, acidity and restraint. A perfect wide stance wine is represented by Dominio de Tares' Baltos Mencia (2005, $12-$15, imported by Classical Wines).  While the frolicking nudes on the Baltos label (at right) appear as if they are capable of striking numerous stances, it owes much of its stability to the hilly growing region of Bierzo.  Of course the over-used sentiment of 'warm days and cool nights' being good for wine production is an apt descriptor of El Bierzo.  This relatively balanced climate, coupled to the mountain-loving Mencia grape , one of Spain's secret wine weapons, produce one of the most food-friendly wines I've sampled in ages.

The Skinny
Dominio de Tares "Baltos" Mencia 2005

  • A deep ruby red wine with dusty, leathery highlights 'round the rim
  • Scents of rasp- and straw-berry, violets, a little earth and dash of mushroom
  • Perfect balance in the mouth - the relatively simple flavor is accented and gussied-up with lively acidity and solid, structured tannins.  The wine says 'adios' with a long finish powered by a solid 13.5% ABV.
  • Try Baltos with pan-fried pork chops with white beans & radicchio, roasted chicken or classic spaghetti.

11 August 2007

Ring Around the Prio

Random Trivia Question:  Without looking at a map, where is the youngish Spanish DO, Montsant, located?

tick tick tick tick tick ring

Montsant_2 Montsant forms a horseshoe/Pacman/macrophage (for the cell-bio/wine lovers amongst us) around the power wine producing place called Priorato in Catalonia.

If you're at all familar with the concentrated, chewy wines of Priorato, wine from Montsant tastes like a slightly less pumped up sibling.

Acustic Acustic* Cellar Vinyes Velles Nobles Garnatxa i Samso 2005 ($13-$16) - For those who don't speak Catalonian, Garnatxa is Grenache and Samso is Carignan.  This wine tastes nothing like many other Grenache-containing wine you may have sipped from Spain.  The style is decidedly modern - as are many wines from neighboring Priorato.  Acustic is big, brawny and chewy.  It obviously spent around a year in oak, which is a good thing as minus those months in wood, Acustic would have been flabby.  In fact, my tasting note of Acustic dealt in textures rather than flavors.  The interaction of brawn and spine is what makes this wine very appealing.  Try this wine with grilled lamb chops, sauteed portobellas or a takeout gyro.

While most of my recent Spanish sipping has been of the "cheerful chugger" variety, this representative of Montsant reminded me that for those who venture above the $10-level, many of Spain's wines are bound to surprise with style & complexity.

*There was some poetic malarky on the rear label describing the wine as 'acoustic' - unplugged, as it were.  However, I don't quite get it as the wine claims much of its character from being 'plugged in' to the barrel.

06 August 2007

Non-Rosé Rosé

When is a non-Rosé practically a Rosé?  When it's a young, simple Grenache from that Ginormous Grenache Growing zone that is Spain.  Perhaps in in the books of some serious wine lovers, chilling down red wine is akin to drinking through a straw (see above, left).  But when it's (still) extraordinarily hot outside, nothing hits the spot like a slightly chilled* berry-bucket Grenache like this:

Marco_real_smaller Bodegas Marco Real Garnacha 2005 ($6-$9)
Like a Rosé, only in addition to Strawberry, you'll snort and sip flavors of mushed, fresh Raspberries and a hint of Blackberry.  It's berry-rific.  Actually, this is a surprisingly light-bodied wine, considering its inky-ruby color.  Close your eyes and your palate will tell you, "this is a Rosé."  But then, after opening your eyes, the brain will insist that you're sipping a red wine.  A little cognitive dissonance never hurt anyone.

*Stick it in your Fridge for 25-30 minutes, or if you're the impatient type, jam it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

05 August 2007

Northwest Oasis

Seldom does a Sherry lover run across such an Oasis:

Imagine, a Sherry flight in an innovative little spot called, "Salt".  Salt Tasting Room is the place for those who enjoy exploring a little flavor alchemy involving wine, cheese and cured meat.  Needless to say, the emphasis on Sherry in the tasting experience rubbed me the right way.


If you ever find yourself in beautiful Vancouver, BC, make your way to Gastown and sit, sip & sample to your heart's content at Salt.

Naturally, my favorite pairing was an Oloroso with Stilton and a dab of honey.  A rich flavor package of funk, salt and sweet.  It made me feel just little bit decadent, and just a bit nasty (but in a very pleasant way).


More Salt pix


Sparse & chic decor in the tasting room


Meat slicer and golden oinker - what's not to like?


Cheese, meat and condiment specials o'the day on the blackboard.

19 July 2007

Keep It Simple, Sucka

Mark the time: 10:21 PM MDT on a Thursday.  I have made a gross generalization about one particular category of wine - rosé.

Realrose Pink wine's astronomic position in the ever-expanding wine universe is this: Rosé is made to drink and enjoy.  No analytical tasting necessary.  I've recently (see here) sampled serious rosé and found that I was almost let down by the wine's subtlety & complexity.  In contrast, I slammed down $7.95 for a pink Garnacha from Spain and was tickled, uh, pink.  Remember the axiom, "Veidah iss betta"?  How's about this for a rosé regulation: "Keep it simple, sucka*". 

Exhibit A in support of good, simple rosé:
Marco Real Garnacha 2006 ($6-$9; imported by S. Miles Selections).  This little pink gem has everything anyone could possibly want in a summertime beverage.  It's straightforward with ultra-simple scents and flavors of strawbrerry strawberry.  After that, if the wine be chilled, it's mission on earth is to refresh you at the beach, on a picnic or in front of an AC vent.  Senor Real scores bonus points for keeping the ABV under 13% (12.5%, to be exact).  Nothing ruins a dandy rosé sipping experience more than hefty body & hot finish due to high [ethanol]. 

Currently Spain seems to be the epicenter for cheap & cheerful pink drinks.  If you can't find M. Real, I'm sure you'll come up with another rosé josé.

*And by simple, I don't mean White Zinfandel.  WZ is an abomination unto the oeno-world and should be smitten from the face of the earth.  Can I get an Amen?

07 May 2007

1 + 1 =! 3

What exactly do you think this label is attempting to convey?


An unexpected value?
A rule-breaking, iconoclastic Spanish bubbly?
A jab at arithmetic?
A very poor 1st grade teacher?

Would that this mathematical expression equated to super tasting value Cava.  1+1=3 is a very serviceable sparkling wine.  However, at $13, I'll take the S to the V at ninedamndollars (or $6!) every day of the week.  It's just as good, and to my palate, it offers a bit more yeasty/toasty goodness.  However, if you're a grade school teacher, you may feel compelled to buy every bottle of "1-plus" in the store just so you can correct the label.


A more apt & honest label.

11 April 2007

From The Annals of Unfortunate Adjectivery

Or how to describe the color of Vina Gravonia

I poured a glass of 1995 Vina Gravonia blanco, marveled at its intense deep gold-yellow color and asked the missus, "Hey, how would you describe the color of this wine?"

Her response? Very sophisticated...

"It looks just like morning pee"

Never let it be said that mi amiga aint brimming with class.

Vgravonia1995 The Skinny
R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Gravonia Crianza 1995 (~$24)

  • Imported from Rioja, Spain by USA Wine Imports
  • 100% Viura (AKA Macabeo) aged in wood for 4 years (R. Lopez takes Rioja aging to the extreme - for example, its Gran Reserva red is aged 6 years in wood)
  • Vina Gravonia offers scents of caramel, wood, citrus and earth.  At nearly 12 years old, you won't find many snappy fruit scents in this senior citizen-in-a-bottle
  • The wine, surprisingly, is full of crisp acidity mated to subdued flavors.  It will shine with cream-based sauces or soft, funky cheeses.

Try it for something entirely different in the white wine world.  But please, find another adjective to describe its color.

09 March 2007

The Ow Trio

Carpal_1 Funny how CTS makes typing an exercise in, "ow, dammit, why is my wrist numb!?"

So in the spirit of pain avoidance and brevity, I present the Ow trio - 3 affordable Spanish wines that should jump on the wine rotation in your home.

  1. Lo Brujo Macabeo 2005, $7 (imported by Bon Vivant) - Not as memorable as the Macarena, but still a nice little white wine to pair with fish tacos.
  2. Bodegas Zabrin Garnacha de Fego 2005, $10 (imported by MS Walker) - Great, classy Garnacha flava at a wee little price.  One of the best ten-buck vinos I've had in months.
  3. Vilosell 2004 $14 (by European Cellars) - Nifty unfiltered Tempranillo blended with Cab S., Merlot and Garnacha.  A lot of smoky depth and chewy texture.  Perfect with something meaty

31 January 2007

Red, Magenta, Have I Been Drinking?

Hewitson Ned & Henry’s Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005 ($19, Australia) – All sun-loving Aussie Shiraz isn’t simply big and brawny.  Ned & Henry’s Shiraz is an excellent example of winemaking talent from the super sunny southern hemisphere. 

Segura di Viudas Brut Rosé Cava, NV ($10, Spain) – Day-glo, magenta-colored bubbly!  Crab cakes are calling.

Have I Been Drinking?


(click to play @ Youtube)

Or is that the best music video ever?

19 January 2007


Barahondaet2 Very rarely does a $10 wine change dramatically as it breathes.  But then Spanish Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) isn't your typical grape variety.

Senor Barahonda Monastrell Tinto 2005 + 5 mins: Scents of berry Hi-C, raspberry jam and a hint of pepper

Senor Barahonda Monastrell Tinto 2005 + 15 mins: Scents of fresh raspberry, leather and a bit o' bacon

Senor Barahonda Monastrell Tinto 2005 + 55 mins: Barnyard & butcher shop, baby.

The Details: Senor Barahonda Monastrell Tinto 2005 ($10-$12).  Red Spanish wine made from 100% Monastrell.  Produced in the Yecla region (Southeast) of Spain.  Imported by Ole imports.

"Breathe" that reminds me of a song..(Listen to itRead it.)..

"Run away my son. See it all. Oh see the world."

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