Browse Tag


Gee, a French bear

German Gilabert Cava Brut Nature Reserva (Cataluña) – Macabeo, xarel•lo, and parellada. If I say that this is the best cava I’ve ever had, that shouldn’t be over-interpreted as a superlative; while I’ve had my share of cava over the years, almost none of it has been aspirational. Nuts and flowers with an inner electricity; this is very appealing, but its duration is extremely short. I don’t mean that the finish is short, I mean that it’s so gulpable that it’s gone in mere minutes. (8/11)

The shoe is on the other barrel

Muga 1998 Rioja Gran Reserva “Prado Enea” (Center-North Spain) – People argue about the woodiness of this wine, and while it would be ludicrous to say it’s not heavily laden with coconutty, lightly-tanned wood, what makes the oak so obvious isn’t so much its quantity as its flashy upfront-ness, like a dish with just a few dashes too much of a freshly-ground and overly-aggressive peppercorn. There’s plenty else to note and like, including lush red fruit of the baked variety, apple-ish acidity, and dusty brown soil. And experience indicates that this wood will integrate…to a point. Look, it’s (quasi) traditional Rioja; there will be blood wood. I guess my conclusion, meandering though the path to it has been, is that I can’t really criticize this wine too much for being what it claims to be. It is, to be sure, nowhere near the frightening Torre Muga horror show. (6/11)

Can you take me Shaya?

Shaya 2009 Rueda Verdejo (Castilla & León) – Boisterous yellow-green fruit, a little like fermented Mello Yello™ without the sugar – or at least without too much of it – but the cavorting can’t, in the end, hide the fact that this wine doesn’t have much to say once the Tiggerish bouncing has abated. (6/11)

Joe Magaña

Barón de Magaña 2004 Navarra (Navarre) – 40% merlot, 40% cabernet sauvignon, 20% tempranillo. Tar and grilled blackberry. Hollow and acrid, with that char dominant throughout. Pointless heft, without much pleasure in it. (6/11)

Shall we begin? Edulis-a.

Altanza “Edulis” 2005 Rioja (Center-North Spain) – By-the-numbers Rioja in the modern style, though not overdone. Reddish fruit, vanilla, a lot of weight and heft without much content other than the obvious, easily skimmable, table of Rioja contents. (6/11)


Xarmant 2009 Txakoli (Northwest Spain) – Ripe lime/lemon/grapefruit flavors than the norm, but with a whip-lash of sour acidity that tarts everything right up. Brief fizz at the outset is quickly subdued by heavier wetness. (6/11)

Borsao will Borja

Borsao 2009 Campo de Borja “Viña Borgia” (Aragón) – Chunky, clumsy, stumbling blackish and brackish fruit. I’ll give it this: it’s better than most Argentinian malbecs at this price point. Faint, I know. (6/11)


Torres “10” Penedès Brandy (Cataluña) – Supple caramel, wet satin, a touch of cane sugar. I don’t want to like this as much as I do, but it’s awfully easy to like. (6/11)

Mein chance

Viña Mein 2001 Ribeiro (Northwest Spain) – While this has acquired the depth of age, it hasn’t required any actual content to that depth. Then again, I didn’t have it at release, so maybe this is all there ever was. Hollow bronze and gilding; a canister of a wine, rather than the wine itself. It’s not without interest, but it’s a brief intellectual dalliance. Nothing more. (5/11)

R. Kelly

R. López de Heredia 2000 Rioja Reserva Viña Bosconia (Center-North Spain) – Not, I think, the best Bosconia of my lifetime. That said, it’s still compelling enough, gentling into its soft, tanned redness enveloped by old wood, then fading away to show its smooth, polished bones. It should be noted that my dining companions, who have never tasted an LdH of any vintage or designation, are utterly fascinated by the wine. So those of less jaded palates may enjoy this more than I do…though I do enjoy it. (9/10)