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cjsadler
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Seen this popping up in alot of magazines.  It's published by an arm of the Spanish Trade Commission.  Looks like it could be interesting.  And hey, it's free.

I bit.

The funniest part is that they have a question for "How often do you drink wine?" The highest frequency choice they give is "2x week"!! :lol::P

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A friend of mine is trying to get information on the relative quality of a couple of inexpensive wines she is considering for an event. I tried to get her to register here (she knows more about wines than I do--I'm a wine dummy). Maybe next time :)

I hope I've got the spellings right here. She's considering at a Lan Riga Crianza 2000 and a Travitana 2003 Monstrell. She's looking for a general evaluation of the two and trying to decide on one, both, or looking for something else. She wants value Spanish wines in the range of $12 a bottle. She needs it to serve along with cheeses, breads, and other small plates.

Thanks for any guidance.

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The best thing for your friend to do is to buy a bottle of each and taste them to see if she likes either one. There are lots of good Spanish wines around $12 or less in the wine shops right now. If I am not mistaken, the Lan Crianza is a Rioja, which is made from tempranillo varietal, which can be very nice with food. 2000 was a very good year in Europe, and if it was stored properly (ie. not heat damaged) it is probably quite drinkable. Some Spanish wines are very tannic when first released, and aren't too enjoyable unless they've had lots of air or a couple of years to mellow out. Monastrell is one of my favorite grapes--it's called Mourvedre in France and Mataro in Australia. It's one of the grapes used primarily in blends in the Rhone Valley, but is often on its own in Spain.

Other Spanish wines that might work for your friend, at $12 or less are:

Celler de Capcanes 2003 Mas Donis

Castano Hecula 2003

Panarroz 2004

Vinos Pinol Ludovicus 2004

Good luck!

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Monastrell is one of my favorite grapes--it's called Mourvedre in France and Mataro in Australia. It's one of the grapes used primarily in blends in the Rhone Valley, but is often on its own in Spain.

Thanks! I'll pass the information along. I think she'll be especially interested in the information on the Monastrell. I gathered that was the one she knew least about of the two.

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2003 Altos de Luzon Jumilla was given 93 points by the Wine Spectator and was ranked #43 in their top 100 for 2005. This is what they had to say about this:

"Ripe and luscious. This rich red is bursting with fruit, with flavors of cherry, boysenberry and currant, supported by well-intergrated toasty oak, balanced acidity and ripe tannins. Accents of coffee, mineral and briar add allure, and mingle with the fruit on the long finish. Monastrell (Mourvedre), Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranllo."

This may qualify as the red wine bargain of the year for them. It sells for as much as $26 in some stores. MacArthur has it on sale for $18.99. Here is where you can buy it for $12.99 plus shipping: http://www.winezap.com/Finca-Luzon-Altos-d...2003/17993/4558 I paid $12 for a glass of this at Emeril's in Atlanta several weeks ago and was impressed enough that I asked which store sold it locally there. When I tracked it down it was selling for $14.99 in Atlanta where the importer is. Since returning I've ordered two more cases off of the internet. Try a bottle from MacArthur; this could be part of a mixed case order with the next two, perhaps off of the internet if competitive prices are not found locally.

2001 Sierra Cantabria Cuvee Especial received 93 points from Parker in June of this year. A remarkable score for a wine that sells for as much as $29.00. Here is where you can buy it for $16.99: http://www.winezap.com/Sierra-Cantabria-Bo...cial/2001/16548 . I brought a bottle of this back from Atlanta, also. Although I like it a bit better than the Altos the $12.99 price for the first is hard to beat.

I paid $51 for a bottle of 2002 El Nido Clio Jumilla at a store in Reston. It was worth every penny of it!! Curiously Parker gave this 93 points also but had this to say about it:

"The sensational 2002 Clio, a blend of 70% Mourvédre (60-year old vines) and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon (25-year old vines), exhibits a dense purple color along with a rich, sumptuous bouquet of toasty vanillin, blueberries, blackberries, roasted espresso, chocolate, and earth. Full-bodied, with sweet tannin, fabulous concentration, a multilayered mouthfeel, and a long finish, this is a tour de ibive in winemaking. It provides strong evidence of what can be achieved in this once backwater/boondock viticultural region of Spain."

This drinks like a wine worth 95 or more points. It tastes even better when you can buy it for $31.95 plus shipping here:

http://www.winezap.com/Nido-Bodegas-El-Clio/2002/38941/9079 :)

For all of these wines, the last is a serious effort worthy of a celebratory dinner and going out of your way to find. The first two offer remarkable value at two lower price points.

Locally, MacArthur has the Clio on sale for $39.99. There may be lower prices for both the Clio and the Cuvee Especial with a case order there but, again, I have not confirmed this. It may also be worthwhile to call around and see if someone else has it at a better price.

Edited by Joe H
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Tasting BAR (From tasting notes for Dec. - Jan. 2005 Wine News Cava article by Gerry Dawes)

It has been six years since I undertook such an extensive Cava tasting and the strides in quality are quite remarkable. Such producers as Agustí Torelló Mata, Raventós i Blanc, Parxet, Gramona, Juvé y Camps, Mont Marçal, Castell Roig, Castillo de Perelada and Privat are now delivering the types of characteristics one expects from Champagne, except that the prices for some of these Cavas are astoundingly inexpensive, given their quality. Many, too, are now vintage dated, whereas a few years back most were not.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise is the plethora of delicious, charming rosado Cavas, many of which are pinot noir based. Rather than being sugar-loaded caramelos, they are largely dry and exceptionally food friendly. Although few display the ethereal salmon color often associated with great rosé Champagne — most are much darker in color — quality can be first-rate, and their price tags place them among the sleeper bargains of the wine world.

Of the nearly 50 Cavas tasted, only one scored below 86 points, and just one was corked.

Agustí Torelló Mata

Founded in 1954, this exceptional Cava producer is considered by many Spanish critics to be the best in the field. Only indigenous varieties are employed in these exceptionally well-made wines.

1999 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (45% macabeo, 32% parellada; 23% xarel-lo; aged a minimum of two years; 3,500 magnums) — $125: Green-gold hue; fine, steady, active bead. Clean and pretty yeasty lemon and orange peel scents. Lemony, elegant and delicious. Great mouth-feel with a long, lovely, dry finish. A Spanish stunner. Score: 95

2000 Kripta Gran Reserva (49% macabeo, 26% parellada; 25% xarel-lo) — $70: Green-gold straw hue; fine, steady, diffuse bead. Sweet, pretty fruity, toasty nose. Well-made, first-rate, delicious Cava full of character with a long, lively, complex toasted almond finish. Eclipses many Champagnes. Score: 94

2001 Brut Nature Reserva Barrica (old vines macabeo; four months in oak) — $36: Gold-tinged straw hue. Big nose of oak, yeast, white plum, lychee; very fine, active bead. A full-flavored, gutsy mouthful, but somewhat marred by the oak, which blocks the finish. However, this serious old-vines macabeo “Krug impersonation” is very well made and oak lovers will like it. Score: 88

2001 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (42% macabeo, 28% xarel-lo, 30% parellada; old vines grown in Penedès; disgorged August 2005) — $27: Pale green-straw hue; very lively bead. Pretty nose of orange citrus and yeast aromas with hints of apricot and lychee. Very clean, full flavored, fruity, stylish, elegant and dry, but not austere; well-rounded and delicious with light honeysuckle, apricot, citrus, yeast and spice flavors. Score: 90 >

2002 Brut Reserva (46% macabeo, 26% xarel-lo, 28% parellada — all from old vines grown in Penedès; disgorged September, 2005) — $20: Gold-straw hue; fine, profuse bead. Needs more time in bottle to develop bouquet, for now it is light, clean and yeasty. Very dry, crisp, elegant and yeasty; nice mouth-feel with a citric finish that should develop complexity with more post-disgorgement bottle age. Score: 88

2003 Brut Rosat Trepat — $23: Strawberry-salmon color. Light, fresh nose of orange peel and yeast. Rich, gutsy, lovely mouthful of delicious red fruit with hints of orange peel. Very well-integrated acid, yeast, fruit and alcohol. Score: 90

Can Feixes Huguet

An Alt Penedès family wine business that dates to 1768.

2002 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (60% parellada, 25% pinot noir, 10% macabeo, 5% chardonnay; blends vary with vintage; aged a minimum of 30 months) — $25: Pale straw hue; very active, medium bead. Notes of yeast, apricot and lychee in the nose. Very clean, citrusy and very dry, but not teeth-jarring; balanced and fruity with hints of apricot and citrus peel flavors; spicy, yeasty finish. Score: 88

Castillo de Perelada

Founder Miguel Mateu bought the castle estate in 1914 and discovered a 14th century cellar where wine was once made. He couldn’t resist making it there again, and today turns out highly regarded still wines from Empordà-Costa Brava and Cava from Sant Sadurní D’Anoia. The Castillo de Perelada is now a museum and high-class casino, too.

NV Brut Reserva (40% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 30% parellada) — $10: Gold-tinged straw hue; very active bead. Lightly floral nose of citrus and yeast. Very lively and frothy in the mouth, perhaps excessively so, with clean, dry, floral, honeysuckle and lemon flavors. Score: 87

2001 Cuvée Especial Brut Nature (40% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 20% parellada, 10% chardonnay) — $15: Bright green-straw hue. Citrus, yeast, lychee, light peach and honeysuckle in the nose. Dry, refreshing, full-bodied flavors of white peach, citrus and yeast with a long, pleasant finish. Score: 88

NV Brut Rosado (45% monastrell, 30% garnacha, 25% trepat) — $13: Dark strawberry-cherry hue; very active, fine bead. Fresh, yeasty, pie cherry, clove and cinnamon nose. Concentrated, delicious pie cherry and strawberry flavors; dry and well made. Score: 88

Cavas Hill

Founded in 1887 by a family that traces its wine heritage to a 17th-century English immigrant, Joseph Hill, who settled in Penedès.

2001 Brut Brutisimo Gran Reserva Añada (35% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 25% parellada, 10% chardonnay) — $25: Pale straw hue; fine, active bead. Fresh citrus and vanilla nose. Very lively and palate cleansing with generous nutty, yeasty flavors; long, spicy, lemony finish. Score: 88

NV Brut Rosado (60% garnacha, 40% monastrell; aged 18 months) — $15: Very dark strawberry-cherry red hue; fine bead. Yeast and light red fruit nose. Pleasant, gutsy mouthful of strawberry-cherry fruit, very much like a light red wine. Score: 87

Codorníu

Once the largest producer of sparkling wine in the world, Codorníu is now focusing on quality at reasonable prices.

NV Original 1872 (40% macabeo, 30% parellada, 20% xarel-lo, 10% chardonnay) — $9: Light straw-gold hue; active, medium bead; nice mousse. Fruity, yeasty, lychee nut and coconut aromas and flavors; clean, medium body; long, spicy finish. Score: 87

NV Cuvée Raventós Brut (50% chardonnay, 25% macabeo, 25% xarel-lo) — $12: Gold straw hue; fine, active bead. Cinnamon, clove and classic Champagne-like toast and yeast aromas on the nose. Nice, rich mouthful with flavors of spice, clove, yeast and toast; long, spicy finish. Score: 88

NV Brut Pinot Noir — $14: Salmon-strawberry hue; long, fine bead. Pretty, fruity, yeasty, strawberry and raspberry nose. Rich, deep raspberry, strawberry and yeasty flavors; long, dry finish. Score: 89

Enric Nadal (Finca Nadal de la Boadella)

A winegrowing estate established in 1510, Nadal has been producing Cava since

1943.

NV Brut Rosat Pinot Noir — $15: Medium strawberry-salmon color; medium bead, not overtly active. Fresh, clean and dry with obvious strawberry fruit flavors. Score: 86

Freixenet

Founded in 1889, Cataluña’s mega-house is the largest méthode champenoise wine producer in the world.

2000 Brut Nature (40% macabeo, 30% parellada, 30% xarel-lo) — $14: Pale green-straw hue. Apple, citrus, yeasty nose. Bone dry and palate cleansing, elegant, light apple and citrus flavors with a spicy finish. Score: 87

Gramona

The family wine roots, on both the Gramona and Batlle sides, go back to the 19th century. A light dosage, made from a family solera liqueur established in the early 1900s, is employed here.

1997 Celler Batlle Vintage (70% xarelo-lo, 30% macabeo; aged 6-8 years) — $80: Green-gold hue; fine, active bead. Clean, fruity nose with yeast and toast. Beautifully made, delicious, richly flavored, yet elegant, lovely, well-aged Cava with superb balance and a long, clean finish. Score: 92

2001 Brut Imperial Gran Reserva (40% xarelo-lo, 40% macabeo, 20% chardonnay) — $25: Pale green-straw hue; fine, slow, steady bead. Big, characterful, rich nose of yeast, butter, flowers and lemons. Very frothy and juicy with lots of delicious flavors: orange, citrus, butter, nut and apricot. Beautiful balance of age and character. Score: 92

2002 Gran Cuvée (equal parts xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada) — $18: Deep gold-straw hue; very lively, fine bead. Big, pretty floral, fruity, yeasty nose. A gutsy, creamy, full-blown Cava with fruity melon, peach, apricot and honeysuckle flavors; stylish, very lively on the palate and balanced by a dry finish. Loads of character. Score: 90

NV Rosé (pinot noir; aged two years) — $35: Markedly deep strawberry-cherry hue; very fine, steady-release bead. Toasty red berry and clove nose. Light effervescence, like a light red wine with pétillance. A delicious, unique, fun wine. Score: 90

Josep Raventós i Blanc

Estate fruit is grown on nearly 300 acres of vineyards planted on mostly caliza (chalky) soil similar to Champagne’s. Its founder, Josep-Maria Raventós, observes, “We can make brut nature sparkling wines easier than they can in Champagne, where there are far fewer hours of sun. And because of our climate, Cavas achieve a better balance of alcohol and acidity, [too].”

NV Brut (60% macabeo, 20% parellada, 20% xarel-lo) — $15: Pale green-straw hue; fine, active bead. Light honeysuckle, citrus and apricot in the nose. Elegant, fruity flavors and a long, palate-cleansing, citrusy finish. Absolutely delicious. Score: 90

1999 Gran Reserva Brut Nature (40% xarel-lo, 35% macabeo, 20% parellada, 5% chardonnay; three years on the lees) — $25: Deep gold-straw hue; fine bead, medium activity. Very nice yeasty nose, light clove, honeysuckle, lychee and pineapple aromas. Rich, gutsy mouthful of delicious, beautifully made wine. One of Spain’s top Cavas. Score: 93

2000 Gran Reserva Brut Nature (40% xarel-lo, 35% macabeo, 20% parellada, 5% chardonnay; three years on the lees) — $25: Green-gold straw hue; fine, slow bead. Clean, fresh nose of lime and pineapple. Dry yet lively with rich flavors of toast, yeast, citrus and light honeysuckle. Long, lovely, elegant finish. An absolutely outstanding Cava. Score: 92

Juvé y Camps

Approaching its 85th anniversary, and still trading on its artisanal image, this family-run winery makes superb Cavas, such as the Brut Natural Reserva De La Familia that employs only free-run juice from carefully selected grapes picked on three estates near San Sadurní d’Anoia. >

2000 Gran Juvé y Camps (40% macabeo, 40% parellada, 20% xarel-lo; aged 42 months; made only in exceptional vintages) — $36: Deep gold-straw hue; more diffuse, less lively bubbles. Big yeasty nose. Full of character with big, rich, toasty flavors and a long, complex finish. A first-rate wine that mirrors a very good, old Champagne. Score: 92

2001 Brut Natural Reserva de la Familia (40% macabeo, 40% parellada, 20% xarel-lo; three years on the lees) — $20: Deep gold-straw hue; fine, active bead. Yeasty nose with light peach aromas. Delicious yeasty, subtle peach-apricot and honeysuckle undertones and a long, clean, dry, palate-refreshing finish. Score: 90

NV Brut Rosé Pinot Noir — $20: Salmon-pink hue; fine, active bead. Strawberry, cherry, light yeast and citrus in the nose. Dry entry, lively on the palate with delicious red fruit flavors and a long, dry finish. Score: 89

Llopart

The Llopart family, whose motto is ex Vite Vita (“From vineyards comes life”), traces its roots as viticulturists back to 1385, when an ancestor, Bernardus Leopardi, was granted vineyard lands on the present site. The firm has been producing quality sparkling wines since 1887.

2000 Leopardi Brut Nature (40% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 15% parellada, 15% chardonnay; aged 46 to 52 months on the lees) — $25: Medium straw hue; very active, fine bead. Nice citrus and yeast nose. Big, gutsy, mature, creamy flavors with peach, apricot, melon and lychee notes; a very dry finish. Score: 91

2002 Brut Rosé Reserva (60% monastrell, 40% garnacha) — $17: Dark strawberry-cherry hue; medium bead. Clean nose of clove and yeast. Lively, full-bodied mouthful of lightly sweet red fruit, clove and citrus. Score: 87

Marqués de Gelida

A small estate producer that is widely distributed in the U.S.

2000 Brut Exclusive Reserva (35% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 20% parellada, 15% chardonnay) — $11: Pale green-straw hue; fine, lively bead. Pleasant, yeasty, citrus nose. Quite lemony on entry, followed by pleasant lychee and melon notes with refreshing citrus flavors and a dry finish. Score: 88

Marqués de Monistrol

A nearly 1,000-acre estate based on a small medieval monastery property near Sant Sadurní D’Anoia, Marqués de Monistrol began making Cava in 1882. It is now a part of the giant Arco Bodegas Unidas wine group.

NV Reserva Brut Selecció Especiale Rosé (100% monastrell) — $13: Pale salmon, very active bead. Cloves, plum and some funky aromas. Clean, frothy, and full flavored, but nicely balanced with clove and lightly sweet cherry notes; dry, but lightly brassy finish. Value priced. Score: 86

Mont Marçal

Founded in 1975 by Spanish recording impresario Manuel Sancho on a 17th-century convent property encompassing 100 acres.

NV Extremarium Brut de Mont Marçal (equal parts xarel-lo, parellada and macabeo) — $16: Deep gold-straw hue; medium, diffuse bead. Refined, citrus peel (lemon, orange) nose. Very lively, clean, balanced citrus flavors; refined and elegant on the palate with a long, spicy finish. Crafted in a blanc de blancs style with extended skin contact and more than two years on the lees. Score: 90

2001 Brut Reserva (equal parts macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada) — $12: Pale, gold-tinged straw hue; fine bead; frothy mousse. Yeast, toast, clove and lychee in the nose. Lively, fruity, full-flavored, toasty, yeasty flavors. Delivers excellent price-value ratio. Score: 89

NV Brut Rosado Reserva (100% trepat) — $14: Dark strawberry-cherry hue; a true rosado with a very fine, active bead. Yeast, clove, strawberry-cherry nose. Very nice with some candied berry fruit flavors; lively and very well-balanced without an overly frothy mouth-feel. Score: 87

Pago de Tharsys, Utiel-Requena (Valencia)

A relatively new artisan producer with high quality aspirations.

NV Cava (equal parts macabeo, chardonnay) — $25: Green-straw hue; fine bead and delicate mousse. Clean, fresh, citric nose. Rich, elegant, lemony and toasty flavors; dry, citrusy finish. An artistic Valencia ceramic label hangs impressively from the bottle neck with a ribbon. Score: 87

Parxet

Founded in 1920, Parxet is an exemplary small producer of Cava and still wine located in Alella, a tiny appellation in the suburbs of Barcelona.

NV Titiana (brut nature style, 80-90% 70-year-old chardonnay vines, possibly some pinot noir) — $20: Gold-straw hue; fine, lively bead and mousse. Lychee, coconut and lemon nose. Delicious balance of lovely fruit (hints of apricot) and lively acids. Toasty, but stylish and elegant with a pleasant, dry, bitter almond finish. Score: 92

NV Brut Cuvée 21 (40% parellada, 40% xarel-lo, 20% macabeo) — $12: Pale green-straw hue; fine bead. Nice nose of yeast, honeysuckle, pineapple. Clean, yeasty, lightly sweet honeysuckle and tropical fruitiness; a nice mouthful that is more like a pétillant wine; not overly effervescent, but delicious. Score: 89

NV Brut Pinot Noir — $24: Light strawberry-tinged hue. Clean, yeasty strawberry and light clove in the nose. Very pretty, delicious, clean, balanced, full flavored, fruity strawberry and cranberry with a long, dry, stylish finish. Score: 91

NV Cuvée Dessert Pinot Noir — $20: Deep salmon color; fine, diffuse bead. Allspice, cinnamon, clove and pinot aromas. Deliciously fruity and only lightly sweet red berry flavors. Long, intriguing, spicy finish of cinnamon and clove. An exceptional cross between Cava and still wine. Score: 92

Privat (AD Series)

These disgorged-to-order wines are hard to find, but well worth seeking out because they are truly on par with some of the best Champagnes.

NV Laietà Brut Nature Reserva (chardonnay, possibly some pinot noir — they wouldn’t say; aged a minimum of 24 months on the lees; disgorged June 30, 2005) — $33: Deep green-gold hue; fine, active bead. Distinctive, toasty, yeasty, green apple and melon nose. Very lively lime and apple flavors; dry, full and rich in the mouth with a long, palate-refreshing finish. First-rate Cava. Score: 92

NV Opus Evolutium Brut Nature Gran Reserva (chardonnay, possibly some pinot noir; aged a minimum of 36 months; disgorged June 30, 2005) — $39: Green-gold straw hue; fine, active, measured bead. Lovely, peachy, yeasty nose. Rich and full flavored with citrus, orange peel and peach nuances followed by a long, delicious hazelnut finish; as good as most high-end Champagnes. Score: 94

Sabate i Coca Castell Roig

This 18th-century estate at Masia Can Serra is home to the Sabate i Coca family’s ecologically farmed 85 acres of vines.

2000 Brut Nature Gran Reserva (70% xarel-lo, 20% macabeo, 10% chardonnay; 1,000 cases) — $35: Green-tinged straw hue; very lively, fine bead. Nice yeasty, clean, lemony, fruity floral nose. Lively and dry with a long, lemony finish that begs for food. Score: 88

Segura Viudas

Founded by the Segura Viudas family in 1945, since the 1970s it has been in Freixenet’s hands. This cuvée is still made much like a small producer family Cava with an emphasis on quality.

NV Brut Reserva Heredad (67% macabeo, 33% parellada; aged five years on the lees) — $20: Green-gold hue; fine, active bead. Pretty nose with hints of yeast, vanilla, lychee, honeysuckle and citrus peel. Stylish, elegant and clean with rich, well-integrated, mature flavors of nut and dried fruit; a long, yeasty, toasty finish. Score: 89

NV Arias Brut Pinot Noir — $12: Light-medium strawberry-cherry color; fine, active bead. Fresh strawberry nose. Clean, dry, smooth, pleasant red berry flavors. Score: 86

Sumarroca

The Sumarroca house dates only to 1982, but its Cavas are made at a 15th-century Catalan mas (farmhouse complex) exclusively from estate grapes and only free-run juice.

NV Brut Reserva (30% macabeo, 30% xarel-lo, 30% parellada, 10% chardonnay; aged 30 months) — $11: Clean, pale yellow-straw hue; fine, active bead. Yeasty, floral, lime nose. Very dry, fairly austere, lively mouth-feel; hints of minerals with a clean, dry, lemon and bitter almond finish. Score: 87

Contributing Editor Gerry Dawes has been traveling to Spain for more than 30 years, and in 2003 was awarded the Marqués de Busianos Spanish National Gastronomy Prize.

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