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Tag Archives: Spanish wine

Wine of the week: Vega Barcelona Cava Brut Seleccion NV

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Vega BarcelonaOne of the great joys in doing the blog is when I find a wine my mom likes. She’ll print the post, take it to her local retailer, he will compliment her on her good taste, and she will boast about her son. So, for Mother’s Day, the Vega Barcelona cava. Enjoy, mom,

This has been a wonderful year for cava, the Spanish sparkling wine, and the Vega Barcelona ($15, sample, 11.5%) is no exception. We tasted it when we did Spanish wine at my El Centro class, and even the students who only liked sweet wine liked this one. That’s because it gave the impression of sweetness — honey and ripe pear aromas — while tasting bone dry, with some green apple and citrus flavors. The bubbles were tight and the wine was crisp and fresh, two other hallmarks of quality.

How well done is this wine? One of the wine magazines gave it the ultimate backhanded compliment: “… a decent amount of elegance for a $15 wine.”

Highly recommended, and worth the extra $5 it costs compared to other cavas — even if it wasn’t for Mother’s Day. Pair this with most anything for a Mother’s Day brunch or just to toast Mom.

Wine of the week: Bodegas La Cana Rías Baixas 2013

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La Cana Rias BaixasJust when the Wine Curmudgeon thinks he has squeezed every last penny of value out of Spanish wine, he finds something like the La Cana Rías Baixas.

Call it one more amazing wine in what seems to be a never ending succession of amazing Spanish wines. The La Cana ($10, purchased, 12.5%) is made with albarino, fast becoming the hipsters’ favorite Spanish white grape. Do not hold that against the wine, though. Somehow, and for just $10, it shows off albarino’s varietal citrus fruit in the front (a lemon-limey thing?), tropical fruit in the middle, a long finish, and even a bit of the salty tang that legend says comes from the grapes being grown so close to the sea in the Rias Baixas region in Galicia on the northwest coast.

The La Cana could use a little more acidity to balance the tropical fruit, but then it would cost $18 and would be the hipsters’ much beloved Paco and Lola albarino. Which is a nice wine, but why pay $18 when you can pay $10?

Highly recommended, and almost certain for inclusion in the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. This is seafood wine, and especially boiled seafood (shrimp or crawfish) on the back porch as the weather warms up. And oysters and mussels wouldn’t be a bad choice, either.

 

Mini-reviews 71: Vin Vault, Rueda, Arido, Avalon

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vin vaultReviews of wines that don’t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month.

Vin Vault Pinot Noir 2013 ($20 for 3-liter box, sample, 13%): This California red, part of E&J Gallo’s assault on the booming box wine business, offers much more than $5 a bottle worth of value (since a 3-liter box equals four bottles). Look for red fruit and soft tannins, though it tastes more like a red blend than pinot noir (and my guess is that it has been blended with lots of grenache or syrah). Still, it’s pleasant drinking and a huge step up from most $5 pinot noir.

Marqués de Cáceres Rueda 2013 ($8, purchased, 12.5%): This version of the Spanish white from one of Spain’s biggest producers is made with the verdejo grape. It’s much more balanced than previous vintages — the lemon fruit is more rounded and it’s less harsh. A steal at this price, though it’s still a simple wine, and its tartness may put some people off.

Árido Malbec 2013 ($10, sample, 13.7%): Just another Argentine grocery store malbec with lots and lots of sweet red fruit, some tannins that don’t really fit with the sweet fruit, and not much else. It’s an example of why I liked this malbec so much.

Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 ($10, sample, 13.9%): This California red is not the old $10 Napa Avalon cabernet, one of the great cheap wines of all time and which now costs as much as $18. But it’s professionally made, if hardly complex, and mostly a value with soft tannins, black fruit, a little mouth feel, and some acid to round it out. If you’re in a grocery store and need a red wine for dinner, this will be fine.

 

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