Hello Spanish Table wine friends! Okay folks, Tuesday night at 11 pm I sat on-edge at my computer running down the scores for this year's Wine Advocate annual Spanish ratings (kind of like the Oscars of Iberian wine) so I could be in-the-know right off the bat before everything was swiped by the big boys. This is an advance preview before the paper-version hits town, so let's get down to business shall we! However you feel about Robert Parker, the Wine Advocate has championed obscure areas of Spain (like Jumilla, Yecla, Montsant, Campo de Borja amongst others) that creates a fuel for advancement & investment in high quality vinification methods where outstanding groves were already in existence. More than ever, I hear customers say that word on the street is that our store is one of the best places in Seattle ( & the country) to discover $15 & under wines, but there is a strong surge of interest in top-tier Iberian wines and for good reason. Clos Erasmus, which scored a perfect 100, was gone on the very first day we received it, thanks to a waiting list I keep on hand from year-to-year so I can personally contact customers when these wines become available. And I'm sorry, our last bottles of Termanthia (also 100 points) sold this morning... If there are any special wines which you would like me to track for you, please don't hesitate to ask! The most gratifying moment of all in this flurry of rankings is seeing how our own favorites stack up & I feel GOOD about the fact that we have been selling a lot of these wines BR (Before- Ratings) because we love them ourselves. Unfortunately that means some of our top recommendations will be going quickly, so feel free to let me know if there are wines you'd like me to hold onto for you! Salud! Catherine PS- Excuse any typo's as I wanted to ge this out as early as I could! SOPA DE GARBANZOS Y CAMARONES SECOS (GARBANZO BEAN AND DRIED SHRIMP SOUP) from Latin Ladles. Fabulous Soups & Stews form the King of Nuevo Latino Cuisine by Douglas Rodriguez This week we received some black chickpeas which are traditionally used in Indian dishes, but I was surprised to see these turn up in a Cuban recipe! A tropical soup to warm you up... Serves 6 8 ounces dried shrimp 10 ounces black garbanzo beans, soaked in water overnight and drained 2 bay leaves 1 gallon water 3 tablespoons achiote oil 1 white onion, diced 4 cloves garlic, diced 3 ounces cachica chiles, stemmed, seeded, derived, and coarsely chopped 5 jalapeo chiles, stemmed and diced (including seeds) 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 cup white wine 4 plum tomatoes, diced 2 limes, quartered In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the shrimp for 3 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and let cool. Using a food processor or a mortar and pestle, grind half of the toasted shrimp into a fine powder. Set aside.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, bring the remaining whole toasted shrimp, garbanzo beans, bay leaves, and water to shimmer. Cover and cook 1 hour, then uncover. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat and sauté the onion, garlic, and peppers 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and wine, and stir to combine. Ladle the soup into bowls. Serve with the lime wedges on the side. Squeeze lime juice over the soup before eating. RED HOT! ROBERT PARKER'S ANNUAL SPANISH REVIEW "Spanish wines continue to be red-hot. As this review will detail, there are hundreds of terrific wines available for under $20, many of those for less than $12. Most of these wines come from the marvelous 2004 vintage, widely recognized as the best since 2001, encompassing virtually every significant wine-producing region, and 2005, while not quite at the same level, is by any standard, a very good vintage. ...If I were a budding wine collector with limited discretionary income, I would be laying in cases of 2001s and 2004s from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorat, Toro, andMontsant. The top wines from these regions will reward extended cellaring and, with just a handful of exceptions, cost less than $50- 60 a bottle. Let your wealthy friends stock up on $500 a bottle Bordeaux and cult California Cabernets and then shock them years later in blind tastings." - Jay Miller, Wine Advocate 2005 Senorio de Barahonda Carro, Yecla $8.99 90 points Limited! "The 2005 Carro is an unoaked blend of 50% Monastrell, 20% Tempranillo, 20% Syrah, and 10% Merlot. Medium ruby-colored, it has a lovely perfume of damp earth, pepper, cassis, and blackberry. This is followed by a sumptuous wine with layers of ripe, sweet fruit, excellent balance, and no hard edges which totally belie its ridiculously silly price point. The wine is an awesome value. I had thoughts of a higher score but readers might think I’d lost my mind. The Bellum project, in which Ole Imports is involved, started in 2002. It is dedicated to showing what can be achieved from 100% old-vine Monastrell in the up-and-coming D.O. of Yecla. It goes without saying that the price-to-quality relationship of these wines is extraordinary." 2005 Bodegas Castano Monastrell, Yecla $8.99 90 points 3 bottles left! "The 2005 Monastrell is an insane value produced from three vineyard sites ranging in age from 40-60 years. Opaque purple-colored, it gives up fragrant aromas of blue fruits, plums, and prunes. Ripe, layered, and full-flavored, this hedonistic effort can be enjoyed now but will surely evolve for 2-3 years. Match it with beef and lamb." 2005 Bodegas Enguera Distinto, Valencia $9.99 90 points Limited! "The tasty 2005 Distinto is composed of equal parts Tempranillo and Syrah. Dark ruby-colored, the wine has a lovely violet and blueberry-scented nose. On the palate the wine is soft and supple with no hard edges. Drink this excellent value over the next 1-2 years." 2004 Dehesa de Rubiales Alia, Castilla Leon $9.99 89 points "The 2004 Dehesa de Rubiales is a blend of 50% Prieto Picudo, 45% Tempranillo, and 5% Merlot. The nose offers up vibrant aromas of smoke, mineral, blueberry, and cassis. This is followed by a juicy wine with layers of black fruits and a supple, seamless texture. Drink this sensational value over the next 1-2 years." 2004 Bodegas Castano Hecula, Yecla$9.99 90 points HIGHLY ALLOCATED "The 2004 Hecula is a single vineyard selection of 100% Monastrell, 50% tank aged and 50% aged in French oak. It is slightly less ebullient but more serious than its younger sibling. Exhibiting aromas of toasty black fruits with milk chocolate in the background, this is a super-rich effort with terrific depth and concentration for its humble price. It is a remarkable value for drinking over the next few years."
2005 Bodegas Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell Ungrafted Old Vines, Jumilla $9.99 90 points "The 2005 Altos de la Hoya Monastrell “Ungrafted Old Vines” is a perennial Best Buy in this journal. Purple in color, the wine offers up a nearly exotic nose (perhaps due to wild yeast fermentation) of earth, minerals, blueberries, and blackberries. This medium to full-bodied effort possesses layers of sweet, ripe fruit, and soft tannins yet is surprisingly elegant. Drink this tasty wine over the next 2-3 years." 2005 Bodega Pirineos Mesache Blanco, Somontano $9.99 90 points "The 2005 Mesache Blanco is an intriguing blend of 35% late-harvested Macabeo, 35% Gewurztraminer, and 30% Chardonnay fermented and aged in stainless steel. Light gold in color, the bouquet of this crisp, refreshing effort is given a lift by the Gewurztraminer component. In addition to the lychees, there is a hint a banana and other tropical fruits. On the palate, this dry, medium-bodied wine is surprisingly ripe, rich, and long. Drink it over the next two years." 2005 Vinos Sin-Ley G4 Garnacha, Carinena $9.9990 points "The 2005 G4 from Carinena raises the bar significantly. It exhibits more aromatic complexity, greater depth and concentration, and enough structure to drink well for 2-3 years. The name Vinos Sin-Ley means “wines without laws.” According to importer Patrick Mata, these cuvees are produced by an array of serious winemakers who wish to have their own personal projects apart from those of their employers and to not be bound by the various D.O. regulations. The G Series wines are composed of 100% Garnacha while the new M Series wines are 100% Monastrell. The Zestos wines are blends. They are reviewed in the order they were presented. All of the recommended wines are excellent values." 2005 Vinos Sin-Ley M5 / Monastrell, Yecla $12.9992 points 10 bottles left! "The M Series wines are all 100% Monastrell aged in stainless steel. The 2005 M5/Mourvedre from Yecla is the class of these wines. It has a lovely kirsch-scented nose, oodles of fruit, excellent balance, and a long, pure finish. It should be consumed over the next 2 years." 2004 Cellar de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica, Montsant $11.99 90 points HIGHLY ALLOCATED "The 2004 Mas Donis Barrica is 85% Garnacha from 80+-year-old vines and 15% Syrah aged for 8 months in French and American oak. Opaque purple, it has a wonderfully expressive nose of spice box, pencil lead, pepper, blueberry, and blackberry liqueur. On the palate the wine is full- bodied with layers of ripe, spicy black fruits, nicely concealed tannins, and a long, pure finish. It is an outstanding value for drinking now and over the next 4-6 years." 2005 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja $11.99 91 points ALLOCATED "This remarkably hedonistic wine has been a perennial Best Buy in the pages of this journal. The 2005 Tres Picos Garnacha is purple-colored with a cherry-scented nose that roars from the glass. It is intensely fruity, with terrific depth and concentration, oodles of sweet fruit, and terrific length. This wine, which can be likened to cherry pie in a glass, is an awesome value. Drink it over the next 1-2 years." 2005 Bodegas Peique Joven, Bierzo $12.99 90 points "All three wines from Bodegas Peique are 100% Mencia. The 2005 Joven is an unoaked cuvee from 45- to 55-year-old vineyards. Dark ruby-colored, it exhibits a fragrant, fruity bouquet of spicy black currants and blueberry that jumps from the glass. This medium-bodied, supple-textured, easy-drinking wine might be considered Spain’s version of Pinot Noir. Not only is it user-friendly, it is also a great value. Drink it over the next 1-2 years." 2004 Castell del Remei Gotim Bru, Costers del Segre $13.99 90 pointsHIGHLY ALLOCATED