Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Spanish Conquest

That's me. I'm a conquest, a convert of sorts to Spanish wines. I recall 10 years ago trying a few quaffable but otherwise undistinguished Riojas sporting dry, dusty tannins. But if you haven't tried a Spanish red in the past four or five years then chances are you don't know what Spain truly has to offer.

The wines coming out of Priorat and Ribera Del Douro these days are often phenomenal. These wines wowed my friends at a winetasting we hosted at our house a couple of years ago. More about these wines another time.

I really want to talk about my nomination for best-value wine out there right now, Borsao. I can't really call Borsao a fresh discovery, as I've been drinking the $7 Borsao Campo de Borja for at least 5 or 6 years. A blend of tempranillo and garnacha, it's got generous gobs of red cherry and raspberry fruit, especially in good vintages. And, it hits just enough black fruit notes and acidic chimes to keep it from being overly simplistic. The current vintage really should be in your cellar or closet for mid-week meals or light weekend dinners.

But, newfound delights for me are the other Borsao bottlings that now appear to be widely available. Under $15, they still represent great values and are downright delicious.

The Borsao Crianza 2001, currently available, is a bigger wine than its $7 little brother and it has marvelous balance and complexity. The garnacha and tempranilla in this baby get some added muscle from cabernet sauvignon, without getting overpowered. I enjoyed the complexity and length of this wine, made from mountain-grown grapes.

But, best saved for last, you simply have got to run out and get some of the Borsao Tres Picos, if you have not already tried it. 100 percent garnacha, the 2004 vintage is a real fruit bomb that is amazingly aromatic and concentrated for the price.

In my experience, wine stores tend to have pet wines they love to push, which are usually quite good. But it seems like every shop I know is celebrating this wine lately. Do yourself a favor and get to Spain, in spirits if not in body.


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