Monday, January 15, 2007

"X" Marks The Spot

After feeling under the weather for the better part of a week or so, I hit the trail again this weekend in search of some wine bargains -- and I did not come home empty-handed. I scored a couple of great inexpensive wines from Spain, not in and of itself a surprise. I've blogged about this before.

But, based on what I tasted, I think consumers are going to be delightfully surprised in the next few years by the wide range of varietals and styles available from Spain that most of us have barely heard of at this point.

The first wine I'm really nuts about is 2004 Alaia Dehesa de Rubiales from Galiciano. At $8 a bottle, this may be my new favorite mid-week wine under $10. It's tempranillo based but with more extraction than you'd expect from the bargain isle. It's loaded with black cherry fruit and a slightly spicy finish.

The other great find really blew my socks off -- and not because of its weight or extraction. With 14 percent alcohol, it certainly has body. But what really impressed me was the generous brown spice I got on the nose and the sophistication of its smooth style. I'm talking about the 2005 Xavier vino de la tierra de Castilla y Leon, which goes for about $14. Sporting a large X on the label, this wine is made from a little known grape, prieto picudo, but its flavors and aromas are idiosynchratic and impressive.

You could argue that Xavier is a good example of why the internationalization of wine styles can be a bad thing. There's no doubt there are great, little known varietals out there that winemakers are afraid to export because the wine contains none of the prestige grapes.

But I'm told the winery in this case finally decided they have a good enough product to send overseas -- good news for us. Cleverly, they decided to slap a slick label and marketing name on it, rather than the varietal name -- the label almost looks like it came from the set of the X-files. Fine by me. As long as I continue to see and taste unusual wines like Xavier.


Blogger Austenesque said...

Too funny - I picked up the Alaia on a rec from the guy at my favorite shop a few weeks ago. I haven't opened it yet (consumption here has slowed as well, due to illness), but I'm very much looking forward to trying it - esp now!

And I'll keep my eyes peeled for X.

7:21 PM  
Blogger JD said...

You will not be disappointed. A little more intense than the Borsao and just a buck more. By the way, '05 Borsao is now around as well.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Austenesque said...

Fabulous! What a great little bottle of wine :-) And at that price, guilt isn't even part of the equation!

9:32 PM  
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1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I are also great fans of the Alaia, and just started on the Xavier--which is wonderful--this week. Just an amazing, powerfully flavored wine: resin, tar, clove . . . wow.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

Hi there. I tried the Alaia at a wine tasting, bought it, gave it away as a present, and since then can't find it anywhere. Can you let me know where I might be able to find this on the internet? I've searched with no luck yet. Thanks!

2:23 PM  

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