Preamble Tasting September 1998
A Spanish Inquisition
For info: Crianza is 6 months to 1 year in oak, 1 year in bottle. Reserva is 1 year in wood, 2 in bottle. Gran Reserva is 2 years in oak, 3 in bottle. Sin crianza is no ageing.
1. Clarion, Vinas del Vero, Somontano, 1997
NE Spain, foothills of the Pyrenees. Very pleasant nose, slightly honeyed. Good spicy end on the palate, with backbone. A blend of Chardonnay and Viura. 13%.
2. Gewurtztraminer, Vinas del Vero, Somontano, 1997
Slightly greeny. Not a very full nose. Beautifully spicy, with a lingering aftertaste. Quite a citrus taste, and a pleasant oily feel.
3. Vega Adriana, Vina Extremena SA, Tierra de Barros, 1987
Ruddy red, great nose and beautiful label. Tempranillo, Grenache and Monastrell (generally makes sweeter wines). A hint of liquorice, still tannic, slightly watery.
4. Ochoa Reserva, Bodegas Ochoa, Navarra, 1992
Rich, clear red. Slight smell of pastilles. Tannins, fruit, clean taste. Tempranillo with about 10% Cabernet sauvignon in American oak.
5. Ygay Reserva, Marques de Murrieta, Rioja, 1993
Very elegant. Browning around the edges. Gorgeuos nose; hint of Burgundy, some burnt rubber and farmyard. Tempranillo 85% and Mourvedre 15%, two years in American oak.
6. Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva, Bodegas Martinez Bujanda, Rioja, 1985
Light red, lighter rim. Warm nose, farmyard. Very spicy, quite acid. Maybe slightly watery. Interesting. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Carignan.
7. Vina Albali Gran Reserva, Valdepenas, 1989
Clear, light red. Not very much nose. Quite stern, but with plenty of fruit and good balance. Vanilla but no noticeable tannins. Tempranillo, Carignan and Mourvedre.
8. Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva, Rioja, 1991
Slightly deeper than the above, Slight, medical nose. Tempranillo with 15% Cabernet sauvignon. French oak (unusually). Very interesting balance of acid, fruit and tannin. Generally liked a lot by the assemblage, not so much by me.
9. Guelbenzo, Navarra, 1996
Deep red. Very French nose. Quite stern; fruit but tannins a bit overpowering. Tempranillo 34%, Cabernet sauvignon 41%, Merlot 25%, aged in French oak for six months. Not sure it will improve much.
10. Vina Mayor Reserva, Barvelo, Ribero del Duero, 1991
Elegant red. Not a huge nose but classy. Quite tannic, good fruit, stern but getting smoother as it warms up. 100% Tempranillo, 13% alcohol.
11. Vina Ardanza Reserva, La Rioja Alta SA, Rioja, 1989
Burgundy colours. Burnt rubber. Palate of fruit, vanilla, acid, some soft tannins. A biit harsh? 85% Tempranillo with Mourvedre.
12. Arzuaga Crianza, Ribero del Duera, 1995
Soft, deep red.Unidentifiable and not very big nose. Smooth, slightly drying on tongue. Quite stern but nice. 100% Tempranillo.