Future Reports

California Zinfandel: A New Look

Special Monthly Tastings

New Vintages and New Releases

April 2007

Spain

Bodegas Altanza 2003 Capitoso Rioja ($15) 88
Bodegas Altanza 2001 Lealtanza Rioja ($34) 89
Bodegas Altanza 2001 Reserva Miro Rioja ($100) 92
Bodegas Altanza 1999 Reserva Rioja ($50) 93

Bodegas Altanza 2003 Capitoso Rioja LabelThe 2003 Capitosa is produced from 100 percent Tempranillo grapes and offers aromas of fresh dark cherries and sweet oak. On the palate it displays bittersweet currant fruit, notes of coffee bean and lots of sweet savory oak with soft tannins on the finish. The 2001 Lealtanza produced from 100 percent Tempranillo grapes is medium ruby in color and offers aromas of red fruits, clove, cinnamon, and wood spice. On the palate is exhibits lush mouth feel with red cherry and plum fruit, new oak highlights, excellent balance and a fine finish. The 1999 Altanza Reserva, produced from 75-year old vines, displays a lovely ruby color with signs of bricking on the rim. On the nose it offers dried fruit aromas with a touch of oxidative notes and meaty accents. On the palate it is delicate with more dried fruits, sage and brine spices. A lovely complex wine that shows the beauty of well-made older Tempranillo. The 2001 Altanza Reserva Miro is opaque ruby with a smoky nose of grilled meats and sweet vanilla bean. On the palate it displays lovely mouth feel with a palate of ripe lush red fruit flavors, sweet oak and leather.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY www.qualitywinesofspain.com

Bodega Carmen Rodriguez 2004 Crianza Toro ($34) 85
Bodega Carmen Rodriguez 2004 Caro Dorum Issos Toro ($29) 89
Bodega Carmen Rodriguez 2004 Caro Dorum Sel Especial Toro ($60) 90

The 2004 Caro Dorum produced from Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) and aged for 14 months in French oak, offers cherry and cranberry fruit aromas on the nose and slightly under ripe and dense fruit on the palate with a big tannic finish. The 2004 Caro Dorum Issos produced from 100 percent Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) has a deep ruby purple color and aromas of black cherry and cassis on the nose. On the palate it displays bright cherry fruit and nicely integrated oak notes with gripping tannins on the finish. This a good prospect for the cellar. The 2004 Caro Dorum Seleccion Especial produced from 100- year old Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) vines has a medium ruby color and aromas of ripe cherries and toasty oak on the nose. Aged in new French oak barriques for 18 months, it display bright black raspberry and cherry fruit on the mid-palate, nicely integrated oak notes, and ripe tannins on the finish.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY

Bodegas del Muni
2005 Corpus Del Muni, Semi-Crianza (roble) Tierra de Castilla ($15) 88
2004 Corpus Del Muni, "Vina Lucia" Crianza Tierra de Castilla ($17) 91

Corpus del Muni labelBodegas Muni is a small family winery located in Villatobas, Toledo, just South of Madrid. It was established in 2001 by the Perea Contreras family and has the good fortune of owning some 17 hectares of old vine parcels averaging 70+ years. The winery currently produces two high quality wines. Its newly bottled 2005 Semi-Crianza (roble) is a tasty blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah and offers fresh red and black fruit aromas with ripe fruit flavors, excellent balance and solid tannins. (The 2004 Roble, which is still on the market, is even better.) The superb 2004 Crianza displays a dark opaque ruby color and has ripe red and black fruit aromas on the nose with notes of violets. The palate is beautifully balanced with concentrated fruit flavors and rounded tannins. This bottling is still young and will benefit from a little more time in the bottle.

Importer: Kysela Pere et Fils. Winchester, VA www.kysela.com

Bodegas San Prudencio 2005 Cueto Rioja ($10) 85
Bodegas San Prudencio 2005 Cueto Seleccion Rioja ($17) 87

The 2005 Cueto is a Tempranillo-based wine that displays a deep ruby purple color with aromas of dried red fruit and sweet cherry notes. On the palate it offers more sweet red fruit flavors with notes of new oak and a slightly fruity finish. A pleasant straightforward wine. The 2005 Cueto Selecction is a blend of Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Garnacha and Graciano. It has a youthful dark ruby color with a nose of red fruit and a light-bodied palate of bittersweet red fruits, creamy oak, and a chunky finish.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY

Bodegas y Viñedos Agribergidum
2006 Odorus Bierzo ($NA) Tank Sample
2005 Castro Bergidum Bierzo ($NA) 87
2001 Encomienda Reserva Bierzo ($NA) 90

Bodegas y Vinedos Agribergidum 2006 Odorus BierzoBodegas y Viñedos Agribergidum is a small family winery which began producing wine in Bierzo in the mid-1990s. Its vineyards consist of 65 hecatares of the indigenous Godello (white) and Mencia (red) grape vines, many of which are more than 100 years old. The 2006 Odorus is produced from 100% old vine Godello. Light lemon gold in color It is a pleasant sipping wine offering fresh aromas of ripe pear and notes of passion fruit. On the palate it is slightly bitter, but displays pleasant fruit flavors, light acidity, and a tart finish. The 2005 Castro Bergidum is a dark ruby opaque bottling which displays aromas of raspberry-plum fruit on the nose and green plum on the palate which has a soft attack, good acidity and young tannins on the finish. The 2001 Encomienda Reserva, a blend of 75 percent Tempranillo and 25 percent Syrah, is medium ruby in color with a purple rim. It offers aromas of dried plums and blackcurrants and wood smoke and has a sweet, approachable style. A lovely wine.

Exporter and Broker: Alligator Slow Foods, Madrid. (tel. 34-607-700-600)

Bodegas y Vinedos Gancedo 2003 Xestal Bierzo ($33) 88

This garnet colored bottling, produced from old vines Mencia offers a nose of ripe plum, black peppercorns and oak notes. It has a big chewy dense palate with smokey red and black fruit flavor, moderate tannins and good grip on the finish.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY

Sanchez Muliterno
2005 Finca La Sabina Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($22) 87
2001 Viña Consolacíon Guijoso Pago ($44) 89

The 2005 Finca La Sabina is opaque ruby in color and displays sweet black fruit aromas with notes of smoke and leather. It is medium-bodied and offers a soft lush attack of ripe flavorful black cherry fruit with minerals, earthy notes, and rounded tannins on the finish. The 2001 Viña Consolacion is a delicious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that has a dark garnet color with red and black fruit aromas and notes of leather. It is finely texture on the palate with ripe red fruits new leather and finely wrought tannins with a dry finish.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY

Bodegs y Viñedos Uribes Madero
2002 Calzadilla Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($40) 86
2002 Calzadilla Syrah Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($60) 90
2001 Gran Calzadilla Vino de la Tierra de Castilla ($90) 91

The 2002 Calzadilla is medium ruby in color with herbal fruit and earthy aromas on the nose. Rustic in character, it displays a very tart mid-palate with a chewy texture, light dried fruits and a short finish. The attractive 2002 Calzadilla Syrah displays an opaque garnet purple color with dark fruit and meaty leathery aromas on the nose. On the palate is reveals a focused spicy and leathery character with juicy dried fruits, good acidity and a lingering finish. The medium ruby 2001 Gran Calzadilla, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, is strikingly similar in character to a young Rioja gran reserva. It has a savory nose of dried red fruits, smoked meats and leather. Medium-bodied, it displays an elegant palate with pronounced mineral notes and a long dry finish.

Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY

Cellers Escoda Rivero 2003 Isaral Priorat ($69) 90
Cellers Escoda Rivero 2002 Prior Pons Priorat ($45) 92

The 2003 Isaral is an attractive blend of 60 percent Carinena, 20 percent Cabernet and 20 percent Garnacha (Grenache). It is medium ruby in color with a nose of spicy ripe red and black fruits. On the palate it reveals soft, lush mouth feel with ripe plum and black currants and learthy, earthy notes. The 2002 Prior Pons exhibits a lovely Grenache-like cherry nose with a plate of blackcurrants, vanilla bean, leather and minerals. It has elegant mouth feel, is beautifully balanced, and displays a lingering finish.
Importer: Quality Wines of Spain, New York, NY

Tapeña 2005 Tempranillo Tierra de Castilla ($10) 87
Tapeña 2005 Garnacha Tierra de Castilla ($10) 87

Tapeña bottles with food on a tableThese are two youthful, fruit forward and flavorful wines that have been produced for early consumption. The 2005 Tempranillo is light-bodied with a purple ruby color and pure black cherry kirsh aromas. On the palate it displays more black cherry fruit with notes of black pepper and spice and a short smooth finish. The 2005 Garnacha is dark ruby garnet with fresh aromas of black cherry and crushed raspberries. On the palate it is soft and round with good fruit flavors and ripe tannins on the finish. Both wines would pair nicely with tapas and other light fare.

Importer: Freixenet USA, Sonoma, CA www.tapeneawines.com

Portugal

Quinta do Monte D'Oiro 2004 Lybra Estremadura ($NA) 90
Quinta do Monte D'Oiro 2003 Reserva Estremadura ($NA) 92

Quinta do Monte d’Oiro is a small estate located in the region of Estremadura, some 30 miles north of Lisbon. It is owned and operated by Jose Bento dos Santos, Vice-Chairman of the International Academy of Gastronomy, whose passion is to produce high quality Northern Rhone-styled wines. The 2004 Lybra, a blend of 90 per cent Syrah and 10 percent Tinta Roriz is a dark ruby fruit driven wine offering ripe aromas of blueberry and blackberry with hints of sweet oak, alcohol and garrique. On the attack it displays a lush mouth feel with flavors of dark fruit and hints of chocolate. Although relatively high in alcohol (14.5%) it displays excellent balance and lovely wrought tannins. The 2003 Quinta do Monte d'Oiro Reserva is even more impressive. Made of 96 percent Syrah and 4 percent Viognier, it displays a dark ruby opaque color with aromas of ripe black fruit and sweet toasty oak. On the palate, it offers a rich fruit forward attack of highly concentrated blackcurrants and cassis with a rich mouth feel and well rounded tannins. This is a big beautiful stylish wine with great potential for aging.
Winery: Quinta do Monte d'Oiro Ventosa, Portugal www.quintadomontedoiro.com

Austria

As we affirmed in a previous review, Anton Bauer produces some of the finest terroir-based wines in Austria today. Of these two wines, his 2005 Gruner Veltliner Grande Reserve is especially noteworthy.

Anton Bauer 2004 Wagram Cuvee 10 Wagram ($17) 88
Anton Bauer 2005 Gruner Veltliner Grande Reserve Wagram ($39) 93

The 2004 Wagram Cuvee 10, considered the Cotes du Rhone of Austria, is a blend of 40 percent Blanfrankisch, 35 percent Zweigelt, 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 percent Merlot. It is medium ruby in color and exhibits a fruit- rich, earthy and pepper nose. On the palate it offers strawberry and cherry fruit flavors with mineral notes. Well-made and nicely balanced, this bottling is for easy-drinking pleasure. The oak-fermented 2005 Grande Reserve Gruner Veltliner has a gorgeous deep honey golden color and displays exotic ripe fruit and caramel aromas on the nose. On the palate, it displays a round mouth feel with notes of biscuit and honey flavors and a dry minerally finish. This is a terrific wine but unfortunately is in short supply.
Importer: KW Selection.com - Select Wines Inc.

Hillinger BottleLeo Hillinger 2006 Welschriesling Burgenland ($10) 87
Leo Hillinger 2005 St. Laurent Bugenland ($29) 89

The 2006 Welschriesling is pale white in color with a light and a clean fresh aroma of wet straw. On the palate is exhibits a dry and somewhat tart mouth feel with a long peppery finish. The 2005 St. Laurent is produced from a clone of Pinot Noir, but is rather different in character than that variety. It has a dark ruby color with spicy aromas of red fruits, cinnamon and black pepper. On the palate it displays a lush round and ripe attack of soft and savory flavors of raspberry and cherry with highlights of coffee and sweet vanillan. A lovely and unique wine.

Importer: KW Selection.com - Select Wines Inc.

Steininger 2006 Young Kamptal ($10) 89

Weingut Steininger, is a family winery situated in the Kamptal Valley in Lower Austria which is known for its fashionable estate-bottled Gruner Veltliner. The 2006 Young is a delicious blend of 70 percent Gruner Veltliner, 20 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 10 percent Muskateller. It has a pale lemon yellow color with light spritz. On the nose it offers aromas of green apple and pear and displays a focused and persistent mid-palate with a savory pear fruit character and a peppery finish. A fun blend made for early drinking
Importer: KW Selection.com - Select Wines Inc.

Steindorfer 2004 Cuvee Klaus Zweigelt Eiswein ($30) 90

This lovely 2004 Eiswein produced from Zweigelt (a hybrid of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent) displays a salmon-orange color with a floral perfumy nose of cherry rhubarb. On the palate it offers very sweet flavors of honey, orange peel, dried cherries and vanilla. While sweet, it is not cloying and offers very good underlying acidity.
Importer: KW Selection.com - Select Wines Inc.

California

Spann Vineyards 2005 Chardonnay-Viognier Sonoma County ($20) 87
Spann Vineyards NV Betsy's Backacher North Coast ($15) 88
Spann Vineyards 2004 Merlot Napa Valley ($25) 87
Spann Vineyards 2004 Mo Zin Sonoma County ($20) 90

Spann Vineyards is a relatively new family winery owned and operated by Peter and Betsy Spann. Their vineyards are located in the Mayacamas Mountains and are situated on a steeply terraced mountainside. The Spanns dry farm their vineyards and strive for low yields, in some cases as little as one ton per acre. All of the Spann wines are hand crafted in very small quantities using both New and Old World winemaking techniques (foot crushing, blending, destemming). This is our second look at Spann wines and we continue to think this winery shows great promise as a quality producer. We are especially impressed by their Mo Zin bottling which made a strong showing in this round of tastings. This 2005 Chardonnay-Viognier, a new release, is a lovely blend of 59 percent Chardonnay and 41 percent Viognier. It is pale green gold in color and displays an aromatic nose of apricot and peach. On the palate it exhibits broad flavors of stone fruits and melon followed by some slightly bitter notes on the dry finish. The NV Betsy’s Backacher is a is blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot displays a medium ruby color and has herbaceous fruit and minty aromas on the nose. On the palate it offers ripe and round blackcurrant fruit with sweet oak highlights and substantial but ripe tannins on the finish The 2004 Merlot has a pure ruby color with aromas of dusty dried red cherries and plums, good mouth feel, sweet cassis fruit, and a pleasant finish. The 2004 Mo Zin one of our favorites from this producer- is an attractive blend of 60 percent Zinfandel, 27 percent Mourvedre, 13 percent Petite Sirah, It has a dark ruby garnet color with ripe aromas of blackberries and a round, lush black fruit attack with a lush mouth feel. On the palate it offers flavors of dried currant fruit with a rose petal top note and a finish with big tannins and grip.

Winery: Spann Vineyards Glen Ellen, CA www.spannvineyards.com

Two Angels 2006 High Valley Sauvignon Blanc Napa ($) 89

This bottling produced by Napa winemaker, Robert Pepi with fruit sourced from Lake Country vineyards, has a pale green gold color and offers fresh ripe melon aromas on the note. On the palate, it displays a lovely ripe albeit tart grapefruit flavors with good persistence on the lengthy finish.

Distributor: Quintessential Wines Napa, CA www.quintessentialwines.com

Wines Tasted by Michael Flynn & Mike Potashnik, International Wine Review