Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two Fantastic Red Values - Spain 2007

Sorry for the the lack of activity here lately - I am finishing up 6,000 miles of driving in the last 12 days in the process of returning to New Orleans.  I will miss the Northwest, especially through the summer, but the pull of family and the comfort of home proved too strong.  At least I am in time for French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest!   
The last few weeks have included feverish activity to get the house packed and then hellacious driving - finally at an end today.  
As promised (threatened?) here come more wines from Jorge Ordonez.  The 2007 vintage for red wine in Spain appears to be an unusual one.  It is too early to make broad, sweeping, definitive pronouncements as the bigger, more serious versions won't be seen for some time; but I have found, through tasting approximately 25 value reds, that many regular favorites are not as exciting as in years past, while others I usually find to be serviceable but not exciting have prompted me to buy in quantity. 
Here are the two current favorites:
Borsao, Campo de Borja 2007 - Made from mostly Garnacha (Grenache) with some Tempranillo, this wine usually has a bit too much raw tannin/slightly hard edge in the first six to eight months of release for the weight of the fruit.  I generally prefer the 100% Garnacha little brother, Vina Borgia.  However, this vintage of Vina Borgia seemed a bit unfocused and maybe even a tad stewy, while the Borsao had lovely black pepper notes and gorgeous palate-feel.  There is enough structure to work well at the table with anything from roast chicken to grilled sausages, burgers, mushrooms or salmon, all from the grill.  The region is Campo de Borja, Spain's top source for Garnacha.  I bought a case, and have already had a couple of bottles and given a couple away...I hope there's still some available in New Orleans.  $9-$10
Campos Reales Tempranillo 2007 - This wine is never aged in oak and I often find it to be a bit light in texture and fruit for the structure offered.  Usually the nose is good, palate decent, but the finish always seemed a bit harsh to me.  I am being overly picky, but when you taste as many value wines as I do you get choosy about what you actually pay to bring into the house more than one bottle at a time.  The 2007 vintage here is brilliant.  It is still a medium-bodied wine, the palate is subtle, but the finish is marvelous offering plenty of juicy red fruit with more acid than tannin notes.  From La Mancha, a huge growing area with too much mass produced plonk, this is at a fairly high elevation (one key to success in the region) and comes from 30+ year-old vines.  I lovingly refer to it as the "Tree of Meat."
  The label has a red tree with all sorts of animals on it, all edible as far as I can figure.  The wine is nearly picture perfect; lighter than the Borsao and therefore better suited to chicken, pork, vegetables, baked or roasted, and perhaps salmon or tuna.  Grilled foods may be too much for it, think Chianti style pairings, but with much better fruit and drinkability than any Chianti at this price!  $7-$9
These are excellent wines for parties, Tuesday nights, or just because you want something to open that won't cost an arm and a leg.  

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