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Short, sharp wine recommendations

Entries in Spain (2)


Modest Mondays - Peciña 2009 Cosecha Rioja (Joven)

Bodegas Hermanos Peciña is one of the most traditional Rioja producers out there, and it's always a pleasure to enjoy their wines. This is another great producer who is imported by José Pastor. For the record, I prefer traditional as opposed to modern Riojas primarily because I usually get a much greater sense of terroir, purity, and uniqueness with the traditionals -- plus, they are far less likely to be manipulated with all the nasty stuff a lot of the modern wines often try to get fancy with. 

All of Peciña's Rioja Altas I've tasted have been excellent, and their entire catalog's bang for the buck has been practically shocking to me. This one, the Cosecha, is the entry offering of the bodega (winery,) and it's an unoaked "joven" (literally, "young," meaning that it is meant to be consumed without much aging,) and it is fantastic, low price or not. The youth of the wine means it is fairly fruit forward with blueberry and blackberry flavors, but Peciña's old school sensibility keeps it earthy, spicy, complex, and with a healthy balance of acid. This is a blend but 97% is Tempranillo, and the fruit plays a starring role as this beautiful wine is fermented and matured in stainless steel - no oak at all - which makes it really lively and fresh.

I've rarely tasted a wine at this price point with so much character. Find ithe 2009 Peciña Cosecha at K&L for $13.99, but the real deal is it Premiere Cru, where it can be found, while it lasts, for $9.99


1991 López de Heredia 'Viña Tondonia' Reserva Rioja Blanca

Sometimes we recommend a wine because it's clearly what you might call a "steal": its low price gives it a killer "Modest Monday"-like cost-to-quality ratio. But sometimes, my friends, we feel the need to deliver you to a transformative experience. 

If you've never had a traditionally produced Rioja Blanca, and you're willing to shell out ~$45 (well worth it), you are in for a treat. López de Heredia (fantastic website, btw) is one of the last of the old guard in Rioja (though some of the younger vignerons are bringing the old traditions back), and their wines can be absolutely sublime experiences. 

Take the 1991 'Viña Tondonia' Reserva Rioja Blanca, for example. A traditional blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasía, this is a bottle I'd buy even if I were not allowed to drink a drop -- seriously. For me, the nose alone was an instant ticket to a sunny day in a countryside Spanish jardín. Beeswax and flowers, complex, vibrant and refined. And the palate was no joke either: oily, lemony, floral, honeysuckle, mind-bending complexity, and a wonderful citrus-like zing made it a winner. The finish was one of the most beautiful and lengthy I've ever experienced.

The 1991 is tough to find right now, but it is out there. The current release is the 1993 (yes, the winery holds onto these a long time to ensure they are showing their full character before releasing), and based on the stellar 1991, I'm going to purchase one as soon as possible. For $45 bucks, I still think it's a steal.

I have one caveat: this is a wine-geek's wine, for sure - interesting, super complex, and gorgeous, but this is not a fruit-bomb lover's wine. If you serve it to a buttery chardonnay crowd, you're sure see a furrowed brow. Save it for the vets.