More new and recent releases of wines from Spain, part 3

The last part of our four part series on new and recent releases from Spain details many interesting up and coming wineries and unique wines, often made with extremely rare indigenous grapes.
by Ian D’Agata


Acústic 2019 Montsant Blanc                                  91                                                   

Bright yellow. Balsamic oils and licorice complicate bright ripe orchard fruit. Then clean and very fresh peppery and  herbal apple and pear flavours. Closes long and suave. A blend of Garnatxa Blanca, Macabeo, Pansal (Cartoixa Xarel-lo), and Garnatxa Roja, sourced from old native vineyards ranging from 40-65 years old. The wine is aged in stainless steel, cement, amphorae, and French oak barrels for six months. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Acústic 2019 Montsant                                      92                              

Dark red. Aromas of raspberry, red cherry, smoke and herbs. Enters a little sweet, then classically dry in the middle, with very good lift to the concentrated and seamless red fruit and delicately smoky mineral and herbal flavours. Very fresh and smooth, long and balanced, this is a beautiful wine that closes long and with an enticing candied nuance. A blend of Carignan (what they locally call Samsó) and Garnatxa Negra. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Acústic 2017 Braó Montsant                            93

Good full ruby-red. Perfumed nose hints at violet, ripe red cherry and sandalwood. Rich and ripe, with youthfully chewy but polished tannins and very deep, concentrated red fruit flavours that hint at very old vines. The long suave finish hints of candied violet. And it is in fact made with a blend of very old vine (more than 60 years of age) Carignan and Garnatxa Negra. Drinking window: 2022-2032.

Alberto Orte.

Alberto Orte 2016 La Antigua Clásico Blanco Rioja          94

Very pale yellow. Chamomile, resin, lime, and white flowers. Very rich but light on its feet with a nicely lingering saline and floral set of flavours. Sneakily complex wine that finishes long and ripe. A tribute to the old style of Rioja wines when they used to blend the wine with Sherry: here one of the barrels is allowed to develop flor and then is blended into the other three barrels, but in the end the percentage of flor affected wine is only about 10%. Made with 80% Viura and the rest is Tempranillo Blanco and Garnaxta Blanca, that was aged fourteen months in used oak. Really good stuff, Alberto Orte’s white showcases an unexplored region of the Rioja denomination, that of the western mountain range of Sierra de la Demanda, where the north-facing, high-altitude vineyards receive fewer sunlight hours than those in the valley such that their grapes ripen slowly, showcasing intense flavours, greater balance and focus. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Attis Bodegas & Viñedos.

Attis 2021 Albariño Lías Finas Rías Baixas                  90

Pale very bright straw yellow. Very melony nose also speaks of ripe apricot and herbs, plus hazelnut and butter. Enters sweet and ripe then smooth and lifted with a classically dry finish but redolent of fresh orchard fruit and jellies. The richness provided by extended aging on the lees is obvious here. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Attis 2019 Albariño Eimbaxador Rías Baixas              94

Really beautiful, serious Albariño here, folks! Pale straw yellow. Lemon, minerals, sea breeze and white flowers on the knockout nose. Then refined and austere, with classic flavours of minty stone fruit and minerals. Closes very long, this is a very serious complex wine that is a must-buy. Made with grapes from 60 years old vines growing in a single 0.5 hectares large vineyard planted on granite-clay-sandy soil, this was aged one year in steel tank and one in granite tank, unfortunately there are just slightly less than 3000 bottles of this beauty made. Drinking window: 2022-2029.

Attis 2019 Albariño Maceración Skin Contact Wine of Spain               91

Orange wine. Orange cordial, tangerine peel and spices on the nose and in the mouth. Rich, deep, and mellow with a long polished finish that boasts a lovely note of quinine note. A serious orange wine that neither smells or tastes flawed or earthy or of cider. Well done. Drinking window: 2022-2025

Benjamin Romeo.Benjamin Romeo 2019 Predicador Rioja                   90

Bright red. Spicy cocoa and flint complement red cherry and floral aromas and flavours. Finishes long and lively, with nicely persistent juiciness. The second label (Contador is the first label) made with roughly twenty years old vines of Tempranillo (91%)and about 9% Mazuelo (also known as Carignan), sourced from eighteen different plots located in the municipalities of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Ábalos and Labastida in La Rioja. Both barrel and stainless steel-fermented, it is aged in one year and two years old French oak barrels for sixteen months. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Benjamin Romeo 2019 La Cueva del Contador Rioja                      94

Good full ruby. Very spicy, with clean, fresh brambly aromas and flavours of brambly blackberry juice, tar, shoe polish, rhubarb, vanilla. Closes very long, seamless and with superlative energy and focus. No doubt whatsoever, this is just a great red wine. Drinking window: 2022-2032.

Bodegas Coruña del Conde.

Bodegas Coruña del Conde NV BCDC Wine of Spain                            88

Medium-dark ruby-red. Really pretty wine on the nose, offering lovely floral nuances to the dark fruit aromas. Ripely sweet and very fruity plum, black cherry and herb flavours on entry, then slightly austere and simple in the middle, and on the slightly tannic, astringent finish. A natural wine made at 1000 meters in altitude in the Burgos province of Castilla y Leon. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Bodegas Coruña del Conde NV El Nieto de Alberto                        89

Deep ruby-red. Aromas and flavours of ink, plum, smoke, saltpeter and violet. The aftertaste is long and savory. Aged nine months in oak barrels, then two more years in bottle. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Bodega Katziña.

Bodega Katziña 2021 Txakolina Getariako Txakolina                            87

Very forward nose redolent of perfumed orchard fruit and vanilla, but the fruitiness does not follow through on the palate where it unfortunately turns green and very vegetal. Maybe I’m missing something: I normally absolutely love Txakolina wines (slightly effervescent wine of the Spanish Basque Country), but this isn’t really up my alley. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Bodegas Peñafiel.

Bodegas Peñafiel 2020 Roble Ribeira del Duero                               88

Deep ruby. Clean, fresh and very Tempranillo, this offers bold cut and good clarity to its juicy, mineral aromas and flavours of red fruit and herbs. Finishes with mounting coffee notes and some oaky spices. A Roble wine spends about half as much time in oak barrels as a Crianza and therefore ought to make for a Joven-like, fruitier, vanilla-accented wine. Drinking window: 2022-2027.

Bodegas Peñafiel 2018 Crianza Ribeira del Duero                           89

Good full ruby-violet. Very clean rhubarb, blackberry, vanilla, coffee, and chocolatey oak aromas and flavours but not at all over the top. Finishes slightly peppery and with some alcohol-derived heat, with its 15.5% alcohol becoming a little more obvious on the back end. But overall, I’d say this is really a pretty good wine. Tempranillo. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Bodegas Peñafiel 2017 Reserva Ribeira del Duero                            88

Good opaque full ruby. Smoky bramble and licorice dominate the nose and in the mouth. Closes long, but quite gritty and chewy. I may well be proven wrong, and nothing would make me happier, but I doubt holding on to this any longer will help make it smoother. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Celler del Roure.

Celler del Roure 2018 Safrà                                    93

Now this is a delightful gem. Pale red, practically pink. Reticent on the nose, with hints at pink flowers, redcurrant and spices. Then fresh and spicy in the mouth with hints of quinine, orange peel and a touch of iron shavings on the savoury and long finish. I this can be slightly chilled as its tannic clout is not so obvious. Made with the rare Mando grape (80%) and Garnatxa Tintorera, better known as Alicante Bousché (20%). Importantly, Mando was essentially saved by this winery: it’s a great grape for the area because it reaches optimal ripeness without building up too much sugar. Aged six months in underground amphora. The wine’s name is a reference to saffron, while the label depicts n saffron-coloured dragonfly. Very, very well done, tanto di cappello, signori. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Celler del Roure 2019 Les Prunes de Mandò Valencia             91

Pale pink. Lovely rosehip and delicate pink and red flowers on the rich and energetic nose. Round and ripe but with sharp acidity providing lift to the pomegranate and berry flavours, complicated by orange peel and earth tones. Closes long and fresh. Not unlike a nice Savagnin wine from the Jura but not at all oxidative in style. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Clos Galena/Domini de la Cartoixa.

Clos Galena 2020 Garnatxa Mediterrània Secrets de Mar              90

Very pretty white wine that closes long, clean but with noticeable finishing sweetness so as to seem more off-dry than classically dry. Lovely nonetheless, this is a blend of 70% White Grenache and 30% Macabeo and is very approachable already now. Secrets de Mar is the new range of wines by Clos Galena from the Denomination of Origin Terra Alta, made in a fresh easygoing style brimming with early appeal. Drinking window: 2022-2025.

Clos Galena 2019 Carinyena Mediterrània Secrets de Mar            90

Nice good red-ruby colour. Easygoing and fresh, with varietally accurate aromas and flavours of red and black cherry, thyme, rosemary, smoke, rubber, and licorice . Closes smooth and long with good juiciness. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Clos Galena 2018 Galena Priorat                                  91

Deep purple-red. Very pretty violet nuances to the clean, suave and very pure dark plum, blueberry and coffee aromas and flavours. Sneaky concentration and power here, but elegant too. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Clos Galena 2017 Galena Priorat                                  91

Big, deep brambly boysenberry and blueberry complemented by sweet spices on the nose and in the mouth. Nicely creamy in the mouth but with very good backbone and rising polished tannins on the long vanilla-accented back end. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Compañia de Vinos Atlantico.

Compañia de Vinos Atlantico 2018 La Cartuja Priorat                          91

Deep ruby. Smoky cherry and dark berry aromas complemented by hints of chocolate and espresso. Full, round and rich, displaying straightforward red plum and strawberry flavors and a lush, round texture. The soft, nicely persistent finish displays good length. A blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Mazuelo (Carignan) that showcases what is so wonderful about Priorat: the “Priorat oxymoron”, if you will, that of super ripe jammy fruit but with very high acidity, a rare situation most likely due to the llicorella (black schist) soil, just one of the secrets as to why this wine region’s big suave supple red wines age so well. This is really very pretty blend of Grenache planted on sand and of Mazuelo planted on black schist (note that Grenache on schist tends to be too jammy) that benefited from the coolish 2018 vintage (one of the cooler ones of the last twenty years). At this price point, given how expensive Priorat wines can be (which is more than understandable given how hard it is to make wine there), this is a veritable steal. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Compañia de Vinos Atlantico 2018 Vara y Pulgar                    92

Deep red. Aromas and flavours of red cherry, minerals aromatic herbs and delicate smoky nuance to add interest. Juicy and fruity on the long vibrant finish. A rare 100% Tintilla de Rota planted on albariza soil, this grape was once used only the area of Cadiz to make Port-styled wines, but Alberto Orte was the first to start vinifying it so as to make classically dry red wines. Aged twelve months in oak and concrete, and then another eight months in oak. The name Vara y Pulgar refers to the training method. Though recent genetic tests have shown that this grape is identical to Graciano, Alberto Orte does not believe, and he is in good company, that this Tintilla grape is the same as Graciano: in fact, he has planted Graciano in the same area and has found the grapes grow and behave in totally different ways. More importantly, the wines taste different too. The history of viticulture is peppered with wrongful attributions and identifications, so I caution readers and wine lovers to take many of these “genetic identification results” with a grain of salt. Most often the results of genetic testing are all wrong because the grapes selected to do the tests were not of the grape variety they were thought to be (in other words genetic testing is only good and useful if the initial ampelographic recognition was valid, which more often than not is not the case). The Compañia de Vinos Atlantico was founded in 2002 as a joint project of Alberto Orte’s and Patrick Mata’s families. Drinking window: 2022-2029.

Compañia de Vinos Atlantico 2017 Atlántida                     93

Deep red. Inky, earthy and aromatic, with very penetrating sour red cherry and herbal aromas and flavours that are long clean and fresh. This closes long and with anise whiplash of minerals and flowers. Very beautiful wine. A rare 100% Tintilla de Rota wine, made with 90% whole clusters aged sixteen months, initially in one to two years old barrel and then in four years old barrels. The Compañia de Vinos Atlantico was founded in 2002 as a joint project of Alberto Orte’s and Patrick Mata’s families. Drinking window: 2022-2028.


Fillaboa 2020 Albariño Riais Baixas                                     89

Deep yellow colour. Rich, heady aromas and flavours of ripe yellow fruit, vanilla, and lemon curd. Finishes long and with a building bittersweet note that may not be for everyone. In a richer and less saline style than usual because the estate looks to make a more drinkable, easygoing version of Albariño wine (they buffer the inherent acidity of the Albariño grape by using prolonged lees aging and plenty of stirring). I’m a huge fan of Albariño in general and of the historic roughly fifty hectares large Fillaboa estate (Fillaboa means “the good daughter” in the Gallego dialect of northwestern Spain), but this 2020 was just a little too bitter for my taste.  Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Fillaboa 2017 Albarino Riais Baixas                                     92

Bright pale golden-tinged straw yellow. Perfumed crisp aromas and flavours of orchard fruit, lemon and pineapple, with strong dusting of mineral dust and sea breeze. Smooth yet lively on the long zippy finish. I really loved this wine, finding it much more mineral and lemony but boasting also real size and depth and above average complexity. The grapes grow practically next to the border with Portugal and very close to the sea. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Fillaboa 2018 Albarino Finca Monte Alto Riais Baixas                          93

Very mineral, almost like licking wet stones, finishing long and smooth with nuances of flint and honey. At almost five years of age, this is actually still very young. A single vineyard wine, this spent twelve months on the lees. Gorgeous stuff here. This is one one of the very few single-vineyard estate wines produced in Rías Baixas, from roughly thirty years old vines planted on a mostly sandy-pebbley soil.  Drinking window: 2025-2035.

Fillaboa 2016 Albarino Finca Monte Alto Riais Baixas                          94

Medium pale straw yellow. Spices, minerals, honey and yellow fruit on the nose and in the mouth. Very long and clean with noteworthy mineral and spicy kick on the long finish. Very saline and long, this has real acid bite and is not at all flabby or flat as some have described it. A single vineyard wine, this spent twelve months on the lees. This is one one of the very few single-vineyard estate wines produced in Rías Baixas: Fillaboa means “the good daughter” in the Gallego dialect of northwestern Spain.  Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Forjas del Salnés.

Forjas del Salnés 2020 Leirana                                      95

Now this is a real knockout. Pale straw-green. Multilayered, sharp, high-acid (the total acidity is around 9 g/L and the pH less than 3!) but balanced aromas and flavours of pit fruit, apple, lemon, tangerine, lemon verbena, jasmine grapefruit and a boatload of minerals.  Very lemony, long, clean, fresh and mineral on the zingy, vibrant, penetrating and pure close. An outstanding wine of real depth and complexity, this is made with fifty years old Albariño vines; about 60% was matured in used oak casks (the rest stainless steel) and though the oak was a good idea in order to help make this less angular and sharp, the fact is that the old vine fruit is so dense and concentrated you really can’t tell there was any oak involved at all. Very, very well done, this is a beautiful wine and is one of my top wines of the year. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Forjas del Salnés 2020 Leirana Finca Genoveva                        96

Bright straw yellow with golden-green highlights. Much deeper richer and rounder than the 2020 Leirana bottling, with aromas and flavours of slate, apple, pear, citrus fruits and white flowers. Long rich and ripe but still very young and folded onto itself, this multifaceted wine boasts real depth and brooding complexity and is beautifully focused and energetic. Made with extremely old Albariño vines, many of which are up to 150 years old. Aged for twelve months in four years old foudres. Forget about this in the cellar for a couple of years and enjoy for ten years after that, at least. Drinking window: 2024-2035.


Guímaro 2020 Blanco Ribeira Sacra                             93

Bright straw-green. Aromas and flavours of pineapple, lemon peel and peach, plus a whisper of slatey rocks. Very pretty lemony easygoing, citrussy finish but with building viscosity and oiliness. A little like a ripe Pinot Gris or Chardonnay wine but with much more Atlantic Ocean-influenced saline freshness. A classic field blend with Godello dominating (about 75% of the total) with Treixadura, Albarino, Loureira, Torrontes, and other local grapes. Note that the Godello wine from Galicia is much fresher and less rich and ample than the Godello of Bierzo, which however have less tension generally. This spent six months on the lees in stainless steel. Founded in 1991, means “rebel” in the Gallego dialect of north west Spain. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Guímaro 2020 Mencia Ribeira Sacra                                   91

Medium red colour. Very floral, pungent aromas of pine needles and forest floor, red berries and violet. Then very clean and fresh with vibrant saline flavours of red berries and herbs. Finishes long and suave with a bit of peppery twinge. Lovely, easygoing and juicy, this is a field blend of mostly Mencia and other local grapes that are very obviously vinified with whole bunches. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Guímaro 2019 Camino Real Ribeira Sacra                  93

Medium deep red. Red cherry, tomato leaves, quinine, rubber and ink on the perfumed nose and mouth. Rich, deep, rounded and fruity, Finishes very saline and long and juicy. Lovely stuff. A blend of 80% Mencia and other local varieties, mostly fifty years old vines. About 6000 bottles per year. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Guímaro 2019 A Ponte Ribeira Sacra                           95

Deep red-ruby. Very pretty wine that hints at underlying vegetal streaks but is actually very fruity, with fresh crisp juicy red berries and sour red cherries, herbs, and sweet spices dominating the aroma and flavour profile. Long and layered, this features building sweetness on the floral back end. A single vineyard wine that used to belong to the family that was sold and they had to buy back later, the vines were replanted in 2010 at the highest reaches of the area, with old rootstocks in an effort to produce a cooler higher altitude wine in terms of extreme freshness, this is a blend of 20% Mencia, 20% Caíño, 20% Merenzao, 20% Brancellao and 20% Sousón that spent fourteen months in oak. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Guímaro 2018 A Ponte Ribeira Sacra                           96

Good full ruby. Extremely refined, harmonious aromas and flavours of crisp red cherry and berries and flowers. Very clean, focused and energetic this beautifully delineated wine lasts and lasts reverberating with mineral bounce on the taste buds. 100% whole bunches. The 2018 was a much cooler vintage than the 2019, and you can tell, as this is much lighter on its feet than that wine, with that crisp vibrantly pure red berry and red cherry presence that lingers long on the palate and your memory cells. Less ripe than the 2019 but more elegant. An extremely steep (reaching 72 degrees of incline at the top), amphitheater-shaped vineyard area that had been owned by his family since 1898 and that they had to re-buy back (from something like eighteen different owners), this wine’s areal gem. Drinking window: 2022-2032.

Guímaro 2019 Finca Meixaman Ribeira Sacra                   94

Good full red. Bright aromas of red berries, herbs and a lifting violet topnote to add freshness and lift. Rich and ripe in the mouth, with red and black cherry nectar, licorice, rhubarb, stones and garrigue-like nuances. Finishes with compelling sweetness and bright floral lift. Seamless and long, this is a very pretty wine. A 100% Mencia wine made with grapes picked from very old 70-80 years old vines planted at slightly lower altitudes and full south exposure; aged fourteen months in oak. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Guímaro 2019 Finca Capeliños Ribeira Sacra                           95          

Bright good red. Very clean, nicely delineated and long, with notes of kirsch, cinnamon and nutmeg, to the red and black fruit aromas and flavours. Closes long and lifted. Made with mostly Mencia and other local grapes planted in a southwest-facing vineyard at 350 meters in altitude on mostly schist soils; vinification involves about 55% whole clusters. This is the best of the Finca wines made by Guímaro, blessed as it is with a perfect location for the vineyards and very old vines. Raúl Perez, thanks to his collaboration with Guimaro, is able to make his famous El Pecado wine: half the grapes of this vineyard are used for El Pecado and the other half go into the Finca Capeliños. About 800 botlted of each wine are made). Drinking window: 2022-2033.

Gutiérrez de la Vega.

Gutiérrez de la Vega 2018 Moscatel Seco Monte Diva Wine of Spain          92

Deep yellow-orange in the colour typical of prolonged skin contact whites. Very intense aromatic orange oil, orange peel, quinine and herb aromas and flavours. So glycerol that it seems sweet but is actually a classically dry wine. Lovely stuff. Also called Brisado or Moscatel Romano, this stayed on the skins for fifteen days and was aged about ten months in oak. Drinking window: 2022-2026.

Gutiérrez de la Vega 2018 Moscatel Dulce Casta Diva Cosecha Miel Alicante Wine of Spain         93

Vivid golden-tinged straw yellow. Intense orange oil, tangerine nectar, honey, dates, and figs on the very vibrant (despite its 207 g/L of residual sugar, this is very light and lively on the palate thanks to lively, balanced acidity), pretty nose. Then also very harmonious, with a ripe, long and clean mouthfeel on the zippy, layered finish.  Late harvest Muscat of Alexandria planted on clay-calcareous soils and aged twelve months in used French, American and Hungarian oak barriques. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Gutiérrez de la Vega 2002 Moscatel Dulce Casta Diva Cosecha Alicante Real Wine of Spain           95

Golden yellow. On both the nose and in the mouth, this is an essence of dates, figs, tangerine jelly, honey and sweet spices. Thick but not oily, much smoother but also with a bit more alcohol showing than in the Cosecha Miel, this very refined sweet wine (192 g/L r.s.) closes long, bright and energetic, more concentrated and thick but less sweet than the Cosecha Miel. Aged 108 months (nine years) in 225 liters French oak barrels. Drinking window: 2022-2029.

Gutiérrez de la Vega 2002 Recóndita Armonía Alicante Wine of Spain                    93

Good red-ruby. Ripe cherry and plum aromas are lifted by bright violet and espresso. Broad and fleshy, offering sweet (207 g/L r.s.) raisined cherry and candied plum flavors, with bitter chocolate adding grip. Finishes on a note of sultana raisin, with the chocolate quality repeating. Aged twelve months in French and Hungarian oak. (A Fondillon wine that was very popular 400 years ago and the winery is resurrecting in that it’s making it in the ancient Fondillon style, different from the new guidelines that enforce a Rancio style that is fortified, while the family believes the real Fondillon wine was not fortified: this is therefore a different wine from another the winery also makes, the similarly named Recóndita Armonía Fondillon Vintage). 100% Monastrell. Drinking window: 2022-2033

Hacienda Monasterio.

Hacienda Monasterio 2019 Ribera del Duero               91

Deep inky-red. Lots of roasted coffee and chocolate on the nose and in the mouth, but not tiring, with clean aromas and flavours of red cherry. Finishes nicely seamless but with a very strong note of coffee repeating on the fresh, lively round and long finish. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Hacienda Monasterio 2017 Reserva Ribera del Duero                     93

Not too dark ruby-red. Very ripe on the nose, with coffee and rhubarb dominating cherry and blackberry aromas. Then more elegant in the mouth than the nose suggested, with long and suave sweet clean flavours of blackcurrant, coffee chocolate. Closes long and ripe. About 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on strongly limestone soils, fermented with native yeasts and aged in 40% new oak. Drinking window: 2022-2032.

Hermanos Hernaiz (formerly Finca la Emperatriz).

Hermanos Hernaiz 2017 el Jardín de La Emperatriz Rioja Alta           88

Deep ruby. Flowers and dark berries on the nose. Pretty violet at first, then increasingly tannic, inky and mouthcoating on the medium-long back end. Maybe just a little too tough and gritty for my taste. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Hermanos Hernaiz 2016 Finca La Emperatriz Gran Vino Rioja Alta         89

Deep purple-ruby. Aromas and flavours of dark plum, smoke, violet and sausages. Closes long and lifted, but with building toughness. This is bigger and deeper than the 2017, but the tannins strike me as being slightly gritty and chewy, though its mouthcoating fleshiness will undoubtedly appeal to many people. Drinking window: 2025-2031.

Mas Doixas.

Mas Doixas 2021 Murmuri Priorat                               92

Straw yellow. Zippy aromas of apple and pear on the nose, lifted by jasmine and mineral dust. Round and ripe but lively, with notes of chamomile and balsamic oils adding nuance to the orchard fruit flavours. Very Rieslingy, this is long clean and apple on the nose and in the mouth, with good perfume of lemon verbena and jasmine adding complexity and interest. Absolutely lovely, this very precise white closes clean and fresh. A blend of 95% Garnacha Blanca, 3% Macabeo and 2% other grapes culled from roughly twenty years old vines. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Mas Doixas 2021 Salix Priorat                                94

Bright straw yellow. Aromas and flavours of diesel fuel, green and yellow apple, pear and smoke. Much more diesel than the 2021 Murmuri but also very Riesling-like, though more in a New World style with more fat but also edgy limey dryness. The aftertaste is long and very pure. A blend of 65% white Grenache, 20% Macabeo, and 15% Pedro Ximénez planted at 350-450 meters above sea level and 50% fermented in a French oak barrel with three months aging and the other 50% fermented in stainless steel tanks also with three months aging on lees. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Mas Doixas 2021 Les Crestes Priorat                            91

Good full ruby-purple. Violet, fresh black pepper, and blueberry on the very intense nose. Then youthfully chewy on the long finish clean fresh finish with flavours that echo the aromas. An 80% Grenache, Carignan and Syrah blend that’s ready to drink and brimming with early appeal. Drinking window: 2023-2029.

Mas Doixas 2019 Salanques Priorat                       93

Deep ruby-red. Bright aromas of black cherry, red plum saltpeter, cocoa and coffee. Clean and fresh on the nose, with a strong perfume of violet lifting the ripe blue and black fruit aromas and flavours. A little porty in its sweet chocolaty-plummy ripeness, closing long with a welcome note of pepperiness. Really lovely stuff. Made with very old vines, this is a blend of 65% Grenache vines (80 years old), 25% Carignan (110 years old) and 10% Syrah (the youngster of the trio, as these are only fifteen years old vines). Fermented in stainless steel tanks and wood barrels, and aged fourteen months in 50% new and 50 % two year old French oak barrels. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Mas Doixas 2018 Doix Costers de Vinyes Velles Priorat                           88

Deep inky-purple. Big rich and very oaky, with the vanilla and woody spices clearly dominating the dark fruit aromas and flavours. More international in style, but actually not much fun currently with the inky licorice and oak-derived nuances camouflaging most everything else. Maybe cellaring for a few more years will help, but I wonder. A 55% Carignan and 45% Grenache blend. Drinking window: 2025-2032.

Quatro Radias.

Quatro Radias 2017 Verdejo Amador Diez Rueda             93

Medium deep yellow. Almond paste, lemon butter, custard cream, grilled nuts, and spicy licorice on the nose and in the mouth. Long and smooth on the slightly spicy finish. This is textbook example of how well Verdejo ages and oxidises slowly over time. Really very good stuff. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Quatro Radias 2015 Verdejo Amador Diez Rueda             92

Deep straw yellow. Aromas and flavours of quince, sweet spices, warm buttered toast and quinine complicate grapefruit and pear. Lemony mineral, this is much fresher on the nose but then becomes more Fino Sherry-like on the finish. Aged eight months on oak, this really places the interpretation of Verdejo on a whole other level, with much more complexity than is common with this grape and wine. Made with the best grapes from a roughly one hundred years old vineyard, the wine was named after the winery’s former president, Amador Diez de Íscar. Drinking window: 2022-2030.

Rafael Cambra.

Rafael Cambra 2020 La Forcalla de Antonia Valencia             93

Moderately saturated ruby. Blackberry and blueberry on the nose, lifted by violet and a building pepperiness and cocoa notes. Then richly flavoured, with nuances similar to the aromas, and a seamless quality on the long clean finish which features repeating notes of cracked black pepper and cocoa. Given its pepperiness, this is not unlike a Gamay (in cooler vintages) or a Syrah (in warmer years) type wine. No matter: this is really a knockout wine! An almost extinct grape, Forcalla was essentially saved by this estate that liked the fact it is a very late-ripening grape (the area is normally hit by storms and hail at the end of September) so this very resistant grape is able to weather those extremes and get picked at full ripeness later on in the season than most other varieties. This wine was first made in the 2010 vintage and the winery has yet to miss a vintage yet, so it really is a grape that really resists well. Drinking window: 2022-2028.

Rafael Cambra 2017 Uno Valencia                         91

Deep red-ruby. Initially strongly reduced, but opens with aeration to showcase notes of dark fruit and underbrush. Rosemary, thyme, and menthol complicate red and black cherry and smoky aromas and flavours. The aftertaste is long and vibrant. The wine is called “Uno”, or one in English, because the wine is made with Monastrell (Mourvèdre) and is aged in both French oak and concrete eggs (previous vintages were aged only in French oak). Cambra’s goal with this wine is to make a very light on its feet-styled Monastrell wine that eschews overripeness that is all too common to many Monastrell wines. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Rafael Cambra 2017 Dos Valencia                         92

Deep ruby. Sweet, spicy blueberry and boysenberry scents are complicated by notes of cedar and dried flowers. Then quite floral and fruit-driven, offering sweet dark berry flavors and gentle, slow-building tannins. Bright and open-knit,  the refined, lively finish leaves a trail of spices behind. The wine is called “Dos”, or two in English, because the wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (50-50 blend of the two), and it really is a very elegant and pretty, politely-styled rendition of the Cabernet wines (though it tastes to me like a little Mourvèdre snuck in). Drinking window: 2023-2030.

Rafael Cambra 2018 Minimum Valencia              93

Medium red. Multifaceted aromas and flavours of blue fruit, herbs, game, minerals and aromatic herbs. Rich, ripe, and oaky, this finishes with rising tannins and hints of camphor and oak. Made from the same vineyard as this estate’s Uno wine, but the grapes are selected from the oldest vines and from the steepest part of the vineyard. 100% Monastrell aged sixteen months in oak but very silky despite all the oak. Drinking window: 2024-2032.


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata