05/26/10 – Spanish reds, with a blind twist (número dos)

By Jesse on May 24, 2010

What could possibly be more exciting, you ask, than a super awesome tasting of eight delicious and well-reviewed Spanish reds that have been pre-selected and pre-bought so that all you have to bring is ten bucks? How about a super awesome blind tasting of eight delicious and well-reviewed Spanish reds that have been pre-selected and pre-bought so that all you have to bring is ten bucks?

Back in ’08, we held just such a tasting, and the results were not only positive, but delicious, and even positively delicious (but not quite deliciously positive, depending on who you ask). After learning our way around Rioja two weeks ago, it’s time to take our second-ever blind tour of Spain, and see what value wines we can find along the way.

When we talk about “value wines,” we mean any bottle that drinks surprisingly well for its price; some might use the term “QPR” (although Andrew wouldn’t be among them, as he’s opposed to acronyms of all kinds). In this context, “value” doesn’t always necessarily mean “inexpensive”… a $35 Napa Cab, for example, would be considered a good value wine if it drinks like a $50 or $60 Napa Cab. Among the Spanish reds, though, it’s still extremely possible to find really impressive bottles for less than twenty dollars, and sometimes as low as eight or ten — truly putting the “value” back into “value.” However, since most of us are still unfamiliar with the majority of Spain’s producers — and also may not even know what to look for in a Spanish red (grape types, regions, etc.) — we’re going to revisit eight of our favorites.

To make it interesting, we’ll be tasting the wines completely blind. Each wine will be brown-bagged, allowing everyone a chance to taste them in a completely unbiased fashion. After we’ve all had a chance to discuss the bottle in question, the bag will be removed, and the price revealed. With any luck, everyone will discover a few winners that appeal to his or her sensibilities. Best of all, the hosts will be buying all the bottles ahead of time, so participants only need bring a cool, crisp $10 bill.

What delicious wines can you look forward to tasting? The most famous Spanish reds are from the Rioja region, where they are made from majority Tempranillo grapes, with some Garanacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan), and Graciano blended in. Recently, Cabernet Sauvignon has been appearing in Rioja blends as well. Other regions producing excellent reds are Ribera del DueroLa ManchaPenedesJumilla, and Priorato. Here’s a list of major Spanish wine regions, and what grapes you can expect will be grown there. And here’s an excellent Spanish wine map that I encourage everyone to check out in order to get a sense of where these wines are coming from.

We’ll be meeting at Wino HQ in Sherman Oaks. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions). Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, all you need to bring is a $10 bill — no bottle.

Looking forward to seeing a bunch of my muchachos on Wednesday night at 9:00.