08/01/07 – Spanish reds

By Jesse on July 30, 2007

Winers and Diners,

Whenever one of our local bastions of wine distribution has a big sale, the appropriate response, obviously, is to center our next meeting around the sale item in as opportunistic a fashion as possible.  Such is the case this week, as Wine House is having an impressive sale on Spanish reds.  It’s a perfect opportunity to check out the unique and often under-appreciated offerings from the country which is third worldwide — after Italy and France, and before the US — in total wine production.

Spain boasts excellent reds, whites, dessert wines (which we had a few weeks ago when we did Sherry) and sparkling wines (such as Emily’s cava from last week).  This week, we focus solely on the reds.  The most famous Spanish reds are from the Rioja region, where they are made from majority Tempranillo grapes, with some Garanacha (Grenache) and Graciano blended in.  Recently, Cabernet Sauvignon has been appearing in Rioja blends as well.  Other regions producing excellent reds are Ribera del Duero, La Mancha, Penedes, Jumilla, 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.

**Interesting point of discussion: you’ll notice that several of the bottles that Wine House is selling are made from the Monastrell grape.  In the past people thought that Monastrell was simply the Spanish word for the grape that the French call Mourvedre.  However, if you check out the Wikipedia entry for “Monastrell,” it claims that recent DNA testing has shown that Monastrell is actually the Spanish blending grape Graciano — but it doesn’t cite any sources.  A search for “monastrell graciano” on Google turns up only blogs that refer back to the Wikipedia article.  If anyone can find any further information regarding this issue, I would be thrilled.  Thank you.

We’ll be meeting at Jason’s house in Brentwood.  Peruse the options at the Wine House, several of which look really excellent, but feel free to shop anywhere — Spanish reds can be some of the best bargains on the market today.  Bring a delicious bottle (or a $10 no-wine donation), and we’ll see all you adorable chicos y munecas en Miercoles a las nueve.