08/26/08 – Spanish reds, with a blind twist

By Jesse on August 25, 2008


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?

Over the past few months, the Winos have encountered a number of really impressive value wines from Spain.  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.”  We encountered several of these at our North of 90 for South of 20 tasting, and three of us drank one on our appearance last weekend on The Tasting Room with Tom Leykis (download podcast here).  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 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.

We’ll be meeting at Andrew’s place in West Hollywood.  The RSVP situation is as follows: new members have eight spots reserved for them at each and every meeting, with preference within those spots given to newbies who were denied admittance due to space constraints in recent weeks.  Please do not RSVP in the positive if you’re not sure you can make it, as this will deny someone else the opportunity of attending the meeting.  If you do RSVP and then need to cancel, please inform me as soon as possible.

If you’re down for the blindness, let me know, and I’ll shoot you the address.  After that, your only tasks are to study up on the links above and to go snag yourself a ten-spot.  Looking forward to seeing a bunch of you on Tuesday night at 9:00.