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Classy Spain

Over the last few months I drank several wines from Spain, most of them worthy of being mentioned. It is always interesting to see how one single grape: Tempranillo, can show so many and different facets depending on the climate where it was grown, yields or wine-making style. Known more as providing the cheapest wines of Europe, Spain has its own jewels of the crown.

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Termanthia is produced from a small parcel of 4.78 ha of very old Tempranillo from a high altitude – 120 years old pre-filloxera vines, from Toro. Currently this winery is owned by the LVMH group that also owns Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem in Bordeaux.

Termanthia 2009 is an opaque, dark red colored wine. Highly complex and elegant nose, with very intense and pure aromas of ripe black forest fruits, dark chocolate, smoke, cured meats and licorice, that constantly evolves in the glass and impresses at every sip. The palate is dense, fleshy and concentrated, with refreshing, silky smooth but assertive tannins, vibrant acidity and a whole kaleidoscope of layers and flavors. The finish is very long, savory dark chocolate with blackberry essence lingering well in the aftertaste. There is a natural elegance in this wine that I found in many of the First Class French or Italian wines that is just astonishing. Nature’s own elegance. (96/100)

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Two older wines from Rioja made by what are known to be classic Old School producers: Lopez de Heredia and Muga, the wines cannot be more different. These 2 wines were drunk over 2 weeks distance.

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Cosecha de 1994 has a pale medium ruby red color with a brick rim. This is a highly sensual and elegant wine, with a complex and layered aromatic profile that combines pure dill and fresh orange peel, sweet ripe cherries and currants, with a light touch of oriental spices and tertiary notes of undergrowth, tobacco and old leather. Mature, very feminine and almost weightless on the palate, the fully resolved velvety tannins and its vibrant acidity make a supple wine with pronounced flavors of tobacco, spices and red fruits. Finish is medium to long, very refreshing. I can see this wine pairing very well with a more delicate game dish – partridge, and even with a red meat fish. (92/100)

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Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1991 came even as a bigger surprise. In spite of being 3 years older than Tondonia, Muga feels at least 7-8 years younger. The color is deep ruby red. It takes about 2-3 h for the wine to open up completely – the wine is good to drink even after 20 min, and when it does it is a whole concert. A youthful complex and intense nose with rich aromas of ripe red cherry and strawberry, orange peel, sweet spices, pipe tobacco and old leather, with very delicate shades of dill. Full bodied, smooth like silk, a lush palate and plenty of vibrant and spicy red fruits. Medium to long finish, fresh and compelling. This feels as an immortal wine that will stay on this plateau of drinking decades from now. (94/100)

The most interesting Spanish wine I had in 2014 was at a friend’s birthday in October when a Magnum of Vega Sicilia Unico 1996 was popped. This wine came after a bottle of Krug Rose and while the expectations were high, the wine never ceased to amaze.

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1996 Vega Sicilia Unico has a dark red garnet color. After almost 4 h sitting in the decanter, the wine shows a youthful and maturing nose, highly complex and profound, with layers and layers of pure and intoxicating aromas of fresh blackberries and black cherries, refined oak and tobacco, a compelling freshness given by assertive orange rind and dill aromas, with savory cured meats and beef blood. Full and very dense palate, assertive smooth tannins and very detailed nuances of black fruits, spices and dark chocolate. Finish is very long, bitter espresso and sweet cranberry essence making a refreshing aftertaste that goes on and on. This is a monumental wine. (97/100)

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Aalto PS 2011 is probably one of the best deals from Spain for wines under 100 Eur. I had this wine 2 or 3 times last year and I always enjoyed it more even when drank with more expensive wines like Artadi Pagos Viejos or Cirsion from Roda. It’s full and expansive on the palate, with classy ripe black fruits, smart oak and refreshing espresso and dark chocolate aromas, while the finish is long and layered. (93-94/100)

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