2013 Buenas Tempranillo, Cosecheros y Criadores

Road wine, this 2013 Buenas Tempranillo, and one that I had over the last several nights while fighting off the influences of Old Man Winter. All week we’ve been saddled with 20-degree temperatures, and no amount of gloves, hats, and scarves can keep you as warm as a good bottle of wine.

2013 Buenas Tempranillo, Cosecheros y Criadores

2013 Buenas Tempranillo, Cosecheros y Criadores, Spain.

The simple math? Yes, “buenas” means the beginning of an enjoyable evening between family and friends, as the winemakers Cosecheros y Criadores will tell you. And no, none of that happened on this occasion. I’m flying solo, and didn’t have this Tempranillo with even a hint of real adult food so no pairing recommendations for you readers.

That being said, this 2013 wasn’t all bad for a bargain Spanish red. A little underdeveloped in taste, and I’m quite certain I didn’t let it breathe sufficiently. There is definitely some cherry, a light sprinkling of spices, and a slightly tannic finish to this wine.

I won’t be purchasing another of the 2013 Buenas Tempranillo but mention my appreciation to Cosecheros y Criadores for making sure I stayed warm during this busy week of travel.

2005 Bodega Classica Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva

The 2005 Bodega Classica Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva kicked off our “after party” last night, a rich red Rioja that carried notes of chocolate, leather, and spice from the first taste to the last of the bottle. This bottle continued a fun evening, one that started with a fantastic crostata (prosciutto and cheese with roasted red peppers!) and a great production of A Christmas Carol. A few random Dickens facts conveyed by our playbills:

  • Christmas was not always a day off for workers; Scrooge’s question to Crachit, “You’ll want the whole day off tomorrow, I suppose?” helped create this expectation for us all.
  • The first commercially produced Christmas cards were printed in 1843, the same year Charles Dicken’s novel was published.
  • There is no Christmas tree in A Christmas Carol, and his characters do not exchange gifts–a tradition usually reserved for New Year’s Day celebrations in that day.
  • In the early 1800s (and thanks in part to the Puritans), Christmas was celebrated more like Halloween is today–as a time for merriment and feasting.
2005 Bodega Classica Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva

2005 Bodega Classica Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva, Rioja, Spain

Okay, now back to the vino. This 2005 is a red blend of 90% Tempranillo, and 5% Graciano and 5% Garnacha and hails from Bodega Classica. The winery is located in San Vincente de la Sonsierra (on the south of the Cantabrian Mountain Range and the Tolono mountains) and irrigated by the River Ebro. With good rainfall during the winter, protection from the wind and humidity, and excellent “calcareous clay” soil, Sonsierra seems particularly conducive to growing Tempranillo. Bodega Classica ages their 2005 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Reserva for 20 months in French and American oak. The product of this care? An aromatic, full red that is nearly chewy on the palate.

I could see this as a great accompaniment for cheeses, for a black-and-blue burger, or perhaps a cracked pepper accent on a grilled chicken salad or steak. It stands on some big legs. If you’re after some experts’ thoughts, allow me to present tasting notes from Parker’s Wine Advocate:

“It has a beautiful, rounded, sensual bouquet with hints of over-ripe Satsuma and gravel. The palate is medium-bodied with a touch of piquancy on the entry. It has crisp acidity and taut tannins on the dry, dusky finish but it remains extremely well-focused.”

It’s been some time since we covered a 2005 in Notes and glad to share on this occasion! Holiday fun to be sure.

Pico Cuadro Original 2010

In this Spanish red you have an amazing confluence of tastes, and I noticed it best earlier this week when I uncorked the Pico Cuadro Original 2010 the night after a pedestrian Cabernet Sauvignon from California. I thought the Cab was pretty good until this gem splashed my glass on the next night, and I realized there is such a clear difference between the quality of the two bottles. You’ve got amazing dark fruits in the Cuadro, and some crazy graphite…maybe mocha?…or something lurking back in the shadows. This wine earns great points for not only its subtle underpinnings but also the bold fruits that are front and center.

Pico Cuadro Original 2010, Ribera del Duero, Spain.

Pico Cuadro Original 2010, Ribera del Duero, Spain.

We had the Pico alongside filet mignon, a great and rare treat, and flamed up the steaks just right (yes the extra kiss of heat was perfect). They had been prepared with the last of a homemade salt and seasoning rub, and soaked up the herbs perfectly. You wanted to slurp all the salty goodness out of each bite, to roll it around on your palate, and then wash it down richly with a mouthful of this well-structured red wine. A spot of burnt butter asparagus and mashed potatoes made the meal complete.

This Ribera del Duero is sourced from a single vineyard of 100% Tempranillo vines with 80+ years of age. The wine is all about precision, with clean and distinct aromas of blackberry, raspberry, violet, cinnamon, and leather along with notes of black licorice.” Others offered, “…offering concentrated boysenberry and cherry cola flavors lifted by zesty acidity.” Sounds great, right? That’s the profile that enticed me to buy this one too. I’m always going to remember the Cuadro–as much for these unbelievable tastes as for the memories it will always stir.

2012 Ergo, Martín Códax Rioja

Just finishing an enjoyable glass of 2012 Ergo, a last cocktail for the weekend. Fitting, perhaps, as the Ergo also ushered in our Friday evening. Like a few other youthful wines we’ve had of late, the Ergo smelled tart at first…an acidic sharpness that was not actually present in the drink itself.

2011 Ergo, Martín Códax, Rioja, Spain.

2011 Ergo, Martín Códax, Rioja, Spain.

My wife picked this wine out, possibly to accompany a Mexican chicken soup that we had earlier in the week (at which time I opted to finish an open Pinot instead), and had the same vibe as to the Ergo’s tart notes. You can also smell dark cherry and maybe just a hint of pepper in this mix of Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes?

I liked it very much. You think you’ll have a tough finish when you get a whiff of this wine’s acidity, but it’s much smoother and lighter. At the same time, it was able to muscle up nicely to thin grilled steaks–which featured a new spice rub that is still much the topic of debate in our house. (We are not sure if the rub worked or not.)

My initials jump right off the label, so I knew I was going to be a fan from the start. I have no decent photo to share this evening…at least of the 2012 Ergo. Give this wine a shot and taste for yourself.

2008 Ondarre Reserva Rioja

My brother has good taste in wine, though he’s perhaps less interested than I in breaking down all the specific flavors a given bottle may convey to its consumer. This Tempranillo from Spain’s Rioja region is a good example–a bright, fruity red that finishes easy and comfortably for your Saturday night dinner. He picked it because it sounded good, I’m sure; I’m describing it here on Notes because he was right.

2008 Ondarre Reserva Rioja, Spain.

2008 Ondarre Reserva Rioja, Spain.

So what steak, what beef did we consume with the 2008 Ondarre Reserva Rioja? We actually cut against the grain and, after sampling it first during hors de oeuvres, continued on with it for our main course. Mom pulled out a gem of a shrimp dish that included butter, olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, red pepper flakes (some welcome heat!), and fresh minced rosemary. The kitchen smelled fantastic at this point, and the entire dish was roasted in the oven beside slides of lemon and ultimately finished with salt, pepper, and squeezed lemon juice.

All that goodness we ate with a side of cous cous and peas, plus the Ondarre. The red didn’t quite blend with the sauce on the shellfish but both the wine and the shrimp entre stood loud and proud by itself. Bearing the Reserva title from the Rioja region, we know that the grapes were oak aged for at least three years. With three of us drinking this wine for the evening, it did not age long in our glasses–a good thing.

This wine is solid. It can serve as the foundation for a good evening of wine drinking and certainly for smiles among family members enjoying a visit at Christmas. May yours be merry and bright…and thanks Steve for the nice contribution!