What always astounds me about Banda Azul (an Ernest Hemingway favorite) is the precision with which the flavors of the Tempranillo grape are perfectly set off by the abundant notes of new oak. It's a neat trick, rarely mastered outside of Burgundy or Bordeaux, and it makes Banda Azul something special. You save a ton, but give up almost nothing in terms of polish and sophistication.
Supple and smooth, this is a distinctly pretty Graves rouge, with ripe Cabernet and Merlot fruit gracefully layered over soft tannins. The voluptuous style of the 2009 vintage really plays to its strengths, and combines nicely with the château's excellent Graves terroir. The owner is Michel Boyer, whose daughter Catherine d'Halluin also makes outstanding wine at Château Clos Bourbon in the Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.