The emergence of high-quality white wines from Spain, long-regarded almost exclusively as a red wine producer, may well turn out to be the winemaking story of the decade. Yet, many of Spain's most successful New Wave white wines, most notably, Albariño, have decidedly austere flavor profiles, which can be challenging to those just discovering the new world of high caliber Spanish whites. That is most certainly not a concern with Verdejo, the signature grape variety of the northwestern Spanish region of Rueda. The 2012 Valdrinal de Santamaria Rueda, which is made from 100% Verdejo, it is a real crowd pleaser. Made by Bodegas Surco, which also produces a bevy of prestigious Ribera del Duero red wines, the Valdrinal de Santamaria Rueda offers plush, luxurious, almost unctuous flavors of pear, stone fruit and yellow apple, with an intriguing hint of tangerine in the background. The bold fruit flavors are nicely backed up by the fresh, vibrant acidity that has become the calling card of the best New Wave Spanish whites. I found this wine delightful ,and an outstanding value as well.-Ben Giliberti, CW Director of Wine Education
From the portfolio of renowned Spanish wine importer Jorge Ordoñez, this Argentine Malbec received an impressive 90 point score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The Bodegas y Vinedos O. Fournier's winery, which is located in Argentina's Uco Valley, features state-of-the-art winemaking facilities. The vineyards are located approximately 4000 ft. above sea level, where they benefit from a significant fluctuation between day and nighttime temperatures. The area's stony, sandy soils offer excellent drainage during the summer season, which allows the grapes to reach optimal maturity thanks to the ready availability of clean, fresh water from the nearby Andes Mountains. Grapes are hand harvested and carefully sorted before crushing. To enhance fruit flavors, fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats at relatively cool temperatures, followed by short-term aging in oak barrels.
"The 2012 Urban Uco Malbec spent three months in oak barrels. The bouquet is well-defined with blackberry, boysenberry, touches of dark chocolate and anise. The palate offers chunky black fruit on the entry. It is fresh, a little rough round the edges, but true to what an unadulterated Malbec should be. For this price: unbeatable. Drink now-2015." 90 points--Wine Advocate
The 2011 Bodegas Zerran Tinto, which comes from the heretofore obscure region of Montsant, is the latest discovery of Jorge Ordonez, who has been ferreting out great, undiscovered values from Spain’s incredible diversity of regions for well over a decade. Located in the northeast corner of Spain, Monstant borders the well-known Priorat region, and benefits from same combination of proximity to the Mediterranean s ea, along with an excellent, well-drained soils. A blend of Grenache, Mazuelo and Syrah, Zerran come from gnarly old vine vineyards planted between 1934 and 1942, at an elevation of 1,500-1,800 feet. An excellent value, this wine received an impressive 92 point score from Robert Parker.
No matter how grand or small, every wine cellar needs a few outright crowd-pleasers, and the 2012 Calandray fills the bill to perfection. When mixed company arrives (aficionados and non-aficionados, that is), this is the wine to bring out, as I have yet to find anybody who can resist this modestly-priced red's supple, fruity charms, myself included. It is produced by the Cave Cooperative of Maury, rated by wine critic Robert Parker as "one of the best cooperative wineries in the South of France." For this wine, the Maury coop, famous for making the sweet Maury doux, has collaborated with Jean-Luc Thunevin, the father of the Bordeaux garagiste movement (devoted to the production of highly distinctive small production red wines). This dry, medium-bodied red offers oodles of bing cherry/strawberry fruit, nuanced by notes of fresh ground pepper, new earth, and smoke, with just the barest suggestion of sweet, ripe plums on the finish. Ready to enjoy now with red meats, grilled poultry, BBQ, and pasta. --Ben Giliberti, CW Director of Wine Education