The Event
Spanish Wine Tasting
© by Sheral Schowe
How I love people who serve Spanish wines. Since I visited the bodegas of Spain in February, I have been in constant search of the best ones available in Utah’s wine stores.

Last night, I attended one of Sam Leone’s famous wine tastings at the home of Dave Thompson. It was a Spanish food and wine extravaganza, featuring 15 wines from Spain. The tasting was blind: each of the bottles were covered in paper bags, numbered, and poured in order of the numbers, not by the style or price of the wine. Each of the wines is given a score between 70 and 100. The scores are totaled and each wine is awarded a place.

In first place, Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Rioja Gran Reserva Especial 1989 ($33.90). Each participant rated this wine in the upper 90s. The nose is cherry, berry, strawberry and vanilla. It has a mouthful of fruit, with hints of chocolate and tobacco. There is an explosive finish of cedar and spice, followed by a long-lasting finish.

In second place, Arzuaga Crianza 1995 from the Ribera Del Duero ($18.95). Robert Parker Jr., agrees with our tasting group and gives this wine a 90 in his recent review. "Wow! What a seductive bottle of wine! The knock-out nose of spicy oak and jammy cherry/raspberry fruit is followed by a round, medium to full-bodied wine with low acidity, lavish oak, gobs of fruit, and a velvety finish. Over the next five to six years, this crowd-pleaser will provide opulent drinking."

In third place, La Rioja Alta Vina Ardanza 1989 ($27.00). A beautiful brick red color, this wine is produced in an elegant style rather than the typical rustic style of Rioja. It is full of fresh plum and black raspberry fruits as well as baked fruit compote flavors. The finish is vanilla from the oak influence. A beautiful wine that every guest rated in the high 90s. This wine has been served at several recent wine tastings and it is always a favorite among the guests.

In fourth place, Abadia Retuerta Duero Cuvee El Campanario 1996 ($55.00), rated a 93 by Robert Parker. It has a saturated purple color with a bouquet of blackberries, black raspberries, and ripe cherries. Parker describes this as "full bodied and tightly knit, with intriguing mineral notes, this powerful, rich, layered wine could easily pass for a top-class Bordeaux in a blind tasting."

Other wines that I found to be most delightful included Conde Valdemar Gran Reserva 1989 ($22.00), rated an 89 in the Wine Spectator. It had a dark brick red color and loads of baked fruit compote flavors with a vanilla, spicy finish, and the Val Sotillo Ribera Del Duero 1996 ($28.95), with a deep purple garnet color with mouth-watering blueberry, blackberry flavors up front with a long finish of truffle.

April 29, 1999

Back to the Sheral Schowe on Wine Index