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Words About Wine
A feature of Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page

Spanish wines in the U.S.

By Victor de la Serna

© Copyright 1997 by Victor de la Serna. All rights reserved.

I've been asked the question a couple of times the past few days: how to get acquainted with Spanish wines, which ones are available in the US? I want to help, but I lack thorough information on which wineries do export to the US, and who their importers are. I can only see which names pop up in WS, WA or Tanzer reviews; some importers are mentioned, some aren't. Then again, locally they might be distributed by someone else. As far as availability state-by-state, I don't have the faintest idea, sorry...

There have been, as far as I can tell, three main importers of quality Spanish wines to date: Steve Metzler's Classical Wines, Seattle, whose wines I'll identify as SM. Jorge Ordóñez's Fine Estates from Spain, West Roxbury, Mass., tel. 617/327-1613 (JO); and Christopher Cannan's Europvin USA, Watertown, Mass., tel. 617/924-7620 (CC).

Lately, Eric Solomon's European Cellars, after Robert M. Parker Jr.'s acclaim of Clos Erasmus, has added several interesting Spanish wines. It's in NYC, tel. 212/924 49 49. (ES). The Marqués de Griñón and Berberana lines are imported by Kooka Wines of Seattle, tel. 800/959-0689 (KW). I don't know the importers of the others (basically those tasted by the WS people), so I'll mention them without any initials.

These are not all the Spanish wines I've seen on US shelves or mentioned in US publications. They're the ones I'd personally recommend.

Inexpensive (under $8), young, unoaked red wines with some guts and allure:

Borsao 1996 Bodegas Borsao, DO Campo de Borja (garnacha, tempranillo) (JO)
Jardín 1996 Guelbenzu, DO Navarra (garnacha) (SM)
Montesierra Moristel 1996 Bodega Pirineos, DO Somontano (moristel) (SM)
Bodegas Sierra Cantabria Tinto 1996, DO Rioja (tempranillo (JO)
Carchelo 1996 Agapito Rico, DO Jumilla (monastrell, tempranillo, merlot) (SM)
Mas Donis 1996 Capçanes Co-op, DO Tarragona (garnacha, syrah) (ES)
Joven 1996 Vega Saúco, DO Toro (tinta de Toro) (ES)

Slightly oaked, "semi-Crianza" wines:

Marqués de Griñón Rioja 1995, Rioja DO (tempranillo) (KW)
Teófilo Reyes 1994, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo) (JO)
Tempranillo 1995 Bodegas Berberana, Rioja DO (KW)

Oak-aged wines from the outstanding (in all of the main Spanish regions) 1994 vintage:

Tinto Pesquera Crianza 1994 Alejandro Fernández, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo) (SM)
Condado de Haza 1994 Alejandro Fernandez, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo) (SM)
Teófilo Reyes Crianza 1994, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo) (JO)
Guelbenzu 1994, Navarra DO (cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, merlot) (SM)
Loriñón Crianza 1994 Bodegas Bretón, Rioja DO (tempranillo, mazuelo, graciano, garnacha) (SM)
Mauro 1994, non-DO (tempranillo, garnacha) (CC)
Vega Sindoa Cabernet-Tempranillo 1994 Bodegas Nekeas, Navarra DO (JO)
Albet i Noya Tempranillo 1994, Penedés DO (JO)
Val Sotillo Crianza 1994, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo) (JO)
Finca Villacreces Crianza 1994, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo, merlot, cabernet sauvignon) (ES)
Viña Mayor Crianza 1994 Hijos de Antonio Barceló, Ribera del Duero DO (tempranillo)
Conde de Valdemar Crianza 1994 Martínez Bujanda, Rioja DO (tempranillo, mazuelo, graciano)
Saint-Marc Merlot 1994 Viñas del Vero, Somontano DO

Older, more ambitious, more expensive red wines:

Clos Mogador 1993 and 1994 René Barbier Fill, Priorato DO (garnacha, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, cariñena, pinot noir) (CC)
Vega Sicilia Unico 1985, Ribera del Duero DO (CC)
Valbuena 1991 Bodegas Vega Sicilia, Ribera del Duero DO (CC)
Val Sotillo Gran Reserva 1989, Ribera del Duero DO (JO)
Val Sotillo Reserva 1991, Ribera del Duero DO (JO)
Colección 125 Reserva 1992 Julián Chivite, Navarra DO (tempranillo)
Jean León Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 1990, Penedés DO Dominio de Conté Reserva
1991 Bodegas Bretón, Rioja DO (SM)
Dominio de Valdepusa Cabernet Sauvignon 1993 Marqués de Griñón, non-DO (KW)
Barón de Chirel Reserva 1991
Marqués de Riscal Gran Reserva 890 1981, La Rioja Alta, Rioja DO (CC)
Gran Reserva 904 1985, La Rioja Alta, Rioja DO (CC)
Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva 1990 Martínez Bujanda, Rioja DO
Viña Ijalba Reserva 1990, Rioja DO (tempranillo-graciano)

Unoaked whites:

Martivillí 1996 Angel Lorenzo Cachazo, Rueda DO (verdejo) (JO)
Can Feixes 1996 JM Huguet, Penedés DO (parellada, macabeo, chardonnay) (SM)
Lusco 1996, Rias Baixas DO (albariño) (SM)
Txomin Etxaniz 1996, Chacoli de Guetaria DO (hondarribi zuri, hondarribi beltza) (JO)
Marqués de Irún 1996, Rueda DO (verdejo) (CC)
Burgans 1996 Vilariño-Cambados, Rias Baixas DO (albariño) (JO)
Martín Códax 1996 Vilariño-Cambados (albariño) (JO)
Marqués de Riscal 1996, Rueda DO (verdejo, viura)
Durius 1996 Marqués de Griñón, non-DO (verdejo, viura, sauvignon blanc) (KW)

Barrel fermented whites:

Belondrade y Lurton 1995, Rueda DO (verdejo) (CC) Organistrum 1994 Vilariño-Cambados, Rias Baixas DO (albariño) (JO)
Colección 125 Chardonnay 1995 Julián Chivite, Navarra DO
Palacio de Muruzábal Chardonnay 1994 A&B Marino, Navarra DO (JO)
Vega Sindoa Chardonnay 1995 Bodegas Nekeas, Navarra DO (JO)
Conde de Valdemar Fermentado en Barrica 1995
Martínez Bujanda, Rioja DO (Viura)

Then don't forget that all the real sherries in the world are Spanish...

Victor de la Serna is a veteran non-wine journalist in Madrid, Spain, but they kindly let him write a little bit about wine in his own newspaper, El Mundo, in London's Decanter magazine and in a couple of Spanish wine publications. He used to be an adopted New Yorker many years ago and still returns there rather often. Some people, he says, never learn.

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