Icon wines five through eight

5. Muga Aro 2005. From the venerable producer in Rioja this wine is their top of the top. Produce of what their website calls the Aro project, the wine is all-the-way modern. Made from 70 percent tempranillo and 30 percent graciano, only 200 cases of three-packs were made. The grapes are all from vines on hillsides that face south-southeast. It spends 18 months in Tronçais oak barrels. I had tasted this wine once before at a Tempranillo tasting and it is everything they set out for it to be. Clean, fresh, full bodied, intense. But it’s almost robo wine. It’s delicious, but kind of souless. Pancho said it was fruitier and more boisterous a year ago.

6. Finca el Bosque 2005 Vinedos de Sierra Cantabria. Another Eguren label with the same balky website, this Rioja is single vineyard with low yields, 100 percent tempranillo that spent 18 months in French and Hungarian oak. It went throught malo-lactic fermentation in new barrels. I liked this; it was fresh and minty, herbal with medium body and a good amount of acid. Jay Miller gave it a 96.

7. Clos Mogador 2006 Priorat. (site under construction) The winemaker here, René Barbier, is a Spanish icon all unto himself. People at the tasting declared him the best winemaker in Spain and a “bit of an alchemist.” In the informal poll of favorites after the tasting was through, it was most people’s (including mine) favorite, along with the Palo Cortado, which should probably get its own post. The wine, a blend of grenache, cabernet sauvignon, syrah that spent 18 months in new oak, had a minerality based on licorice (I think I’m quoting someone here in my notes). It’s fruit driven, yet subtle.

8. Vinas del Vero Blecua 2003.  This wine is from the Somontano DO, which was established in 1985 with Vinas del Vero leading the way. The region does not have a vinous history, nor traditional grape varieties. This wine is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, grenache and tempranillo. It spent 20 months in four different types of oak, and was then blended together. I didn’t write down what it tasted like. And I don’t remember it. Whatever that tells you.

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