Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #35: Spanish Value Wines

Welcome to the 35th Wine Blogging Wednesday, the monthly virtual tasting event started nearly 3 years ago by Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours and still going strong under the guidance of Michelle and Kevin of My Wine Education, today's hosts. Their theme for July was Spanish value wines, and they asked us to try to find a bottling under $10.

The wine I found was made by Bodegas Castano, located in the Yecla DO, south of the city of Madrid. They have a comprehensive website, complete with a soundtrack and flash. If you want something a bit more narrative, check out the bodegas' profile over at the Wine Doctor. The family that operates Bodegas Castano, one of the largest vineyards in the appellation, have been making wine for generations. In the 1980s they rebuilt their winery, and have been making high-quality, budget-friendly wines ever since making full use of their old vines such as the ones that produced the grapes for this bottling.

The 2003 Bodegas Castano Yecla Solanera ($9.95, Costco; available from many merchants for between $10 and $19) is a big, bold wine made with 75% monastrell (or mourvedre, as it is known elsewhere). The monastrell is blended with cabernet sauvignon and a touch of grenache. At present, the wine is taking about 45 minutes to fully open up. Once it does, abundant cherry aromas emerge along with a bit of black tea and herbs. The aromas are more effusive than the flavors, which are a bit muted with cherries and mineral notes. This is a tannic wine, and can make the sides of your tongue pucker, but they soften with food and with decanting. I found that this wine wasn't fully integrated yet--its alcohol, aromas, flavors, and tannins didn't quite hang together into a harmonious package. Still, once we'd let it sit for a while it was an easy drinker with good QPR. If you've got a bottle of this wine, I'd put it aside until the winter and see how it's doing then, or remember to decant the wine before you drink it.

This big, bold wine needed some hearty food to go with it and help tame the tannins. We had it with rib-eye steaks grilled outside, and some baked potatoes with sour cream and chives. These were a perfect partner with the wine, and I would recommend something similarly meaty if you have a bottle.

Thanks to Michelle and Kevin for their great theme. I'll have the roundup posted once they manage to draw together all the contributions from what I imagine will be a popular event. And, as always, I'll see you here next month for WBW#36, the theme of which is still TBA.


Unknown said...

Great review. E and I have had several bottles of the Solanera and we love it. It's definitely more of a winter wine, and you're correct that it really, really needs decanting and hearty, rich food to accompany. I also highly recommend the Bodegas Castano Monastrell 'Hecula.'

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, John. The Hecula sounds better--maybe the mourvedre really shines better on its own? There were a number of Hecula's imbibed for WBW35--Dr. Vino had a 2002. I'm going to keep looking at these Spanish reds--in the fall!

David said...

sounds like a good one. will pick it up if I see it, I've got a bunch of rib-eyes in the freezer too.

Dr. Debs said...

It's good with a big steak! If you can't find it, look for John's rec, the Caston Hecula. A few had it for WBW #35 and they were very positive about it.