The main grape of the Rioja region, this grape gives full or medium-bodied reds, with medium acidity, medium tannins and red fruit flavors,. One of my favorite Rioja’s that uses predominately tempranillo is the 2008 Muga Rioja Reserva. This wine has been given over a year of oak ageing making it a perfectly smooth balanced wine with powerful fruit flavors.
Garnacha grapes are large thin-skinned grapes that ripen perfectly in hot, dry climates such as Spain’s. Garnacha wines are full bodied and high in alcohol content. Garnacha typically have red fruit character with spicy notes and a low amount of tannins. Garnacha is grown in many premium wine-growing regions of Spain and often blended with tempranillo in Rioja. My favorite Garnacha is the 2011 Evodia. This inexpensive wine scored 90 points from Stephen Tanzer’s International wine cellar and sells for only $11.99.
Monastrell is the most significant grape of the region of Jumilla. Typically difficult to grow, Monastrell is a wine with high levels of tannin, high alcohol content and a slight sweetness. Monastrell’s are typically earthy with hints of herbs and very low level of fruit notes making it a rich savory wine. My favorite Monastrell is the 2011 Juan Gil Monstrell. This wine is aged in French oak for one year making it a perfect wine that balances fruit, alcohol and oak tones.
One of my favorite white varietals in the world, Albarino is grown in the Riax Baixas region of Spain. Usually unoaked, this grape variety gives light to medium-bodied wines with fresh green and citrus fruit and refreshing high acidity. Albarino pairs perfectly with any seafood dish as well as on it’s own for casual consumption. My favorite Albarino is the 2011 Burgans Albarino. This fruit driven acidic white is light, crisp and extremely food friendly. Excellent alternative to your everyday whites such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon blanc.
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