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Félix Solís. Part II

text and photographs © 2005 Tom Cannavan

Bodegas Félix Solís is a family owned wine company with headquarters in Spain. It is best known in the UK for its Viña Albali brand from Valdepeñas, though the company also own wineries in Rioja and Ribera del Duero. In part II of this profile we taste through their range of wines.

Pagos del Rey, Ribera del Deuro

"Altos de Tamaron" is the main label being produced by Félix Solís from their new Ribera del Duero winery called Pagos del Rey. Most of these wines are not yet released, but prices and stockists are given where known.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Joven 2003
This is the un-oaked, youthful wine of the range, which has a moderate 13% ABV. It has a very vibrant, deep crimson colour and an expressive nose with bright raspberry and redcurrant fruit, a certain floral aspect and a dense, full character. On the palate it is very smooth and caressing, offering a flood of sweet, creamy raspberry and black fruit. There is a fine tannic background and well-balanced acidity, in a wine of depth and style. Very good indeed. Limited stock in some Sainsbury's £5.99, also in Thresher from early summer.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Roble 2002
The average age of the vines for this cuvée is around eight years old. It spends three months in oak. It has a dark, intense colour with a big, spicy, sweetly-perfumed nose hinting at violet and crushed raspberry. On the palate it is smooth and creamy-textured, with a dense, solid core of red berry fruits that are sweet and intense. The oak gives a nice spiciness and rich tannic support into the finish, which is powerful and quite long. Very good indeed.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Roble 2003
Barrel sample. Extremely dark and dense in colour, the nose is particularly chocolaty, with toasty oak adding spice and a sandalwood note, over good, solid black fruit. On the palate there is a raft of cherry fruit, with again that hint of chocolate and the oak adding a spicy edge. This needs a little time to integrate, but has balance and power. Very good indeed.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Crianza 2002
The Crianza (13.5% ABV) spends 14 months in barrel and has developed a meatier character, with a dark, muscular structure, a smooth sheen of oak, and a core of tight black fruit. On the palate it is very harmonious, with a dark cherry-skin fruit quality, hints of meatier plum fruit and a nicely integrated oak character. Tannins are fine-grained and add good grip, with plenty of concentration and a long, balanced finish. Very good indeed/excellent.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Reserva 2002
Barrel sample. The Reserva spends 36 months in the cellars, 24 of those in barrel. It has a very deep colour, and the oak is subdued adding only soft, elegant spicy tones. The aroma is of crushed blackberry fruit, with again some floral and incense hints. On the palate there is a resinous edge of oak set against a great plush, thick, sweet black fruit core that is very intense. Tongue-tingling spice and concentration and a lovely tang of cherry acidity really lift the finish. Smooth and elegant, this will be very fine indeed when released in 2006. Excellent.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva 2002
Barrel sample. 90% of the oak for the Gran Reserva is French, and it spends around three and a half years in barrel. It will be released late in 2007. It has an almost opaque crimson colour and a big, sonorous nose of cedar, meat stock and solid, ripe black fruit. This wine is fantastically plush with an intense depth of crushed-velvet fruit reminiscent of raspberry and cassis. Polished tannins and a warming in-fill of coffeeish oak play second fiddle to the purity of fruit on the finish. Excellent/outstanding.

Altos de Tamaron (Spain) Ribera del Duero Exception 2003
Barrel sample. 7% Cabernet Sauvignon joins the Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) in this wine, an experimental bottling. After two months in new oak (30% of it French) it has been transferred to older barrels. It is very tight on the nose at this stage, with a fine, muscular character that is compact and dense, expressing black fruit and a hint of tobacco andwarmer, earthy notes. The palate delivers a big shock of dense, dark, liquoricy fruit with black plum and damson and a fine-grained tannic structure. Smooth and rich, this has good balance and huge concentration. Fascinating, and potentially excellent.

Los Molinos, Valdepeñas

The Los Molinos range is Spain's best-selling wine. Now, the white, red and rosé are in Unwins stores at £3.99 each.

Los Molinos (Spain) ValdepeñasTradición White
This non-vintage wine is made from Airén and has a light, floral and grape-scented nose, reminiscent of Muscat. On the palate it is quite full and soft, with a peachy quality to the fruit around a good core of apple and pear acidity. Very clean and easy to drink. Good. £3.99 Unwins.

Viña Albali, Valdepeñas

Undoubtedly Félix Solís's best-known brand in the UK, the wines of Viña Albali follow the model of Rioja generally, but at significantly lower prices. Most are stocked by major supermarkets and chains.

Viña Albali (Spain) Valdepeñas Rosado 2003
This wine, made from 100% tempranillo has a deep pink colour following 10 hours fermentation with the skins, and quite an earthy, warm, soft red fruit character with a little cherry brightness. It is soft and full on the palate, with mouth-filling dry red fruit. It is really quite savoury, with good acidity. Very good, and exceptional value.

Viña Albali (Spain) Valdepeñas Crianza 2000
Sweet vanillin oak dominates the nose here, over a soft, strawberry-pulp fruitiness with hints of rose-hip and spice. The palate delivers a blast of dry, savoury red fruit with considerable staying power and a touch of elegance in the finish thanks to fine tannins and good acidity. Very good/very good indeed. £3.99 Warehouse Wine Co. See all stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Viña Albali (Spain) Valdepeñas Reserva 1999
This has a delightful sweet-fruitedness about the nose. Aromas of berries and ripe black cherry dominate, slicked with vanilla, toast and spice from twelve months ageing in barriques. There is a tobacco-like warmth too. On the palate this is rich and full-bodied, with a mouth-coating texture of bramble and autumn-berry fruit, and silky, sweet-edged tannins. That softening layer of smoky oak and spices is balanced by very nice acidity, that is seamless and gentle, but does exactly enough to keep the wine fresh and savoury. Very good indeed. £4.99 - £5.49 Asda, Budgens, Co-op, Londis, Sainsbury's, Thresher, Unwins. See all Reserva stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Viña Albali (Spain) Valdepeñas Gran Reserva 1997
This wine is undeniably Rioja-like in style, but modern Rioja, where the quality and purity of ripe, rich black Tempranillo fruit is allowed to sing and is supported by, rather than smothered in, creamy American oak. It is aromatic, sumptuous and beautifully balanced, with warming tobacco and spice layered with masses of fruit. Great value wine and excellent. £6.49 - £6.99 - Booth's, Budgens, Morrison's, Sainsbury's, Unwins and Thresher from early summer. See all Gran Reserva stockists on wine-searcher.com.

Viña Albali (Spain) Valdepeñas Gran Reserva de Familia 1993
The Reserva de Familia is a terrifically well-made wine, where a percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and some use of French oak gives a warmth and cedary quality to the nose that is quite refined, joining firm black fruit and a softer tobacco-like character. On the palate it is very elegant and polished, with a restrained, savoury, liquorice-edged black fruit character and a warming core of more dense, sweet plum and earthy fruit. The oak is quite briary and very well-integrated in a fine, beautifully maturing wine. Excellent.

go to part I - profile of Pagos del Rey and Viña Albali