This is an archive of tasting notes from participants in the UK wine forum, with notes from before 2005








UK Wine Forum - Spain

N.B. older Spanish notes are archived here. Sherry and other fortified Spanish wines are listed separately under Fortified wines.

Spain red - Spain white/Cava

Spain red

03/04 Vega Sicilla - “Unico” Reserva Especial (Ribera del Duero)
This 13.5% nectar was housed in a frosted bottle, one of 14,328. The label said that it was selected in 2003 from 48 barrels from the vintages of 1985, 1990 and 1991. A dark strawberry red, the nose was soft and complex, with cooked plum, dried flowers, cinnamon, tobacco and even mint. The palate really showed its class, with retrained power and fine tannins delivering waves of pleasure. A very long and warming finish, this was clearly my wine of the night. 94/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 2001 Santa Cruz de Artzu (Navarra)
100% old vine garnacha and weighing in at 14% alcohol. A dark plum red, the nose reminded me of black plums and a little bonfire smoke, and I also found it a slightly alcoholic. This wine was showing vibrant acidity, ripe blackcurrants but was a touch alcoholic on the finish. I am now sure whether this big wine is just showing the alcohol due to its youth, or whether it may be a more permanent flaw. 87/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

03/04 Artazuri Tinto Navarra 2001
This is the second bottle of this and showed better this time. Opened about 4 hours before as I believe this helps it open up a lot and adds some oomph (technical term) Dark Red/ Purple colour with decent legs. Smells of classic grenache with mocha/chocolate mixed through. Fresh red fruits with cherries and again some chocolate background flavours. Very nice for £5!! (David Steven, UK)

01/04 2000 Dominio de Atauta - 100 Year Old Vines
£17.25 (US$29, 24 Euros). Dark cherry red, a nose of vanilla cream and plum fruit. The solid mouthfeel shows plumy dark fruits, soft tannins and good length. A well made wine. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1981 Bodegas Muga (Rioja)
A medium strawberry red with a light pink rim. The nose was elegant and expressive, with tobacco and sweet cooked plums, some pot pourri. The palate made Manuel and I smile as this wine was so elegant, silky and long lasting. It accompanied my roast pigeon (wild, not sourced from nearby Trafalgar Square as the manager dryly remarked). 93/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1976 C.V.N.E. Vina Real Gran Reserva (Rioja)
Decanted about 30 minutes in advance. No browning on the colour of this wine in the glass, instead showing a red plum body. The subtle nose was again tobacco and dry flowers. The palate, however, was very different. It was powerful, still showing tannins that shook up my palate in a friendly way as if to say 'There is plenty more life in me'. A very long lasting finish, this wine made its mark and is definitely worth looking out for. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/03 1997 Cims de Porrera Classic Priorat
Deep black fruits with tobacco. Immediately satisfying with huge ripe fruit. Immensely full in the modern Priorato style. Very very concentrated with tobacco notes coming through on palate. Massive character. Not especially Parkerised. Excellent. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 years, '98
Deep burgundy, still with a purple rim. Backward minerally fruit, integrated oak still has significant impact, but meshed with the blackcurranty fruit, with some lighter red fruits. Little or no development, but a seamless, integrated nose. Great fruit on the palate, quite a firm acid cut, as well as a firm tannic backbone, but enough fruit to balance; young and again the same seamless character - good length and needs just a few more year to come forward. My current fav. Of the 3, but the 2000 could tip in a few years. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 years, '99
Also deep burgundy. Sweet, oaky black fruits, still primary blackcurrant, a little less complex than the '98, a touch high toned but not distracting. On the palate very ripe, and a touch jammy. Seems cal. Cab like. Nice balance, good acid, gently warming mid-length palate. Dryish finish. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Valbuena 5 years, '00
Dense, opaque burgundy. Dense fruit on the nose, lovely oak integration already but still quite prominent - seems French in that soft and creamy way, although it's actually 60/40 new French/US in the first year, then entirely second/third use US. Lovely ripeness on the palate, not overripe. Again good acid, background tannins, supple but full fruit - very promising. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Unico '91
Deep ruby/black. Sweet, liquoricy/porty sweetness on the nose with integrated oak and a touch of volatility giving a red fruity lift. Good sense of richness of fruit, and just the very earliest signs of bottle development. Dry port like palate, liquorice uppermost. Great acid, supple tannins, but not quite the density expected given the nose. Lightish finish, but good balance in a lighter style. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Unico '89
Still little maturity - dense ruby with black core. Dense, backward sweet fruit and oak melange - good integration, an excellent platform I feel for good things to come. Lovely balance on the palate; young still but perfect integration of the parts on the palate too. Very dense fruit, lovely sweetness coming through and balanced through to a long, clean, even refreshing finish. It needs time, but this is getting to the point I can ask no more in a young wine. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Unico '87
Lighter fruit than the '89, but developing classic cab based maturing notes. Cedary, sweet oak still in evidence, but developing a coffee/mocha like edge. Lovely coffee bean entry with red and black fruits. Lovely warmth and sweetness, showing signs of slight VA. Seems to get bigger in the glass, and shows a strong acid cut. This is starting what I call ideal maturity, and feel it'll be there or thereabouts, for me, within a few years. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Unico '64
Garnet/tawny. Coffee, chocolate, and nutty sherry like edge. Hints of herbal tea on the palate, quite dry, lacking fruit and seems a bit over. Drying finish but still showing more sweetness than the '53. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Unico '53
Garnet/tawny. Coffee and sherry like oxidation, nutty, with only tertiary aromas left. Firmer palate than the '64, but seemed denser. However, flavours are mostly of old sherry, and the tannins are drying and the finish sometimes seemed quite astringent. Some sweetness from the alcohol, but also attributed to some heat in the finish. Going down. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

11/03 Vega Sicilia Unico '42
Tawny/garnet. On the nose, halfway between an old tawny port and Olorso sherry. Slightly high toned, but seemed part of the overall style rather than too overt or distracting. Palate complex, with sherry, coffee and tea, earth and a hint of red fruit. Touch high-toned, but feels part of the whole. Better balance and sweetness than the '53 and '64. Long, nutty, sherry like finish with a lick of alcohol. (Nick Alabaster, UK)

10/03 Abadia Retuerta Rivola 96
On opening it was very fruity(Raspberries)with a touch of Spiciness, I thought to myself this has aged very well. when I originally bought this wine I found it a bit austere but thought it might come round eventually.3 hours later and ½ a bottle left it started to feel very oxidised and was falling apart, I probably got another 2 or 3 left that need to be drunk soon I think. (Bernard Caille, UK)

10/03 Raimat cab 98 (85% cab 15% Merlot)
I've always liked their wines and this cab doesn't disappoint ,very blackcurranty,oaky spicy on the nose .Very smooth(mature) soft, plumy with a good amount of complexity. At this price( £6.99) you'll be hard pushed to find something that good with that sort of complexity from Bordeaux,Oz or Cal (Bernard Caille, UK)

09/03 1998 Pesquera Tinto Crianza
(at Solo Restaurant, Goosnargh, about £20). Good colour. Very interesting nose with fruit, earthiness, mushrooms and a hint of vanilla. Good restrained fruit on palate, but seems a bit lacking somewhere. Possibly a slight tendency to weediness. Fair. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

09/03 Viña Alberdi, Rioja Alta Reserva 1998
Ruby red. Unmistakable Rioja nose of vanillary oak matching sweet fruit. The fruit firm but delicate and not too heavy in the mouth. The wine maintains a good balance of oak and fruit through to the finish. Good plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

09/03 Albariño Abadía da Cova 2001, Ribera del Duero
Youthful colour. Pineapple nose, fresh, nice acidity for hottish climate. I'm not an aficionado (who is?) so found it hard to assess. Good plus plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

08/03 Masia Barril Clasico 1987
Fully mature brickish red, deep and heavy at the centre. Much darker than previous bottles I've opened from the 11 (one was broken by the carriers) bought a year and a half ago. Very intense passito nose with hints of rancio - very big and intense stewed plums and rich fruit cake. Very full attack. Intense, super-concentrated, almost too much so. Lots of licorice and cedar wood on the palate, but there is also some fruit - dried blackberries and raisins. Has a port-like heaviness and mouthfeel. Soft tannins. Huge length. Probably the best bottle of this so far. Good. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

07/03 Durius Tempranillo 2000 (Bodegas Durius, Vino de la Tierra Arribes del Duero
(Majestic, Sainsbury £4.99 - £7.09) A brand new winery up near the Portuguese border near Fermoselle. Part of the Marques de Grinon clan. Six months in barrique (50:50 US & French oak) - made from tempranillo with a touch of Juan Garcia, a local red grape. Dark and young. Lovely nose, fruit and oak in harmony. Quite leathery with black fruit. Clean and really quite fresh flavours. Fairly soft tannins. Not particularly complex, but well made. Bit young. I've just had a slurp of what's been left in the bottle overnight, and it's much better - comes across as a much more serious wine with greater complexity and more interest. I'd have some more (switching to the Johnson scale), but unfortunately Majestic Preston have sold out :-( (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

07/03 Condado de Haza 2000 Tempranillo Crianza
15 months in US oak. Unfiltered. From the house of Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera fame. Much more oak on nose and some clear vanillin notes coming throuhg the plummy brambly nose. Very young on palate. Lots of tannin and possibly a bit weedy. Lots of leather on palate, like sucking a leather belt. Far too young. Again, I've just had a taste of what remained in the bottle overnight. wow! what a difference. Much more knitted together now. Quite big, but not aggressive. Really rather elegant light fruity nose. Still quite hefty on the tannins, but definitely much more approachable when a quarter of a bottle has been left with the cork in overnight. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

06/03 1997 Mas la Plana, Torres
Dense colour and very, very viscous, nose shows leather immediately but fruit lurks not far beneath. In the mouth fruit comes straight through caramel, cherries and berry fruit, hint of toast, hint of spice, finely structured with a lovely creaminess, tightly knit with great depth and richnes. Finish has the fruit gliding down on a bed of creamy oak. V.V. Nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

06/03 2000 Planots, Joan Sangenis Juncosa, Priorat
Deep crimson in colour with hints of purple. Nose is intense but the first thing that hits is smoked ham/bacon and a slight perfumed note. Taste of this gives you a complex mouthful of luscious rich fruit - blackcurrants, boiled sweets, cream and spice, liquorice and chocolate, burnt caramel, tannins are slightly aggressive. Finish is fruit dominated - nothing out of place here. V.V. Nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

06/03 Finca Sandoval 2001 – D.O. Manchuela
I was being given a lesson in wines from regions I had not tried before, and here was the second! I believe that this is a 'New Wave' style wine priced around £17 (US$25). The blend was 93% Syrah and 7% Mouvedre, with the vineyards planted at a high altitude of 2,520 feet. A deep plum red, the slightly dusty nose hinted at dark fruits, but the syrah seemed tight. Having said that, the taste was quite different (this wine had been decanted a few hours earlier). Very lush, not heavy and the tannins were trying to make an appearance over the voluptuous dark fruits. A very faint hint of dry tannins, this wine will keep and develop. 92/100. . (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

04/03 Alion Reserva (1994) Ribera del Duero
Dark. Lovely sweet chocolatey nose. Very nice, but maybe a touch one-dimensional. Very savoury palate, bloody, meaty, very ripe tannins and good acid structure. Leave for a few years more to let the nose develop, and will be very good indeed. (Stephan Muller, UK)

04/03 Hacienda Monasterio, Ribera del Duero 1995
Served with filet of venison (lovely). Don't know if this was Crianza or Reserva, but my guess would be Crianza as this was a beautiful, fruity and well structured wine. Sweet and fruity nose, followed by the same on the palate with a smooth milk chocolate texture and flavour. Great richness, ripeness and length on the finish. Very good plus/Excellent. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

04/03 Rozaleme (Vino da mesa), 2001
Purple, young red, viscous appearance, strong legs. Lovely notes of chocolate and very ripe fruit on the nose and palate, nice streak of fresher acidity. Interesting blend of new worldy and mediterranean elements, very tasty but might be a bit cloying and thick to drink very much of. Very good. (Stephan Muller, UK)

04/03 Monsant Capcanes Mas Torto 2000
Minty, eucalypt, says 'Australia' to me but it isn't. Ripe tannins, and lovely texture in midpalate. Finish maybe a bit cloying with some sweetness there but also some extra tannins floating about that need to integrate over the next 5yrs or so. Not the most elegant but very good indeed. (Stephan Muller, UK)

04/03 2001 Bodegas Roda, Cirsion Rioja
Apparently 2001 in Rioja is like 2000 in Bordeaux - i.e. the locals are getting carried away with themselves. Anyway, this wine has seen 8 months in new French oak and is the culmination of very low yields. The colour is a deep ruby-purple. I found the nose quite subdued, but the palate anything but - very fine, concentrated tannins, gorgeous red and black fruit and very, very long. There's a little oak marking the palate, but to be fair it's also a very young wine. Excellent. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

02/03 1999 Descendientes de J Palacios, Bierzo
Saturated, almost black colour with crimson at the rim. Deep nose of focused redcurrant and cherry, kirsch at the top-end too. Lovely furry tannin and good acidity. The fruit is ripe and reasonalbly concentrated. Seems to have the stuffing to last quite well - I'd be really interested to try this again in a couple of years. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

02/03 1999 Peter Sisseck, Flor de Pingus Ribero del Duero
Bearing in mind that this bottle had already been open for 24 hours this is a remarkable wine. Very deep garnet. Deep truffly, black fruit nose with no sign of oxidation. The palate is fat with tons of velvetty tannin and beautiful fruit - reminds me of a top Pomerol - from Tempranillo too. Excellent. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

02/03 Bodegas Los Llanos 1995 Gran Reserva Pata Negra c£18 (US$27)
Having ordered a bottle I tried it out. The colour was a ruby red and the nose gave away some tobacco and leather smells. The taste was rich, if a little tight but a pleasant surprise. This can best be described using an analogy as going on a blind date and meeting an attractive lady in a stunning dress, but covered up with a long overcoat. As the evening wore on the wine improved markedly. Penelope Cruz (Spanish/Hollywood actress, sometime 'squeeze' of Tom Cruise), as I had now nicknamed the wine, had discarded her coat and revealed her feminine charms, albeight with a black evening dress still on. The Tempranillo (not sure if it was 100% or a blend) opened up and tasted better and better. Not surprisingly, the last glass was the best and I was saddened to see it go. For those with a perchant for numbers, this was a 95/100 in my book. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)


02/03 Vina Salceda Rioja 1994
Magnum. Even ruby. Attractive brambly nose. Light & quite fresh on attack. Fills quickly and comes across as very mature. Rather thin and weedy on the palate. Quite spicy on the finish. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/03 Montsant, Mas Collet 2000
Deep red colour. Expressive, spicy and fruity nose, hints of red fruits and blackcurrants. Very full bodied and blooded, ripe and as spicy as the Mexican food it accompanied. Good plus. (Matthew Mellor, UK)

01/03 Albarino de Fefinanes 1999
Rich fruity lime and grapefruit nose leads to a full bodied apple/grapefruit palate with plenty of balanced acidity, body and a lovely finish with herby tones. VG (Stephen Pickles, UK)

01/03 Vega-Sicilia Unico 1942
Loads of oak. Very, really very high volatile acidity. Hard and dried out, tough with too much oak and VA burn. Like drinking oaky nail varnish remover. (David Strange, UK)

12/02 1991 Marques de Murrieta 1995 Reserva Ygay (Rioja) - £7 (US$11)
Bought for a good price in Calais, France about 2 years ago, this wine wasa aged for 2 eyears in American oak barriques. Dull red with an orange/brown colour to its edge. A nose of cinnamon, other spices, and the oak has integreated well. It tastes well rounded, medium bodied and was a seamless intake of Tempranillo. The tannins are barely noticeable, low acid, good length. Enjoyed by all on a Monday night. 86/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/02 Vinas de Gain Artadi 2000 – Rioja - £9.50 (US$15)
The 2000 showed a deep cherry red with a ripe fruit and new oak nose. It tasted quite open, but still needed time for the oak and fruit to integrate. Drinkable now but 2-3 years will do it no harm. 88/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

11/02 Vina Amazola Rioja 91
Slightly toffied, creamy and soft but marred by the vaguest hint of vomitlike(!) aromas. QG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Torres Mas de la Plana 90
Leafy, cool nose. Dryish, austere, almost green-merlotty bordeaux like, a really good food companion wine. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Capcanes Costers del Gravat Montsant 2000
Hot but soft Grenache nose. Lots of body, young and brutish, bit monolithic at present. Touch of farmyard/VA. G/VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Alvaro Palacios Les Terrases Priorat 99
Mute nose. Nice acidity, rich peppery fruit, touch of volatile complexity. A little bit hot perhaps. VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Numanthia Toro 99
Rather closed but oaky/spirity nose at present. Very full raisiny fruit, great intensity, quite firm tannins. Almost port-like depth. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Solanes Priorat 98
Closed nose. Oaky, quite rich but a bit soulless. G (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Mauriziozanella Rosso del Sebino 98
Oaky nose. Lovely young but complex palate: good fruit with well integrated tobacco and oak flavours. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Pesquera Reserva 97
Strange sour cream sort of nose. Palate disjointed, piquant, surprisingly thin, rather strange all round. Improved somewhat with air but definitely below par. G/VG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Pesquera Reserva 96
Rather closed oaky nose, becoming nicely bready/doughy with time. Nice acidity and depth of fruit. Still a bit young hard and tannic. Touch of VA but not a problem for me. VG/E (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/02 Berberana Rioja Reserva 78
Thinnish, mature strawberry, not offensive but rather bland and fell away very quickly - should have been drunk a few years ago really. QG (Paul Armstrong, UK)

10/02 Torres Grand Coronas 1998
Beatifull balanced wine. No "sticky outy" buit of oak or fruit although with the amout of tannin present I think this needs to wait 5 years to be at it's peak. Blackberrys and strawberry present in the nose according to some but nevertheless a wine of great balance. (David Bennett, UK)

10/02 Raimat Tempranillo 1998, Costers del Segre, Spain
This won a thophy in the 2002 IWC so high hopes quickly dashed. A deep crimson with spicy white pepper nose that jumps at you. Creamy pallette with slighty bitter finish, no real finise and bigger than the 13% on label. Really not for me and had headarch after one glass. poor. How did this get a thophy? (Russ Sainty, UK)

10/02 Faustino V (Bodegas Faustino) 1998
Perfectly acceptable Rioja, but at the end of a long week and a Ryan Air flight with a toddler didn't make too much of an impression. 14/20 (Simon Wharton, UK)

10/02 Reserva Rioja Especial, Vina Capel (Marqués de Murrieta) 1995
(about £9 from Wine Soc) - My favourite wine of the moment and stunning value. A big complex oaked white. 17/20 (Simon Wharton, UK)

10/02 Vina Real 1973 Gran Reserva – Rioja
The colour was a mature red/brown, not cloudy, colour all the way to the rim. The nose was a pot pourri of dried flavours, damp leaves and tobacco. My tongue responded to the soft and seamless injection of mature red fruits and fantastic finish with a huge thumbs up. This was a great wine. 95/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Faustino I 1994 Gran Reserva 13% - £13 (US$20)
The cinnamon red colour looks like it may be beginning to enter a brown stage of ageing. The stewed rhubarb, tobacco and spicy nose was nice. I even received a comment of "It smells like a cool December evening as the sun sets". Wow, that's good! The medium bodied, moderately tannic wine gains confidence in the glass, opening out. It had a spicy mid palate and a persistent finish. Personally I liked this and I am happy to enjoy my remaining bottles at six monthly intervals for a few years, hence 90/100. Others thought it was at its peak and could only go down, and they said it was 80/100 at best! . (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

09/02 Bodegas Palacio 1996 Reserva Especial – 12.5% - £18 (US$27)
The deep red is nearly opaque, and the spicy nose has a soft vanilla feel to it that is well integrated. It has some overripe cherry and raspberry tastes that give way to a medium bodied compact flavour. The tannins are soft and it drinks easily. I don't know how long this wine will last but I suspect that this does not need much further ageing. Not cheap but a well made wine, 88/100. Interestingly my sister preferred this wine to the first one. By the way, this wine has apparently spent 18 months in new French oak . (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

08/02 1995 Cune Imperial, Rioja Reserva
Medium ruby colour. Nose is pure red fruits, no mushrooms and no vanilla. Palate is medium density, but nothing medium about the experience. Beautiful acidity, fruit delivery, mild tannin and a really fine finish. Excellent. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

08/02 1994 Chivite, Colección 125 Navarra Gran Reserva
Medium/full ruby colour. Nose still has high toast oak, high tones of raspberry & redcurrants. Fat palate, very rich, fruity and full with enough acidity to balance. Medium tannin, but more than medium length to the finish. Pretty fine. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

08/02 1997 Bodegas Roda, Roda I, Rioja Reserva
Colour is deep ruby, just shaded towards cherry. Nose is very 'al funghi' but there are ashes and plummy fruit in the background too. This wine is all about the finish; you have a medium intensity palate with good acidity and medium, furry tannins, but as the wine slips down, it's like the palate and flavours spread wider and wider. You finally get some vanilla, but this is almost a minute later. A real peacocks tail. A wine that today is not easy to love without food, but for the future, potentially outstanding – provided the mushrooms on the nose tone down a little! (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

08/02 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1989
This was probably the best one to start with as it was the most voluptuous and least complex of the four. Ripe strawberries on the nose with hints of chocolate and spice. Rich strawberry and damson flavours with a slight gamey flavour in the background. Very soft ripe tannins and light acidity just holding the balance together. Drinking well and probably at it's peak now. Very good. (Paul Anderson, UK)

08/02 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1991
More restrained nose of ripe strawberries, redcurrants and cedary aromas. Excellent structure in the mouth with layers of ripe red fruits, cherry and woodsmoke flavours all held tightly together with lovely acidity and dryish tannins. This will continue to develop over the next 5 - 7 years. Very good+ (Paul Anderson, UK)

08/02 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1978
This wine had matured into a very graceful restrained Rioja, quite different from some of the heavy vanilla examples from the modern producers you often see in the UK. This wine had a lovely nose of raspberries and redcurrants. The palate was restrained and beautifully balanced with light red berry fruits at first followed up by a nice layer of complex richness and acidity going right through to the finish which ended with soft silky tannins. Probably at it's peak now but will keep for many years. Stunning. (Paul Anderson, UK)

08/02 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva 1982
The final Rioja of the night and we were back to aromas of ripe strawberries but for the first time there was much more obvious vanilla creamy notes on the nose. The palate was riper than the '78 and '91 but more subdued than the '89 but showed lots of strawberry, redcurrant and plum flavours balanced with a good acidity. A nice red fruit richness, with dryish tannins came out on the finish. Excellent. (Paul Anderson, UK)

07/02 Cavas Ferret Penedés Celler del Mingo Rosat 2001
Garnatxa and Carinyena, 6 hours of skin contact. Very intense pink colour heading towards violet. Nose starts with candy and follows with some vegetal character; juicy strawberry in mouth, slightly bitter and chemical perhaps, with a candy overtone but dry. Not bad, if slightly short and watery. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cavas Ferret Penedés Cabernet Sauvignon Rosat 2001
Perhaps slightly lighter in colour. A bit more austere and deeper perhaps, with citrus peel and herbs, if still slightly hollow in mouth. But the fruit seems deeper. Still rather candy-like. Both rosés showing at the same level. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cavas Ferret Penedés Celler del Mingo Tinto 2000
Tempranillo with a bit of Merlot. Very dark in the glass. Nose of candy and bitter cherry; same on palate with some paint overtones, giving an impression of wateriness with a tarry element. Lacks intensity and concentration. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cavas Ferret Penedés Merlot 2000
3 months of barrique. Also quite dark but more austere in colour, less red, more violet. Bitter cherry again, followed by more earthy notes and some meat. A bit of American oak showing, but good, with minerality and a touch of tannins. Good wine. More notes on the Ferret range in a separate post coming soon. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Rosé 2000
70% Pinot Noir and 30% Merlot. Light but beautiful pink colour. Lots of cabbage leaves on the nose, juicy, full-flavoured but too vegetal to be really enjoyable. Some unpleasant organic character here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Can Vendrell Tempranillo – Cabernet 2000
Medium purple with some watery rim. Some mineral, gravelly touches on the nose; rather austere, juicy, but with a length and texture superior to most joven wines. Quite pure fruit. Very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Tempranillo d'Anyada 1999
Dark purple in the glass. Cooler nose of soft, eminently sweet cherry fruit, most pleasant, if with some dirt, although compared to an organic wine from the Loire this is the most polished and well-mannered example. Good, if meaty and austere, especially in its acidity, and lacking the great charm of the red Can Vendrell. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Lignum 1999
Garnatxa, Carinyena and Cabernet from old vines, aged six months of oak. Colour is a consistent medium purple. Rather sweet on the nose, much better than when last tasted, slightly vegetal and roasted-almondy, though not volatile at all. Good length, though appearing slightly cooked on the finish. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Col.lecció Tempranillo 1998
One year of oak. Quite dark, saturated cassis purple. Slightly fried-foody with a bamboo note common to heavily extracted wines, not too defined, with some gravelly character and just a bit of fruit sweetness. Well present tannins, acidity also rather evident, juicy and interesting in mouth, with a fine structure. Very promising. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Col.lecció Syrah 1998
One year of oak. Very dark but not overdone purple. Quite typical Syrah nose with a degree of softness but also a good amount of garrigue and volatile notes, herbal, with dark fruit. Great juiciness in mouth, minor hollow character in mouth. Another very interesting wine from Albet i Noya, though a bit less character in mouth than the Tempranillo. Also a bit too soft, with contradictory noes of boiled vegetables and cinnamon. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Nuria 1999
A single vineyard of 4.4 ha, planted in Merlot, Petite Sirah and Caladoc (the latter a crossing of Malbec and Grenache) with yields not exceeding 35 hl/ha; aged in Allier oak, 15,500 bottles released. Very dark purple again. A vegetal, bell-peppery character of Merlot showing on the nose but the fabric is dense and inviting, the whole has finesse and lots of depth but needs better definition. Juicy, high acidity again (because of the organic farming?), juicy almost ot a fault to the watery-seeming finish. Good, but not as convincing today as either of the Col.lecciós. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Reserva Martí 1997
Syrah, Cabernet, Tempranillo, yields of 40 q/ha. Dark and austere colour with some rim. Shows some herbal character of Cabernet on the nose, not too concentrated or thick on the nose really; juicy in mouth, dominated by Cabernet at the moment, with medium length, lacks a bit of structure perhaps for a great wine. Around £12 and hence not expensive for what it is, but not impressive as a 'top wine' effort. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Mas Igneus Priorat 'FA 206' 2000
14% alc. Very dark colour, lots of sediment in the bottle. Great nose of cherry syrup and cassis-blueberry jam, with an almost stale spiciness as of currant leaves and stems. Hard to drink because of the sediment. But fine purity of fruit. £10. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Mas Igneus Priorat 'FA 112' 1999
Lighter than the above but still dark purple. Nose of cream-cooked mushrooms with some almond notes. Juicy in muoth, with a rather light structure, solid quality though nothing particularly inebriating. Not among the best Priorats. Lacks body and thickness. Not cheap at £20. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Mas Igneus Priorat Baranc dels Clossos 1999
This has more Garnatxa than Carinyena. Slightly lighter in colour than the two above, medium ruby with a watery rim. Has some concentration but the vines seem rather young here; aromas of sweet round cherry, with a bit spiky acidity in mouth. Minor animal character, not terribly interesting, a cut below the two above and not up to par with Priorat really. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 René Barbier Penedés Tempranillo 2000
Good medium purple colour. Typical nose with hints of cherry, strawberry and paint. Not much definition on the palate, a rather typical, slightly bland joven. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 René Barbier Penedés Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Very dark purple colour. Not vegetal but slightly vinegary, with a stale aroma, austere mineral and earthy touches reminiscent of horse sweat. Juicy soft fruit on the palate which is more reminiscent of cherry than cassis; pleasant, unpretentious drinking. Good long finish. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 René Barbier Penedés Cabernet Sauvignon Larga Maceración Crianza 1997
24 days of maceration, 3 months of new oak followed by 4 months in second-hand barrels. Dark Cabernet colour. Shows some bell-pepper and chalk, rather typical than individual; juicy, finishes with sweet soft oak. Interesting but not very distinctive. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Rosado 2000
30% each of Tempranillo and Pinor Noir, 20% Garnatxa, 10% Xarel.lo, 10% Carinyena. Colour is medium to dark red-pinky. Lightly citrusy, slightly herbal and dirty nose with no hints of candy; on the palate rather hollow and too soft despite the biting finish. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Catalunya Viña Extrísima 1999
Luminescent, rather light ruby. Buttery nose showing some mixed spices and lemon peel. Good juiciness and intensity in mouth, correct acidity; an interesting basic red. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
85% Cabernet, 15% Tempranillo, 12 months in barrique. Again that very lightening, cherry-like ruby. There's a bit of varietally defined bell-pepper character, but all in all showing soft and quite ripe, with orange flavours on finish. Good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Merlot 1998
100% Merlot, 12 months of American oak. Same colour as above. Sweeter on the interesting nose, with some syrupy scents combined with the vegetal character of Merlot. Good definition if slightly hollow in mouth, some chalky dryness and dustiness on the finish, where there's also a touch of cinnamon. Good varietal Merlot. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Tempranillo 1998
Slightly lighter colour than above, especially at rim. Softer, more feminine nose of sweet cherry with notes of musk and old wood; interesting again. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Viña Extrísima Reserva 1999
55% Tempranillo, 25% Carinyena, 9% Cabernet, 11% Garnatxa and others. Nose is rather vegetal. Showing dense in mouth, with notes of Chinese stir-fry as in the Raimat Abadía tasted alongside; a middle-class wine.

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Rosado 2001
80% Pinot Noir, 10% Cabernet, 10% Chardonnay. This has more character than the parallel wine of Bach, more rosé in style, even if the colour is lighter. Juicier and more intense in mouth, not bad. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Abadía 1999
Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, 12 months of American oak. Dark, concentrated opaque colour. Nose of bamboo and Chinese vegetable salad, with pickled mushrooms notes. Also rather over-extracted on the palate, lacknig some freshness of fruit but might work with food. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Abadía Reserva 1997
Cabernet, Tempranillo, Merlot, 6 months of French, 12 of American oak. Austere rim to a slightly lighter colour than above. Very similar on the nose which is elegant but very closed; good juiciness, some wood tannins on the finish. Lacks fruit character, decent drinking but nothing great. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Cabernet Sauvignon 1997
Includes 15% of Merlot; 24 months of American oak. Elegant nose of cassis and some volatile touches; soft, cool and deep fruitiness by Spanish standards. Acidity quite evident in mouth, good definition, decent length. Quite good but less varietally defined than I remember from this vintage. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 1995
Includes 15% of Merlot, 24 months of oak, 3 years of bottle. Browning colour. Sweet cassis syrup on the elegant, well-defined, interesting nose. In mouth shows some hollowness, not as clearly delineated as on the nose, if still above ordinary. Solid quality. But perhaps not such a step up in quality to the straight Cabernet. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Merlot 1998
Includes 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon, aged 18 months in mixed oak. Darker in colour than the Cabernets, if already showing some browning at rim. Softer and airier nose which with good elegance, aromas of mushrooms and cherry instead of cassis as above. Juicy, good roundness balancing the structure, altogether rather soft, though with a tannic touch on the finish. Very convincing. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Tempranillo 1998
18 months of barrique. Cleaner dark ruby colour. Herbal character of Tempranillo showing, with some spicy and biting musky notes. Good fruit on the palate, quite long, with convincing structure and an intensity carrying through the palate; perhaps the most authentic of the series, though without the density of the French varietals. Slightly spicy finish. Very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Vallcorba 1994
100% Cabernet, from vines planted in 1984, aged for 24 months in barrique, 26,000 bottles released. Dark colour with a medium rim. Nose starts mildly volatile, with notes of cassis and greens. Juicy and quite broad on attack, thins out towards the finish which is slightly hard from the oak. Lacks focus but not bad. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler de Cantonella Costers del Segre Cérvoles 1999
Tempranillo, Garnatxa, a bit of Cabernet and traces of Merlot. Very dark in the glass. Slightly emphyreumatic nose with notes of cinnamon and minor volatility, a bit of cured and grilled meat as well. Elegant perfume but nothing great, I thought. Very sweet in mouth, reminds me of the recently tasted Clos de l'Obac. Very long, perfect winemaking here, although not a style I would favour: too smooth and sweet. £15. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler de Cantonella Costers del Segre Cérvoles Selecció en Vinya 1998
14.5% alc. More varnishy, liqueury and even sweeter than the straight Cérvoles, with spicy overtones. Dominated by paint-like flavours, with a bit of that obtrusive sweetness again, but excellent length and elegant tannins. Very fine. Has complexity and depth, all wines here are doubtlessly interesting despite a certain vulgarity and easiness. But this is expensive at £26. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cellers de Scala Dei Priorat Negre Sens Filtrar 2000
100% Garnatxa. Colour is a concentrated medium ruby with a violet rim. Very fine nose of juicy cherry and strawberry jam, with an airy, cool character and great purity. Slightly candied-sweet, followed with strawberry flavours in mouth. Light, unpretentious, easy-drinking wine but truly excellent in its style. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cellers de Scala Dei Priorat Criança 1999
85% Garnatxa, 15% Cabernet. Much lighter ruby than above. More concentrated on the nose with dried cherry and nose. Much finesse; on the palate shows an attractive roundness of juicy, bitterish cherry. A spicy touch as of cinnamon and chalk on the finish. Less charming than the above, perhaps deeper, but not necessarily more interesting and worth the extra money. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viticultors del Priorat Priorat Morlanda Criança 1998
Very dark. Nose of paint and varnish or vinegar, balsamic and Musar-like, but juicy with very good intensity. Old-vine touches, fine texture, still quite varnishy but very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinícola del Priorat Priorat Ónix '1163' 1997
40% Cabernet, 35% Garnatxa, 25% Carinyena, 12 months of mixed oak. Lots of almonds on the nose, traditional style with a bit of volatility. Great juiciness and excellent overall impression on the palate, fine length. Very successful for this vintage and bottling. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cellers del Pont Priorat Lo Givot 1999
Slightly lightening in colour. This again, as the Bullas below, shows a mix of ripe cherry and animal aromas, quite meaty overall, with bittersweet character in mouth and some vegetality. Long and corpulent. Very interesting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler F. Capafons-d'Ossó Priorat Mas de Masos Colleita 1997
Slightly fading purple at rim. Juicy, slightly painty, with woody tannins, but interesting, fine tannins. Nose shows mainly vanilla and beaten egg. All distinctive, interesting wines at this stand. A note of concentrated sweetness on the nose of old-style Priorat, followed by a hard, granitey finish. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler Santa Maria Empordá-Costa Brava Gran Recosind Año 1996
Garnatxa, Carinyena, Tempranillo, Cabernet, Macabeo. Very light rim. Quite fine nose with dried currants and cherry but rather austere and vegetal in mouth, with the wood evident at every stage. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler Santa Maria Empordá-Costa Brava Gran Recosind Gran Reserva 1990
Same grapes as above. Very brown colour, huge rim. Finer nose with some dry wood, more aged in character, with some bell pepper as of old Rioja here. Not very distinguished in mouth, woody and slightly unpleasant. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cans Rafols dels Caus Penedés Gran Caus Rosado 2001
37,000 bottles made from Merlot grapes. Very dark pink, almost violet in colour. Red cherry and sugar candy on the nose, off-dry in mouth. A pleasant rosé, not epiphanous but drinking very well. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cans Rafols dels Caus Penedés Gran Caus 1995
Garnatxa and Cabernet, 31,300 bottles made. Lots of of dried-curranty finesse on the nose, some vegetal aromas. Paint and bell-pepper on the palate where the Cabernet dominates. Very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cans Rafols dels Caus Penedés Gran Caus 1997
Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot, 8,399 bottles made. Slightly tired medium purple. More balsamic and warmer on the nose than above. Tasty, with a fine structure and construction again, finishing very long with a bit of pepper showing up. Again that dominant vegetal character. A bit less fresh than the 1995 but on the same level. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cans Rafols dels Caus Penedés Caus Lubis 1997
100% Merlot. More of a French, rimless dark purple colour here. Some buttery notes on the nose here, vegetal, interesting, with again good finesse. More tannic in mouth, shares a density with the above wines, though seems less defined than the Garnatxa-Cabernet blend. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Pinord Penedés 'Clos 15' 2000
100% Merlot, 2 months of oak. Very dark in the glass. Some ash and minerality, red cherry, juicy, rather high in acids. Not bad. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Pinord Penedés Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Chateldón 1997
A bit more liqueury and dense on the nose, with little Cab vegetal character showing. Good juiciness with some pepperiness appearing. Good softness and length. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Pinord Penedés Crianza Tempranillo Clos de Torribas 2000
Some almonds on the nose where the acidity is showing. Austere, with some bell-pepper and herbs coming up. Soft in register, lacks the definition of the two French varietals but a good wine. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Rosado 2001
Based on Garnacha. Elegant pink verging on red-brassy at rim. Acidic and fresh in mouth, with hints of strawberry and vanilla, perhaps a bit too soft and unsubstantial, as most rosés. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Vino de Mesa Tinto Viña Borda 2000
Fading colour. Sweet fruit perfume, good cherry fruit underpinned by some animal aromas. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache VdM Castillo Zalatambor 2000
This sees some wood. Showing a bit sweeter but at the same time more animal and stinkier than the above, with a sweet, spicy, mildly candied character on the finish. Interesting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra 2000
Mainly Tempranillo with some Merlot, aged 3 months in wood. Colour is very light at rim. Some mushrooms on the nose here, meaty and bready aromas. Nothing too interesting but decent basic drinking. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Merlot 1999
No wood. Very light colour. Juicy and mildly spicy, with hints of sweetness at mid-palate but rather watery and not too interesting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Rather light in colour. More soupy on the nose, pungent and slightly volatile, though not lacking in finesse. Not much happening in mouth here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Crianza Gran Irache 1998
Cabernet and Tempranillo with a year of oak, as all the subsequent wines. Again rather pale, opaque colour. Good nose here, vaguely spicy, quite concentrated and almondy, with minor vinegary touches. Cinnamonny and cedary crianza showing on the palate. Very decent. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Reserva Castillo Irache 1997
Tempranillo, Cabernet and Merlot. This is a bit denser in colour but still in the same register. Closed nose with hints of boiled yolk and beaten egg, a bit of bell pepper, cinnamon, less integrated and less interesting than the Crianza. Soupy and quite long in mouth but nothing special. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Gran Reserva Real Irache 1996
This is Tempranillo with bits of Graciano, Mazuelo and Garnacha. Quite fresh on the nose, at least more so than others, with spices and aronia fruit. The fruit also seems softer, cleaner and more accessible. Long, if showing a bit vinegary on the finish. Very Spanish in style but convincing within it. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Gran Reserva Real Irache 1973
The colour is still quite dense, if austere and lightening at rim. Wonderful sweet scent here ith vanilla, fruit pie and freshly grated cinnamon notes. Subdued on the palate but very long, with great intensity and roundness on attack, a bit hollow and hard in mouth but showing very fine. Very well preserved. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Crianza Prado de Irache 1996
Tempranillo, Cabernet and Merlot, from a 4-ha single vineyard, aged in barrique. This is darker than any Irache wine above, though still with a bit of rim. More dried-fruity on the nose, with vegetal hints reminiscent of tobacco, sweet and dense in mouth but watery-seeming on the palate and lacking concentration. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Palacio de la Vega Merlot Crianza 1998
Barrel sample. Nice medium-dark purple. Ash and gravel followed by austere cherry liqueur on the rather stinky nose. Lacks focus in mouth, consistent with the nose, with the gravelly touch more prominent here. Slightly tannic on finish. Lots of bitter cherry character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Palacio de la Vega Tempranillo Crianza 1998
Aged one year in mixed American and French oak. Lighter medium purple than the Merlot. Rounder in register, though with some airy cherry and currant notes as well here; juicy in mouth with some acidic touches; cinnamon or chalk of Cabernet appearing on finish. Lacks character and nothing too special. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Palacio de la Vega Cabernet Reserva 1998
Aged two years in mixed oak as above. Very good, medium-dark, luminescent purple. Chalk, cow milk and shit on the nose with a familiar scent of fresh paint or varnish, all in all not too convincing. Vague, unfocused palate, tightly structured and unforgiving, shwoing little flavour. A touch of sweetness to the fruit but very bitter cherry finish. Also rather hot. Lacks balance. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Palacio de la Vega Tempranillo Reserva 1997
Lighter than the Cabernet but still rather dark for Tempranillo, watery rim. Slightly vegetal and chalky nose, varietal, moderately expressive, soft, with a vaguely liqueury nature to the fruit, rounded off by some minerals and spice. Juicy but again rather vague on palate; very smooth, modern-styled, though with incisive acids. Drinking well, with some varietal character, though rather anonymous. But the best of the reds here IMO. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Príncipe de Viana Navarra Tempranillo 2000
A bit of candy on the nose, plus an odd note of musk. Slightly unripe I think; juicy, paint-like, difficult to judge. An odd wine. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Príncipe de Viana Navarra Crianza Cabernet 1999
Opaque browning colour, again candy and sweat on the nose, admittedly tasted at that point of the afternoon when all wines smell of candy and sweat, but still slightly unpleasant. Soupy on the palate, too soft in style for me. Nothing too pleasant. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Príncipe de Viana Navarra Reserva 1996
Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet. Again rather vegetal with Cabernet showing a lot; soupy on the palate, oozing milky American oak, thick and intense, this has proper concentration but still something unpleasantly vegetal in mouth. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Príncipe de Viana Navarra Reserva '1423' Carolus Bonnefoy 1996
Cabernet and Merlot, aged in American and Allier oak. Also quite browning colour. This shows a bit of vanilla and biscuit of American oak, very vegetal and oaky in mouth, with a note of bell-pepper. Woody and lacks lushness. Not too pleasant, again, I wouldn't like to this drink with food. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Ederra Crianza 1998
100% Tempranillo. Very light, typical Rioja colour with a wide watery rim. Musky, animal nose with sweat and ripe cherry, very airy, showing quite a lot of American oak, following with consistency on the palate where the animal side is backed by some mushroomy notes. Strange wine, very dominated by the wood at this stage, though with some sense of harmony. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Viña Pomal Reserva 1997
Includes a joint 15% of Graciano and Mazuelo. Very light rim, though at core this seems darker ruby than the Ederra. Softer nose with overtones of vanilla, spicy oak, elegant and quite concentrated, if a bit hollow in mouth. Finish shows a convincing cherry syrup note. A step down cmopared to the convincing 1996. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Viña Pomal Gran Reserva 1994
Includes a joint 15% of Graciano and Mazuelo, 30 months in barrique, 40 in bottle. Core still dark ruby but browning at rim. Lots of oak on the nose with the tell-tale dried currant notes; lots of finesse and elegance despite the huge wood ingredient. On the palate it again seems a bit too soft and lacking some filling, with the abundant oak showing, nice hints of dried currants but less convincing in terms of structure and balance than the Reserva. A general lack of intensity seems to be the main drawback of this textbook classic style Rioja. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Viña Zaco Reserva 1996
This is from a single vineyard of 26 ha; 70% Tempranillo, 30% Graciano and Mazuelo. Very light ruby, especially at the almost transparent rim. This is rounder and sweeter, with hints of cherry syrup, light spices and dried fruit; on the palate shows some finesse, with meaty-mushroomy thickness. Better juiciness and acidity than the Gran Reserva. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Reserva,
Not as overoaked, though still with that easy butteriness of barrique. Lacks some definition and although clearly an interesting wine, lacks the charm of the Pomal Reserva. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja La Vicalanda de Viña Pomal Reserva 1997
100% Tempranillo. Healthier and cleaner colour, medium to dark ruby with some rim. More balsamic on the nose with some volatility, more concentrated and with some dry residue on the nose; but again lacks superior focus. Juicier, denser and overall more convincing in mouth than the Zaco, good finish and consistency, though one would like even more fruit filling. Good finesse focusing mainly on the classic cassis notes, but at the same time this shows a roundness, even bluntness, from the generously applied (though in this case by no means out of balance) oak. Lacks a distinctive note perhaps. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja La Vicalanda de Viña Pomal Gran Reserva 1995
100% Tempranillo, 2 years of new, heavily toasted Allier barrique, 3 years in bottle. Colour is a quite dark if austere ruby, with minor brown at rim. Nose of dry wood, dried mushrooms, soy sauce, but still a bit of finesse and fresh cherry character which might some day overcome the secondary aromas. Good intensity in mouth, a touch of austerity again reminiscent of mushrooms or balsamic vinegar (but note this shows no excess of volatility at all; i.e. technically a very clean wine). Good finesse, a touch of oak on the finish. Clearly dormant, with the potential for a low oustanding rating, perhaps more, but again this does not strike me as the most focused of wines. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 CVNE Rioja 1999
Tempranillo, Mazuelo, Graciano, 12 months in barrel. Light but clean ruby colour. Not too defined on the nose; vaguely animal and vegetal, with some cinnamon spice but overall quite humid in style. Too vegetal (lettucey touches) in mouth, not showing great despite the good acidity on the finish. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 CVNE Rioja Viña Real Crianza 1998
Grapes as above, 12 months in barrel. Lighter in colour than the straight Rioja, with some browning at rim. More elegant, if still with that green note, more oak showing and still aromatically vague, despite some inviting dried currant character. Denser and more solid in mouth, green but with fresh strawberry and wild strawberry fruit. Good, nothing more. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 CVNE Rioja Reserva 1997
Mainly Tempranillo. Quite dark, with a watery rim. More perfumed, with balsamic hints from the oak – lots of wood here – and a better acidity here, the extended ageing justifies itself thanks to a more focused texture and structure. Pleasant wine, though still showing rather blunt and with a pedestrian touch to the fruit character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 CVNE Rioja Viña Real Reserva 1997
Very light at rim. Nose certainly more intense, if still rather soft and round; this shows more soupy and soft from the oak. A step up in definition, but one would still like a more incisive acidity. But the oaky vegetal and spicy character are more balanced here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 CVNE Rioja Imperial Reserva 1996
Colour is quite dark, despite some rim. Nose more oriented towards bell-pepper here, with a dried-spicy character. Good juiciness but even more oak showing than before; rounder, with better fruit filling, though the increase in intensity has its price. Very good length. Overall very good, although the soupy character and vegetal-spicy profile might not be convincing to all palates. But this is serious, juicy, concentrated, even slightly jammy within the style. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viñedos del Contino Rioja Reserva 1997
Colour is at once darker and cleaner than all the CVNE wines, with some rim. Nose shows much elegance in a juicy, fruit-watery context, with hints of old dry birchwood. Elegant and balsamic, clearly shows superior finesse to the CVNE bottlings above. But again I find the style a bit blunt in texture. Good juiciness, less concentrated than the Imperial, with a finish reminiscent of chalk and bell pepper. Less interesting perhaps than the Imperial today, but these are nuances. On the same level. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viñedos del Contino Rioja Real de Asúa Reserva 1995
Aged in French oak. Dark ruby with some browning and a minor rim. Again a balsamic nose with hints of fresh blueberry and blueberry jam, plus some mixed spices. Perhaps a bit more austerely acidic in style, though not more concentrated than the 1997 above. Some black, inky, woody character also showing. Perhaps more finesse than other wines but the acidity seems a bit unripe. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viñedos del Contino Rioja Graciano Crianza 1998
Rarely bottled as a varietal wine (though the fashion is catching up), Graciano gives very dark wines with an incisive acidity and high potential alcohol. Jesus Madrazo of Contino mentions that between 1998 and 2001 the Gracianos have been constantly increasing in colour and alcohol, to 14.2% for the latter vintage. This was tasted from bottle no. 3,820 of 5,500 released. Indeed boasting a very dark purple despite some lightening at rim. Wonderful nose of cool, juicy currant and blueberry fruit, so different from other Riojas, greatly pure, showing perhaps a touch of varnish which however is not obtrusive. Slightly weaker in mouth, juicy and fruity but a bit hollow, not as sweet and focused as on the nose. The length is good with a paint-like thickness at finish. Very good but misses the train to excellence. Subsequent vintages can be expected to be much more focused. Clearly the potential is there. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viñedos del Contino Rioja Viña del Olivo Reserva 1996
95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, with the malolactic fermentation – unlike all previous CVNE wines – in barrel. Yields of 45 q/ha, bottle no. 9,979 of 19,400. First made in 1995, followed by 1996, 1998 Reservas and 1999 Crianza, no 1997 released. Very dark colour. Nose starts with some varnish, but is elegant and juicy despite the huge concentration; great elegance of currant and blueberry fruit, balsamic, just slightly volatile, wonderful. A bit soupy on the palate, but great finesse and complexity, almost meaty, with some oak showing. Long and round, no hard edges, lacks some acidity which more Graciano could contribute. Elegant, élancé in structure, very fine but perhaps short of great, though a strong contender for the best wine of the tasting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Capellanía Reserva 1996
Malvasía, Viura and Granacha Blanca from a single vineyard; a wine I've TN-ed several times before. Slightly oxidised nose with hints of Chenin-like honeyed fruit, rather predictable but very good. Slightly hollow in mouth but deep and juicy, very enjoyable. Medium acidity, this shows more reductive than I remember, with less exuberance and harmony. Quite good but less exciting than when tasted previously. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Especial Anniversario Mazuelo 2000
A new wine from Murrieta, pure Mazuelo from single vineyard Lucas aged 6 months in wood and only bottled in magnums, of which 3,500 were released. Very dark, elegant purple colour. Quite juicy, slightly damp cherry nose, pleasant though lacking a bit of distinction, with bitter cherry overtones. Hardish on the finish, which is not staggeringly long, but good wine with character. Has substance while remaining essentially simple. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Selección Especial Tempranillo 2000
Another new wine from Murrieta, aged 6 months in wood. A bit deeper on the nose than the Mazuelo, balsamic and meaty, quite pure but nocturnal in style, with a smokey currant and cherry smell. Has a hardness to the structure in mouth, with the acidity well apparent, lacking some filling, a pleasant wine but less harmonious IMO than the Mazuelo. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva 1997
Mainly Tempranillo, aged two years in old American barrels. Quite heavily browning colour which is medium ruby at core. Has great finesse of dried currant, as frequently encountered in this bottling, but showing more dry wood on the nose than expected, slightly overoaked perhaps for an average vintage like 1997. Perfumed, elegant, with good density, juicy on the palate with good amounts of fruit, lacking a bit of definition, a bit too soft and one-dimensional perhaps. Minor disappointment for the bottling. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Pratum Lagareta 1996
This is from a single vineyard at 380 meters a.s.l., planted in 1979 with Tempranillo and Mazuelo. It saw 40 months of American oak. Clearly darker than the straight Reserva, slightly fading at rim, a tired, opaque ruby colour. A bit volatile on the nose, drier in character than the Reserva in both the wood and currant component, has great noblesse but certainly more austere in style. Served a bit too warm at lunchtime, this seems to finish with hard, traditional-cut tannins. Has again that great juiciness and purity, or elementarity, of fruit which always shines through in Murrieta. The structure overpowers the wine today and one would like more softness but it should be given the benefit of a doubt. Very fine, despite its weaknesses. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Gran Reserva Especial Castillo Ygay 1994
Rather dark, austere, slightly browning colour. The nose has an austere, nordic beauty to it, with great finesse that is a cut above all the rest, the dried currants and wood taken up a notch in refinement. Not volatile at all. Inky in mouth, great acidity, old wood tannins, all the usual ingredients but in great harmony and noblesse. Lacks perhaps a bit of definition but if tasted in different circumstances would probably show better. Potentially great. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Gran Reserva Especial Castillo Ygay 1970
A series of historic vintages has recently been released from the Murrieta cellars, including 1952, 1959, 1968 and this one. The colour is not necessarily much lighter than the 1994, purple-browning, with a bit more rim perhaps – stunning intensity for the vintage really. A leathery, elegant, empyreumatical nose showing relatively little reduction and betraying its perfect cellaring in the company's cellars (I have no clue as to when this was bottled). Notes of stale orange and some balsamico showing perhaps. Greatly drinkable on the palate, fruit-juicy in register, with cinnamony and woody hints of American oak, very fresh-tasting because of the outstanding acidity. Minor bell-pepper finish. Quite integrated but slightly brothy-vinegary and perhaps with the potential to improve further. Wonderfully preserved. Integration and finesse make it impossible to criticise. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Reserva Dalmau 1996
A very strict selection of single vineyard fruit from Finca Canajas, 50 year-old vines, aged in French and American oak. Bottle no. 19,353 of 24,312 released. Dark but austere colour with minor brown at rim, quite similar to several of the above colours. This has a feminine softness of French oak, with bacony and mushroomy overtones, which differentiates it from the more austere traditional Murrieta bottlings above. But nothing easy or compromised here. Bigger in size, tasted after the 1970 seems of course a bit brutish and chunky, but put in context surely very convincing. Perhaps a touch too soft to my tastes, lacking some concentration, especially at mid-palate. Juicy and very good indeed, but short of greatness. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viña Ijalba Rioja Genolí 2000
A white wine from 70 ha of property vineyards, grapes unknown, aged in steel only. Golden colour, not too defined on the nose, rather vegetal-scented, generally slightly hollow and metallic. Juicy, but showing some yeastiness in mouth, so-so. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viña Ijalba Rioja Livor 2000
100% Tempranillo. Sweet cherry and cherry syrup nose, juicy, interesting, with good intensity of slightly cooked fruit in mouth, a bit sweaty, not too long but very decent. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viña Ijalba Rioja Crianza 1998
Includes 10% Graciano. Dark purple, minor watery rim. More almondy on the nose, with a quite pungent, volatile perfume of Graciano showing. A bit of pâtisserie and biscuitiness showing, juicy, finishing with some structured tannins from the oak. Perhaps a bit too soft and spicy. Quite good though. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viña Ijalba Rioja Graciano 1999
More austere purple in the glass. Mineral nose with good amounts of ripe cherry. Not as individual as the Contino Graciano above, slightly dirty and dusty on the nose. Lacks some character but still a very good Rioja. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Valdubón Ribera del Duero 2000
Dark purple. Fresh cherry and milk, shows some classic soft Tempranillo character but not greatly concentrated or elegant in its perfume. Slightly hard in mouth perhaps. Nothing too special here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Valdubón Ribera del Duero Roble 1999
Again very dark. Slightly more animal on the nose, but still too soft on nose and palate, one-dimensional, lacks interest. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 López Cristóbal Ribera del Duero Crianza 1998
100% Tinta del País. Very dark purple. Soft cherry on the nose which is a bit blurred by the oak at this stage, dark in character, with a smokey note. Good concentration, juicy-inky texture, rather mild in terms of tannins showing today. Slightly austere bitter cherry character but a pleasant wine with personality. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Hermanos Pérez Pascuas Ribera del Duero Viña Pedrosa 1998
Dark purple, minor watery rim. Different kind of finesse here, more pulpy and with milky overtones from the oak; good juicy red and black cherry character in mouth, some oak showing, mineral and spicy and a bit too warm, with a slightly cooked as well. Decent drinking but lacks distinction. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Hermanos Pérez Pascuas Ribera del Duero Crianza Viña Pedrosa 1999
Same colour as above, also similar on the nose with good finesse, notes of bell-pepper and fruit soup. Again thick and balsamic in style, but showing more confident winemaking and a different kind of balance. Very convincing for a Crianza, already quite harmonious for a 1999 since most of the wines from this vintage are showing more oaky today IMO. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Hermanos Pérez Pascuas Ribera del Duero Reserva Viña Pedrosa 1998
Even warmer on the nose despite the good finesse, showing a minor lack of filling typical of the vintage. Cooked fruit and organic eggy character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Hermanos Pérez Pascuas Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva Viña Pedrosa 1994
Bottle 5,736 of 5,880 made. Very dark purple. Nose mostly showing oak of a balsamic, vanilley and mildly organic kind, then appearing slightly rough in mouth, with the acidity and vegetal character well evident. Not very pleasing today. For the very high stantard of the Pascuas wines this is today the least convincing, though still very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Hermanos Pérez Pascuas Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva Viña Pedrosa 1995
Nice purple colour lightening to a painter's garnet at rim. A bit volatile on the nose, juicy, slightly animal and rough, hence again raising questions about whether the rather elegant style of the Pedrosa terroir is not overwhelmed by such long oaking. Less friendly than other wines here, at the level of the 1994 but a cut below the rest of the range IMO. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Alenza 1996
Lots of Cabernet bell-pepper yet quite a traditional Tempranillo style, with not much definition to the nose. Thick and oily-inky on mouth, with a good final acidity. Medium length. Good, but rather underwhelming for Fernández. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Alenza 1995
Quite dark, browning at rim. Finer on the nose than the 1996, not as bell-peppery and obviously vegetal, with balsamic notes of old wood and good structure in mouth. Austere and a bit vegetal. Convincing as an entry-level wine, a cut above the 1996, but still nothing stratospherical really. Nothing to do with Fernández's delicious new wine from La Mancha. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Protos Ribera del Duero 2000
Sweet nose with hints of barrique in some vegetal and stale-buttery notes, nice to drink, well-structured, a bit hard on the finish where the wood seems a bit naked and excessive. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Protos Ribera del Duero Reserva 1996
Dark purple with a narrower rim here. Nose of broth and mixed vegetables, this is juicier in mouth but not too convincing, in a way lacking the simple fruitiness of the joven. Too vegetal in style. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Protos Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva 1994
Another dark, serious and austere colour. A bit of bell-pepper evident here, though good amounts of juicy black chery and dried currants as well. Superior in finesse to the two above, still a bit too warm and vegetal on the nose, but showing good length and leaving a good impression in mouth. Nothing great but very solid, though one would expect more from a 1994. (Nerval, UK)

Spain white/Cava

02/04 Segura Viudas Brut Riserva Cava NV
A good fresh, fruity cava. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

11/03 Kripta - Cava Gran Reserva NV - Agusti Torello (Spain)
A soft lemon nose led to some sherbet and a soft mouthfeel. The length was noticeably persistent and it was well balanced. A very enjoyable drop of sparkling white wine. 90/100. (Nicos Neocleous, UK)

08/03 Redoma Branco Reserva 2000
Pale yellow. Now don't laugh but the initial impression on the nose was very familiar to a young Mt. Mary Chardonnay without the tropical fruit notes with its extremely delicate French oak with the subtle primary fruit crosses of a 2002 Clare Valley Riesling with its lemony minerality. Don't let this put you off as perhaps this is because I've never experienced these Portuguese grapes before although I forget which they are - although alien to me. The palate is restrained & elegant but also combining some power with smashing acidity, delicate but well combined oak following with delicate lemon, crunchy pear fruits, some blossom and a touch of mid palate creaminess & ending with good length. The 13%abv is carried well and an extremely flavoursome wine to say the least - better with food though. Perhaps the finest barrel fermented white I've ever tasted to date and made by Niepoort. (Phil Wilkins, UK)

07/03 Mas D'en Compte White Priorat 2001
Only my second bottle of white priorat. Grenache blanc, Picpoul and Panal Bianca(?) Initial whiff gave very toasty oak aromas but soon developed into a lush multidimentional fruit nose with some decent minerality. Palate was simply stunning, ripe tropical fruits and vanilla from the oak with a lovely creaminess. Incrdible length and excellent structure. Will age well for 5 + years. Fab wine. Not cheap - would I buy it again? - oh yes!! (David Bennett , UK)

01/03 Morlanda Blanc 2000
First white Priorato I've tried. Quite peachy and creamy, but slightly oxidative in style. Reminded me of a slightly poor Condrieu. Nice to try, but won't be rushing back for more. (Cameron Clark, Holland)

07/02 Bodegas Valmiñor Rias Baixas Albariño 2001
Lettuce and ripe fruit on the nose, more acidic in mouth than most of the very ripe 2001 Albariños, also longer than average. Expressive vegetal style. Stronger structure than most, with good freshness. Convincing. £10. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Comercial Eula Rias Baixas Albariño Vionta 2000
Good soft fruity nose with shades of gooseberry, followed by juicy fruit flesh, with a smoke note. Attractive sweet perfume. In mouth shows some vegetabley character, good acidity, cool but ripe character. Interesting dense Albariño. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Pazo de Señorans Rias Baixas Albariño 2001
Harvested on 21st of September. Good finesse on the nose here, fresh but not yeasty-artificial, mixing ripe crunchy fruit with Albariño vegetality. Also otes of vanilla; altogether pleasant and interesting if lacknig somewhat in refinement. Slightly weaker in mouth unfortunately, with the vegetal character dominating the whole, chunky, soft and shortish, lacking some finesse. Striking acidity on the finish. A bit less interesting than the 1999 version of this wine due to a stiffness and vulgarity in mouth but still quite good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja Afrutado 2001
Blended from Albariño and Loureiro at 11.5% alc., this oasts a nice medium golden colour but starts slightly dirty on the nose: strawy and stemmy and not terribly defined. Soft in mouth, quite long, with a good structure, it is quite a likeable wine but lacks precision. Tasting aromatic whites so late in the afternoon rarely has sense. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Marqués de Vizhoja Rias Baixas Albariño 2001
70% Albariño, 15% Loureiro, 15% Trajadura. Drier in style, with some pizza scents, but much more concentrated and serious, with some elegance and a yeasty finish. Discrete acidity. Very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Pablo Padín Rias Baixas Albariño Segrel 2001
Rather undefined on the nose, with hints of cat pee. Slightly wild in style. Less pleasant than most. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Aportela Ribeiro Vendimia Seleccionada Señorío de Beade 2000
Trajadura and a bit of Palomino. Vegetal as of cork rind and grape stems on the nose. Tasted from another, warmer bottle this was slightly different in profile but still rather problematic. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Chaves Rias Baixas Albariño Selección de Uva 2000
12% alc. More pungent and lettucey than others, with scents of green apple and gooseberry, this continues juicy in mouth, with a bit of hollowness and not delivering the intensity it promises on the nose, but pleasant. Very ripe citrus as of orange and grapefruit. About very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Casal de Meín, Lugar de Meín Ribeiro Viña Meín 2000
75% Treixadura, 15% Godello, 85,000 bottles made. Lettuce and some cork rind as on many of those north-western whites, not showing too pleasant really, juicy in mouth but rather short and watery. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Agustí Torelló Cava Brut Aliguer 1999
Medium colour. Soft, peary-appley nose coupled with good juiciness in mouth, with attractive flavours of ripe peach and butter and medium length. Great fruit here. Very nice to drink. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Agustí Torelló Cava Brut Reserva Mata 1999
Disgorged January 2002. More green than the above and a bit more austere, dry-biscuity on the nose, with hints of chopped herbs and fresh cork rind. Less interesting than the Aliguer I think, with the mix of herbal greenness and aggressive acidity which are Torelló's trademark. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Agustí Torelló Cava Brut Nature Reserva Barrica 1999
Mainly old-vine Macabeo of which a part is briefly passed in barriques. Disgorged March 2002. A bit of brioche on the nose here, with a vegetabley profile and hints of fresh cod. Less finesse here than either of the two preceding wines, rounder in mouth, but still problematic IMO since it shows an animal note I was not really able to justify in the context. Harder mineral finish, more solid fruit. Lacks concentration, if that makes sense. Not convincing to me. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Brut Carta Nevada
Pear and citrus on the pleasant nose; a bit aggressive character in mouth; shows some champagney touches, especially in the buttery-biscuity hint on the finish. Very good for a basic cava. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Brut Cordon Negro
More vegetal, not as sweet and fruity as the above; juicy, more cava in style, with slightly cooked apple notes and some pâtisserie character. More than decent but not as interesting as the above. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Brut Cordon Negro Rosado
Monastrell and Garnatxa. Very light pink verging on orange. Not very fruity on the nose but juicy, almost crunchy on the palate. Could use some definition but has character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Brut Nature
No dosage. Plate gold colour. Lots of pear fruit on the nose, good finesse, slightly hard acidity in mouth and overall vague in terms of structure. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Gran Reserva Millésimé 1996
Monastrell and Xarel.lo, from bottle no. 4,102 of 30,000. Aged sur lie for more than 30 months. Dark golden in the glass. Very buttery nose with animal and reductive touches, yet quite elegant, complex, interesting. Quite long, mostly with praline notes but with a bit of slightly hard mineral finish. Certainly an interesting cava with a personality and complexity that put it above most of the rest. This is one of three new wines from Freixenet which I generally found very convincing. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Gran Reserva Millésimé Trepat 1998
Bottle no. 3,213 of 60,000, grapes unknown. Supposed to be a 'rosat pal.lid' according to the label but rather dark golden. Still lots of finesse on the nose, with hints of brioche and shortbread, but less defined than the 1996; apple character dominating the elegant palate, shows the power of true blanc de noirs, if still juicy and fresh. Very good length. A bold cava which has everything to convince. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Gran Reserva Millésimé Malvasia 1991
Labelled as dolç; bottle no. 620 of 10,000. Again dark golden, not showing much of its age in the colour. Slightly reductive on the nose, with dominant hints of dry wood but a more subdued, fine, damp-fruity note following behind. Sweetish in mouth, with the liqueur showing slightly disjointed and the overall impression being of neither fish nor fowl. Also quite reductive on the palate. Not giving the impression of sweet wine at all. Less convincing than the two above. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Freixenet Cava Carta Nevada Medium Dry
Lots of green in the glass. Herbal nose with notes of citrus peel; seems sweeter (or less integrated) in mouth than the Malvasia. A good, interesting cava. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cavas Ferret Cava Brut
42% Parellada, 29% each of Xarel.lo and Macabeu, 18 months sur lie. Pleasant, very fresh nose of pear with some mineral character. Slightly aggressive in mouth. Good length, citrusy impressions. Good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cavas Ferret Cava Brut Reserva
30 months sur lie, grapes as above. Darker colour. Nose much more closed, fuller but still aggressive in mouth, though could integrate with some breathing time; some herbal character yet more elegant than the straight Brut, also slightly more complex thanks to the riper fruit and the general move from citrus towards apple. Good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Rondel Cava Brut Extreme
Quite animal, yeasty, a bit reductive nose in quite a champagney style, showing fresh and herbal as of macerated citrus fruit after some aeration. Biscuity, pleasant, with an acidity reminiscent of unripe apples or celery. A rather modern interpretation of cava, but interesting and with character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Rondel Cava Brut Première Cuvée
More Parellada here, 24 months sur lie, disgorged late 2000. This is more cava-like with an austere herbal and citrus peel character, more closed and less exuberant. Fuller and rounder in mouth, though perhaps shorter and without the fine linear structure of the previous wine. Nice biscuity touches, but I think this is more neutral and less interesting than the Extreme. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Codorníu Cava Brut Clássico
Disgorged June 2001. Medium straw with green. Darker colour than above. More toast and smoke on the nose here, better intensity in mouth, some animal-musky juiciness, also rather short but well-made, pleasant, solid and authoritative as the above. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Codorníu Cava Extra Brut
Colour also quite dark, more towards yellow than the Clássico. Typical nose with some roasted coffee notes, butter and pear, rather soft in register and perhaps lacking some filling. More interesting in mouth with again that roasted coffee feel, followed by some pine nut oil. This astonishingly seems fuller and more integrated in mouth, though still lacks concentration and length. But has character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Codorníu Cava Brut Reserva Anna de Codorníu
This includes 5% reserve wine and 85% Chardonnay; based on 1998, aged 24 months sur lie. Fresh, fruity-herbal nose with notes of pear and parsley plus some roasted character as of sunflower oil perhaps. Fresher and fruitier than the preceding wines, though giving an impression of hollowness, lacking intensity and cut. Mildly disappointing for a top cuvée. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Codorníu Cava Brut Cuvée Raventós
3 years sur lie, 50% Chardonnay, balanced by Macabeo and Parellada. Nose is closed, verging on roasted character, with subsidiary notes of butter, fried onions or mushrooms. Good fullness in mouth, with a slightly stale vegetable character and lots of butter. Good mouthfilling character; approaches Champagne in style because of a softness and finesse, but not so extremely convincing. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Codorníu Cava Brut Pinot Noir
Colour between slightly coppery and medium pink, with orange hues. Wonderful nose of sweet strawberry cake which unfortunately blows off quite quickly, leaving an austere minerality and herbal character. Becomes quite neutral if left in the glass. Good fullness in mouth, juiciness of sun-ripened fruit: orange and perhaps some strawberry. Simple but appealing. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Codorníu Cava Brut Jaume Codorníu
Chardonnay and Parellada. Not too dark. Nose is mineral with some petrol character, followed by lemon notes. Interesting though hard to describe, fruity but vegetal and austere at the same time. Wonderfully intense attack with a touch of butteriness, as of barrique-fermented white. Good, juicy but not too long; softer and warmer in style than the preceding cavas. Interesting but IMO nothing great. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Cava Brut Can Vendrell
Chardonnay, Xarel.lo and Parellada. Nice soft fruity nose which shows some dirty notes; soft sweetness of praline, almost champagney in style; pleasant and interesting in mouth, if slightly hollow. Some solid, unfriendly minerality and dustiness here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Cava Brut Reserva
Chardonnay, Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada. 2.5 years sur lie. Quite dark colour. Less defined on the nose, with hints of fried eggplants, showing rather dusty and fruitless, a bit hollow in mouth. Rather a standard cava and not as interesting as the above. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Cava Brut '21' 2000
Typical herbal-vegetal nose with hints of stone fruit, beaten egg and some dust; lacks focus again. Slightly fuller in mouth, with hints of cooked vegetables or macerated lemons as in the Moroccan speciality; pleasant, if just slightly hard in mouth. Has a bit more cut than the above but still not perfect. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Cava Brut Rosé
100% Pinot Noir. Medium austere pink. Nice nose, quite soft with hints of strawberry and beaten egg; has some depth. A bit warm in character, with an aggressive organic blood character in mouth. Drinking very well, with some deeper mineral and acidic notes, but lacks length unfortunately and again a bit hollow. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Cava Brut '21' Barrica
Dark golden colour. Shows some wood character in an animal touch on the nose, deeper, though still showing much of the lemony, vegetal character. In mouth shows more champagney character in its mouthfilling texture; green but juicy and interesting, good roasted notes on the finish. Not very orthodox in style but IMO the most convincing cava from this good producer. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Can Vendrell Chardonnay - Xarel.lo 2001
Almost colourless. Lots of yeast on the nose, some liqueury fruit, minor metallic touches as well. Rather standard crisp white, soft and not too long. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Xarel.lo d'Anyada 2000
Slightly darker colour; more finesse on the nose here, not as obvious and superficial as the Can Vendrell though still vegetal, liqueury and slightly rotten. Some vegetal aromas as of parsley and other fines herbes. Not too intense in mouth, soft structure, good definition to this very typical Xarel.lo. The organic farming again seems to give more finesse to the wines. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Col.leció Chardonnay 1999
Aged 5 months in barrique. Rather dark golden. Buttery nose with some elegant pear and peach or apricot hints. In mouth showing slightly neutral, with the buttery oak showing. Not enough structure and not enough concentration to balance the oaking. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Albet i Noya Penedés Lignum 2000
Roughly equal parts of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, aged for 3 months in new Allier oak. Medium dark colour with some green. Rougher nose with the oak more subded than above, but less interesting I think. Some Sauvignon greenness on the palate. Again an individual, interesting wine with some finesse but lacking in precision and concentration. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 René Barbier Penedés Chardonnay 2000
No oak. Difficult to taste after the Freixenet cavas, much less flavour and a bulky structure; not much of a nose; juicy but rather fruitless on the palate. Not too interesting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 René Barbier Penedés Xarel.lo 2000
More character here, vegetal and liqueury, slightly watery perhaps, with more vegetal hints on the palate. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Extrísimo Seco 2000
62% Xarel.lo, 33% Macabeo, 5% Chardonnay. Nice round nose with some animal bottom notes; not too concentratedon the palate, with hints of ripe apple and squash. Rather hard to grasp today. The length and intensity are decent. Nice, uncomplicated white. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Masía Bach Penedés Chardonnay 2000
Includes 15% Xarel.lo, no oak. Again a nose of overripe lemon, apple and peach, followed by an excellent mouthfeel which shows slightly buttery and overripe, but this is Chardonnay after all. finishing rather short, but well-made, quite pure and varietal. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Cava Brut Chardonnay
24 months sur lie. Some grilled meat and animal touches on the nose which is slightly vegetabley. Clean, quite long, citrusy, with better structure than most cavas lent by the grape. Well-made, especially on the palate where the intensity is more than satisfying. Structure and texture look towards Champagne. Has some varietal character but not the most interesting or pleasing of cavas. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Cava Grand Brut
80% Chardonnay with some Xarel.lo and Macabeo support. 3 months of barrique. Colour is quite dark. Some butteriness and toast on the nose, with hints of dusty wood. Closes up in the glass. Slightly stale-vegetabley in mouth but very intense and rich, with a softness and praline-like filling not unlike Champagne. Could use some more finesse but very pleasant. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Chardonnay 2001
100% Chardonnay with no oak. This is riper than the Bach Chardonnay above, also a bit more aggressive; somewhat oily in character on the palate which is less interesting. Finish is soft and rather weak. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Raimat Costers del Segre Chardonnay Selección Especial 1999
From a 14 ha parcel within the Finca Raimat, sees some oak. Slightly biting, petrolly, empyreumatique character with an amount of buttery oak. Very intense in mouth, dominated by the oak but with some elegance; slightly fading on finish. A tropical example of Chardonnay, a bit over the top, but very interesting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler de Cantonella Costers del Segre Cérvoles 2000
80% Macabeo, 20% Chardonnay, fermented and aged in 80% Allier, 20% American oak. Quite an oily white based on very ripe fruit, rather odd in style but has consistency. Good acidity and length, still a bit unfriendly today but might evolve. Expensive at £13 but has individuality and character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Celler Santa Maria Empordá-Costa Brava Gran Recosind 2000
Macabeo and Garnatxa Blanca, aged in American oak. Very dark golden. Nose of soaked raisins with warm bready notes, pleasant but neutral on the palate and giving a clear impression of having been overoaked. Rough, bitter finish of the wood. Not very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Cans Rafols dels Caus Penedés Gran Caus Blanc 2000
Chardonnay, Xarel.lo and Chenin Blanc. Fresh, fruity nose with hints of apple, pear and lettuce, well intense but perhaps a bit too vegetal to my tastes. Palate also quite green, with medium intensity and good length. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Vino de Mesa Blanco Viña Borda 2001
Quite vegetal, not too clean, though with dense, almost tannic fruit in mouth. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Irache Navarra Chardonnay 1999
Oak-aged for 8 months, which shows in a rather petrolly and pungent way on the nose; the palate is not too gentle due to the high acidity. Needs some time in the bottle. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Palacio de la Vega Chardonnay Barrica 2001
Barrel sample. Ripe fruit, minor butter, smoke and toasted wood on the nose which is not overdone, if slightly stale-seeming. Well-focused ripe apple fruit on the palate, some tropical notes, a well-made, tasty Chardonnay. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Príncipe de Viana Navarra Murchante Chardonnay Fermentado en Barrica 2001
The oak here stinks of old Camembert or Brie. Unpleasant and volatile on the nose. Not good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 CVNE Rioja Monopole Barrel Fermented 1999
Viura and Malvasia. Quite aggressive traditional Rioja nose with a good pungent butter note. Very fine intensity in mouth, ripe and expressive, with the outstanding acidity of barrel-aged Riojas. Very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

N.B. older Spanish notes are archived here.