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

UK Wine Forum - Spain and Portugal

N.B.this is an archive of older Spanish notes. Most recent notes are here.


07/02 Belondrade y Lurtón Rueda 1999
Lots of butter on the rather pleasantly vegetal nose, softer than expected, has texture and density. Flavours of very ripe but not overdone fruit. A nice surprise as I usually find this bottling overoaked and excessive. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Belondrade y Lurtón Rueda 2000
More herbal touches to the buttery character of the 1999, minor yeast presence but already relatively integrated. But less ripe and less interesting IMO than the 1999 due to the mildly obtrusive green character. Softer and more intense in mouth but showing more oak today, hence less harmonious. Interesting but not on the level of the 1999. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Javier Sanz Rueda Superior Via Narcisa Verdejo 2000
Stinky nose of Verdejo with lots of yeast, a bit hollow, with some lettucey scents. Watery in mouth and lacking interest. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Malvar 2001
100% Malvar which is thought to be a superior clone of Airén, characterised good acidity, medium alcohol and better concentration due to the smaller berries. Pleasant, soft nose with no hints of toastiness one should allegedly find in these wines, medium structure, good fruity finish with just a bit of dirt. Nothing great but a nice everyday easy-drinking wine which might improve with food. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Puerta del Sol 2000
100% Malvar. Fermented and aged for 4 months in new American oak. Quite dark in colour. Slightly vegetal oak showing on the soft and quite elegant nose, the fruit mainly reminiscent of juicy gooseberry and grapefruit. Soft, with a touch of sweetness on the finish. Quite good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Puerta de Alcalá Tempranillo 2001
A joven with no wood. Very dark colour. Nose quite typical of joven Tempranillo with soft, damp raspberry fruit and a bit of chalk. Juicy and quite pure on the palate, not very long, a bit chewy on the finish. High acidity, seems a bit hard in mouth but well-made and very pleasant despite minor hollowness. Uncomplicated but very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Puerta de Alcalá Reserva 1998
95% Tempranillo, 5% Cabernet, 15 months of one-year-old American and French oak. Very dark core, minor fading purple at rim. Meaty and a bit vinegary, vegetal-spicy nose, this is more balsamic, with good complexity from the oak, juicy and pure, interesting, though seems in turn rather weak in structure; one would like coarser, more seriously concentrated fruit here. Less convincing than the above due to the slightly blurred fruit, weakening on the finish. But well-made and very drinkable. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Puerta del Sol Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
One year of 75% American and 25% French oak, of which generally 50% new. Very dark with minor purple at rim. This is not so Cabernet-typical on the nose, I thought, showing some vinegary scents on top of sweet jammy blackberry or blueberry fruit. Slightly rough structure in mouth, juicy and serious, with a deep note of cherry at mid-palate. Very good concentration. Good Cabernet. Another serious, dense wine from Jeromín. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Reserva Cosecha de Família Felíx Martínez Cepas Viejas 1997
First vintage of this wine, based on 75 year-old vine Tempranillo and Cabernet with a bit of Merlot, 24 months of new American barrique. Bottle no. 4,794 of 10,500. This could be Gran Reserva if it was aged a bit more in bottle. Very dark in the glass, with a minor brown rim. Spicy and cinnamonny oak showing on a nose of good elegance and fine concentrated currant and cherry fruit. Very good in mouth, slightly soupy, with an eggy-creamy softness from the oak, but great fruit substance and stature, without losing that rustic vegetal touch typical of the bodega. Slightly too volatile, lacking a bit of elegance, but revelatory in terms of the potential of the zone. Very fine. Bravo. This retails for around 30€. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Vinos Jeromín Vinos de Madrid Crianza Manu Vino de Autor 1999
5,005 bottles released. 12 months of exclusively French oak, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Garnacha. Technically this is a selection of the best barriques in the Jeromín cellar. Massively dark with again a minor watery rim. Dense, but still quite fruity and soft, if still almost inky already on the nose. Modern in the upfront fruit character it shows, but with length and depth, finishing a bit more volatile. Acidity and slightly hard tannins evident. Flavours of mushrooms, mixed spices, cinnamon, a bit of hardness to the structure which fails to convince. Needs a lot of time, though already hints at a softness of fruit which makes it very drinkable. Perhaps even a bit too soft, but undoubtedly interesting, though not necessarily more so than the Reserva above. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Rusco Vinos de Madrid Viña Maín 2001
A joven of 100% Tempranillo. Again a super-dark colour with a bit of violet at rim. Perfumed, lighter and more volatile in style than the Jeromín wines, with hints of paint, cherry and red currant. Good acidity, a nicely soft, drinkable wine with some charm. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Rusco Vinos de Madrid Viña Maín Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
3 months of mixed new oak. Colour, needless to say, is very dark. I asked whether they used rotofermentors or concentrators to obtain such colours but apparently neither Jeromín or this guy knew what these were. Very fine nose with great purity of cassis and black cherry fruit. Soft, slightly volatile on the palate but finely focused and very convincing indeed. A wonderful mixture of softness and concentration, which in the Madrid meseta climate is indeed stunning. Very ripe and round, not vegetal at all. Might lack just a bit of character. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Rusco Vinos de Madrid Viña Maín Crianza 1999
100% Tempranillo, 9 months of oak, 36,000 bottles made. This has a more almondy nose, more herbal and stemmy than above and hence a bit less convincing, also a bit hollow in mouth. Shows some vegetal character which could paradoxically be Cabernet. Generally a cut below the others. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Rusco Vinos de Madrid Reserva Viña Maín 1998
85% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet, 12 months in new American and 8 in old French oak. 6,980 bottles made. This is finally a bit lighter in colour, verging on a cherry hue at rim. More complex on the nose, with a bit of mint and menthol and stemmy grapes. A bit hard in mouth, giving the impression that an excessive crianza for what substance the wine had to offer. Pleasant but nothing special, too weak in mouth, aromatically rather closed, and too vegetal-chalky to be really enojyable. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Los Curros Yllera VdT de Castilla 1998
This is a famous property within the Ribera DO but not labelling wines as such. 100% Tinto Fino. Slightly browning colour. Quite vegetal Tempranillo nose showing, very traditional in style with chalky tannins, especially on the finish which is weaker than the initial impression. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Los Curros Yllera VdT 1995
A Reserva with two years of barrique but the word is not permitted to appear on the labels of Vino de la Tierra wines. Again 100% Tempranillo. Same profile as above, but a notch softer, showing some rough vinegary edges on the finish, with also the acidity outstanding a bit. Interesting wines but nothing special here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Balcona S.L Bullas Maceración Carbónica Partal 2001
Mainly Monastrell with a bit of Tempranillo. Quite dark, rather extracted purple. Intense nose of vanilla and sweet cherry, simple, but as fruity as it gets. Mildly hard in mouth, especially on the finish. Lots of biscuity elements, may be a bit too soft due to a lack of acids. Odd juxtaposition of two contrasting characters (hardness-softness). But delicious to drink. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Balcona Bullas 'Selección 37 Barricas' 2000
Monastrell, Cabernet and Tempranillo from 30 year-old vines, with seven months of crianza in mixed oak. Bottle no. 1,298 of 10,000. Slightly hard, mineral character to the nose, with a scent of baked bread. Also quite hard in mouth, with the acidity coming up on the finish. Less ripe and filled with fruit than the two other wines here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Balcona Bullas Partal Crianza 1999
55% Tempranillo, 45% between Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah. Very dark purple. Again a nice nose of half soft, half animal cherry. Quite sweet with animal overtones. Slightly bitter in mouth, with the easy buttery-vanilla oak showing a bit. Well-made and impressive for the DO. Another glorious find from Paul Shinnie. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Salvador Pobela VdM Risling [sic] 2001
Fresh, quite Sauvignon-scented with vegetal overtones over baked bread crust .Nothing special in mouth, appley, rather watery and short but drinking OK. Not too recognisable as Riesling but good quality. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viña Vermeta Alicante Crianza Monastrell 1997
Lots of freshness on the nose, minor almondy top notes but great purity and juiciness. On the palate has an almost artificial intensity of sugar candy and sweet fruit, plus a dash of new oak. Fine length. Very good indeed. Incredible bargain at £3.99. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Viña Vermeta Alicante Reserva 1996
Slightly browning hue to the purple colour. More elegant than the above, with notes of dried currants, quite pure, if with a varnishy tension also showing at some point. Savoury and rich. Very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Finca Luzón Jumilla Organic 2001
Dark clean purple, opaque core. Fruity and slightly-sweaty animal nose; concentrated palate of vegetal, brothy, almost animal character again. Good thickness, not bad at all. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Finca Luzón Jumilla Finca Luzón 2001
Grapes unknown. Same dark purple as above. Some soaked bread or fried pancakes notes, some alcohol showing, with a fruit pie base. Slightly too hot and Californian in style, I thought. There is some softness to the fruit but all in all too voluminous to be more than very good. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Finca Luzón Jumilla XV 15% Monastrell 2001
Yes, this is the name of the wine. What to expect? Darker than the Finca Luzón. Alcoholic nose with soaked bread notes of generously applied barrique. Quite tannic and slightly rough on the palate. Glyceric impression of sweetness in mouth, clearly overdone. Not too drinkable really, though could integrate with time. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Finca Luzón Jumilla Altos de Luzón 2000
Monastrell from 50-year-old-vines plus Tempranillo and Cabernet; 27 days of maceration, 10 months of mixed new oak. Dark, consistent, elegant purple. Sweet, balsamic fruit and bacony oak on nose, slightly empyreumatique, volatile, following with an airy-spicy palate where bacony oak shows again. Quite long, though again rather bit hot. Huge substance, rather glyceric, though with some degree of elegance, spicy notes of menthol and cinnamon coming to the fore after a while. Serious wine. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Finca Luzón Jumilla Castillo de Luzón 1999
Barrel sample I think. Very dark purple, though with a wider rim than above. Softer, more perfumed, juicier nose here, with notes of dark cherry mainly; again sweet-glyceric in mouth, with perhaps a shade higher acidity than the wines before. Out of balance, as hot and over-the-top as all the wines before, with perhaps an impression of anonymousness when the technology overpowers the fruit, though on the other hand. probably more elegant than the previous wines and marginally more interesting. All very consistent in their style. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Dionisos de Nova Valdepeñas Blanco Maceración 2001
100% Airén. Unfortunately the damp, papery character of many organic wines is rather obtrusive here; a bit of fried food as of soya beans, not too pleasant in mouth, with the ungiving vegetality of Airén. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Dionisos de Nova Valdepeñas Via Nova Semi-seco 2001
Barrel sample of 100% Airén. Same unpleasantly vegetal nose as above. But this is nicer and fruitier on the palate, with notes of apple, tangerine and physalis perhaps, and altogether hitting a better balance than the above. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Gutiérrez de la Vega Alicante Casta Diva Furtiva Lágrima Moscatel de Jérea 2000
Dedicated to Alfredo Kraus and Tito Schipa, if someone's interested. 14% alc. Quite dark golden colour. Very muscatey nose of orange, orange peel and orange peel jamm, not very rich on the nose if not for its most elemental characteristics. Slightly cooked impressions on the palate, lacking sweetness and lushness. Not too pleasant to drink really. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Bodegas Gutiérrez de la Vega Alicante Viña Ulysses Cosecha Granav
Unfortunately vintage not noted. Dedicated to James Joyce and Homerus. Cabernet Sauvignon – Monastrell – Tempranillo. Quite dark, with a browning rim. Very ripe cherry on the nose, finally something sweet and fruity after all these vegetable juices. Fine wood on the nose, a bit of barrique grain, good concentration, slightly animal-vegetal touch on the palate. Good wine. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Alvear Viña Lange VdT de Estremadura Maceración Carbónica Tempranillo 2001
Quite dark purple-violet. Good, slightly candy-like nose. A bit too soft and neutral in mouth though quite a pleasant basic red. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Alvear Viña Lange VdT de Estremadura Tempranillo 2001
This is more serious, with notes of grilled meat and vinegar, good juiciness and overall finesse. Good acidity on the quite spicy finish. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Alvear Viña Lange VdT de Estremadura Tempranillo Envejecido en Roble 2000
4 months of American oak. This is more almondy, herbal and spicy on the nose, soft on the palate, with the oak showing in a touch of dried-woody hardness, but not obtrusively so. Good, interesting wine. Impressive table wine efforts from Alvear here. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Covinca Soc. Coop Longares Cariñena Blanco 2001
100% Macabeo. Showing very young in the rather dominant yeastiness yet quite clean, with notes of fresh grapes, gooseberry and cat pee. Juicy, crisp and quite clean in mouth, interesting. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Covinca Soc. Coop Longares Cariñena Tinto 2000
100% Garnacha; stell-aged only with short maceration. Pure strawberry and raspberry on the nose which is slightly veiled perhaps, following on the palate up to a slightly bitter cherry and red currant finish. Good, clean, uncomplicated wine. The owner, Louis Geirnaerdt, calls it the 'cheapest red on this bloody tasting', and at 2€ it is not difficult to agree. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Enate Somontano Gewürztraminer 2001
The first vintage of this wine. Good creamy nose with hints of dried citrus peel, dry in mouth, with well-balanced and perhaps somewhat muted flavours of lychee and dry spices. Convincing but can be perfected. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Enate Somontano Tempranillo – Merlot 2000
Roughly 50% of each grape. Juicy but quite plump fruit here, lots of very ripe black grapes, good juiciness and some intensity of vanilla cake spice. Not very long but very decent. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Enate Somontano Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot 2000
Very dark purple-violet. Cassis and some meat on the still undefined nose, juicy mouthfeel, a standard but very solid Bordeaux blend. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Enate Somontano Merlot – Merlot 1999
14+% alc. Very saturated purple colour which is quite attractive. Good Merlot character in a vegetal hint on the nose, followed by black griotte. Too warm and extracted, almost bitter in mouth to my tastes, with an intense mouthfeel and some bell-peppery character of Cabernet shining through. Stemmy-peppery finish, slightly unripe acidity I think. Good wine but pushed a bit too far. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Enate Somontano Reserva Especial 1996
Cabernet and Merlot in this vintage. More elegant, lighter on the nose than the above, with a slightly disturbing vegetal character of both grapes shining through nevertheless. Crisp acidity, especially on finish, less dense and fat than the Merlot-Merlot, also a bit less convincing. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Enate Somontano Reserva Especial 1998
100% Cabernet. Much more concentrated colour and nose, the latter with notes of macerated fruit with an Italianate almond cake softness. Juicy, quite long, with young Cabernet austerity; an interesting wine, clearly better than the 1996, IMO at the level of the Merlot-Merlot. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Rioja Blanco Crianza 2001
Barrel sample of a 100% Viura fermented in oak. Oily nose without too much buttery oak but some kitcheny aromas as of butter-fried vegetables and parsley. Excellent intensity in mouth, a touch almondy in character but enlivened by good incisive lemony or lemon grass acidity. Excellent texture. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Rioja Rivallana 2000
Sold in the UK only. 100% Tempranillo, aged in steel. Rather light in colour, with a very swete cherry nose. Unproblematic wine lacking definition but not charm. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Bodegas Casa del Valle VdT de Castilla Antina Crianza 1999
A new wine from a subsidiary bodega; 50% Cabernet, 50% Tempranillo, 12 months of predominantly American barrique. Light colour but in a purple register of good intensity, slightly watery rim. Nose starts petrolly, not too intense and rather muted. But excellent in mouth, offering very pure fruit one a delicate roasted coffee background, not too complex but mouthfilling, carrying the intensity on to the long finish. Great value at 4€. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Rioja Rivallana Crianza 1999
Sold in UK only. 75% Tempranillo, some Garnacha and Mazuelo, very little Graciano. Colour rather light. Much more vclosed on the nose but similar in character to the Rivallana joven, with some balsamic wood, fresh fruit, good elegance and definition. Slightly less exciting in mouth, showing some hollowness of structure, losing intensity through the palate. But the finish is good. This is as well-constructed as all the Ondarre wines but a bit more tannic. Very confident winemaking in any case. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Rioja Reserva 1996
Beautiful pure medium ruby colour. More complex nose here, showing some old wood and minor oxidation together with opulent Rioja spiciness. Good intensity on the palate but seeing rather soupy today, as if covered by the wood as yet. Not as pure as the Vino de la Tierra. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Mayor de Ondarre Reserva 1995
This is a selección especial of both the best vineyard fruit and the best barriques. More faded in colour than the straight Reserva, this has some Cabernet and a bit more Mazuelo and shows them in a note of salted butter and meat on the nose. Good concnetration on the palate which might seem a bit too inky or painty as yet, but should improve; there's a purity of delineation and no rough edges in another masterly vinified wine, Some softness of wood showing at mid-palate as well, finishing mildly bitter and medinical. Not perfect and needs time in the bottle to integrate but one of the more convincing Riojas of the vintage. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 Ondarre Mayor de Ondarre Reserva 1998
Medium transparent ruby. Purer fruit here with some cassis betraying riper Cabernet I think, though the nose is mainly focused on amarena cherry and cherry coulis. In mouth this lacks the filling of the 1996 and shows slightly harder I think, with higher acidity today but slightly hollow. Fresher of course then the 1996 but lacking the lushness of fruit. Still rather attractive. (Nerval, UK)

07/02 1999 Syrah, Dehesa del Carrizal, Castilla
Lot lighter in colour than an Oz Shiraz but nose is full fruit with background peppery hints, after 10/15 minutes it opens up into a bit of a "fruit bomb" in the mouth but very individual with capsicum/geranium and a little all spice with oak at the fringes, very light structure, finishes beautifully with lingering fruit. Well worth bottling as a single varietal (apparently it was previously being blended with their Cabernet). V.V. Nice. (Dave Sansom , UK)

06/02 1998 Roda II, Rioja Reserva
Garnet colour just slightly lighter at the rim. The nose has some creamy 'cooked' plum notes and a much more subtle trace of vanilla than most young Rioja. The palate has excellently covered acidity and high quality tannins. Again predominantly 'cooked' fruit on the palate with the vanilla note coming through on the finish too. Very good. Not to me recognisably Rioja, but good to drink now or to save a couple of years. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

06/02 Bodegas J. de la Barreda VdT de Castilla Torre de Barreda 2000
100% Cencibel from 30-year-old vines, 20% new oak. Fresh but slightly volatile, almost petrolly nose of ripe cherry and bluberry. Quite petrolly in mouth also, pleasant, well-defined fruit, strong substance, very inky texture. Powerful tannins. Interesting, serious wine lacking some softness of fruit, but very good indeed at L6. (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Descendientes de Javier Palacios Bierzo 1999
This is the new wine from Palacios in a new venture in Galicia. 100% Mencía which apparently nobody ever heard of before. One of the darker wines of the tasting. Some pâtisserie on the concentrated, inky nose. Elegant, dry-textured as of caster sugar, good harmony in mouth, quite long. A bit of tannins on the end. A bit vague, austere and lacking lushness of fruit perhaps, but clearly an ager. Has perhaps a weakness of structure in a slightly rough-edged delineation, but this might improve in future vintages. Very fine, though a tad expensive at L16.45 (of which L10 can be attributed to the Palacios name on the label). (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Companía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez Alicante Monastrell 2000
Purple-violet but light colour. Pure, juicy, honest cherry fruit on the nose, with a bit of almonds or baked pie. Slightly hard on the finish, quite typically for Monastrell, not a monster of intensity but quite long, with an inky finish. Excellent gastronomic wine. L4.65. (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Huguet Cava Brut Gran Reserva 1998
Quite green in the glass. This is very Cava-like, smoked and animal and rather lacking fruit I thought, but with a nice dry mouthfeel reminiscent of almonds, day-old bread, apricots and prunes. A touch of liqueury fruit on the finish. Very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

06/02 Juvé y Camps Brut Cinta Purpura 1998
Again rather exuberant mousse. Nose shows almonds, marzipan, walnut ice-cream, dried fruit, better definition than the above, though in a much similar style: finesse and featherlight character. Quite leafy in mouth, with a more evolved note as of burnt butterscotch and green apple soap. Slightly poor on the palate, with minor obtrusive sweetness. A bit disappointing in mouth, cheap-tasting I thought, though nicely fruity, soft and approachable. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Torres Penedés Vina Fransola 1999
90% Sauvignon, 10% Parellada from a high altitude single vineyard, barrel-fermented. Stunning, dark golden-green colour. This starts terribly petrolly and rubbery on the nose with a sweet, oily, massively overripe fruit which is almost stale in character. Buttery and fat on the palate, though not showing much length and evolution, rather flabby and one-dimensional at this stage, with minor heat on the finish. Great ripe mouthfeel but almost un-wine-like. Just too big and rubbery. Clearly overdone and rather superfluous, I thought, shockly different from the quite crisp and Sauvignon-like 2000, tasted recently. Retasted at the end of the evening, when it had a chance to breathe and warm up, this is actually became vegetal and much more Sauvignon-like in style, approaching some definition of flavours, if still soupy and rich. But surprisingly good acidity now, with a crisp and quite long evolution on the palate. Very good now. ***(*)+ (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Xavier Clua Coma Terra Alta Vindemia Criança 1998
85% Garnatxa Blanca, 15% Chardonnay, fermented and aged sur lie in 60% French and 40% American new oak for 11 months. 3,500 bottles made. Equally stunning golden-tangerine colour. Starts off with a liqueury note on the rather reductive animal nose; then shows up as its proper self, a honeyed, old-woody, enormously voluminous white with controlled hints of hazelnutty oxidation. Paradoxically but typically for these barrel-aged Spanish whites this is actually quite crisp and refreshing in mouth, with a leathery thickness to it but well-focused fruity notes of tangerine and physalis, topped up by a butterscotchy touch. Has great harmony but a character I would be tempted to call sedate, a bit too dry in texture and lacking lushness of fruit to balance its evolved, secondary style. But opens up massively in the glass and I left some for the entire evening, to come back to it just before leaving. Now shownig a touch of soaked raisin character on the nose, with a growing apple peel oxidation note, but quite attractive hoeneyed and caramelly-syrupy sweetness to the fruit, with a slightly hollow, woody, spicy-dry palate. Lean texture, long finish. An extreme, totally over-the-top style of white, but well executed and no doubt attractive in its paradygm. ****? (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Martínez Bujanda Rioja Reserva Finca Valpiedra 1996
A single vineyard Rioja of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano and 5% Cabernet, aged 16 months in mixed oak. Very deep purple at core but lightening somewhat at rim. Good nose with lots of milky barrique, musky underwear and crisp, slightly glassy berry fruit. Good finesse, much in an Australian, vaguely petrolly style I thought, tasty but a bit too round and metallic on the palate. Good length. Becomes very soft with food, nice but unsubstantial, with minor warm Rioja spice at mid-palate and slightly green, sappy tannins. Very charming and drinkable but rather middle-class in register really (and then rather petit than grand bourgeois). Later this shows a really quite attractive cassis and aronia liqueur or juice character on the nose, following as an altogether soupy-extracted and vaguely cooked but pleasantly brambley-fruity modern anonymous red, showing decent levels of finesse, length and structure. The Cabernet, as usually with this highly commercial bottling, shows more than its percentage would ever lead to think. Within the style, ***-**** (the latter after aeration). (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Bodegas Bilbainas Rioja Reserva Vina Pomal 1996
85% Tempranillo, 15% between Graciano and Mazuelo, ageing unknown but clearly a traditional regime. Quite dark in colour, though lighter than the Valpiedra, with a minor watery rim. This shows warmer and more generous than the above, slightly glassy on the nose but attractively spicy-leathery and with good red cherry fruit on the palate, combining high-toned meaty elements with a licoricey and caramelly profile, the latter as of burnt brown sugar in an unsuccessful creme brulée attempt. Shows some weaknesses but a serious Rioja, gradually emerging with more fruit filling though still not entirely balancing the structure. At the end of the tasting this has improved greatly, with more balanced and dense notes of cassis jam and slightly volatile red cherry pulp. Tasty, although now with woody and fried-foody notes emerging, especially on the chewy finish. The weaknesses of the traditional style (rough edges to the structure, overwhelming American oak) appear now with some evidence. Still a more than a palatable example. Almost **** (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Abadía Retuerta Vino de Mesa de Castilla y León 1996
65% Tempranillo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, from a 54 ha estate, this sees a mixture of new French and American oak for an unknown period (12 or 18 months?). Dark colour throughout, slightly fading at rim perhaps. Massively sausagey nose, dry, meaty-austere, with vague red bramble fruit hidden somewhere but at the moment covered by the almost dusty extraction. Quite a heavyweight Syrah style, I thought, showing warm but not hot fruit and a spicy finish with reminiscences of sausage rind. This is showing framework rather than structure, by what I mean that the acidity and tannins are not too prominent but the fruit is maturing slowly under a cover of slightly upsetting secondary smells. Airing time brings little change and at the end of the evening this still shows hugely meaty and sausagey, with impressive substance and great potential but well… only the very patient will appreciate it in its blossomed shape. Rather incredibly good at L11 but not for the unititiated. ****+ at first, then fading into ***(*)++ (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Bodegas y Vinedos Alión Ribera del Duero 1997
100% Tinto Fino, aged for 16 months in new French oak. Bottle no. 99,020 from slightly less than 200,000 released. This is perhaps the most obvious of the wines, showing like it usually does, a delicious and relatively sophisticated though all in all limited modern interpretation of Tempranillo. Not terribly dark, with a minor rim. Starts off with that familiar Alión note of boiled vanilla custard and meringue, later to recede (rather more quickly than when tasted last year) into sausage and bitter herbs in a slightly roasted or at least highly toasted context. A bit too easy and oaky on the nose but greatly intense on the palate, with warm spicy notes of cinnamon and orange peel, very airy and elegant despite those earthy touches of sausage rind which I find obtrusive and which spoil the wine of the refinement it showed at the Vega Sicilia trade tasting last year. Slightly blunt in mouth, although there's enough acidity on the finish for the wine writers to call it balanced. Less exciting today, though other people at the table loved it and it is still a highly reliable and classy package. Also not so expensive if you can find it, as Jamie did, at L15. ****? (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Hacienda Monasterio Ribera del Duero 1998
60% Tinto Fino, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in new oak. Lot 01/98, 13.5% alc., 148,800 bottles released. Same colour as the Alión with a nicer purple hue. Again sausage and milk on the nose, the well-known ingredients for an expensive Spanish wine nowadays, with subsidiary notes of baked bread and caramel. Quite soft and feminine, although when tasted from ISO (as opposed to my now-standard 'One for All' Schott glass which I like calling 'Chimney'), this is dusty and bready rather than custardy. Warm in style, with a slightly burnt but not obtrusive thing on the nose. Juicy but lacking freshness in mouth, rather opaque, slightly blunt and neutral, though impressively long and intense on the dry-powdery finish. Very fine, showing much of a French elegance, although the Cabernet shows only in the terribly classy Bordeaux-esque tannins, but less exciting than expected. Not a bit left at the end of the tasting and hence not retasted. ***(*)+ (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Alejandro Fernández Pesquera Ribera del Duero Reserva 1996
Quite dark purple but with more blood red hues than above. This is serious and meaty in style with some almondy cakiness and minor volatility on the nose, not as easy-sweet as most of the above, showing its structure and ageworthiness already at that ungiving stage. Juicy and rather softer than expected on the palate, starting broad but thinning out to a dusty, almondy, sappy finish which shows a dash of American oak. This has stature and weight and should not be approached for another five years, I think. Slightly beefy Cabernet bottom note appearing with time in the glass, though there is quite some custardy eggy perfume, unusually enough for Pesquera. Opens up with some buttery popcorn elements after some time, crisp but slightly cooked red fruit and dusty, traditional tannins. Lacks some elegance to be really outstanding, though clearly several levels up from the much unassuming 1996 Crianza. ~****+ at first, then in context ***++ (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Concavins Conca de Barberá Clos Montblanc Masía Las Comes Premium 1999
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in unknown proportions and ageing. Medium dark, with a cooler hue than most of the Tempranillo-inclusive wines. This is showing very bell-peppery on the nose with finely tuned vegetal aromas of Cabernet, sweet but quite dusty and dry, finishing on a note of chalk dust which some people found obtrusive but which to me seemed most typical. Juicy in mouth, if slightly soupy and warm, lacking some length but obviously well-made and attractive. Retasted later this picked up a not too pleasant cooked vegetable note but also opened up with more generous helpings of cassis and red cherry fruit, finishing with a vaguely nutty, minty finish. A very good Bordeaux blend from Catalunya. Just short of **** (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Álvaro Palacios Priorat Les Terrasses 1998
Very dark, with a minor rim. Dense, custardy and slightly soupy but eminently elegant nose with supreme fruity character, blueberry juice and spread, strawberry ratafia, almond amaretti biscuits and perhaps the vaguest hint of licorice, then developing a unseen green apple note which adds attractive juiciness to the package. Dense, deep, dark in character, with minor burnt notes, but packed with fruit in a way only Priorat can deliver. Nick Alabaster was quite fierce in his dismissal of the volatility of this wine but I found nothing to criticise here. With time there is perhaps a hint of brothy extraction, notes of red currant and coloured chalk, followed even by some petrol and substantial amounts of roasted coffee scents, but the whole is, for sophistication, complexity and balance, close to irresistible. Another fine showing for this little jewel of a wine – and of a bargain, at the European market price of 15€. ***** (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Rottlán Torrá Priorat Amadís 1997
A rare low-yield cuvée of 100% Garnatxa, I think. Very dark cassis colour. This shows massive meaty and almondy extraction in an almost chewy, not quite too refreshing register underpinned by notes of roasted nuts and baked bread. On the palate there is a familiar note of bamboo shoots and fried Chinese food, as often in this giant extraction monsters from hot zones, clearly overdone and only just about hinting at its cool blueberry spread character. No substantial change with time in the glass but for a minor shift of aromatic focus from bamboo towards bitter herbs, and while there is clearly enormous substance on the palate, the whole is just too tannic and powdery-structured to really tell. I have faith it will eventually emerge as something drinkable but today there is little point opening a bottle. Stick to Rotllán Torrá's straight Priorat today and you can't be wrong. (****++?) (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Bodegas Valderroa Valdesil VdM de Galicia 2000
A 100% Godello. A very Galician lemony but fat, highly herbal nose with a touch of boiled rice. Good attack, quite lemon-peely but with a smooth texture, juicy and mildly mineral, finishing slightly weak perhaps. The creamy texture reminds me of Verdicchio, in fact this is almost boiled or fried-vegetable like. Minor bitterness on finish. Opens up with fresh mushrooms. Good sweetness to the fruit and acidic grip for balance. Very pleasant, individual wine. L5.99. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Bodegas Valderroa Valderroa Mencía VdM 1999
Transparent medium purple. Concentrated nose with hints of seaweed and chalk powder, fruit pie and bitter griotte, also showing quite dusty and with the fruit character in mouth, as the Anguera below, reminiscent of vermouthy bitter herbs. Soft and juicy, with a fried food flavour. Slightly opaque due to rather low acidity, interesting but needs better balance. L5.99. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Lagar de Fornelos Lagar de Cervera Rias Baixas Albarino 2000
From an adega belonging to La Rioja Alta. Medium dark. Very Albarino-typical with a soft herbal character almost reminiscent of sake; in mouth juicy, quite acidic, not as thickly textured as the Valdesil above, though certainly fresher than most Albarinos. Notes of slightly underripe gooseberry and apple, some lettuce as well. Not too long nor sophisticated, but juicy and quite pleasant to drink. Later shows some cooked kitcheny notes and some spice to the crisp fruit, altogther lighter in register than the Valdesil. Good but too expensive at L9.25. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Agrícola Castellana Soc. Coop. La Seca Rueda Azumbre 2000
85% Verdejo, 15% Sauvignon Blanc. Gooseberry and tangerine on the very typical nose; palate on the oily side, almost lactic and slightly harsh, with pungent lemony acidity. Nice but not too distinguished. L5.35. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Agrícola Castellana Soc. Coop. La Seca Rueda Pampano semi-seco 1999
Mainly Macabeo? Cat pee and boiled lettuce and zucchini on the nose, also quite urinous on the palate, off-dry, soupy and rather unpleasant. Not good. L4.99. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Bodega Los Llanos Senorío de Los Llanos 2000
100% Airén. Stinky and slightly animal on the nose, with a overheated note of roasted coffee but drinks well, despite not being terribly sophisticated. The price of this in Spain would be less than L1. Surprisingly decent. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Castillo de Monjardín Navarra Chardonnay La Rellanada 2000
Unoaked. Mildly spicy Chardonnay character on the nose, with cat pee and thick green fruit, showing a bit of soft milkiness which could really seem oak but then this blows off. Juicy, with good acidity but all in all rather lettucey, not really varietally defined and a bit indifferent. Retasted later it seems much bigger, oily and powerful, perhaps even too big on the overpowering and harsh finish. An extreme style of tropical Chardonnay. L6.25. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Castillo de Monjardín Navarra Rosado 2000
100% Merlot, barrique-fermented. Glorious deep pink colour. Generously oaked on the nose with notes of fruit pie and some musky scents, but the 'oak rosé' concept seems to work. Juicy in mouth, good fruit, almost a red in texture and flavour. Good touch of strawberry on the finish. Rather unusual but quite good. L6.75. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Castillo de Monjardín Navarra Reserva Finca El Cerezo 1996
100% Pinot Noir. Medium ruby with some rim. Surprising in that it actually smells very much of Pinot, with warm cherry and kirsch, minor musk and some licorice. In mouth it shows powerful but slightly vegetal, carrying on to a bitterish finish. Juicy, quite long, showing a bit of oak but relatively pure, a bit metallic in the aftertaste but well-made. A convincing Pinot. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Castillo de Monjardín Navarra Crianza Merlot 1998
Light purple. A meaty and quite smelly style of Merlot with hints of bell pepper seeds and some ripe cherry fruit. Paint-like intensity and texture, juicy and quite long evolution, finishing even more peppery and on a note of soy sauce and sprouts. Needs a year or two. Very good. Not at all expensive at L6.99. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Joan d'Anguera Beyme Tarragona 2000
Medium purple. Nice nose of freshly crushed raspberry, dust, bitter herbs, in a way reminiscent of Dolcetto or better of dry vermouth. Tons of raspberry pie and orange muffin on the palate but not much body; dry and slightly griotte-bitter. Fantastic purity of fruit, good acidity. Gorgeous. A real steal at L5.95. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Joan d'Anguera Beyme Tarragona El Bugader 1999
Grapes unknown. Very dark. Nose of rubber and sweet cherry syrup, spicy cranberry and minor Cabernet bell pepper. This seems to have more Syrah than the following wine, which might be based on Garnatxa. On the palate there's again a note of burnt rubber or tyres but good cherry fruit. Still a bit reductive, slightly overwhelmed by the vanilla custard oakiness, but very good indeed. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Joan d'Anguera Beyme Tarragona Finca L'Argatá 1999
Very dark, opaque purple lightening just a bit at rim. Concentrated old-viney nose with hints of liqueur and musky animal scents. Very serious indeed. Shows its huge, almost bitter concentration (not extraction!) on the palate as well in an inky texture and minor gamey notes. Woody tannins of immense power. Lacks just a bit of sweetness to the fruit on the fnish perhaps, where vegetal and lead-pencilly notes betray some Cabernet. An essence. Cellar for five years and be blown away. Why care about Palacios when this can be had for L9.50? (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Teófilo Reyes Ribera del Duero Crianza 1999
Beautiful medium purple with blackish hues. Petrolly concentration on the nose with hints of cranberry. Strange, evasive, not showing much oak. In mouth this is rather soft and custardy-spicy in a way that reminds me of recent Alión vintages; minor vegetal character, powdery tannins, fine length. Great personality and already hinting at its fine harmony, rather elegant than overwhelming and much the better for that. Clearly a winner. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Frutos Villar Toro Crianza Miralmonte 1996
Serious meaty and toasted nose here with hints of smoked cherry; nicely fruity in mouth, lacking some definition and a bit rough from the tannins on the finish. Has depth. Very good. L7.95. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 Frutos Villar Ribera del Duero Crianza Riberal 1997
This is from a Bodegas Santa Eulália which are a branch of Frutos Villar in Ribera. Also quite meaty but more mineral and with some odd scents of air freshener. Softer in character than the Toro, medium-bodied, slightly mineral but with good crunchy fruit, especially on the finish. Not bad. L9.95. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 La Rioja Alta Rioja Reserva Barón de Ona 1996
This is the second estate of La Rioja Alta. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo, 50% French oak. Generous and open spicy nose with some almondy touches that reminded me of Château Musar, whiffs of cinnamon and chlorine. Good depth, decent balance between oak and fruit. Very good. L10.75. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 La Rioja Alta Rioja Reserva Vina Arana 1995
Aged three yars in bottle, 85% Tempranillo, 15% between Graciano and Mazuelo. Starts almondy and varnishy on the nose, mildly perfumed with some flowers and dried fruit. Hints of powdered red pimientón as well. Juicy in mouth, good acidity, seems not perfectly ripe in the chalky and bell-peppery note but sometimes Tempranillo gives this when powerfully oaked. Still rather volatile. Chewy texture, echoes of fruit on the finish. Savoury, smooth, slightly metallic, if showing rather soft especially after 24 hours. Noble, drinking well today, although a couple of years in the bottle shouldn't hurt. But much less exciting than the Vina Ardanza 1995 which I found superb. L12.50. (Nerval, UK)

05/02 La Rioja Alta Rioja Gran Reserva '904' 1992
Released recently after five years in cask and four in bottle. Medium dark ruby, large rim. Cherry and currant soup on the nose which has more finesse and freshness than the Arana today, deeper and more aristocratic if still somewhat tight. Long evolution, flavours of vanilla and mixed curry spices, showing some oxidative notes but everything finely controlled and tuned. I took this home and after 24 hours of decanting it was still showing fresh but blocky and opaque from the oak on the palate, more subdued than before, and the milky-vegetal touches of American barrique seemed to stengthen rather than blow off as expected. I have faith it will eventually emerge as a superlative Gran Reserva. L19.95. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Costers del Siurana Priorat Miserere 1999
Garnatxa, Carinyena, Cabernet, Merlot and a splash of Tempranillo from the 80-ha Mas d'en Bruno vineyard. Around 20,000 bottles made in this vintage, L22.50. Extremely consistent medium purple with crimson or rose petal overtones, a painter's colour which is not as dark as expected. Very slightly volatile nose of paint, fresh red cherry and cherry juice, dark in profile, with hints of cured meat and sausage, but rather in a soft, sugary register. Woman's perfume, cinnamon, pâtisserie, perhaps some vanilla. Palate consistent with nose, juicy, rather acidic, flavours of fresh red cherry and cranberry, hawthorn, wild rose, buttery touches, but not much oak evident, I would like more perfume, but there is good fruit. Long to very long, if a bit low-key on the finish. Very good, but expensive for what it is. There's something slightly coarse, vinegary on this palate, which is perhaps garriguey, but not at all chocolatey. Technically the wine shows an excess of both acidity and volatility. Afte 8 hours, from larger glass (Riedel Vinum Burgundy): now more perfumed with hawthorn, currant leaves, less volatile than before, if still much of the petrolly / motor-oily concentration showing, together with some mentholly oak notes. Sweet candy and raspberry bonbon. In mouth still rather compact, with coarse tannins and generally a structure slightly overpowering the fruit. Again notes of menthol, sweet raspberry, hints of mulberry and red currant perhaps. It still seems to lack filling but now achieves some kind of harmony. Very good no doubt, close to excellent in quality, but hardly a recommandable QPR. After 20 hours: that red currant medicinal pill sweetness still shows, though now it seems to be of the powdery kind; fine but dusty tannins. Still something bitter, gravelly, granitey to this palate that I could not really come to terms with. After 48 hours: sweet bonbon now dominates, juicy, but not so impressive on the palate, although there's mouthfilling fruit and the whole is indeed very pleasant. But still hardly eciting for the price. After five days, purely out of academic interest, I retasted the dregs at the bottom of the bottle and it is now the more interesting of the two dry wines, with still that soaked bread touch but more mulberry and bramble fruit, some hawthorn notes, a bit cleaner I think. Same savoury length to the Clos de l'Obac; some milk chocolate showing here for the first time.

03/02 Costers del Siurana Priorat Clos de l'Obac 1999
Nose is different: notes of musk, smoked meat and cow milk, some milky American oak showing in a vanilla custardy note, softer, but more fruit than in the Miserere. Stronger on the palate, juicier, with some minerals, compact today, but quite well-balanced due to a fresh acidity on the finish. Certainly excellent, though still better (more expressive?) bottles to be found at this price. After 8 hours, from larger glass (Riedel Vinum Burgundy): very different style from the Miserere, milky-custardy, soft where the latter is tart and volatile, now also seems a bit darker in colour than before. The softness and aromatic lushness seem unfortunately to stem more from the ageing regime than any kind of primary fruit, although the latter is here in abundance, no doubt. It just does not seem to have taken the oak as deftly as, for instance, would have been the case for Montepulciano. To be very clear: it is an elegant, even airy nose of much interest, with well-focused mild spices notes over a vanilla and blueberry background, but this is a winemaker's nose. The palate is round and consistent, more marked by blackberry perhaps, with again the custardy softness of the oak; unfortunately some of the tartness of Miserere comes back on the finish, together with an empyrheumatique note of petrol and tyres. Not as clearly superior to the Miserere as before, although I believe the fruit to be deeper here and it should eventually emerge as the more convincing of the two. After 20 hours: this is now growing more and more stinky, with the barrique milk evolving towards more organic scents of sweat and musk. But if swirled it shows attractive notes of lead pencil, bread crust, smoked meat, some flowers perhaps, and is indeed a finely tuned nose. On the palate, however, some weakness is now evident in an excess of acidity and again that harshness of granite gravel which shows at mid-palate. Clearly superior to the Miserere. After 48 hours: balsamico, plums, quite forward tobacco, slight bacon but the oak is skillfully fused. On the palate still lacks depth and acidity.

03/02 Costers del Siurana Priorat Dolç de l'Obac 1999
Colour is a consistent, but not too luminescent nor too dark medium saturated purple. Nose quite similar to the Clos de l'Obac, sweeter and creamier perhaps, with a almond flour note over the cassis and red currant. Also that half-sweaty, half-custardy scent already identified in the two previous wines. Definitely the nose of a dry wine, of course; some spice and bitter flowers, with airing time vanilla and baked bread. On the palate it is much softer than expected, with medium sweetness and still a mildly spicy and austere depth of a dry wine, as if the sugar was superimposed on the original structure. Or may be it is just the peculiar style which makes it difficult to analyse and appreciate. The closest to this would be a drier style of Rivesaltes or Banyuls. Long, soft, sugary, but also acidic and herbal finish with a hints of powdery tannins. The tannins & sugar combination here seems to be the trickiest element. A pleasant drink, of course, but at L40 per bottle I failed to understand it on a different level. 3 hours in the glass: neither a red wine nor a dessert wine now. Soupy, dark and concentrated, slightly volatile touches, no fruit, much like a dry port on the nose. Very recognizable as a Priorat and a Costers del Siurana; papery, drying tannins underpin the fruit on the finish. Not very complex; flavours of cassis and some cranberry; mid-way between juicy and syrupy. Bitter and herbal on the finish, which is very reminiscent of the two previous wines. After 8 hours: dark, meaty and compact nose now, with hints of walnuts; warm impression of loganberry on palate, long and assertive finish which still, however, fails to convince me; it stays disjointed from the rest in terms of texture: juicy and acidic versus liquery and alcoholic, as characterised by the main body of the palate. Very good wine for sure, but lacking ultimate cut. After 20 hours: dense, smokey, nutty, slightly volatile and alcoholic; in mouth unchanged, still as powdery on finish, and not viscous at all. Quite elegant, although on the heavy side. It keeps its fresh and pure sweet fruit juice character over another day but shows a rough, granitey finish.

03/02 Navajas (Spain) Rioja Reserva 1995
One of Gluck's favourites in the past. I like this one too. Very pale, pinot-like red. Fantastic vanilla ice cream nose. Soft palate of strawberry jam, but dry. 12.5% alcohol by volume. Not a long finish, but good enough for £8.99 (yes David, I do remember when the '89 vintage cost £4.99) from Morrisons. (Daron Fincham, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Blanco 2000
100% Viura, no oak. Little colour here. Soft but ripe gooseberry character, slightly smokey perhaps on the nose, with chemical fermenting vat aromas, but not as artificial as expected. Juicy palate with notes of apple and tart fruit, some pâtisserie sweetness, good finish, convincing white. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Crianza 1998
100% Tempranillo as all reds here. HBJ brochure says this only sees Limousin oak. Rather pale, warm ruby. Sweet nose of vanilla and mild spices, not very concentrated but pleasant, with a juicy, quite Spanish but also modern-ish profile, long, not the least vegetal, very good crianza. Much more convincing than the 1997 I had recently. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Reserva 1997
Pale colour. Soupy, smokey berries and hints of balsamico, American oak showing quite strongly IMO; elegant but thick. Slightly vegetal but opulently fruit in mouth, juicy, with a good marzipanny touch toward the end. Not very complex but enjoyable. Finish is slightly weak. Good Rioja. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Montecillo Rioja Gran Reserva 1994
Dried currants, cigar box, old wood and other mature aromas here. juicy, long and persistent, but with some vegetabley notes of bell pepper, as if of Cabernet. A savoury red which should improve in smothness over the next few years. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra Viura - Chardonnay 2001
70% Viura, 30% Chardonnay, both from single vineyards, no oak. Appley and slightly artificial nose, savoury and almost oily in texture, with good intensity of fruit and medium length. Good. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra Chardonnay Fermentado en barrica 2000
100% Chardonnay from single vineyards El Chaparro and Berezábal, aged in American and Allier oak. The nose shows milky sur lie character, not very defined but quite interesting; the palate also has a degree of milkiness but good juicy frut to balance it. Very convincing for an oaked Chard. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra Chardonnay Cuvée Allier 1998
Vineyard blend. Rather shy on the nose, with hints of ripe apple, some cat pee, elegant, if a bit neutral. the palate has standard milky - buttery notes but interesting vanilla ice-cream and praline overtones, long and intense evolution, and some petrolly, mentholly touches from the oak. Very good indeed; one of the better Chardonnay from Spain IMO. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra Tempranillo 2000
Vineyard blend. Pale purple. Juicy black cherry and strawberry, some fresh paint notes; typical, well-made Tempranillo, if rather neutral and a bit tough on finish. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra Tempranillo - Merlot 2000
80% Tempranillo from Zalurdía and Sanjuan vineyards, 20% Merlot from Maraín. Softer, riper fruit on the nose here, mainly blackcurrant, with hints of cassis jam and a bit of dusty, chalky Tempranillo character showing. Medium long, with soft fruit but slightly hollow at mid-palate. Good. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra Crianza 1998
Cabernet Sauvignon from La Ermita, Tempranillo from Sanjuan, Merlot from Santa Eulosia. Rather pale in colour. Vegetal touches of Cabernet dominate the nose, but there is also some jammy cassis and blackcurrant leaves. Lacking any extra refinement over the Tempranillo-Merlot, inky in texture, with no oak showing. Anonymous but well-made. (Nerval, UK)

03/02 Bodegas Nekeas Navarra El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Old Vine Grenache 1999
Not clear what 'old vines' mean here. Very pale transparent ruby. Dusty, slightly vegetal nose which is less perfumed and concentrated than expected, and showing none of the 'old-viney' thickness of, say, some Priorats. Has some character on palate, with a touch of milk on the quite long finsih. Not very identifiable as Grenache IMO, pleasant, if rather uncomplicated. But not so expensive at L6.50 (trade price I think). (Nerval, UK)

02/02 1998 Oliver Conti (Costa Brava)
Dung. Lots of dung. Real farmyard smell, and dark black fruits. Palate pleasant, medium bodied with a lightish texture, high acidity, good finish of some length. Highly interesting wine - CabSauv/Merlot/Cab Franc blend, apparently. Very good. (Stephan Muller, UK)

02/02 Masia Barril Clasico 1987
Loads of sediment - needed very careful decanting. A warm but bright very notably mature brickish, brownish red. Hefty, slow legs. Fabulous nose. Rather subdued, very ripe fruit and more than slightly raisined. Hint of oxidisation. Bit of vanilla and some violets. Actually rather reminiscent of Taylors port on the nose. Rich, luscious attack, not masking the 16.5% alc at all. Quite port-like on the palate too, and the raisiny notes come through as well. Incredibly huge, massive wine - quite remarkable stuff. Like a combination of amarone, port and sherry, though it is lighter than amarone or port. There's perhaps even a hint of flor to it, or maybe I'm just getting carried away. Feels remarkably sweet in the mouth. Very powerful and noticeably alcoholic, but it has a lightness and freshness towards the finish. Finishes with some elegance - remakably given the full-on nature of first impressions. Lovely soft tannins and a great length after. (Andrew Stevenson, UK)

02/02 2000 Mas D En Compte, Joan Sangenis Juncosa, Priorat
Deep golden colour with a toasty caramel nose, similar in the mouth, smooth, rich and with a certain spicy edge to it, perfectly balanced acidity. Finishes beautifully with the rich caramel flavours. Definitely in the new world style. V.Nice. (Dave Sansom, UK)

01/02 Enate Chardonnay 234 Somontano 2000
Colour: light gold, gleaming bright. Nose: Powerful concotion of melon, apple, pear. Very clean. Touch of citrus too. Palate: rich unctuous mouthfeel, clean acidity, lemony fruit. Being picky, there's a hint of confectedness to the fruit, but it's not a problem. Overall, very, very impressive flavours for the money ( c £4). Don't know what it would cost in the UK though... Rating: Good/very good (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/02 Pazo de Senorans Albarino Rias Baixas 2000
Slightly yeasty almost champagne-like nose. Palate limey, gently nutty, floral edge to it - like a hypothetical mix of light dry riesling and viognier. Settles very comfortably on the back of the tongue, with a long almondy finish. This is a little softer and more rounded the Martin Codax and Burgans Albarinos I've had from Oddbins in the past, and the better for that, to my palate. Rating: Good/very good. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

01/02 Hacienda Monasterio 1998 (R Del Duero) 13.5%ABV
Deep cherry red/plum colour, with plummy, fruity cabernet nose. first impression is of sharp tannin, which almost shuts down the fruit. Given time, some fruit does emerge, with spicy hints on the back of the palate. Length is good without being outstanding. Clearly young, and will improve, but the wine is a bit "cold". Average/Good. (Ray Abercromby, UK)

11/01 Rovellats 1995 Cava Brut Gran Reserva Masia s.XV
Colour: straw, touch brassy. Nose: baked apples, touch of yeasty marzipan. Palate: Leesy, very brut, superb slightly earthy depth of flavour. Touch of iodine. Being picky, there's just a suggestion of raggedness on the finish, but really this is a super wine that would compete confidently with a good champagne. (Paul Armstrong, UK)

11/01 Valduero Reserva 1994 (Ribera del Duero)
A clear very dark red. Viscous streaks run down the glass for minutes after each swill but this is not an alcoholic wine at 12.5%. Sweet vanilla and coconut oak on the nose, but it's good oak. Bursts with plummy damson fruit concentrate with perfect balancing acidity, feeding into Ribera blood and earth, fine smooth tannins and a long lingering feeling of well being and happiness. (Charles Adams, UK)

11/01 Primi Rioja 2000
That rare beast - a TC wotw available in Tesco (my local supermarket). Now this does exactly what it says on the tin: we've got concentration, slick, spicy oak, good dark colour and ripe fruit. Lovely drinking for under a fiver, and sticks out like a sapphire encrusted thumb in dung heap of mediocrity at my local store. I've drunk quite a bit of this. (Joel Hopwood, UK)

10/01 Torres Gran Coronas 1983 (Cabernet)
Still looking quite youthful with only the slightest hint of browning. Lots of fruit and very refined and elegant. A very impressive length and beautifully balanced wine. (David Pearce, UK)

10/01 Roda Riserva 1 Rioja 1996
Good ruby colour. Fine smoky sweet oak nose with good fragrant black cherry/raspberry fruits and spice box scents showing. The follow through was very rich with lots going on without smashing you in the mouth. Complex cedary raspberry and leathery velvety textured infused fruit with lead pencil, earth and dried herbs notes following and other nuances developing. An impressive wine with good concentration and lovely tannins but an expensive bottle of wine. No rush to drink this one. (Phil Wilkins, UK)

09/01 Artadi, Vinas de Gain, Crianza 1995 (Rioja)
Deep dark red. Horse manure and earthy bouquet. Really excellent concentration with high acidity and an outstanding long finish. Makes me think more of classy Ribera than Rioja. Drinks very well with and without food over two nights. Shame there has not been such a good vintage since. (Charles Adams, UK)

09/01 Palacio de Bornos Rueda Superior 2000
A blend of 90% Verdejo and 10% Viura, this is a lovely, aromatic, full-flavoured white wine: it's a bit like a cross between a Sauvignon and a Viognier in character. There are notes of elderflower on the grassy, herby nose. The fresh, clean, full flavoured palate is crisp and attractive. No trace of oak. Very good/excellent (about £5, El Cellar Catala) (Jamie Goode, UK)

07/01 Belondrade y Lurton, Rueda 1999
The wine is a deep golden yellow with a bouquet of exotic fruits. It could be a new world semillon but it's not, it's verdelho! The palate is packed with opulent fruit especially lime, there is buttery toast from the oak aging, and it is very rich with 13% alcohol, a slight bitterness that goes with time and a long almost fino like finish. Very very nice if the like the opulent style but perhaps a bit expensive (13.95 from the Wine Society). (Charles Adams, UK)

07/01 Vega Sicilia 1985
This had some of the characteristics of great claret, though in small measure; half of the bouquet trembled appealingly, like a northern Pauillac or possibly Ducru, the other (tempranillo?) half was far more blatant (and individual). Balsamic vinegar was my first thought; that wore off, to be replaced by a nose that was astonishing for its range, if not its aesthetic conviction. Complexity built up over time. The palate was more confident of its identity - a barmaid through and through. Rioja Gran Riserva-style, plumply wonderful. Without any confidence in my accuracy, 2002 for the bouquet to reach its absolute apogee, until 2005 when the fat might start to fall off. A compromised great wine. (George Horton, UK)

06/01 Finca Allende Rioja 1996
A new wave wine from Rioja, made from 100% Tempranillo aged in French oak barrels. It's a lovely rich olive- and herb-laced wine with ripe, concentrated sweet fruit and a soft texture. Tasted blind, I'd probably have put this in the southern Rhône; it is full of herby interest but avoids the trap of being too rustic or overoaked. Very good/excellent (Jamie Goode, UK)

04/01 Raimat Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 1987
Browning colour. Quite a strong oak note, but not the classic sweet oak of a Rioja - more french. Some volatility, and lots of green notes like an old claret. Tobacco etc. This is fading, but the palette still has enough acid to keep it all together (Lucian Holland, UK)

03/01 1989 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial
Part of MdM’s early release scheme, I rescued this from the shelf of an unsuspecting retailer for very little, and was rewarded with wave after wave after wave of vanilla, and oak, but with some real stuffing and fruit underneath. Very dry tannins and finish, this wine needs a lot more time to integrate properly. (Yixin Ong, UK)

Picked up as a £5 make up in a mixed Spanish case for a friend's 40th.The Oddbins manager's mid week wine apparently.Great soft tannins and full fruit with a little spice on the finish.Easy to finish the bottle and did. Very Good. (Russell Sainty, UK)

1991 Muga ‘Prado Enea’ Gran Reserva, Rioja
I suspect this was showing badly tonight, with lots of green-ness that refused to give way completely to obvious oak (though not scarily high amounts of oak). A very puzzling wine that offers little on the nose but was quite pleasant on the palate, and also seems like a Cabernet Franc from a not-so-ripe indulged in a fancy oak-bath. (Yixin Ong, UK)

02/01 Murrieta Reserva Espeical Capellania 1995
Murrieta oak aged white, fino like nose, the palate is surprisingly fresh with a pleasant lemony character. More pleasant than I had expected. (Charles Adams, UK)

02/01 Lagar de Cervera, Albarino, Rias Baixas, 1999
very fragrant fresh lime and grassy aroma, on the palate very light and dry, a Spanish vino verde. Nose is the best feature for me but others who care more for this style of wine liked it. (Charles Adams, UK)

02/01 Les Terrassses, Alvaro Palacios, 1996
this is very closed at the moment, only offering a mouthful of tannins with hints of sweet jammy grenache fruit hidden underneath. Opinion was divided on how this will develop. (Charles Adams, UK)

02/01 Teofilo Reyes, Crianza, 1997
not a great year for Ribera, this has an extremely pungent nose that stimulated some great descriptors from wet woollies to mortuary (from one of the doctors attending). On the palate it is remarkably concentrated and very drinkable but the overpowering blood aromas (possibly brett) where off putting for many. (Charles Adams, UK)

02/01 Vino Pedrosa, Crianza, 1994
a good year for Ribera, this is starting to come into its prime, with an classic cherry and leather aroma, good concentration, tannins beginning to soften toward a velvety smoothness but still there. Plenty of time left yet. (Charles Adams, UK)

02/01 Murrieta, Castillo Ygay, Gran Reserva, 1989
slight volatility and a hint of oxidation (like an old Musar), layers of strawberry and cherry fruit with much more hidden underneath. Still too young. Re-try in 5 or 10 years. (Charles Adams, UK)

02/01 1996 Priorato Les Terrasses - Palacios
Deep purple, almost opaque. Bucket loads of black cherries and blackberries on the nose, with nicely integrated oak. Likewise on the palate. Substantial yet balanced and very smooth. Good length. The ideal "warm up" act for the Barolo... (Trevor March, UK)

01/01 Alion, Ribera del Duero 1996
More new wave than traditional Rioja. Very deep colour with some oak. I understand this is a second label of Vega Sicilia - I though that was the Valbuena, though, style-wise this wine is in that mold. Actually very good, with years ahead of it imho. (Bill Nanson, Switzerland)

01/01 Artadi, Pagos Viejo, Rioja 1997
Pencil and cedat on the nose.Like a St. Julien, very elegant with a good balance of tannin and acidity. Most un-Rioja like but very, very good in what was not a great vintage. (Mark Robertson, UK)

08/00 Bodegas Martinez Bujanda Rioja Gran Reserva 1975
On opening aroma was immediately apparent and full of fruit. I only opened 30 minutes in advance and didn't decant for fear of fairly rapid deterioration due to age, but needn't have worried. Fairly light in colour and virtually no deposit. Bags and bags of flavour, strong hints of blackcurrant with suggestions of plum and chocolate. I would never have guessed this was a Rioja. 25-year-old oak still apparent, but fairly soft. Good length initially but this improved substantially after a couple of hours; I can't remember the last wine I tasted that lingered on the palate for as long as this. (Bryan C, UK)

08/00 Guelbenzu EVO 1996
Deep ruby colour,with intenses sweet cassis nose, creamy oak, with cinnnamon spice. Although an 'International' style of wine it still had the unmistakable aromas of a quality Spanish wine. Rich almost jammy ripe blackcurrant fruit flavours with balanced acidity but very soft tannins, again the oak was creamy with a pleasant vanilla finish. It would be quite easy to mistake this wine for a Australian Cab. such as Chapel Hill. I must say that this was a most enjoyable wine, but not for long term keeping. I drank the wine with some local goats cheese and olive oil bread and it worked really well. (Karen Douglas, UK)

08/00 Guelbenzu EVO 1997
Deep purple/ruby colour, the blackcurrant aromas a little less pronounced, smelling more like fresh fruit than cassis. The oak was more cedar in aroma and less vanilla. Less hedonistic with more restraint, I am not sure of the use of oak at Guelbenzu but this seemed to have less American Oak influence than the 96. On the palate the flavours where far less luscious than the 96 but in no way made this a lesser wine, the restrained fruit and higher level of acidity and lighter body made the wine have a certain elegance with the oak adding a good twist of spice at the finish. The tannins again smooth making the wine very approachable. (Karen Douglas, UK)

07/00 Valduero Crianza (Ribera del Duero) 1995
A promisingly dark purple-red, this wine doesn't disappoint. Aromas of bramble fruit positively leap from the glass, with rich chocolate, tar and leather scents following on. Medium bodied, with a strong tannic backbone. More bramble and black fruits, oak and good acidity. Finishes sharply, leaving the mouth slightly puckered, with lovely length. Gorgeous stuff, with bags of potential. (Chris Kissack – UK)

05/00 1995 Bodegas Arzuaga, Ribera del Duero
The colour is a very appealing blood red. Neither dense nor opaque. A very powerful nose of pure fruit backed up with a forest of oak (too much for a lot of peoples tastes I would guess). The palate is clean, with good acidity and a pleasant slighty sweet finish. 13.5% alcohol by volume. £9.99 Morrisons. (Daron Fincham - UK)

05/00 De Muller Pinot Noir 1996
The name appears misleading. This is from Spain (Navarra). Its a wonderful "strawberrys-and cream" wine with a delicious fruity palate, a vanilla oak nose and a great, long (oh, so long!) finish. Fantastic value at £7.99 from Morrisons. (Daron Fincham - UK)

03/00 A. Fernandez (Ribera del Duero) Pesquera 1995
A lovely wine, drinking well right now (when it's not corked that is - there's no doubt the first bottle would have been drunk by me a year ago, with it's slightly muted, slightly dusty fruit which might have been put down as a trait of an oaked wine in a dumb phase. Once past the first few sips of a corked wine (especially when the corkiness hasn't gathered momentum), the dulling of the senses to it means it's becomes even more difficult to spot unless it gets dramtically worse. However, drinking alongside more TCA sensitive/experienced people such as Jamie Goode and Tom Cannavan when corked wines have arisen, now means these don't get past me anymore ! I hesitated but opened my last bottle and while the difference wasn't spectacular - the second bottle was clearly superior). A good dark ruby colour and the nose has elegant yet nicely rich, predominantly red over black fruits with a complex spicy overlay. The palate is supple, nicely rounded and supported by unobtrusive structure. Nothing mind-boggling - just an excellent all round drink. (Nick Alabaster - UK)

03/00 Fuente de Trache (Navarra) Gran Reserva 1976
Colour: Deep, almost opaque, no sign of age towards rim
Nose: Almost port-like, slightly oxidised, sweet black fruit
Taste: Almost youthfully tannic, nice fruit (subtle oak helps, I think), none of the nose's sweetness apparent on the palate, long, slightly (pleasantly) spirity - amazingly 'young' tasting! (Stephan Muller - UK)

02/00 La Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 1989
A: Beautiful, vibrant red hue in the centre of the wine. I was quite taken with the colour, bearing in mind the wines age. There was a good sized rim of tawny coloured wine, nicely depicting the age.
N: Classic Rioja. Vanillan oak married with subtle red fruit. During the evening there was an evolution of aromas, with cigars, subtle leather and notably a nice liquorice element.
P: Excellent body. A strong showing of black and red fruits surprised me. Again liquorice, sweet oak, creamy hints. Very nicely balanced. Combined pleasant weight with structure/complexity. Good length.
Overall: Excellent. Complemented a subtley peppered steak very well. Has the structure to last many years yet. (Chris Kissack - UK)

01/00 Dominio de Valdepusa Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
£8.49 from Tesco. I first tasted it at room temperature. In my flat, that's *far* too cold! Bright and juicy pink at the rim, still dark in the centre, with masses of vanillin and young Cabernet fruit on the nose, with herby and minty wafts drifting out. The taste in the mouth was heavily dominated by grippy tannins, and suggested stewed fruit. Later, warmer tastings tempered the tannin, and the fruit also tasted fresher (less expected): it also showed a hint of residual sugar. Once warmed, it was less teasingly interesting, but still good. It could do with another year or so. It's not going to improve by very much: it's a solid bottle at the price, delicious but not profound. (Bernard Leak - UK