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Two new wave Spanish wines

by Tom Cannavan, 09/03

I recently opened a pair of Spanish wines, which are new lines in this country through Virginwines.com. Though bearing the humble Vino de Mesa designation, this wines makes an obvious statement of intent from the outset, with minimalist packaging, numbered labels from a limited production, and heavyweight bottles.

This is very much modern Spain, where traditional grapes are the basis for non-conformist wines, in this case cross-regional blends (hence the lowly designation) made by a French winemaker. In truth I thought both were interesting but not entirely successful, with a touch of over-extraction and rather disjointed oak treatment. Having said that, there was a lot to like about the jammy concentration of fruit in the Raices, and the sumptuous depths of the No 1, and these are certainly interesting examples of the new Spain. Two wines that are worth trying if you get the chance.
    

Raices (Spain) 2000
Made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache), there is an extraordinary raspberry jam sweetness about this vividly purple wine on the nose at first, with a soaring kirsch-like character. On the palate, there is a similar rush of confected, bubbling jam-pan fruit before a layer of bitter, inky dark tannins and rough-edged plum fruit kicks in. This wine dries the mouth, and the fruit seems to come to a rather abrupt halt leaving slightly more astringent elements too dominant in the finish. £8.99, though on offer at £7.49

Raices No 1 (Spain) 1998
This is a Rioja-like blend of Monastrell (Mourvèdre), Tempranillo and Garnacha, though each component coming from a different region of Spain. In fact it is made very much like a Gran Reserva, with three years in oak, the origin of which is unspecified, though it seems too subtle to be all American. The nose is lovely, with a fudge-like depth of chocolaty oak and fruit, with some herb and dried cherry notes and almost a rispasso-style hint of liquorice and dried blood. The palate is very concentrated, with firm, bittersweet tannins and solid framework of acidity. The fruit is dense and svelte, with chewy, dark fruit and a note of bitter black plum skins. This is impressively concentrated, though it may teeter on the brink of over extraction for some. It has a lot more oak, but that marries pretty well with ripe fruit and solid tannins. £12.99

Both wines are available exclusively through virginwines.