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Viña Albali (Spain) Gran Reserva 1997
At its regular price this wine represents a serious bargain in the world of wine. At my recent Glasgow wine weekend this was the "mystery wine" which 100 people tasted blind and tried to identify. Most guessed it as costing between 9 and 15. I visited Viña Albali this summer and was hugely impressed by this massive, high-tech winery in Valdepeñas, that marries the latest technology to age-old techniques of winemaking and long, long barrel-ageing. This wine is undeniably Rioja-like in style, but modern Rioja, where the quality and purity of ripe, rich black Tempranillo fruit is allowed to sing and is supported by, rather than smothered in, creamy American oak. It is aromatic, sumptuous and beautifully balanced, with warming tobacco and spice layered with masses of fruit. As I say, a great value wine at 6.49, but a steal on offer cuurently for 5.49 in Safeway, and if you can wait, a remarkable 4.99 in Sainsbury's from December 8th