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Wine Review: Armada of wine heads to US

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Do you remember back in the fifth grade, when you first heard about the Spanish Armada?

Well, don’t look now but there is another Spanish armada at sea, right now and headed, not for Britain, but to the United States. This armada is not violent in any way but rather a friendly armada loaded with cargo containers. Inside these containers are some interesting, well made and affordable wines.

Spanish winemakers learned their trade from the French, then perfected it under the tutelage of California vintners. In the past 20 years, Spanish wines have improved dramatically.

Spanish wine producers live in two worlds: a world of classical wines and one of wines made from grapes that are indigenous to Spain. The classical wines are just that, wines that adhere to the flavor and quality standards we are all accustomed to and set centuries ago. The wines made from the local grapes reflect the Spanish personality: bright, fun loving and definitely making a statement of their own.

Whichever variety you prefer, Spanish wines are interesting and worthy of your attention.

Vinas de Paniza 2017 Syrah ($12)
The familiar syrah takes on a Spanish representation in this selection. While most syrah wines are red in color, this bold, full-bodied Iberian offering presents an intense garnet color that begs a first sip. That sip introduces a wine with a bright fruit and spice aroma that is intermingled with hints of chocolate, mushrooms, clove and tobacco. This wine is a perfect accompaniment to the host of spicy Chinese dishes, as well as grilled and roasted meats. While syrah wines are becoming commonplace, the Vinas de Paniza 2017 Syrah most certainly is not.

Castillo Ducay White 2017 ($10)
This is a dry white wine made form the locally grown macabeo grape. Castillo Ducay White is a departure from familiar white wines. The dominant flavor and aroma is that of apples and pears, but there are myriad fruit flavors to be found just below the surface. This wine pairs well with vegetarian and vegan dishes, as it seems to enhance the flavors of these foods rather than compete with them.

El Circo ($10)
El Circo translates as The Circus, and it is an appropriate name for this entertaining tempranillo wine. El Circo is a circus of ever-changing flavors and aromas of strawberry, raspberry, vanilla and oak. This is an outstanding example of a tempranillo, a grape that the Spanish truly know all about. This wine displays a deep, almost black ruby color, an aroma of red fruits and just a hint of pepper and vanilla. The flavor is full of blackberries, blueberries and oak with hints of vanilla and spice in the background. This is reminiscent of a quality cabernet sauvignon in its fresh fruit flavor.

Beronia 2015 Rioja Crianza ($15)
This wine, like most of the Rioja red wines, is made from the indigenous tempranillo grape along with small amounts of garnacha and mazeulo blended in. The amazing thing about wines made with the tempranillo grape is they are capable of long lives. The Beronia Rioja Crianza is a fine example of a Rioja wine but with an interesting turn on aging. The wine was aged in barrels made of American oak staves and a French oak top for 12 months, producing a wine that displays a nose that is heavy with oak and just a hint of pepper and vanilla. The flavor stresses fresh cherries and hints of ripe blueberries with oak and vanilla in the background. This fruity wine ends in a finish that is reminiscent of a quality beaujolais.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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