Monday, June 4, 2012

Spanish country wines with a few years of age


2006 Taja Reserva | DO Jumilla


2001 Bodega Del Abad Dom Bueno Crianza | DO Bierzo


2001 Señorio Del Águila Gran Reserva | DO Cariñena

Some of my fondest memories of my undergrad years are of the times spent with my roommates. My last year, I lived with one of my oldest friends, as we were on the same stream. My friend is a wonderful person; one of her great qualities is that she gives everyone a chance. No matter how fucking stupid people are, no matter how poor of a first impression . . . she always gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, whether it's deserved or not. We have some things in common, but that's not one of them. Not when it comes to people at least.

Spanish country wines, from Jumilla, Bierzo, and Cariñena, are probably as inconsistent as they come. Expectations aren't high, because these will never be truly grand wines. But at the very least, you want simple, pure flavours, that beautiful warm climate feel, and varietal character. When these guys start trying to swing too hard . . . the disasters that result are often even worse because the wines were never great to begin with. Keeping it simple and honest would, in my opinion, be far more meaningful than overloading with oak and extraction, with all flash, no substance. But you want to taste objectively, with an open mind.

I was interested in tasting these bottles, all with a few years of age. With a decade, hopefully the wines would have settled down a bit from their youthful exuberance, showing a more refined, linear profile. In that sense, the bottle age benefited all of them. Certainly more elegant in texture, with toned down fruit on the nose, revealing more earthy, minerally aromas. But what was fascinating about each one was how quickly all 3 wines devolved. I've never come across wines that had such short drinking windows - essentially showing well for only the first hour. The wines rapidly begin falling apart, especially on the palate. Fruit getting more and more confected, sticky, with the oak and alcohol completely becoming unhinged. Very near undrinkable towards the end, which certainly doesn't dispel the fact that while the wines may be well made, they never had much to begin with.

A great learning experience. I pretty much make up my mind about people within 10 minutes. My friend says I miss out on good people that way. Maybe. But some things you can't compromise. Unlike wine, I'm too impatient with people sometimes. And because I'm not 10 anymore, I'm allowed to do only the things I feel like doing. Ha! It's going to be a good summer.


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