Several years ago I was stumbling my way through Ribera del Duero when I ventured upon Bodegas Arzuaga. Despite the rather grandiose nature of the place, added to which I recall some bizarre eccentricities (I was encouraged to hug a lucky tree) it displayed some great potential. Whilst many of the wines were marked by oak, what really impressed was the fellow making the stuff - Jorge Monzon. A young man with an impressive CV; DRC, Vega Sicilia etc... however, that could all be irrelevant. Like one of those pretenders on a vapid reality cooking show who has The Fat Duck on his CV only for it to be discovered that all he did for The Fat Duck was to polish Heston's enormous, shiny, planet-like noggin. I do not know what Jorge did for either of his previous employers, but I do know this. He is a charming chap who made terrific wine and now he is making utterly spellbinding wine, the kind of wine that can lift an entire region and grape to another level. There are some old tricks employed (the adding of white grapes to the ubiquitous Tinto Fino to add acidity) but the wines are vibrant and modern, but not in a big, thick, inky, okay sort of way - does that make them post-modern? Added to which I recently learned that Jorge also operates a microbrewery using only local ingredients. Perhaps he also once hugged a lucky tree.

Dominio del Aguila Picaro del Aguila 2013 Ribera del Duero, Spain This , I suggest, and hope, may well be the benchmark for new-wave Ribera. Classic blackberry fruit, with liquorice but so creamy, so pure, so precise. Impeccably balanced. Almost too perfect, but there is an edge that gives this wine genuine character. If you enjoy the wines of Ribera then I implore you to track this beauty down. September 2015

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AuthorWine Badger
CategoriesSpanish Wine

In case you you were sitting at home this evening wondering what fifteen year old Verdejo tastes like (and I know your were) The Badger is on hand to enlighten you. Belondrade y Lurton were one of the Bodegas to put oaked Rueda Verdejo on the map. What baffles me however is how some of the very best producers still find the balance between oak and fruit such a challenge. 

Belondrade y Lurton Verdejo 2000 Rueda, Spain A deep, orange colour, which may well offer a grim premonition of tomorrow morning's trip to the lavatory. Over-ripe apricots, butter, green tea and furniture polish. This is mega-tasty in a way and still kicking at fifteen years of age, but the overwhelming sensation of oak means it could be anything from anywhere. Deliciously pointless. July 2015

Pesquera Reserva 1998 Ribera del Duero, Spain The Pesquera Reserva 98 opens with a dazzling array of aromatics that highlight the magical symbiosis between top notch wood and top notch fruit, when in the right hands. Sandalwood, incense, blackberries, woodsmoke, new leather, roses, coffee beans - if only I could bottle that aroma and spread it liberally upon the hind quarters of Mrs. Badger. Starts to fade a touch with extended time in the glass but very smooth, bright and sumptuous. An utter joy, at the peak of it's powers . What a wine to share with a friend, who, by the time I write this would have already deserted these shores. July 2015

 

Pazo Senorans Albarino Coleccion 2011 Rias Baixas, Spain Is there a touch of botrytis? It is possible I suppose. Quince jelly, lychee and the salty snog of the Atlantic. It is all rather disarming, impossible to pigeon hole - so I won't bother.  Super texture, true character where so many Albarino's can taste rather pointless. Deeply individual and utterly scrumptious. May 2015

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AuthorWine Badger
CategoriesSpanish Wine

It is always exciting when one stumbles across a little gem on a otherwise banal restaurant wine list and the discovery of a Giaconda wine with a good deal of age on it, is at least twice as exciting. A quick word with Mrs. Badger and the green light was given to splash the cash on a bott of the Nantua Les Deux 2003 - or so I thought. She was in fact joking when she casually replied "Oh sure, why not?" when propositioned with idea of what, I admit, was not a cheap bottle of wine. After a rather tense discussion which involved me waxing lyrical about 'one of the world's great wine estates...drinking history...an emotive experience...' and so forth, she was thoroughly bored and ready for a drink thus the bottle was duly broached. And my, what a bottle.

One of the most enjoyable wines I have drunk in yonks

One of the most enjoyable wines I have drunk in yonks

Giaconda Nantua Les Deux 2003 Beechworth, Australia Bigger, smokier, brasher and richer than Clarkson. This Chardonnay (93%) / Rousanne (7%)  blend smacks you in the snout with a veritable medley of buttered crumpets, toasted nuts and the biscuit box. What is so totally brilliant however is how all these big flavours are cunningly interwoven with the salty freshness of crushed seashells and a dash of chewy chalk. Exotic fruit and spice, oozing Joie de Vivre. The bright finish has enough to lift the wine to another level, even at this age. This is one of the most enjoyable wines I have drunk in simply yonks. May 2015

Posted
AuthorWine Badger
CategoriesAustralian Wine