2018 Bodegas Valminor Minius Godello Monterrei

A weekend white to sip while choosing some proper wine, red colour. Godello along with Albariño, Galicia’s own two important white grapes of place. Clean, airy and fresh. Needs a breath of air, then crisp fresh apricot, sweet green herbiness, almost some jasmine tea. Some doughy lees work adds savour. Fine but very present wet pebble acidity. Enough fruit fat to cope, finishes up with a glycerol, slightly bitter, sour twang. Just ripe, tense. It would be great to try again after another six months or so of settling. Then, some olive oily sea creatures. Goose necked barnacles, not a pirate curse but treasured by Gallegos. Mornington mussels hereabouts maybe.

13% alcohol. Cork. 412 gms of glass. $40 rrp.

91 points.

2016 Bodegas Godelia Viernes Mencia Bierzo

Viernes is Friday in Spanish, this got opened on the day and finished on Saturday. Seems like everyday is casual Friday these days. Bit muddy to open but as it aired freshness came. Poised mid weight, Tart just picked raspberries and all sorts of red fruit served on a glistening slab of wet granite tannin and serious mouthwatering acidity. Bit of extra sweet ripe depth adds dimension. Mencia seems to fill that gap between glossy Gamay and sturdy Syrah, best of both in some ways. Although Bierzo’s just outside Galicia on the map, it leans close. Distinctive geography with its own delicious grape. Bit of pig would add to the flavour grunt.

14% alcohol. Screw cap, and little reduction despite the cork lobby. 412 gms of glass, bravo. Part of an iso bargain pack, lost the electronic receipt.

93 points, lovely grapes.

2014 Joan D’Anguera Montsant

A bit of lacklustre googling suggests this might be equal parts Grenache and Syrah. Señor D’Anguera’s website is not exactly comprehensive. The wine in the glass leaves no doubt it follows the trend for less extraction, less ripeness, less oak and lots of stems. More Montsant Morey St Denis, sort of. Starts a little reductive, sulphur and rocks, opens out to sappy cherry and strawberry and some distinctly savoury yeasty lees and old wood. Over a day or two, the struck flint persists and the fruit darkens to almost a dried fruit sweetness. The chalky acidity and stalk tannin sit high. It’s all almost too wild, savoury and stalky acidic but given the amount of good olive oil in Spanish cooking, it makes itself useful. So differed to the oaky ripeness of the recent Can Blau. Such lovely crisp red fruit, sort of Etna Rosso for another odd comparison, probably more Montsant in its own right.

13.5% alcohol. Cork. 548 gms of glass. $28 at auction.

A wild spread of 91 to 94 points.

2013 Can Blau Montsant

The complication of different names in Catalan and Spanish, or probably more correctly Castellano, gets very confusing. The label here says a blend of Mazuelo, aka Cariñena or Samsò or Carignan, Syrah and Garnacha, aka Garnatxa etc… Why they chose the Rioja name for Carignan, who knows? Maybe it’s because they’re trying to emulate the full whack oak barrel, very ripe Riojas popular in some markets? Despite the aspiration, there’s balsamic lifted dark cherries and sweet roasting pan juices riding soft tannin and acidity verging on the succulent. A sooty rocky depth lurks too. Somehow making it balanced despite the lemony oak and generous ripeness. Some place, some grapes.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 724 gms of glass to impress. $30 at auction.

92 points.

2018 Serra i Barcelo Aucalà Garnatxa Negra Terra Alta

Yes, yet more Grenache. This from the rugged country around Priorat again. Spotless, bright Spanish Burgundy by inadequate comparison. So fragrant with a red fruit that’s sort of like ripe cherries, deep dark raspberries and wild strawberry whizzed up with some floral perfumes. All cut into shape and kept lip smackingly tart by stony acidity and fine powder tannin. Must confess to writing whoo hoo at the end of my scribbled note. Well, it’s got such energy and stayed delicious over three days, it made me squeak with pleasure.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 593 gms of glass. $27.

92 then 93 just medium weight points.

2016 Celler Cecilio Negre Priorat

60% Garnatxa Roja, normal Grenache not Alicante Bouchet I think, and 20% each of Caranyena, or Carignan, and Syrah, thought the Catalans would have their own name for that too? Opens a bit sulphur reductive which never completely clears lending a not disagreeable meaty edge, not too bitter. It’s in the mouth though where things really take off. There’s what seems to be typical Priorat kirsch and sooty fireplace, all so soft and comfortable. Sweet roasting pan juices, some woody herbs and a twist of liquorice too. It’s the rich but not leathery fruit and the cushion of cocoa tannin on a bed of juicy acidity that makes these wines from the near unpronounceable llicorella soil so good and full of character. What I can say, delicious.

14.5% alcohol. Cork. 416 gms of glass. Not sure of the price as it was part of a multi bottle swap, sadly not cheap but compared to Bdx and other Bs relative value.

94 points.

2018 Tandem Bólido Navarra Tempranillo

One of those bottles that confounds first and even second impressions. Over three days it started with slightly dull cola, red cherry and toffee with a little bitter sulphide to finish. Good Tempranillo grip and acid though. It then swerved to show a green herby edge souring the end. Not so keen. Didn’t quite give up, back in the fridge and upon the third day ripe cherry and plum flavours appeared with a good smear of savoury almond paste on a strong finish. Even at this budget level, it seems grunty robust Tempranillo needs a lot of oxygen. Glad I waited.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 410 gms of glass. $13.30 in a direct import six from Dan Murphy’s.

Started 88, sunk to 86 and finished 91.

2017 Enrique Mendoza La Tremenda Alicante Monastrell

Mataro by another name would still be Mourvèdre. From the dry hinterland behind the horror of the Costa Blanca comes a suave, clean version of the grape that’s doesn’t mind a bit of sunshine itself. Dark cherries, honey biscuits and sort of maple syrup without the sweetness of course. Under the gentle extraction lurks a little of that Spanish iron ruggedness. Upon the second day, there’s more heft. Dark dried fruit, soot and dry scrub, sweetened by cherry, liquorice and new leather. Tannins and acid well judged for somewhere so apparently dry and hot, no bull in the ceramic outlet. Bit of a sexy beast really, innit.

14% alcohol. Diam. Bargain as part of the wholesaler’s clearance.

Started 90 ended 92 points.

2018 Bodegas Más Que Vinos Tempranillo Joven

From near the beautiful city of Toledo, Tempranillo vineyards found on La Mesa de Ocaña at some altitude. I must admit to most liking Grenache and Mencía in things Español but it would be impossible to love Spain and not indulge in the reliably sturdy Tempranillo. So many interpretations, some overwrought, the unoaked young one is a great place to start. It’s oft said there’s one flavour in Tempranillo that gives it away, cola. Having avoided Atlanta’s favourite sweet fizzy drink for more than thirty years, its main flavour lurks here maybe? Without the nose tingling fizz or sugar. Slabs of cherry and strawberry, drizzled with dark burnt caramel. Large grains of sweet ripe tannin dragged along on settled firm acidity. Didn’t budge over a couple of days. Brawny, perhaps a bit chunky, but satisfying. As an introduction to Spanish wine, Tempranillo is the place to start for sure.

13.5% alcohol. Diam. $21.

90 solid points.

2016 Veronica Ortega Quite Bierzo Mencía

Perhaps the best red grape revival from Spain in recents decades? From the apparently tiny village of Valtuille comes a fresh, clean, deliciously red fruited version. Opens with a quick to evaporate touch of green tinged reduction. Then red currants and raspberries morph to mulberries with an almost incense like lift, brisk and crisp, nice and clean. Second day, the glistening fruit gets redder than red with a chew of toffee. Oddly the texture made me think of a lean and sinewy cyclist ripping along a bitumen path cut through shining granite. Weird mind, graceful wine. Quite nice.

13% alcohol. Cork. $30.

92 points.