Selections for June 2016

Where virtually no tourist goes . . .

2012 ARMANTES OLD VINE GARNACHA / TEMPRANILLO – Calatayud, Spain

Grill something, quick! 

Thislush and spicy red isn’t necessarily as big in body as the next one we’ll describe, but it possesses good truth of place and grape to make up for it.  This is a no-oak blend of 90% Garnacha (Spain’s Grenache) and 10% Tempranillo.  It is inexpensive because it comes from a cooperative within a tiny pueblo a few kilometers west of the large town / small city of Calatayud.  Here, people with rather simple lifestyles work their five or ten acre plots of grapes, peaches, almonds, olives, or cherries and submit them to the cooperative in town.  They are compensated according to their provision, calculated by weight and quality.  . . . And life goes on, simply.  – Except these pueblos (nearly all throughout Spain) are ever-shrinking as the youngsters head off to the cities for more lucrative and exciting ventures.  In this province of Zaragoza the pueblos are rarely visited by outsiders pretty much for the same reason:  “What’s so exciting about a dusty old pueblo, compared with the city lights of Barcelona and Madrid?”

For me, plenty.  First of all, it’s refreshing to discover and observe a less hurried, seemingly more easily satisfied way of life happening somewhere out there.  The wines from here behave the same:  Not overly profound but offering real personality for the money.  The history?  There’s plenty of that if you know what to look for.  Research “Mudejar Architecture” and you’ll understand why the centuries-old churches in the middle of each pueblo feature a very distinctive look. 

I first saw the region of Calatayud with its ancient vines and weather-beaten pueblos courtesy of the importer who brings us this Armantes wine.  Call me crazy: I have been back four times.        

The Richer Red

2014 RUBUS PROPRIETARY RESERVE RED – South Australia

Let’s deliver some pleasure.  Here is darkness and richness happening in abundance.  If we’re missing out on the aspect of “place” this time around, who cares?  The idea with this Rubus is otherwise.

This wine has much to say about esoteric grape varieties, and its Importer Fran Kysela’s own website will report on it:

“The Blend is 44% Rubired, 31% Durif and 25% Shiraz.

Rubired is a cross between Tinto Cao and Alicante Ganzin (which is itself a cross between Alicante Bouschet and Aramon Rupestris Ganzin). It is known for being particularly adapted to the hot climate and producing dark wines, as the color is not only coming from the grape's skin, but also from the grape juice itself. It was developed in 1958 by H.P. Olmo of the University of California Davis.

Durif, also known as Petite Sirah, is also a cross of two different grape varietals: Syrah and Peloursin. It was created by French botanist François Durif in 1860 while keeping Syrah and Peloursin plants under the same roof; it happened from a natural process called "cross-pollination." The grape itself is known for its very aromatic, plummy character.

Shiraz, which we all know for being the most recognized grape varietal of Australia, brings some minty, spicy and fruity characteristics to the wines.”

We hope you enjoy this unabashed crowd pleaser and return for more!