This wine certainly meets most of my criteria for an artisan wine. It's produced from vineyards up to 100 years old grown on slate soil in a mountainous region of northeast Spain. The estate was scouted out by a colleague of U.S. importer Eric Solomon who is herself a native of the region and knows the growers. The wine is 100 percent Garnacha (Grenache), and it retails for about $10 a bottle. The other side of the coin is that the beautiful blue label and capsule, with stylish design and typography, are obvious products of a marketing-savvy American importer. I was anxious to see what was in the bottle, but I saved it for an occasion when my son, who shares my enthusiasm for traditional Spanish wines, could enjoy it with me.
The color is very dark, almost opaque, leading me to believe the wine has had at least some exposure to new oak or small barriques. The intense aromas also seem somewhat oak-influenced although they also offer typical old vine Grenache notes of blueberries, raspberries, and Kirsch. There is a haunting spiciness in the complex flavors and a hint of pepper on the concentrated finish. There is also a bit of alcoholic warmth (14.5%) and some thick, dark, raisined qualities on the palate that strike me as a bit overdone. My son agrees: yes, it may have rustic origins, but the wine has a decided modernist bent. That's not all bad; I like the wine, but not as wholeheartedly as some of the critics who have called it an outrageous value at $10. In fact, I prefer the more complex and less flamboyant Vina Alarba Calatayud Old Vine Grenache that is nearly always available for $6 to $8 at Cost Plus World Market.