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Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez Gago, Toro 2013 (750 ml) Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva 2007 (750 ml) Bodegas Olivares Dulce Monastrell 2013 (500 ml)
WS 92

Thick, solid and balanced, this red delivers plum, cola and tarry flavors. Ripe but savory, supported by muscular tannins and balsamic acidity. Rich and a bit austere now, but has depth. Decant. Drink now through 2028. 75 cases imported.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (Sept, 2016)
WE 91

Dry, leafy aromas of tobacco, herbs, wood smoke, raspberry and cherry are classic Rioja. This has a mature, smooth, silky feel to it, although acidity is present and accounted for. Flavors of spiced tomato, vanilla, berry, brine and tobacco finish earthy and loamy. Drink through 2019.

- Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast (Nov, 2014)
WA 93

I've been waiting for a while to taste their sweet red. This time, I sampled the 2013 Dulce Monastrell, a wine that started the category of sweet Monastrell in Spain. They do long macerations in concrete vats, and the fermentation with indigenous yeasts is stopped, thus adding alcohol. It's bottled with 16% alcohol and 200 grams of sugar. The wine was bottled in June 2014, and they have been waiting to released it, as the wine is aged in bottle. It doesn't even see any oak. The nose is immediately recognizable as Olivares, with the signature aromas of sun-dried tomatoes and black olives intermixed with thyme, lavender and rosemary. The palate is juicy, soft and lush, with good balance between acidity and sweetness. 31,000 bottles produced.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Dec, 2017)
Vatan Tinta de Toro 2012 (750 ml) Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2009 (750 ml) Alvaro Palacios 'Les Terrasses' Velles Vinyes, Priorat 2015 (750 ml)
IWC 93, WE 92, WA 91

There is a new top-of-the-range produced in Toro starting with this vintage, the 2012 Vatan, made from older vines on different soils, clay and sand mainly; it fermented in open top stainless steel vats with indigenous yeasts and matured in brand new, luxury French oak barrels for some 21 months. Curiously enough, this 2012 feels oakier and warmer than the 2013, while it has 1.5% less alcohol. There are some aromas of esparto grass and plenty of smoky, earthy, peat-like notes and other Mediterranean herbs (thyme, rosemary) alongside attractive balsamic notes. It is developing pungent, smokier, roasted nuances (coffee, dark chocolate) with time in the glass. The wine is named after a small river in Toro; it's not at all related to the cult-producer from Sancerre. The palate is full-bodied with some dusty, slightly drying tannins. It ends dry. It might need a little bit more time, but the quality of the tannins does not seem to reach that of the 2013. The oak is much more noticeable in the 2012 than in the 2013. 9,000 bottles were filled in September 2014.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Oct, 2015)
WA 91

The 2009 Finca Valpiedra Reserva had something of a Bordeaux air to it, with tobacco leaf aromas intermixed with blackberries and a minty touch. It must have been the 4% Maturana Tinta that complemented the 92% Tempranillo and 4% Graciano that made up the blend. Save that, the rest is quite updated classic Rioja, the spiciness from the oak and the polished mouthfeel. It matured in French oak barrels for some 22 months. Cleaner and fresher than previous vintages I tasted.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Aug, 2016)
WA 93, WS 93

The 2013 Les Terrasses Velles Vinyes, from a rainy year and a late harvest that resulted in perfect ripeness and low yields, is a blend of 55% Garnacha and 45% Cariñena. You might find labels and literature referring Cariñena to as Samsó, something that is wrong and creates confusion since Samsó is the Catalan name for Cinsault. The grapes are sourced from different villages (Gratallops, La Vilella Baixa, Bellmunt, El Lloar, El Molar, Porrera, Scala Dei, Torroja and Poboleda) all of them grown on schist llicorella soils, fermented in a combination of oak and cement vats with natural yeasts and matured in barrique for one year.

It has a meaty nose with aromas that transported me to the Northern Rhône, showing smoky bacon intermixed with violets and really well-integrated oak resulting in a very fine and elegant impression. It seems more refined than other vintages of Les Terrasses, lighter and more elegant with none of the volatility or oak of yesteryear. It is really fine, polished and is without edges. Somehow within the Atlantic vintage you can see the Mediterranean character. Awesome Terrasses and good value for Priorat.


- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
Bodegas Muga Rioja Selección Especial Reserva 2012 (750 ml) Bodegas Ramirez Rioja Ramirez de la Piscina Gran Reserva 2010 (750 ml) Bodegas Hermanos Pecina Senorio de P. Pecina Gran Reserva, Rioja 2009 (750 ml)
WA 92+

I had the chance to taste two vintages next to each other of the "special selection" red, the younger of which was the 2012 Selección Especial. It's from a dry and warm year where the canopy management and the absence of cover crop resulted in a fresher wine than anticipated. This is always a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo, usually from older, poorer terraces and older vines, fermented in oak vats and aged in new barriques and then racked to neutral, used barrels. There was a small crop but they harvested late (they tend to have their vineyards in cooler zones), and they saw rains at the end of the harvest, so they didn't produce Torre Muga or Prado Enea, and they even produced less of this. It has perfect ripeness, aromas of spices and noble woods. It has a polished, sleek palate with fine tannins and good freshness. This is very good within the context.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Feb, 2018)
WE 90

Heavily roasted aromas of gamy berry fruits, herbs and coconutty oak settle on charred. This wine is bulky and a touch stewed and soupy in feel. Oaky flavors of chocolate, baked berry and cassis end with chocolaty oak on a finish that's heavy and lacking in verve. Drink through 2024.

- Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast (April, 2018)
WA 94

There is one more exceptional red with an extended aging in barrel that was only produced in 1998, 2001 and 2003, and now in this 2009 Señorío de P. Peciña Gran Reserva. It is the usual Tempranillo with 3% Garnacha and 2% Graciano, but in this case from 50-year-old vines from their Finca Iscorta vineyard in the Sonsierra zone. The wine is aged in well-seasoned American oak barrels for four years with manual and gravity racking twice per year. If the nose could somehow remind you of the 2009 Reserva, this is more open and aromatic, more nuanced, and the palate also shows a level of complexity and refinement that makes it much more enjoyable, with polished tannins and great length. While it's not a wimp, it doesn't overload your senses. A great and classical Gran Reserva. 15,000 bottles were filled in September 2013.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Aug, 2016)
Bodegas LAN Edicion Limitada 2013 (750 ml) Albet i Noya Reserva Marti, Penedes 2009 (750 ml) Bodegas Protos Gran Reserva, Ribera del Duero 2011 (750 ml)
WS 94

This inky red is ripe and concentrated, with currant, kirsch and boysenberry flavors, framed by espresso, licorice and black pepper notes. Well-integrated tannins support the fleshy texture, while citrusy acidity keeps this lively. Expressive and balanced, in the modern style. Best from 2018 through 2028.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (Dec, 2017)
JS 92

Some bell pepper, but a lot of spice too. This is a cool wine with a nice freshness alongside the ripe flavors and tannins. Good length. Drink now.

- James Suckling

JS 94, WE 93

Full-throttle oak, vanilla, tobacco and smoky blackberry aromas feed into a full, grippy but surprisingly fresh palate. Toasty oak, blackberry and spice flavors finish long and steady. Drink this excellent Tempranillo from a powerful vintage through 2025.

- Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast (Aug, 2017)
Vivanco Coleccion Vivanco 4 Varietales, Rioja 2014 (750 ml) Bodegas LAN Culmen Reserva 2011 (750 ml) Bodegas Muga 'Prado Enea' Gran Reserva 2009 (750 ml)
WA 91+

The 2014 Colección 4 Varietales is a blend of the four varieties in the Colección line, in similar proportions each vintage. This is 70% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 10% Garnacha and 5% Mazuelo, quite a classical blend, with perhaps a little more Graciano. Each variety fermented separately in oak vats with indigenous yeasts and moved to barrique for malolactic and 14 months of aging. It's modern and clean with moderate oak, slightly spicy with a mixture of red and black fruit. It has very good balance, a medium body and fine tannins with moderate acidity.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Feb, 2018)
WS 92

This generous and harmonious red is dense and smooth, delivering rich, deep flavors of plum, blackberry, coffee and mineral, with well-integrated tannins and balsamic acidity keeping it focused, but it stays plush through the spicy finish. Drink now through 2023.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (June, 2017)
WA 96, WE 95, WS 93

The most classic cuvée was not produced in 2007 or 2008, so we jumped to the phenomenal 2009 Prado Enea. It was produced with grapes from cooler vineyards that enjoyed 20 extra days of slow ripening compared with warmer zones, which provided them with perfect ripeness and deep flavors. This blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and the remaining 10% between Mazuelo and Graciano had an extended élevage, in this case no less than three years (alternating newer and older barrels). This is still a baby and I know Winemaker Jorge Muga would like to keep it in bottle for longer before selling it, but the commercial pressure is tremendous, as there has been no wine since 2006. The wine has 14.1% alcohol and a surprising 3.34 pH, especially considering 2009 was generally a warm and ripe year. But somehow this cuvée seems to work very well in ripe vintages.

The wine feels even younger on the palate, and it still needs to develop some further complexity and the silky texture for which this wine is famous. There is good balance here and all the elements are in place for a nice development in bottle. In fact, it feels like one of the great recent vintages of Prado Enea. There will be no Prado Enea in 2012 and 2013 either, but it's produced in 2010, 2014 (small quantities) and 2015. At this quality level, the price seems like a real bargain.

- Luis Guttierez, Wine Advocate (Aug, 2016)
Bodegas Mas Alta La Basseta Priorat, Priorat 2012 (750 ml) Vivanco Coleccion  Rioja Parcelas de Garnacha 2011 (750 ml) Clos Mogador 'Manyetes' Vi de Vila Gratallops, Priorat 2014 (750 ml)
WA 94

The 2012 La Basseta has a high percentage of Garnacha from a high-altitude vineyard in Vilella Alta that lends the wine a fresh nose of red fruit, orange peel and Mediterranean herbs that is quite harmonious and elegant, with imperceptible oak. The fleshy and supple palate is medium to full-bodied, has very fine tannins and good freshness, and nothing heavy about it. 2,765 bottles produced.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (June, 2015)
WA 90

The Vivanco Parcelas 2011 Coleccion Garnacha suffered in comparison to the wines from 2012. This 2011 shows riper with hints of Mediterranean herbs (think esparto grass) and the subtle aromas of the grape seems to have vanished with the ripeness, leaving you with notes of dark plums and hints of raisins.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (April, 2015)
WA 98

The blend of the top-of-the-range and flagship red changes with the vintage. The 2014 Clos Mogador is 49% Garnacha, 25% Cariñena, 16% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyard that names the wine (and the winery), planted on llicorella slate soils at 350 meters in altitude. Eighty percent of the vines are 25 to 35 years old. It fermented with indigenous yeasts and had a 35- to 45-day maceration, followed by an élevage in 300-liter barrels and 2,000-liter foudres that lasted 18 months. They introduced oak foudres in 2011, which is the big change, and they use less and less barriques now. They are also using more and more Cariñena and Garnacha, but it depends on the vintage. All of the more recent wines have less tannins from the oak and less Cabernet Sauvignon, and they feel more elegant and balanced.

There is great harmony on the palate, with very fine tannins and a velvety texture with great seriousness. This will develop at a very slow pace in bottle. They picked the grapes before the rains, and it's a concentrated year with nice extract but very good acidity. 31,000 bottles were filled in late June 2016.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (April, 2018)
Bodegas Muga Torre Muga, Rioja 2011 (750 ml) Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus 2015 (750 ml) Dominio de Pingus 'Pingus', Ribera del Duero 2015 (750 ml)
WE 96, WA 95

The Mugas are happy with the 2011 harvest. The 2011 Torre Muga is a dark-colored, almost opaque, ripe and concentrated effort. (It contains the Tempranillo that would normally be part of the Aro, and was not produced because they didn't get the Graciano they needed.) They are selling this very young (but still, it will not be released until around September 2015). It is quite heady with aromas of ripe plums, spices, lead pencil, ink and well-integrated oak. The palate is full-bodied, round and lush with plenty of dense and concentrated tannins that feel very young. If you have in mind the Torre Muga from the beginning, this has a lot less oak and is less extracted; it has much better balance. As usual, it's a blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, Mazuelo and others, from a very cold zone close to the Oja-Tirón rivers, which might explain why this wine is so fresh in such warm vintage. There will be no Torre Muga in 2012 or 2013, and possibly very little 2014. So stock up on this if you want a wine like it, because it will keep and develop well in bottle. 32,000 bottles produced.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (April, 2015)
JS 95

Almost black-purple color. Dense black fruits aromas, fine oak and elegant dry tannins that are beautifuly integrated in the rich body. The long finish is already graceful thanks to the spot-on balance.

- James Suckling
JS 97

Extremely deep black-purple color. Concentrated and tannic, but also super-fresh. This needs a few years to open up fully, but the balance is already very impressive. The finish is long and very polished. Leave four or five years to soften.

- James Suckling