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Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez Gago, Toro 2013 (750 ml) Bodegas Olivares Dulce Monastrell 2013 (500 ml) Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva 2007 (750 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)
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)
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)
Prado Rey Elite, Ribera del Duero 2009 (750 ml) Bodegas Protos 27, Ribera del Duero 2015 (750 ml) Bodegas Protos Reserva, Ribera del Duero 2012 (750 ml)
WA 92, WS 91

The 2009 Elite Tinta Fina has a lot to live up to its name. This 100% Tinta Fina was aged for 14 months in new oak and does have a lovely, rounded, pure bouquet of macerated red cherries, wild strawberry and judicious creamy oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, impressive purity and a stylish crescendo of raspberry and fresh strawberry fruit underpinned by crisp acidity. This is a delicious, very well-crafted Tinta Fino. Drink 2013-2020+.

The Real Sitio de Ventosilla estate dates back to the 16th century but its vines only began to be planted in 1989 and a winery constructed seven years later.

- Neal Martin, Wine Advocate (Feb, 2013)
WA 89, WE 88

Cherry and boysenberry flavors mingle with black olive and smoky notes in this plush red. Features light, firm tannins and balsamic acidity. A bit reserved, but balanced, with good depth. Drink now through 2024.

- Michael Schachner, Wine Enthusiast (June, 2018)
WS 91, WE 90

This red has focus and depth, in an austere style that remains balanced and fresh. Black cherry fruit lurks beneath espresso, licorice and black pepper flavors, supported by firm, well-integrated tannins and juicy acidity. Drink now through 2022.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (Nov, 2017)
Bodegas Ramirez Rioja Ramirez de la Piscina Gran Reserva 2010 (750 ml) Vivanco Coleccion Vivanco Dulce de Invierno 4 Varietales, Rioja 2013 (375 ml) Vatan Tinta de Toro 2015 (750 ml)
JS 94, 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)
The Coleccion wines from Dinastia Vivanco are limited-production wines that capture the essence of traditional Rioja grape varieties and their cultivation in extraordinary terroirs. The personality of each wine is distinguished on the label by an original piece of art from the family’s collection on display at the museum. A late harvest blend of Tempranillo, Graciano, Garnacha, and Mazuelo, yields are extremely low. Intense aromas of crystallized fruit, dried peaches, orange marmalade, and quince jelly are framed by delicate floral and cocoa notes. The sweetness is balanced by fresh acidity. Each varietal is vinified separately in large French oak vats, then aged 12 months on the lees in French oak barrels.
WS 92

This rich red leads off with smoky notes of espresso and tar, accenting a core of ripe currant, licorice and iron. The palate is dense, with muscular tannins and balsamic acidity. Austere but harmonious. Drink now through 2030.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (Aug, 2018)
Familia Nin-Ortiz 'Planetes de Nin', Priorat 2014 (750 ml) Bodegas LAN Edicion Limitada 2013 (750 ml) Bodegas Muga Rioja Selección Especial Reserva 2012 (750 ml)
WA 94

Similarly, the 2014 Planetes de Nin is a blend of Garnacha and Cariñena, but the percentages were reversed, 40% of the former and 60% of the later; they had taken some Garnacha for the amphora wine and therefore the Planetes has less of it. It's ripe, a little heady (15.5% alcohol) but with good freshness and acidity. It matured in two large oak foudres and amphorae for 17 months. It might not be your typical Porrera, because it's certainly a lot more elegant, perfumed and refined. The palate is equally elegant, with subtle minerality and great freshness.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Oct, 2016)
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)
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)
Vivanco Coleccion Vivanco 4 Varietales, Rioja 2014 (750 ml) Bodegas Protos Gran Reserva, Ribera del Duero 2011 (750 ml) Bodegas LAN Culmen Reserva 2011 (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)
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)
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)
Bodegas Mas Alta La Basseta Priorat, Priorat 2012 (750 ml) Bodegas Muga Torre Muga, Rioja 2011 (750 ml) Vivanco Coleccion  Rioja Parcelas de Garnacha 2011 (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)
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)
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)
Bodegas Muga 'Prado Enea' Gran Reserva 2010 (750 ml) Clos Mogador 'Manyetes' Vi de Vila Gratallops, Priorat 2014 (750 ml) Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus 2015 (750 ml)
WA 97, WS 94

I was really looking forward to the 2010 Prado Enea Gran Reserva, as I've seen a very good improvement in this cuvée in the last few vintages, and 2010 is one of the more-balanced vintages of recent times. This is the most classical among the wines in the portfolio, the one with the longer élevage, a little bit like the wines from yesteryear but with today's knowledge about vineyards and vinification/élevage. This has settled to a blend of approximately 70% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha and the remaining 10% between Mazuelo and Graciano, from the cooler, higher-altitude vineyards, which means they only bottle it every two or three years. In recent years, 2007 and 2008 were not bottled. It ferments in small oak vats built by their own tonneliers, and they like to delay malolactic until the spring by opening the windows so the cold from outside comes into the winery. For the aging, each variety goes into separate barrels racked from newer to older barrels to complete some 36 months or three years. It has very healthy and balanced parameters, and that's what the wine feels like.

It's still young. It's never a dark wine, more of a ruby or bright color, and it has a nose of youth, subtle and elegant. But the quality shows in the unbelievable elegance and harmony on the palate, where the tannins are very fine, the flavors are subtle but deep and the length is just phenomenal. This is only medium-bodied, with perfect ripeness and integrated acidity. This should have a very long life in bottle, especially as I had the chance to check the evolution of the 2004 next to this. 90,000 bottles were produced from 2010. The following vintages will be 2011, 2014 (a small bottling) and 2015.

- Luis Guttierez, Wine Advocate (Feb, 2018)
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)
JS 95, WA 94

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
Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2009 (750 ml) Bodegas El Nido 'El Nido', Jumilla 2015 (750 ml) Dominio de Pingus 'Pingus', Ribera del Duero 2015 (750 ml)
WA 96, WS 94

Marqués de Murrieta didn't produce their top red in 2008, so I tasted the 2009 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial. In 2009, the final blend was Tempranillo with 19% Mazuelo (or Cariñena), one of the highest percentages of Mazuelo ever. The grapes are now sourced from the La Plana vineyard within the Ygay estate, one of the higher-altitude plots at 485 meters. The grapes fermented and aged separately, the Tempranillo in American oak barrels and the Mazuelo in French barriques for 26 months, given its power. It has that seriousness, character and somehow rusticity of the Mazuelo, austere, harmonious and still young. It has good depth and concentration, still young and lively with fine tannins and a backbone of freshness that lifts it up. It will develop for a very long time in bottle. This is a great classical Rioja for the long haul.

- Luis Guiterrez, Wine Advocate (Feb, 2018)
WA 95, WS 93

This bold, modern-style red is powerful yet remains balanced, offering currant and blackberry flavors that mingle with espresso, black pepper and mineral notes. The polished texture is supported by full but well-integrated tannins and balsamic acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon and Monastrell. Drink now through 2025.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (2018)
WA 99, JS 97

Peter Sisseck was ecstatic about the quality of the 2015 Pingus. Since he no longer uses any new oak—and hasn't since 2012—the élevage in used wood is extended to 23 or 24 months. This is the first vintage certified as biodynamic from Demeter. We poured the wine and took half an hour to get to it, as the wine was very closed at first and opened up very slowly in the glass. Little by little, the nose started showing a floral character, what I consider the perfume of great Ribera del Duero, the elegant part that compensates the powerful nature of the wines and gives the finesse to the best wines.

The wine has been very consistent in the last few vintages, as Sisseck reckons the old but balanced vines (they started working in biodynamics in 2000) cushion the vintage differences more than other younger vineyards. These vines were planted in 1929, and they have always been farmed organically and in a traditional way. This is truly outstanding. In a way, it made me think of 2010, even if they are very different years. It was bottled in August 2017, and there are some 6,500 bottles of this gem. Even if very young, it already drinks well. Great wines tend to be drinkable throughout their life...

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Aug, 2018)