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Bodegas Olivares Dulce Monastrell 2013 (500 ml) Compania de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez Gago, Toro 2013 (750 ml) Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva 2007 (750 ml)
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)
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)
Bodegas Protos 27, Ribera del Duero 2015 (750 ml) Bodegas Protos Reserva, Ribera del Duero 2013 (750 ml) Bodegas Ramirez Rioja Ramirez de la Piscina Gran Reserva 2010 (750 ml)
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)
GRAPE VARIETY Tempranillo 100 %

VINEYARDS More than 40 years old.

AGING 18 months in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels and 18 months in bottle.

COLOR Intense bright dark cherry color with garnet rim.

NOSE Powerful, black fruits with nice toasty notes, spicy, creamy oak, complex and elegant.

TASTE Powerful, flavorful, toasty, round tannins, good acidity, fruity and spicy. Good backbone and lingering finish.
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)
Vivanco Coleccion Vivanco Dulce de Invierno 4 Varietales, Rioja 2013 (375 ml) Familia Nin-Ortiz 'Planetes de Nin', Priorat 2014 (750 ml) Vatan Tinta de Toro 2015 (750 ml)
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.
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 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)
Bodegas LAN Edicion Limitada 2015 (750 ml) Bodegas Protos Gran Reserva, Ribera del Duero 2011 (750 ml) Bodegas LAN Culmen Reserva 2011 (750 ml)
JS 93, WS 90

This bold red shows blackberry, boysenberry and plum flavors, backed by licorice, cocoa and sandalwood notes. Firm tannins and citrusy acidity keep this balanced. In the modern style. Drink now through 2030.

- Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator (Aug, 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) 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)
Dominio de Pingus Flor de Pingus 2016 (750 ml) Bodegas Muga Torre Muga, Rioja 2014 (750 ml) Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2009 (750 ml)
WA 93-95

I caught the 2016 Flor de Pingus days before it was due for bottling, so what I tasted was the final blend (done after the time in barrel was over) that was just settling in tank before being bottled. The paradox of 2016 is that it was a warm year, but the resulting wines have great freshness, which also happened in 1996 (one of my favorite old vintages of Pingus). The yields were higher, which brought more freshness to the wines; and the wines are airier and not as compact as, for example, 2015. In fact, what they have been doing for some time now is to work in viticulture—the pruning and what you do with the canopy—to achieve slightly higher yields and get the plants to balance, because as you increase the yields, the ripening takes longer. Even though it's young, this shows amazing perfume that should bloom with a year in bottle. This has all the signals to become one of the greatest vintages of Flor de Pingus.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Aug, 2018)
WA 94

There was no 2012 or 2013 produced, so we jumped from the 2011 to the 2014 Torre Muga, a blend of 70% Tempranillo, 20% Graciano and 10% Mazuelo from the middle of the slope in the village of Villalba de Rioja (where the Muga family comes from). It combines the freshness of the higher-altitude vineyards of the Prado Enea with the power of the lower ones used for the Muga range. It fermented in oak vats and had a shorter élevage of only 15 months (it used to be more), and the different varieties were kept separated until the penultimate racking when they were blended. There is more volume here and some more spice from the élevage, with an open and expressive nose. It's medium-bodied with some fine tannins and less weight in the mid-palate than other vintages.

- Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (Feb, 2018)
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)
Dominio de Pingus 'Pingus', Ribera del Duero 2015 (750 ml)
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)