Spain, I love you.  Here are two totally different wines, both under $20.  Spain is a mix of traditional and modern, as I have touched on before.  Can you guess which wine is the new school and which is the old school by the labels? Pretty easy to figure out, even if you don’t have a design degree.  (I photographed them in front of my Virgen del Carmen painting, thought it was fitting!)  The labels are both beautiful in their own way and I really appreciate the design of both.  I also really appreciate both of these wines, though they really could not be more different.  And while the new school version would probably be most peoples choice here, including mine, do not discount the old school.  If you taste the old school, you will certainly recognize some of the flavors in the new school.  Hopefully.  Hopefully, because I think the best modern wines in Spain have not lost sight of the traditional.  They should aim to marry the terroir and grape varieties of Spain with modern vilification techniques.  So here are the two Spanish gems, both readily available in the $10-$20 price range.  Search and Enjoy!

Primitivo Quiles “Cono 4″ $10.99

This bottling of Primitivo Quiles “Cono 4″ was purchased at one of my favorite wine shops in NYC, Chambers Street Wines.  This wine is made 100% from the Monastrell grape which is also known as Mourvèdre or Mataró.  There are flavors of fig, truffle, medicinal herbs, pine, caramel, candle wax and chestnut.  There is a light strawberry syrup note as well, but this wine is more on the funkier side rather than the fruitier side.  This is a very distinctive wine made in a slightly oxidized style.  And while I like this wine a lot, they have a slightly higher end cuveé which retails for about $20-$25 called “Raspay,” which is one of my favorite all time wines.  It is has a bit more of a bright fruit character than this wine and is well worth seeking out.  I plan to review the “Raspay” as some point very soon as I have a few bottles tucked away of this unique wine.  RECOMMENDED

Mira Salinas 2005 $15-$23

I purchased a case of this wine last year after having a bottle.  I do not remember where I had the first bottle or where I purchased it from, and I went back and tried to track it down, but to no avail.  I may have purchased it from PJ Wines, as they have an excellent selection of Spanish wines, though their price of $22.99 seems a bit high, especially since Zachy’s, which also serves the New York City area has it for only $15, which is a much better deal!  Both of these shops are a bit out of the way but offer Manhattan delivery.  It pays to shop around!  This is a pretty big wine, especially for the price.  It is 15% alcohol, but does not taste too alcoholic and it is not too jammy either.  It is pretty well balanced, though I think the substantial tannins will benefit from a few more years in bottle to allow them to mellow.  I see the wine drinking well over the next 5-10 years.  But it is tempting now, with a fairly hedonistic nose of cinnamon, vanilla, dark cherry fruit and toasty oak.  There are also flavors of plum and chocolate in this deep crimson colored wine.  It starts out like a much pricier California Cabernet or Zinfandel, but begins to shed that character a bit to reveal more of its Spanish terroir the longer it is open.  The more earthy elements begin to emerge after the initial hedonism subsides.  This wine is a blend of 65% Monastrell, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Garnacha, and is aged for 20 months in French oak, 60-70% new.  This wine is a pleasure to drink, and anyone could appreciate it’s charms.  Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate rated this wine 93 Points, not bad for under $20!  I am pretty close on this one too.  RECOMMENDED