Bodegas Las Orcas, Decenio Crianza 2004 Rioja

Astor Wines, $17.99

Bodegas Las Orcas is a great little new discovery.  I first had a bottle of the 2001 Decenio at Mercat, a great Spanish restaurant here in New York.  I tracked down the current vintage on release which is the 2004.  This is a Crianza* Rioja that is done in a more traditional style but which is easily appealing to anyone who loves Spanish wines or Rioja.  Rioja’s are typically made from the Tempranillo grape, with the possibility of a few other grapes blended in in smaller quantities.  The wine is medium bodied with notes of toasted oak, cinnamon, and ripe heirloom tomato.  There are also hints of dark cherry, candied plums, and chocolate.  There is still a fair bit of tannin, which should mellow over the next few years, but has a nice round mouth feel as the tannins melt away.  RECOMMENDED

*Crianza wines require aging in oak barrels at least 12 months with at least another year in the bottle. Reserva wines require 36 months aging between barrel and bottle, with at least 12 months in barrel. Gran Reserva wines require 24 months aging in barrel and a further 36 months in bottle before release.

Mas d’en Gil Priorat, 2002 Clos Fontá

Le Du Wines, $45.99

Another great and interesting wine from the Priorat region in Spain.  The Priorat region is in Catalunya, outside Barcelona.  This wine is a little on the pricier side, but it is an experience.  Even though it is a 2002 and has a little age on it, it is still a very youthful wine with very firm tannins.  When we first opened the bottle it was very closed on the nose and the tannins were very dry in the mouth.  After 20-30 minutes, however, this wine really came alive.  The tannins began to melt away and plush fruit came bursting forth.  There is a sweet toasty oak element to the wine, probably some new oak, and there is a sense of surf and turf on the nose.  The concentration builds on this wine as it opens, there is dark smokey fruit and an almost Amarone, dried grape, quality as well.  Notes of cigar box and dried Italian herbs also linger.  Needless to say, this is a big and powerful wine, 14.5% alcohol, that gets bigger and bigger in the glass.  Brings you back for another sip.  A blend of nearly equal parts Garnacha Peluda, Garnacha Pais, Cabernet, and Cariñena.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED