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Had some friends over for dinner last night for some grilled herbed leg of lamb. Spanish wines were the theme:

2000 Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa cuvee Allier Chard ($9)
Here's a super QPR for fans of chards with a little butterscotch in the flavor profile. Apples and mango on the palate. Nice balance of oak, fruit and acidity. As good as most $20 California chards. Highly recommended. You can find this at tastewine2's shop (The Wine Cellar). 89 pts.

1998 Maurodos San Roman ($27)
My first taste of a wine from the Toro region. Made from 100% Tinta de Toro grapes and aged for 16 months in both French and American oak. Very dark purple. Wet leather and mint/eucapyptus on the nose. A little grapey and sharp on the palate, but softened a bit over time. Medium bodied, with a good amount of tannins on the finish. Probably could have used a little more bottle age. Interesting experience, and will probably seek out a couple other labels from this region, but at $27, I'll probably pass on buying this one again. 87 pts.

1994 Montecillo Gran Reserva Rioja ($21)
A long-time favorite of mine. Still drinking great. Bordeaux-like nose and flavors. Smooth and velvety. One of WS Top 100 wines from last year. Superb value. My favorite of the night. 92 pts.

1995 Remirez de Ganuza Rioja ($40)
Fresh raspberry and blackberries on the nose. On the palate, I could have sworn it was a Cote-Rotie (meaty, black pepper, plums). Light-medium bodied. Nice finish. 90 pts.

1995 Fernandez Tinto Pesquera Crianza Ribera del Duero ($18)
The only disappointment of the night. This wine was rated WS 92 pts and a "Spectator Selection". Strong flavors of tobacco, charcoal, and barnyard floor hid any fruit. However, you could tell that the texture and structure could hold promise for something elegant in the future. Just not tonight. Maybe we cracked it too early in its life??? 85 pts.

1998 Fra Fulco Priorat Red ($38)
A mixture of Syrah and Carignane. This is the third time I've tried this wine in the past 2 months, and it was different each time. Threw a ton of sediment, so careful decanting is required. The wine evolved over the course of 3-4 hours from tight and leathery to port-like and juicy with candied cherry and baked raspberry flavors. The nose had some shoe-polish/medicinal aromas that were a bit overwhelming. By far, the most unique wine of the evening and worth a try if you see it. Just allow it enough time to breathe. Would like to try it next to an Aussie shiraz to compare. 90 pts.

2000 Trentadue Viognier Port ($29) 375 ml
Finished up with this interesting dessert wine from the Dry Creek Valley. Made from late-harvest viognier, it was had the texture of a port, but was not overly sweet. Peaches, kiwi, pineapple, and some spice. Paired really well with a Caramel-Pear Bundt Cake baked by Mrs. O. 89 pts.


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otisabdul, thanks for the great notes! I've never tried the 1998 San Roman, but I can assure you, the 1999 is definitely a 90+ wine! I recently tried it at a tasting and it was very refined and elegant, although still very young.

I concur on your rating for the 1995 Pesquera. It is an often overrated wine, especially the crianza. It is hard to describe what exactly is wrong with this one, but I would say "rancho-flavours meet new oak": It was not too early, this wine won't get any better. It is somehow old style, but the cooked grapes and the low acidity just don't sustain all the new wood.
Otis great notes. Interesting on the Pesquera. I have had a few bottles in the past and still have a few left in the cellar. Each time I had this wine it never seemed to be ready, the flavors were building on the 3rd and 4th hours and I just ran out of wine to see what else would happen. I am interested in the Viognier, where did you get it?
Marc: Thanks for the tip on the '99 San Roman. I'll keep my eyes open for it!

VM: I'm trying to decide whether to buy a couple more bottles of Fra Fulco to see if it morphs even further over time. This wine's got a tactor beam on me.

TW2: I picked up the Trentadue Viognier Port at Old Willow Wine Shoppe in Northbrook. BTW, they are having a free tasting/sale on 30+ wines this Saturday from 1:00 to 6:00. I tossed the mailer, but I know they are pouring some Ridge and Runquist offerings. If you meet me there, I'm pretty sure I could convince the owner to open up the Trentadue. I'll probably be there around 1:00 so I can catch my alma mater try and beat Michigan later in the afternoon. Probably setting myself up for a fall, but hope springs eternal whenever the Irish get a new head coach.



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