Spain is the source of a number of high-valued dry, red table wines these days. Here are two that have garnered high ratings and sell for a song: the Caracol Serrano Tinto Joven from Jumilla and the Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha from Campo de Borja.
Review: The Caracol Serrano Tinto Joven, 2005, from the well-regarded region of Jumilla, Spain, is a meritage of monastrell, cabernet sauvignon, syrah and small amounts of merlot and peit verdot. It is taken from the mountain area, with the vines said to be growing among other aromatic plants like thyme and rosemary.
In the glass, Caracol Serrano Jumilla is quite deep red, moving towards opaque right in the center. The nose is truly bold, with spicy, candy apple red predominating.
On the palate, it is more earthy than round, with a bright, almost raspberry middle, a bit of cheek-tightening acid and some still-notable tannins despite being bottled for three years or more. While a bit “bright and hot” for my taste, I’m just shy of three stars on the Spirit of Wine scale, giving two with a plus for its intriguing intensity. Perhaps its tight peaks will soften with a bit of decanting, or even more time in bottle.
Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate awarded 88 points.
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Review shortly after release: The Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha is a Spanish grenache wine, harvested from old vines at a very low yield, two tons per acre – comparable to some of the lowest-yielding Napa vineyards. Still, this is available at a value price.
In the glass, this 2005 shows as a young, intense wine – deep, opaque red/black/purple. Aromas are quite intense, spilling from the glass. They speak of cherry candy-canes and a hint of oak.
Flavors of plums and bright cherry are the first notes on the palate, resolving to a modest finish that is more of acid than tannins. Sort of a toned-down, less sweet version of the Artazuri Garnacha, which I liked a bit better. I’ll give this two stars out of five, since I wouldn’t run out to buy another, but I’ll add a plus for the appealing aroma and the possibility that it will open up a bit with additional airing.
Robert Parker was even more enthusiastic than I, giving the Borsao Tres Picos 91 points.
Updated review two years longer in bottle: This is still almost opaque in the glass, purple edges have not yet begun to brick. Aromas, still potent, have begun to “mush” a bit, more like muddled red cherry plus pea soup.
Sweetness and bright fruit have mostly drained from the palate, leaving a more subdued experience, except for the alcohol and raspberry acids. These lift everything, though not in my favorite way. I believe this peaked at my two stars plus rating – and it seems to be falling off with age, having just passed Robert Parker’s recommendation that it be enjoyed within the first two year or so of its life.
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