Spanish wine a solid effort

We start the year off with something delicious from Spain. The Heredad Castelo Alba is a great wine from the celebrated vintage of 2004 and comes from an estate in central Spain that has been making traditional-styled wines for centuries.

Heredad is the Spanish equivalent of a chateau in France, and in this case it is in a village of 1,100 inhabitants, so it really is an old-style fief. But this wine is in keeping with the trend of blending indigenous grape varietals with Bordeaux varietals, much like the big expensive wines now coming out of Spain.

The custom in most wine regions in Spain, is if aging the wine in barrels, they are made of American oak, and this is no exception. Heredad Castelo Alba is a solid effort that deserves a high recommendation.

I also was impressed by the $12 price tag.

In the glass, this Crianza is a fine semi-opaque garnet-red color with a deep core going out into a crimson rim definition with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose, the wine seems a bit restrained at first, but then opens up with a barrage of crushed huckleberries, black pepper, spice box, marinara sauce, loganberry juice, ripe red currant fruit, chewing tobacco and earth-driven minerals.

It is a solid mouthful of a wine on the palate with juicy black spicy fruit, peppercorns, tobacco, elderberry juice, huckleberry sauce, ripe red plums and loads of chewy minerals. The tannins are soft and silky through the midpalate, and the wine appears measured and balanced despite its initial restraint. This just means that you should open it up a good hour before consumption. The finish is just great, with yet more pepper, crushed ripe brambleberries and good structure.

This is a food wine and demands something easy to go along with it. Think pizza or a simply grilled steak.

It should drink well through 2009.

Wine: Heredad Castelo Alba Crianza

Grape: Tempranillo (50 percent), garnacha (25 percent), mazuela (10 percent), cabernet sauvignon (15 percent)

Region: Carinena, central Spain

Vintage: 2004

Price: $11.99

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89016-0749, or e-mail him at

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