Category Archives: Spain

1996 Leclerc-Briant Cuvée Divine

Champagne and Bruschetta…what a lovely combination! The contrast between French luxury and Italian simplicity is striking, but it sure turns out to be a nice match.

Leclerc-Briant from Epernay, the “capitol” of Champagne, has vineyards in no less than six villages. The 1996 Leclerc-Briant Divine is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

A big body Champagne which in my opinion – in spite of its age – probably would last for another five years. The Cellartracker community recommends it is drunk this year at the latest, but if you sit on a couple of these bottles, you have no reason to worry; it will live to see its twentieth year!

Pleasant and expressive nose of green apples, minerals, brioche and almonds. Good acidity, nutty, round and powerful with a lovely taste of apples. Still fresh. Again, a 1996 Champagne displays all the alleged qualities of the vintage. 91p.

I also – again – have to give my thumbs-up to the arguably best Merlot I’ve had: the 2005 Mas Comtal Petrea from Penedés in Spain, not far from Barcelona.

I’ve written about the Petrea in a previous post, and this really is an extraordinary wine. Oddly enough, the price has been lowered from 297 down to 239 SEK at Systembolaget. And this already was great value at the old, higher price! You’ll certainly have to exert yourselves to find a wine at this quality for this kind of money.

Subtle and elegant; dark cherries, spices, licorice and chocolate. If I didn’t know it was a Spanish wine, I’d probably guess it was Italian. Powerful yet silky. Complex and intense with a bigger body than I remember from the last tasting. However, at 13.5% ABV, it is still well-balanced. Brilliant. Lucky me nobody is buying it. 92p.

2008 Malleolus

Ribera del Duero, the home turf of such skilled and famous producers as Pingus, Vega Sicilia and Emilio Moro, is oddly not a top-classified appellation – a DOC. The only two DOCs in Spain are Rioja and Priorat.

However, to have Ribera remain only a DO appears somewhat conservative, as loads of premium-quality wines are made in the area. Ribera’s claim to fame is to region’s treatment of the red grape Tempranillo, or Tinto Fino under which name it is more renowned in the region.

I had the 2008 Malleolus from Emilio Moro with my wife yesterday alongside a toast with mushrooms, bacon and Parmesan cheese and the match was just perfect. This is certainly one of the best matching wines I’ve ever had to mushrooms.

100% Tempranillo. With a nose of cherries, chocolate, coffee and vanilla, it smells fantastic. Still very young but opens up generously in the glass. Medium-bodied, elegant and perfectly balanced. Complex and spicy. It will probably improve with age, but why store it? It’s already fab. Drink it today! 298 SEK at Systembolaget. 91p.

2005 Mas Comtal Petrea

The 2005 Petrea from Mas Comtal in Penedés in Northern Spain is probably the best monovarietal Merlot I’ve ever had (no, I haven’t tasted Pétrus). Unfortunately, winemaker Joan Milà died the other year and to my knowledge, the 2005 vintage of the Petrea was the last he ever made. And boy what a wine it is. Monovarietal Merlot usually means jammy, strawberry-like and heavy-handed brew. There’s no coincidence Merlot got beaten up in Sideways. However,when it is cultivated with this kind of ambition and skills and is picked at low yields, the result can be pretty amazing. Merlot is not the first grape variety you associate to Spain, but terroir in Penedés is obviously fitting this oftentimes knocked about berry.

Extremely elegant and complex nose; truffles, licorice, black cherries, leaves. The tannins are perfectly integrated, the body is medium to full. The wine is silky but yet with a powerful grip. Long finish. 92p.

At 297 SEK, this is a bargain at Systembolaget and there is plenty of bottles left. I’ve had this a couple of times before but simply forgot how good it actually is. I will get another couple of bottles myself. This is just about as good as it gets.


Rioja…if any wine would be described as straightforward, uncomplicated, direct and downright nice, it would be a wine from this particular part of Spain. Notorious for oaking their wines to pieces, making them resemble vanilla cakes rather than quality brews.

However, during the last ten years or so in Rioja things have been starting to turn around. Balanced and lightly-oaked wines are now common. Roda located in Rioja Alta makes much sought-after wines, where the following wine is the simplest. A good thing about the Spanish wine classification is that it differentiates wines on the basis of maturation time. Crianza wines are matured for at least two years, with at least twelve months spent in cask, Reservas are matured for at least three years (at least one year in cask) and Gran Reservas are matured for at least five years (two in cask, three in bottle). Many producers mature the wines for longer periods than the minimum dictated by the classification. Good for the customer but bad cash management practice.

Roda Reserva 2006 shows vanilla tones, chocolate, leather and plum. A bit of a spicy taste. The oak is well-integrated and there is a slight bitterness to balance the sweetness of the vanilla. Full-bodied with very smooth tannins. If I were to recommend a wine to someone who’d never drunk a high-quality wine, this would certainly come to mind. As I wrote initially, this is very straightforward and decent. Anybody could appreciate the Roda, which may not sound like praise, but it certainly is. The only objection I have is that you are full up with it after a couple of glasses. It’s not like, say, a Pomerol which gets better and better with every glass until all of a sudden the bottle sadly is empty. 97% Tempranillo and 3% Graciano. 90p.

I have difficulties getting to grips with Chianti. So often they are grumpy, tart, tannic and thin. I am no going to argue that the 2008 Querciabella Chianti Classico is different. It’s not that bad though, but it nevertheless shows all of the features described in the above although not excessively. 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet sauvignon. Cherries, raspberry, chocolate and coffee. Rather tannic and a bit thin. I aired this for an hour. Maybe it would’ve improved with further cellaring. I’ll save my second bottle a couple of years. I’m just not very excited about it. 85p.