Main Event: a Spanish middleweight cagematch

After the great experience with the Arrocal Tempranillo at Bin 941 last Friday, we decided to have a cagematch between some higher-priced Spanish Tempranillo’s from the Spanish sub-region known as Ribera del Duero. We hit up Marquis Wine Cellars to have a look at their selection and came away with three bottles priced between $35-$40.

Now, for the majority of people, this is probably far more than what you’d want to spend on a bottle of wine (unless it’s a special occasion), but we’ll do our best to make a case as to why this is really excellent value:

KNOW: Spanish wine law is really a great thing for consumers. Take the three Crianzas we’re reviewing in this cagematch as an example. The term “Crianza” is used in Spain to indicate wines that have aged a minimum of 6 months in small oak casks, and have a minimum age of 2 years before being released to market. That’s not a big deal in itself, but when you consider the Spanish designations of “Reserva” and “Gran Reserva” (a minimum of 3 years and 5 years aging, respectively), you get a national wine industry that becomes comfortable with aging wines appropriately and not selling wine as fast as possible to get cash in the door. So, walking into the bottle shop in 2010, don’t be surprised to see Spanish wine from 2002-2004 sitting at the same price points as other countries’ more recent bottles (which are often too young to be appreciated).

Here are the contenders in our Main Event:

1. 2004 Resalte Crianza
2. 2004 Montebaco Crianza
3. 2004 Tinto Figuero Crianza

Two of these had little between them, showing an imbalance of oak and fruit, blending into that one global wine style we seem to be careening towards. However, one of the wines really stood out and displayed the style that Ribera del Duero is known for: aromas of blackfruit, dried herbs and earthiness, coupled with high acidity, elegance and subtlety in the mouth. The other two were far from horrible, but really, you can buy oaked, fruity wines from other regions for much cheaper (i.e. Australian Shiraz or Argentinian Malbec).

Your cagematch winner is the 2004 Tinto Figuero Crianza.

See the full write-up for each wine by clicking on the listed names above.

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Wine truths

“Rose wine: pairs well with failed suicide”
by Jack Donaghy 30 Rock

Wine Ratings

★☆☆☆☆ - Poor quality. Avoid. Save your money. Between 80-84 points.

★★☆☆☆ - Average quality or poor value. Between 84-88 points. Some expensive wines are downgraded for bad value.

★★★☆☆ - Good. Between 88-92 points. Or a good value on the lower end of the point scale.

★★★☆☆ - Excellent quality. Between 92-96 points. Or a cheap yet good quality wine which is excellent value.

★★★☆☆ - Outstanding, best examples in the world. Between 96 and 100 points. A perfect wine.