When one thinks of Spanish wines, normally only a handful of regions come to mind. Rioja, Ribera del Duero and likely the Priorat. But true wine hunters and seekers have been also known to look out for wines from Montsant, Calatayud, Bierzo and Campo de Borja.
The latter of the "hunting ground" regions is best known well for its well aged and deep rooted Grenache vines, and was made popular in the early 2000s with the discovery of Tres Picos, a wine made by Borsao winery and one of the best known Jorge Ordonez Selections. Ordonez pioneered the "off region" imports from Spain, much like Kermit Lynch has done in France. That's why I'm always keeping a watchful eye out for others who have taken a similar approach when it comes to finding great sources of wine and bringing them to the USA.
One of those "new" Spanish winefinders is Isaac Fernandez Selections. As winemaker Issac Fernandez has been toiling in the Spanish vineyards and wineries for over 25 years. My first encounter with Fernandez's wines was the stunning 2012 Adras Mencia from the Ribera Sacra region. His wines, which are imported by Grapes of Spain are not to be missed and based on the three bottles of new 2015 bargain priced wines that are under the Legado de Moncayo brand which I went through, Fernandez is on a roll.
For a first time vintage of white Grenache this turned my head. The Legado del Moncayo Garnacha Blanc is very different in flavor profile than what I normally find from the Rhone, Languedoc, Roussillion and even here in California.
It may be the altitude, the soil and the weather, but while Grenache Blanc can sometimes turn flabby, this was a lean, well structured and balanced white wine of which only 666 bottles were made from the 15 year old vines. The wine was crisp like a Riesling or Viognier, giving off lovely white peach, green apple, dried pear fruit flavors along with a hint of almond. With a suggested retail of $14.00, this was a great introduction into the wines of Legado del Moncayo.
I can't ever seem to get enough Grenache, and as the Grenache Ambassador to the USA for the Grenache Association this wine is a wonderful Ambassadorial gift from Fernandez and his team.
The 10,000 bottle production release that retails for $10.00 and is made from 25 year old vines is a juicy, fruit forward, black cherry, plum and black raspberry bomb that keeps on going. I had this with a bun less Rib Eye burger and really enjoyed how well it stood up to the beef.
40 year old bush vines from over 750 meter high hilltops in the Campo de Borja is where this 300o bottle production hails from. So while it is also made from 100 percent Grenache, the wine benefits from the added altitude and slightly cooler growing conditions. While the generic Garnacha bottling is very much in the fruit bomb category, with style and elegance, this is a much more compact, denser, more hedonistic thrill ride that conjures up wines from Lirac, Gigondas, Seguret, Rasteau or even wines from Clos de Fees in the Vingrau region of the Roussillion.
The old vines bottling sat for seven months in oak, which is just enough time to let the barrel and the fruit join together in harmony. The aging gives the wine some spicy notes, that richly complement the dried red plum, black cherry and licorice flavors. The hit of black pepper also gives the wine a nice lift to go with grilled meats.
Priced at $14.00 this is a bargain given that it will likely age 10-12 years if you can keep your hands off them that long.