Red Guitar Navarra 2005

Red Guitar NavarraPrice: $8
Maker: Bodegas ADA, S.L., Navarra, Spain
Varietal: Tempranillo and Garnacha Blend
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 14%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Red Guitar Navarra 2005 was an interesting find on our local shop shelf – it’s an uncommon mix of 55% Tempranillo and 45%Garnacha. Its aroma is a mix of berries, leather, and carmelized sugar. The flavor, if given a chance to breathe, is a well-structured combination of blackberry, oak, and tannins. This Red Guitar wine isn’t as fruity as some California blends, but isn’t overly mineral in nature either. We like it a lot, and its uncommon composition makes it an interesting find for entertaining. This is labeled as an “old vine” blend. We can’t say how much impact the age of the vines has, but it’s certainly a nice enough wine for the price.

This wine is generating a bit of interest among wine bloggers. Tom Casagrande says, “a fragrant nose of spicy ripe raspberries, cinnamon, stones, and cream. Medium full-bodied and pure in the mouth, with penetrating, tight fruit, some youthful, but soft, tannin, and a clean, spicy fruit and mineral finish.” Winewaves tasted it, too: “Aromas: Sour cherry and grape, a bit candy-like, with dried fruit notes and hints of spicy vanilla. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and rustic with gravelly tannins. The fruit flavors are well extracted and jammy and the finish is warm and dry.”

This is a nice choice in multiple ways – it’s a solid wine, it’s affordable, and it’s different in origin and composition. Give it a try.

Infinitus Cabernet Sauvignon – Tempranillo 2004

Infinitus Cabernet Sauvignon - TempranilloPrice: $7
Maker: Cosecheros y Criadores, SA, Spain
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon – Tempranillo blend
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, artificial cork
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8 out of 10

Infinitus Cabernet Sauvignon – Tempranillo 2004 is easy to spot on the shelf with its black and white label – “Infinitus” appears in two-inch high letters. Tempranillo is hardly a common varietal here in the States, but this wine might make help break the ice. The aroma is mild berry, but the flavor is a bold mix of blackberry, spice, and oak. In the European tradition, this isn’t an overly fruity wine but has plenty of flavor. On first pour, the wine seemed a bit harsh, but some breathing seemed to mellow it out nicely.

The importer, CIV, has some information on the Tempranillo grape:

Tempranillo: (pronounced: Temp-prah-neeh-you) Also known as Ull de Llebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino. Red. The Tempranillo varietal is believed to have been brought to Spain by pilgrims during the Crusades and to be a variant of Pinot Noir. (Genetically, it has been determined that there is no relationship between Pinot Noir and Tempranillo; however, there are genertic duplications in the grape varietal – Valdepenas – of California). The name derives from the Spanish word temprana, meaning early because the grape usually is harvested during late September. It has generally been planted throughout Spain and in the Rioja region, but thrives particularly well in the Rioja Alavesa. Temparnillo prefers a soil that is rich in calcium and limestone. This varietal is thick-skinned and produces wines of deep-color, but not necessarily high in alcohol. Naturally, Tempranillo tends to be lower in acidity and more “malic,” which means that wines made solely from this varietal will hold back their color but not loose fruit over time. Generally, Tempranillo is blended with small amounts of Garnacha, Mazuelo and/or Graciano to compensate for lack of acidity and longevity.

If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive but unusual red wine, Infinitus Cabernet Sauvignon – Tempranillo could be a unique choice. If it’s a bit rough out of the bottle, be sure to give it some air.