Two Irresistably Good Spanish Red Bargains - Printable Version

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- Randy Caparoso - 05-20-1999 07:01 PM

Just came back from Newport Beach, folks, where I tasted through a number of Spanish wines, big to small, pricey to inexpensive, and I found two that I really, really liked:

Abadia Retuerta "Rivola" 1997 (retail $9-$11) - From the Sardon de Duero, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and Tempranillo (60%); the Tempranillo giving a smoky, round, dark fruit toned and tobaccoy richness, and the Cabernet giving elegant, but smooth, structure. Wonderful drinking! In fact, I tried this next to the meatier, more concentrated '96 Abadia Retuerta (Cabernet Sauvignon with Tempranillo & Merlot), which retails for three times more, but I actually liked the Rivola better!

Carchelo, Syrah 1998 ($10-$12) - From the Jumilla region in South-East Spain (2000 foot elevation plantings), an incredibly rich, dense wine -- filled with plummy, blackberryish, peppery fruit -- that comes across velvety smooth, luscious and perfectly rounded. Medium in body, and dynamite in sheer, unadulturated Syrah taste.

It would be a crime not to share these red wine finds. The wise buyers would look, or ask, for them!

- n144mann - 05-21-1999 09:45 AM

Hi Randy, thanks for the recommends. My chances for finding them are probably minimal, but I find that your recommends are usually right on for my taste buds,(no surprise there, and we really enjoy the lemberger by the way.) so will light a few fires under my retailers and see what I can come up with. Oh, by the way, nice to see you back!

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-21-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-21-1999 09:47 PM

Thanks, Nancy! Just so you know, Besides Southern California, I've seen the Rivola sold in the New York market; and so it has penetrated the U.S. somewhat. The wines of Carchelo (they also make a very, very fine Monastrell, which is a Mourvedre/Merlot/Tempranillo blend) are imported by Classical Wines out of Seattle, and they've also covered the entire U.S. I love these new style Spanish wines (unlike the old, which often tasted like goatskin bota bags... without the wine).

[This message has been edited by Randy Caparoso (edited 05-21-99).]

- n144mann - 05-23-1999 01:29 PM

Thanks for the importers name Randy, sometimes having that info helps in getting the retailers to go out of their way for me. So does a short dress. [img][/img]
Just kiddin'..........

- Randy Caparoso - 05-25-1999 08:44 PM

Shame on you, Nancy. Oh well, whatever works. Can't be hauling out those cases yourself in that hot, gulfstream air. By the way, did you know we have a restaurant in Bonita Springs, where you'll find (naturally) a lot of these great buys I'm always talking about? Of course, they're a little more in the restaurant, but the people and food there make it that much more special (if you don't mind my saying).

Enough commercial message!

- n144mann - 05-26-1999 07:34 AM

I wish I was in that hot gulf stream air, and I wish I could go to your restaurant in Bonita Springs, but unfortunately I live in Minnesota. I do get down to Florida now and then, hoping for next spring, and will definately check it out when I am in the area. I want to stop by Rick's place in Sarasota too when I am there.

As for hauling my own boxes, never do, there is always some nice young guy to do that for me. They even walk me to the car with an umbrella when it is raining. As for the short dress, I WAS JUST KIDDING!!. I am too old for that to work anymore (almost 35). <laugh> And if it did, I would not want to work with that kind of retailer. All of the retailers here are very professional, but some are much more willing to go the extra mile for me.(as well as their other customers)

As for your little commercial, we will let is slide this time.... [img][/img] (I am so generous)

Thanks Randy.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-26-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-26-1999 06:32 PM

Well, I've carried out a few boxes in my time, and I won't lie and tell you it wasn't because the customer was a member of the fairer sex.

But now I'm over 40, and guess what -- I also prefer a nice, young strong man to carry out my boxes. Better their back than mine!

Afterthought: Obviously I am prematurely getting on if I can't even remember where you live. Danger!

[This message has been edited by Randy Caparoso (edited 05-26-99).]

- n144mann - 05-27-1999 03:23 PM

Well it is very honest of you to say that Randy, and to be honest, I always find it flattering when men want to help me. (except for the occasional sleezoid who didn't notice/or care that I am married and is more interested in helping himself) I personally find a man who opens doors, carries packages, gives up his seat etc. very nice to be around, no matter what his reasons might have been ( assuming he kept any less than honorable motives to himself). I think it is gentlemanly, something that is in short supply these days.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-27-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-28-1999 01:59 AM

I was just answering your question in the Rants, Nancy, and touching upon the subject of trying to retain an unassuming sense of etiquette in a p.c.-conscious society. I can't remember where I read it recently, but chivalry may be dying, but class will never.

Now what were we talking about? Oh, Spanish wine! I really don't think it's a coincidence that we drift into other areas when we talk about Spanish wine... it's a subject that brings out sensual nature of things precisely because it is so unintellectual (unlike, say, classic French A.C.), because it is unfashion-conscious (unlike Italian wine), because it is not singularly hedonistic (unlike California wine), and because it is not, well, exactly "cool" (like Oregon wine). I'll admit I personally have predilections in all those areas -- ah, the complex (or is it hopelessly confused?) modern man -- but when all is said or done, give me a velvety, fleshy, blood red and earthen toned Ribera del Duero!

- n144mann - 05-28-1999 08:13 AM

Nicely put Randy. I think wine for many people, including myself, is a very sensual thing, and have gathered it is that way for you. It comes out in your descriptions.

- Randy Caparoso - 05-28-1999 08:42 PM

By the way, Nancy, have you been getting a feeling that this thread is a private line?

- n144mann - 05-29-1999 06:43 AM

Well if by private line you mean that you and I are the only two paying attention to this thread, yes I think that may be correct. You never can tell tho, lots of people read, but never write until something sparks their interest. Looking back, I guess I may have gotten a bit personal tho, I will have to try and be beter about that.

Getting back to the feelings associated with wines, spanish, or whatever type trips your trigger,.....and at the risk of sounding like the president of the Randy Cap fan club, I must say that I enjoy your reviews because they have some passion. IMO, some reviews are so clinical, simply a boring rendition of seperate qualities of the wine as seen by that person. No fire, or any sign that this person has gotten any personal enjoyment out of the wine. Hard to get excited about any wine reviewed that way. I have a hard time being clinical when it comes to wine, to me, it is like art. I buy art pieces because of the feelings they evoke in me, as opposed to buying it because the colors go with the sofa, as some people do. I tend to judge wines the same way. I do try and judge them by their quality characteristics, their colors, if you want to carry on the art analogy, but there are some that for one reason or another, are favorites just because of an emotional reaction, a gut feeling if you will. Ever have that? Maybe it is a girl thing?? Whatever it is, it is something my wonderful, very logical, linear thinking scientist husband will never understand about me. But that is what makes the world, not to mention a marriage, interesting, right?

anyone else have a favorite style of review? anyone else have eclectic art/wine tastes?? anyone out there at all???

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-29-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-30-1999 02:49 AM

Aw shucks, Nancy. But I know what you're saying. It's hard to find people who are really into wine just because it "tastes good." What's wrong with that? To me, that's the first duty of a wine.

Personally, I tend to look for this first, and then I dissect the nuances and characteristics. But believe it or not, I developed this habit due to my professional background -- I'm always looking out for the wine that ordinary, everyday wine consumers (MY customers) will flip over. And they don't do a lot of analyzing -- just drinking... whatever the style or type of wine.

It is not, however, a "girl" thing. I think it's how the vast majority of wine drinkers (male and female) actually appreciate wine. I also think you may find this approach a little unusual in a wine board because you try to understand what makes you tick (or winds your clock) when it comes to wine; especially since most people who actually go out of their way to read about wine tend to be more intellectually, rather than just emotionally, interested in the subject.

- n144mann - 05-30-1999 06:23 AM

I certainly appreciate anyones ability to dissect the wines. I have been working on this aspect of wine drinking, it is harder than it seems, at least for me. I also do a lot of reading, which helps me with some of the wine history and helps me get a handle on some of the basics of the wine making techniques. I am getting better, although not nearly as good as you guys on here. I have only really been attacking that aspect of wine drinking for 6 months or so. I am finding it takes a lot of practice. Oh darn!! [img][/img] You guys are a great learning tool for me tho, and that is why I am here. Well, most of the reason. I also simply enjoy you guys.

A review without the dissection would be pointless. But, I will probably always have to admit to being an emotional wine drinker first, and an intellectual one second. (story of my life according to my husband. <grin> ) I guess the crux of the matter lies with what audience the writer is appealing to. Is he/she writing to the general masses, or to just the cork dorks?? As one of the general masses, beginner cork dork, I like your style of review. Nice mix.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-30-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-30-1999 12:56 PM

By the way, Nancy. Talking about approach to wine appreciation: I do not think it is a coincidence that some of the top winemakers of our day -- such as ABC's Jim Clendenen, Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm, and Tony Soter (Etude, Spottswoode, Niebaum-Coppola, Araujo, Viader, et al.) -- began with an aesthetic, rather than scientific, feel of their craft, and it's that feel which has always guided their techniques (not the other way around). Other highly succesful vintners -- such as Beringer's Ed Sbragia, Ferrari-Carano's George Bursick, Laurel Glen's Patrick Campbell, and more -- combine scientific background with strongly aesthetic (especially musical) interests.

It's no coincidence for me that I tend to like these wines most. No question -- you can taste this sensibility in their wines.

So not only is your unlinear appreciation of wine the most correct, it tends to make the best wine... my opinion, of course!

[This message has been edited by Randy Caparoso (edited 05-30-99).]

- n144mann - 05-30-1999 01:43 PM

Well that is nice to hear, because......I happened on a viticulturalist one day and we have been corresponding since. He works at the New York Ag experimental station in Geneva and he has been encouraging me to start some vitis vinifera here. (we have not decided on any specific clones as yet) Upon doing the research, I found out that I have very close to the same conditions as he does there, and he is willing to get me started with some. I won't actually get them in the ground till next year, and then will have to wait a few more before I have a grape crop, and so I have decided that in the next few years I NEED to get the more technical parts of wine appreciation down. I have always had a head for science and chemistry (believe it or not) so I think I can get the scientific part of the craft down, and being married to a scientist doesn't hurt. I will never be as great a wine maker as those you mentioned above, but I will love doing it and it will be a challenge. Not to mention the fact that it will combine two of my greatest passions, wine and gardening. Now if I could just figure a way to get my gem cutting involved in the process, it would be perfect. <grin> Maybe I can name my wines after my favorite gemstones. :-)

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-30-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-30-1999 09:38 PM

Wow! Gardening happens to be my passion (takes my mind off pressing business matters), but I never considered the possibility of wine grape growing. I've been studying the subject for years, but I'd like to keep it that way -- a study, and not an occupation. Takes way too much discipline!

Nancy, if you haven't done so already I'd suggest you'd get to know growers in Oregon, many of whom work under small scale conditions (almost like gardening) but aim for the sky in terms of pure quality in the most aesthetic sense. That's why I like to visit that region three or four times a year -- so refreshing, in comparison to the industrial mentality of Californians. Let me introduce you to some of these fellow farming aesthetes you ever get around to it.

In my mind, top quality wine is essentially an agricultural achievement; and the fruit from the vine is definitely a winemaker's canvas.

- n144mann - 05-31-1999 10:15 AM

Randy, seems we are quite similar. I would love to see your garden in Hawaii, I bet it is amazing. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

I am flattered by your offer to make introductions. I hardly feel worthy considering how new I am to the whole idea of viticulture. Still,I would love to be introduced to anyone you think would be helpful to me. Thank you.

I explained to the NY guy also, that I have no experience with the grapes, but he assures me I can learn. Since you have been studying this, can you point me in the direction of some good resource material?? I have time to study, and with winters so long here, I have lots of time to dream about my gardening/viticulture aspirations while the snow is falling outside.

I share your feeling about the garden being a sanctuary, it is for me also. The children are not allowed to bother me, except for an emergency, when I am in my gardens. It is also a creative outlet for me that I really enjoy. It is basically creating a work of art using the color, structure and texture in the plants. I love it. We bought our current home less that two years ago, and so my gardens are all quite young, have not nearly reached their potential, but I love the challenge, and the fact that it is ever changing. I made the mistake of going back to TN and looking at the gardens I designed at that house....they had taken out most of the plantings and replaced it with boring lawn. It was one of those, "if only I had known," experiences. There were wonderful plants in that garden, I would have taken them with me had I known they were going to compost them. The garden is also a wonderful place to sit, reflect, and enjoy that special wine.

[This message has been edited by n144mann (edited 05-31-99).]

- Randy Caparoso - 05-31-1999 05:16 PM

I think it was Laura Ingalls Wilder that talked about winter's "imaginary gardens." That's how it starts -- you need a vision in order to realize one; an ideal in order to approach one; and "once the dream is dreamed, it's time to wake up and get cracking," or so it goes.

We moved into our neighborhood ten years ago with your usual suburban blank slate of a yard. As you might imagine, our surroundings quickly grew into something wild and varied -- per my Spanish-like imaginings -- and juxtaposing color, height and pure feel. There is a large, steep hill for huge, exotic, unthirsty plants (varieties of sky-scraping agaves and cereuses mixed with spiky clumps of Hawaiian halas, aloes, opuntia, hibiscus, frangipani, and Texas sages), a longer, narrower hill for my "border" work (a weave of multi-colored Hawaiian ti, crotons, beach naupaka, halas, sugar canes, walking irises, crown flowers, and other native Hawaiian bushes, etc.), and a shaded tree area for lusher growth (a mess of multiple, elephant ear-sized philodendrons, taro, spider lilies, papyrus, and more fantastical bromeliads). Even the strip between our front sidewalk and curb (the "dead zone") is planted with varieties succulents, Hawaiian shrubs and artemesia (using mulch as the ground cover)!

In the backyard, I once had as many as six boxes of herbs, lettuces and other foodstuffs going, but with my schedule heating up over the past two years (I'm actually away half the year these days), we've just recently had to tear them out and plant grass (with a lonely olive tree in the middle, and miniature succulents tucked into a curving length of white rocks along a farther edge). In fact, if I hadn't gently talked my wife into getting out to care for things, we would have either had to move or hire a professional (we couldn't afford) to keep things in line.

I'm taking a long time to get to the crux of my message, which is that I hope you'll be able to translate your own dreams into practical realities. The garden can be both a sanctuary and an incubator (it's amazing what you can think of, or remember to do, while toiling away). Cultivating friendships in the viticultural and winemaking fields is an ideal way to start. You might also want to begin subscribing to some of the basic industry periodicals; such as PW/Practical Winery & Vineyard (Web site at and Wines & Vines (e-mail at Both are excellent, with PW currently holding an edge in depth and coverage of innovations.

PW also has a one-stop bookshelf source where you can get your hands on most of the important books used by the industry. I read'em just to get an understanding of what I'm buying as a restaurateur. For starters, I particularly recommend Dr. Richard Smart's (with Mike Robinson) Sunlight into Wine -- thee bible of contemporary canopy management. For cool climate grape growing, you might want to look at the Oregon Winegrape Grower's Guide (by the Oregon Winegrowers' Association), David Jackson's Production of Grapes & Wines in Cool Climates, and the combined papers from the 1996 Fourth Cool Climate Viticulture/Enology Conference Proceedings.

For overall information, look into James Wilson's Terroir (The Role of Geology, Climate & Culture in the Making of French Wines), Philip Wagner's Wine Growers Guide, and Jancis Robinson's Classic Vines, Grapes & Wines (Guide to Grape Varieties). Just call PW (415-479-5819) for a more complete listing and order form (if editor/publisher Don Neel picks up the phone, please say hello for me).

Now, I know you're up there in some sort of iceland. But to give you an idea of what I look for in gardening books, my biggest recent inspirations have probably been Ken Druse's The Natural Garden as well as his The Collectors Garden (Designing with Extraordinary Plants). As references, I like to use Dry Climate Gardening with Succulents, Tropical Gardening, and Water Gardening -- all put out by The American Garden Guides. Recently I picked up a wonderful, oversized book (loaded with dramatic, full color pictures, which is a primary requirement for me) called The Essential Garden Book by Terence Conran & Dan Pearson -- a treasure trove of imaginative ideas!

The overly long point of this being, I've met more than a few individuals who have combined their passions -- wine, viticulture, and gardening -- to great effect. Barry and Audrey Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards, and Paul Hart and Jan Jacobsen of Rex Hill come immediately to mind. And that's the thing -- it starts with that passion!

[This message has been edited by Randy Caparoso (edited 05-31-99).]

- n144mann - 05-31-1999 06:51 PM

Randy, as we seem to be slipping farther and farther from our original thread topic here, I have emailed my response to your last post to you directly. I hope you do not mind. I thought that perhaps someone would join in our conversation, but since no one has, I thought it was perhaps more considerate of us to move it out of the public domaine. Please feel free to respond to me using my private email address also.