Jellybean Red Blend 2011

Just one look at the packaging of this wine and you’d think you were getting a full-on dessert wine.  After all, jellybeans are basically sugar, food coloring and flavoring.  Add to the Jellybean name the candy stripes at the top of the bottle, and there’s no doubt it’s a dessert wine!  But wait . . .  the wine is called Berry Smooth.  So, does that mean it tastes like a fruit smoothie?  Only one way to find out.  Twist off that cap and pour!!

Winemaker:  Jellybean Wines
Wine:  Berry Smooth Red Wine Blend
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Catalunya DDO, Spain
Price:  $14.99

Notes:  The color of this Spanish blend made with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes was a very pretty dark red.  On the nose I smelled musty dark berries and eucalyptus.  Acidity was good, and the weight on the tongue was medium with a decided silkiness to it.  Tannins were faint but present.  On the palate I tasted sweet blueberry and boysenberry, a touch of pepper and pomegranate on the very quick finish.  Alcohol was at 12.5% which, along with the lack of tannic acid, probably accounts for the omnipresent sweetness.  If you like your wines on the fruity and sweet side, this could be a good, easy-drinking choice for you.  In addition, it might also do fine with a spicy meal – Thai barbecue, for instance.  And while it isn’t a dessert wine, per se, I suppose you could serve it with a dessert like a deep dark chocolate peppermint cake or a wild berry bread pudding.  I’m just sayin’.  Anyway, in my opinion, the flavor profile is a little on the simple side for a retail price of $14.99.  Happily, I grabbed it on sale for $8.40 which also seems to be closer to the average price I saw online.

Tablao Red Wine Navarra 2012

Get ready to put on your dancing shoes!!

from spain-holiday.com

Why?  Because the name on this wine, Tablao, is a word used to denote a flamenco show, a flamenco venue, or the dance floor on which flamenco is performed.  I can hear those heels rat-a-tat-tatting now!

Quite an interesting choice of names for a wine label, don’t you think?  It certainly promises a lot!  Think of all the things that flamenco conjures in the imagination.  Flamenco is exciting, dynamic, vibrant, passionate, and sensual!  It exudes a feeling of controlled chaos – the musicians, singers and dancers playing on the edge of rhythmic and emotional anarchy.  Whew!  That’s a lot to live up to.  Does the wine do the name justice?  Well …

Winemaker:  Tablao (by Bodega Pagos de Aráiz)
Wine:  Red Wine
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  Navarra DDO, Spain
Price:  $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Tablao red from the Navarra region in the far north of Spain is made from 81% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha, 8% Merlot,  and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.   In the glass this inexpensive blend is dark with lots of berries, herbs and floral notes in the bouquet.  I found it to be a medium-bodied wine with good acidity and lighter tannins.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the tongue I thought this Navarran red a rather ebullient, playful wine more reminiscent of a Barbera, say, than a Tempranillo. [Yes, I know Barbera is an Italian … but there you have it.]  Anyway, the flavors I found were black raspberry, cola, some tar, a touch of oak and a quick zip of menthol on the finish.  As to whether it lived up to it’s name ….  Well, that would be a tall order, I think, for any wine and especially for a selection that was a budget-friendly $7.99 on sale.  It certainly was energetic and fun to drink.  It was also a good value.  I’d say those are reasons enough to want to get up and dance.

from flamenco-vivo.org

Post Script:

Hmmm.  Wine from Navarra!  Like, that’s Navarre, isn’t it?  I wonder ….  Seems to me I saw a movie about Navarre.  I think it was a funny one.  Yes, that’s right.  It was about several guys making a pact to swear off sex and then facing extreme temptation.  What was it called again?  Wait, wait, don’t tell me.  Oh, oh, oh!  It wasn’t a movie; it was a play.  And it was called, uh.  It was called, uh …  Love’s Labor’s Lost by that guy from England.  You remember!  He wrote a lot of old stuff.  Starts with a “W.”  Will, Wilbur, Willard, Will.i.am?  No,no – William.  William … Shakespeare!  Of course.  And in the story, one of the “guys” who decides to devote himself to studying and fasting while shunning women’s company is the King of Navarre.  See?  I knew it sounded familiar.

If you think the preceding “scene” was contrived, I have to admit that it is – disturbingly – not that far removed from what really went through my mind.  Ha!

Altovinum Evodia 2011

I grabbed this Garnacha at a store near where I work.  The name of the store is Wine & Liquor.  Seriously, that’s it!  Just “Wine & Liquor.”  Much to my happy surprise it has a very large and diverse selection of wines.  Nice!

Winemaker: Altovinum Evodia (Eric Solomon Selections)
Wine: Garnacha Old Vines
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Calatayud, Spain DDO
Price: $9.25

Notes:  Another first – my first experience with a wine made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache) grapes.  The grapes for this selection were grown near the village of Atea in the Iberian System of mountains in northeast Spain.  This light-bodied red wine was dark purple in the glass with blackberry and earthiness on the nose.  Primary flavors for me were dark cherry and blackberry with pepper notes.  There was also a fairly present bitter flavor I would describe as lichen.  Of course, I’ve never eaten lichen, so that isn’t the best comparison.  Still, it’s what I imagine lichen tasting like – a bit of chlorophyll, a bit of earthiness and an acrid bite.  No doubt that is partially due to the moderate tannins present.  Alcohol is 15%.  Acidity is OK.

In case you’re wondering why I’ve been having so many “firsts” of late, I’m going to post something soon explaining a little more of my journey on the Via Vino to date.  Not a life history, mind you.  Don’t worry!

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.