The following tasting notes accompany my article, Traveling Across Spain with the Osborne Bull. To learn more about Osborne’s wine operations, as well as some of Spain’s finest restaurants, click here.
BODEGAS MONTECILLO of Rioja
A typical tempranillo with a silky mid-palate and sharp finish, classic fresh red berry flavors, balanced and structured with a light mineral finish. 86 points.
From vineyards 40 to 50-years-old. Strawberry nose with a strong dead leaf/earthy background not unlike a Pinot Noir, but with a different mouthfeel and structure. Good minerality and light oak in the finish. 91 points.
Gran Reserva 2001:
From vineyards 50 to 75-years-old. Spectacular texture and structure — like a velvet covered whip. The fruit is less pronounced than the Reserva, but it’s intense and vibrant on the mid-palate, showing high minerality, light tannin, minimal oak character, and a long finish. Fine balance and potential. 93 points.
Gran Reserva 1998:
Concentrated cherry over moderate tannin, with good minerality, moderate tannin and a lingering finish. 92 points.
Gran Reserva Especial 1987:
From magnums. Bright ruby with barely brick edges, this is a very youthful wine in all respects. It serves up cherry and black plum flavors with lovely subtle earth notes underneath, silky texture, and modest tannins. Great now, it will last another 15 to 20 years. 96 points.
Gran Reserva Especial 1981:
This 26-year-old wine, aged 42 months in oak, shows fabulous concentration and depth. Just barely brick colored at the edges, with no browning, it’s as fresh as a 7 or 8-year-old wine. Perfectly balanced, showing rich cherry fruit on the palate, violets, nutmeg, fine minerality, great finesse, and great length. Sublime. 98 points.
OSBORNE’S WINES of MALPICA,
TIERRA DE CASTILLA:
These clean, uncomplicated, wines are excellent for everyday drinking, easy to pair with food, and easy on the pocketbook.
2002 Dominio de Malpica:
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. An elegant Cabernet with black currant flavors, unobtrusive oak, a hint of dried herbs and good grip. $16. 86 points.
2005 Osborne SOLAZ Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon:
This blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon has excellent aromatics favoring rich blackberry and raspberry that follows through to the palate, with the addition of a touch of chocolate in the finish. It’s nicely balanced with enough tannin to give it structure, but not so much as to intrude on the fruit flavors. $9. 87 points.
2005 Osborne SOLAZ Merlot Tempranillo:
The 65% Merlot and 35% Tempranillo shows jammy black cherryfruit and subtle oak. $9. 87 points.
2005 Osborne SOLAZ Shiraz Tempranillo:
More classically structured, with a little more obvious oak and a little more tannin that gives it some grip. With its restrained plum and spice flavors, it’s not as fruit-forward as some of the other SOLAZ wines, though it gives the impression of a serious wine and will appeal claret lovers. Still just $9. 87 points
2006 Osborne SOLAZ Blanco Viura:
100% Viura (aka Macabeo). Fresh, crisp, a hint of floral and of subtle tropical fruit, as well as a little minerality from sur lee ageing in tank. An easy, uncomplicated wine to pair with seafood and cream sauces. $9. 86 points.
2006 Osborne SOLAZ Rosado:
A rosé made from a blend of 50% Shiraz, 30% Petit Verdot and 20% Merlot, the SOLAZ Rosado is a lovely dry-style rosé with light cherry-berry aromas and flavors. Perfect as an aperitif, or serve with shellfish or goat cheese. Excellent value at $9. 87 points.
OSBORNE PREMIUM SHERRY
The Premium sherries retail for about $18 per bottle.
Very pale, crisp and delicate with citrus, a yeasty, nutty background, and a salty tang in the finish. It has often been said that the salty character of the fino of Sanlucar (called manzanilla) is from the proximity of the cellars to the ocean. El Puerto de Santa Maria is also a coastal town, and the saltiness is also apparent. 55,000 cases annually. About 15.5% alcohol. 92 points.
Coquinero, Fino Amontillado:
Very pale and fresh, yet far more intense than the Fino Quinta. The average age of the solara is about 7 years, and the last 3 years are without flor.
Only 2,200 cases annually. 17.5% alcohol. 95 points.
Bailen, Dry Oloroso:
The average age of the solara is about 8 years. A truly dry oloroso, Bailen is copper in color, with vanilla, licorice and toffee flavors. Only 3,300 cases are produced each year, of which 1,000 are exported to the U.S. 17.5% alcohol (the Spanish version is fortified to 20% alcohol). 95 points.
10 RF Oloroso Medium:
Similar to the Bailen with the addition of PX to bring the residual sugar up to about 4%.
About 4,500 cases produced annually. 91 points.
Pedro Ximenez 1827 Sweet Sherry:
With about 14% residual sugar, this PX with dark chocolate, nut and caramel flavors is a dessert all by itself. 90 points.
OSBORNE RARE SHERRY
The Rare sherries are very old; all are from soleras with more than 30 years of age. No more than 400 to 500 bottles of each are produced annually. All are 22% alcohol, and darker in color than the Bailen Dry Oloroso. They retail in the U.S. for about $110 a bottle.
Dry, super intense, showing layers of dried cherries, almonds, vanilla and caramel. Incredibly concentrated, it’s almost like a spirit rather than a wine. 96 points.
Oloroso Solera India:
Like an amontillado on overdrive — super intense, exceptionally concentrated, just off-dry, with fascinating oxidative flavors of orange peel, cocoa and prune, crisp acidity and a nutty, everlasting finish. 98 points.
Palo Cortado Solera PΔP:
Lightly sweet hazelnuts, cocoa, plums and toffee, with a never-ending finish. Great complexity and finesse. My favorite. About 6% residual sugar. 100 points.
Oloroso Solera BC 200:
Amazingly aromatic and concentrated prunes, chocolate and nuts. Almost (but not quite) too intense. About 7% residual sugar. 91 points.
Pedro Ximenez Viejo:
Opaque black. This sweet syrup (45% residual sugar) shows extraordinary balance, and I’m not a PX fan. I’d serve it over ice, or for that matter over ice cream. 93 points.
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