Archive for July, 2013

Wine of the Week #5 – 2011 Bodegas Borsao Tinto Selection (Spain)

2011 Bodegas Borsao Tinto Selection

Spain > Aragon > Campo de Borja

Where Purchased: Liquor Barn ($8).  Also spotted at Corner Wines

When I hear critics screaming amazing things about a certain wine, I generally tend to stay away.  Why?  Because the process is fairly predictable: critics go stark-raving-mad over a particular wine and say great things about it.  The public gobbles it up and the wine sells out.  Faced with such high demand, the winery cranks out as much as they can – dollar signs in their eyes.  Eventually wine quality goes down the toilet.

Thankfully, that has not been the case with this wine.

My intent was to leave this wine alone.  But when it started showing up everywhere – wine stores in several cities, restaurants in several places, my best friend’s cellar – I decided to give it a shot.  I’m glad I did.


2013-07-11 22.44.03Up until just a few years ago nobody had heard of Campo de Borja, the tiny region in northwest Spain where this wine is produced.  Then some wine critics came along and said a few nice things, making sure to mention what a tremendous value these wines are.  Suddenly, boom, people started tripping over themselves to find Campo de Borja wines. Primarily known for producing Garnacha (known as Grenache elsewhere), Campo de Borja has only been formally classified as a wine region since 1980 – practically yesterday by European wine standards.

Bodegas Borsao is one of the largest producers in the region.  Independently owned since 1958,  80% of their wine is exported, primarily to the US and other European nations, and wine critics in those regions have returned the favor by adorning their wines with praise.

My Take:

I cannot disagree with them. For $8, this wine is simply delicious.  Dry, fruity, and full-bodied, I could drink this one all day.  It pairs well with a variety of foods, but is good just for sipping too.  Serve this at a party and your friends will swear you paid a lot more for it!

Food Pairing:

This is a great summer wine.  Perfect for your cookouts, or just sipping on the porch, this wine will pair well with beef dishes or anything off the grill.  It might be too strong for fish, unless it’s strongly seasoned.

Technical Stuff:

Blend of 85% Garnache, 15% Tempranillo.  14% Alcohol.  Drink within 3 years.

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A Bargain Flight Through Argentina

Argentina’s hot right now.  Well, ok… technically it’s winter there right now – the forecast high for Buenos Aires today is a measly 54.  But their wines are hot and have gained massive popularity in recent years owing to their tremendous value.  Many wine drinkers immediately associate Argentina with Malbec, often their only exposure to Argentinian wines, although among white wine drinkers Torrontes is rapidly gaining popularity as well.

2013-07-04 18.11.35A years-long Argentinean mainstay in Lexington has been the wines of Parrot Mountain, and last week while picking up our CSA box, I was able to taste through several of their latest releases.  Unfortunately for you purists, Parrot Mountain is not some quaint mountaintop Argentinean bodega.   It is a private label brand created by Liquor Barn in partnership with Kysela Pere et Filis, the wine’s Virgina importer.  (A wine contact of mine in Argentina verified this to be correct, to the best of his knowledge.  On the plus side, Liquor Barn has kept the price of these wines steady at around $10 per bottle for many years.  

The first time I tried Parrot Mountain several years ago, I found the wines to be quite enjoyable.  Unfortunately on the latest go-around, the results were much more mixed, so either quality has slipped or my palate has changed.

2012 Sauvignon Blanc – Crisp, grassy and lots of citrus – exactly what you’d expect from a South American Sauv Blanc.  Not unique, but certainly pleasant.  I’d be curious to do a side-by-side tasting with it and the Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc – a value-priced label from Chile.  

2012 Rose Malbec – This is a crisp, tart, dry Rose.  But the tartness overwhelmed the fruit and I thought it tasted like watered-down cranberry juice.  To be fair, I’m not a fan of rose in general, so my bias probably worked against me here.

2012 Chardonnay – This was the downer of the night.  Usually South American Chardonnays are really pleasant, but this one had virtually no nose, and it tasted of weak citrus.  It was barely even distinguishable as a Chardonnay.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine caught me off guard.  Incredibly aromatic, and a great balance of flavors.  Dark fruit and some cocoa, but light on the tongue.  For $10, this is a bargain.  My favorite of the flight.

2012 Malbec – Based on the Cab, I had really expected to enjoy this. But it seemed unbalanced, and a little tart.  Certainly drinkable, but for $11 I think there are better options.

These wines are sold exclusively through Liquor Barn (and presumably LB Express) and they make two or three other wines as well, including a Torrontes.  If you’ve been curious to try out Argentina’s style of winemaking, these wines make for an affordable experiment.


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Vino Volo Lands at CVG

If you’ve never been to Vino Volo, my friends, then you are in for a real treat!  A few weeks ago, the Cincinnati airport became home to one of these marvelous hideaways and it’s a must-stop for Kentucky wine lovers who fly out of CVG.

vino volo 2As much as I love airports, I have to say that most of them are fairly devoid of peaceful hangouts, and even further lacking in restaurants that don’t serve junk.  Enter Vino Volo: part wine bar, part wine shop, and part tapas restaurant.  They offer wines by the glass, flight, or bottle and a selection of lunch/dinner plates designed to accompany the wine.  The focus is educational, and most Vino Volos are more spacious than you would expect.  Most locations even offer free wi-fi, which makes Vino Volo a great alternative to the airline clubs if you’re looking for a quiet space to get some work done.

My only experience with Vino Volo to date has been in the Seattle and Detroit airports.  I thought the wine selection was well thought-out, and featured some true quality wines that you don’t often see in wine shops, let alone an airport.  The food was excellent, again, especially by airport standards, and the pricing was surprisingly reasonable.  Unfortunately, the pricing is probably the least consistent piece of Vino Volo since some airports have stricter rules than others about how much markup vendors are allowed to charge (although I’ve never seen a Vino Volo that was outrageous.)vino volo 1

My next trip through CVG isn’t until September, so I’ll have to wait until then to check this location out.  I’ll be sure to report back!

In the years since Delta dismantled it’s Cincinnati hub, the airport has been struggling.  But it appears, at least according to the news stories coming across my desk, that CVG is experiencing something of a renaissance as of late.  It was good of Vino Volo to join the party.

In case you’re curious, Vino Volo also has locations in the Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, New York, Newark, Oakland, Philly, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco, Santa Ana, Seattle, Vancouver, and Washington DC airports as well as a stand-alone location in Bethesda.


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