top of page

Spanish Wines Currently in Chairman's Selection

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

Hello again, dear friends,

Finally, after investigating a couple of wine clubs due to my aversion to visiting shops during the pandemic, I decided to venture into the State stores on Centre and Homestead in early January. I was disappointed to see the decimation of the Spanish wine section. Conversely, I was greatly surprised at the amount of Spanish wines brought in through Chairman's Selection and in the Premium section. I then decided to try most of them and prepare this review. Some are "not to be missed" while others are underwhelming.

Since many Spanish winemakers tend to age red wines longer than usual, you'll find some silky and with a deep bouquet. You'll also see several Galician whites with their peculiar varietals worth trying to escape from the international (French) varietals routine.

Almost all the wines in the report are "different" from what we are used to tasting. I hope this post presents an opportunity to take on some challenging and adventurous experiences.

And don't hesitate to send me your comments.

Ricardo Llovet

Contino Reserva 2015, Tempranillo 85%, Graciano 10%, Mazuelo, Garnacha, Rioja

I approached this wine, as always, trying to identify the fruit, but got hit by a wave of roasted chestnuts and cinnamon. My personal and secret advisor at home told me the fruit was cranberry. In mouth the fruit exploded accompanied by drying tannins and some acidity typical of Rioja. Clean aftertaste with depth and intensity. Contino is the upscale brand from CVNE and the first Rioja that was grown and crafted as a Chateau. One of the best Riojas. 96 pts JS, 94 pts. WA. Let me apologize because I seldom review wines in this price range but I could not miss this occasion and I was not disappointed. Outstanding!

Note: It has flown away! Only a few bottles left. For store availability go to

96 pts. $29.99


Gran Pasas 2017, Monastrell, Yecla

This wine is powerful!

Alcoholic, blackberry jam, some vanilla, raisins and lots of dark chocolate.

In mouth it is semisweet (residual sugar of 14 gr/l), very thick and even sticky.

While some modern wines in Spain try to reduce the effects of the powerful sun, this producer does the opposite. The grapes are collected in November, when they are very mature and partially raisinated.

You have to like this kind of wine in order to enjoy it. WE has rated several of its vintages in the low to mid 80s, and you might too if you hate sweetness and low acidity in wines, but if you dare here is your today's adventure. I would have it with a beef wine stew, dishes with intense reduction of the sauce, or even sweet items like dry fruits and trail mix.

92 pts. $16.99

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (but a risky proposition)

Monte Real Gran Reserva 2009, Tempranillo, Rioja

This was a gran reserva from a pretty good vintage, I had to try. Ripe cherry aroma. I could appreciate some hints of cinnamon and cherry cream pastry. In mouth it was silky and elegant. Still acidic. Deep, as could be expected.

A good opportunity to taste a wine with long aging in oak and bottle and crafted in the traditional style. You'll enjoy it if you like Pinot Noir while you may find it thin for you if you are a Cab lover. 14.5%. 93 pts. WE

In Premium Collection - Centre Ave.

92 pts. $29.99

Granbazán 2019, Albariño, Rías Baixas

Aromas of golden apple, cantaloupe, eucalyptus and a cooking herb, either dill or oregano. In mouth it’s fresh, with sea salt and crisp non-aggressive acidity. In the aftertaste it showed flashes of hard apple cyder. All this fulfilled the expectation from everything green theme on the bottle. I could not help but have memories of sitting in an unsophisticated outdoor bar looking at the ría (sort of fiord) and smelling the aroma of a snack of razor clams.

I discovered this wine 25 years ago when visiting my dear aunt Maruja and cousin Juana. They served me this wine every single day and I drank it in memory of my beloved uncle Moncho who had just passed away. That’s also when Ricky first stood up to take his first steps while holding to their living room table. 92 pts. and Best Buy W&S, 91 pts. and #91 of WE’s year 2020 Top 100 wines.

91 pts. $11.99


Lecco 2016, Tempranillo, Ribera de Duero

2016 was an excellent vintage in Ribera de Duero and this wine is an honest representative in the affordable price range. The Tempranillo here takes on an expressive character with medium body and some remaining tannins, very different from the more polished Riojas. Deep red fruits in here.

I got several bottles for aging in my dungeon.

91 pts. $13.99


A Fuga 2017, Mencía, Ribeira Sacra

This wine is different. Love it (me) or hate it (Sally). You won’t be indifferent to it. The aroma was fruity, gamey and of low alcoholic level (12.5%). As soon as it touched the tips of our tongues we could feel the microscopic effervescence, typical of old-style reds from Galicia. The taste was clearly on the acidic side with hints of humidity, maybe fog, fruits such as blackberry and peach and, definitively, game.

I could not help but use the traditional Galician wine cup to drink it. This is a rather flat white porcelain high dish in which the color and the tannins can be greatly appreciated, with a large wine surface favoring the expression of the primary aromas.

I had it with corned beef. Dare and tell me!

91 pts. $15.99

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (but a risky proposition)

Marqués del Atrio Reserva 2015, Tempranillo, Graciano, Rioja

Red plum, cassis and ripe strawberry; cooking herbs and fennel aromas. Silky, medium body, good acidity and deep. I could have taken this Rioja for a right bank Bordeaux.

The minority varietal, Graciano, is making a comeback after decades of replacement by Tempranillo due to its lower yield. I personally think this is a very elegant varietal for the future that should be further explored in Rioja and elsewhere. 14.5%. 93 pts. JS.

In Premium Collection - Centre Ave.

90+ pts. $15.99


111 2018, Garnacha, Cab 15%, Navarra

Although mostly Garnacha, it did smell and feel to me as a Cab. Lots of plum and some green olive in there with hints of dry herb. Adding that 15% of Cab to a traditional Navarra Garnacha was quite successful in my opinion. Very good quality to price ratio. 90 pts. WE

89 pts. $8.99


Meu 2019, Treixadura, Ribeiro

The aromas were very familiar and transported me to summers in Spain looking for a refreshing sip. Green apple, hard cyder, grass and oregano. Fresh and pleasant and great value for the price. 12.5%

This is a wine from a relatively large producer in the Ribeiro appellation, in Galicia. Its varietal is grown in Spain and Portugal.

Ribeiro was a reputed wine region in the Middle Ages that triggered trade from England. The ships would sail through the British Channel, the Gulf of Biscay, the Atlantic Ocean to finally enter the mouth of the Miño river to navigate to the Ribeiro region. A risky endeavor at the time that apparently was worth it.

89 pts. $9.99


Albanta 2019, Albariño, Rías Baixas

Aromas of lemon, cantaloupe, yellow apple, pear, fennel, eucalyptus and perhaps carrot. This wine was aged on its lees giving it an almost imperceptible hint of toasted cream. In mouth it was salty and mineral with a floral touch. I had it with grilled baby artichokes.

91 pts W&S

88 pts. $11.99


CVNE 2018, Viura (barrel fermented), Rioja

Aromas of kiwi, orange blossom, green leaves (maybe eucalyptus) and cooking herbs (maybe rosemary). Very herbal. Different.

88 pts. $11.99


Goru Gold Red Blend 2017, Monastrell 80%, Syrah 15%, Cab 5%, Jumilla

Shy nose of red fruits and not much more. In mouth it was acidic, dense, alcoholic and very bitter. Sort of vinous and very far away from Bodegas Ego’s premier brand, Infinito, which is a favorite of mine. The label was scary; sort of a premonition

It improved after one day and could have stood a longer period of time due to the tannic structure.

93 pts. WS, I cannot figure out why.

85 pts. $9.99

Alberto Sanz 2019, Verdejo, Rueda

Aromas of cantaloupe and yellow apple with pine needle and hay notes. Promising nose that disappointed in mouth. The wine was on the viscous side and had pleasant acidity but it was kind of mute in terms of flavors.

I liked prior vintages much more and will be looking for the next one.

84 pts. $9.99

Black Elk 2017, Chardonnay, La Mancha

Aromas of ripe pear, ripe banana, pineapple, some sort of white flower (dry), bay leaf and more, but the fetid aroma of rotten eggs came out interfering with them. After letting the sulfur compounds evaporate a certain vinegary aroma came out. The structure was buttery and fine.

Wine with an American looking name in a bottle shape not often used for Chardonnay.

73 pts. $9.99

295 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page