Spain (click on each name for more information)
Vinas del Jaro (Region: Ribera del Duero): From my research I knew that this estate was "very near" a "very prestigious" producer in the Ribera del Duero but, as it turns out, vineyards of the "other" producer are actually adjoining the Vinas del Jaro vineyards. These vineyards are of course in the "golden mile" of Ribera del Duero vineyards on a perfectly situated south facing hill which adds a huge amount of depth and complexity to their wines. While on one hand this estate does produce the traditional range of Spanish wines (Joven, Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva), effectively all of the wines benefit from the overall "Grand Cru" location of where the estate is located. Within the estate, there is also a "single vineyard" site (Chafandin) that has quite a history as the 2003 "Reserva" wine sourced entirely from this parcel was awarded the "Champion Red Wine" prize in 2006 during the very prestigious London International Wine Challenge. The estate's Gran Reserva wine, Sed de Cana, is only made in truly exceptional years from a special selection of grapes from the same Chafandin parcel.
Cal Grau (Region: Priorat): Anyone who has ever visited the Priorat would wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to attempt to grow grapes there given the crazy quilt topography of almost vertical canyons between randomly occurring hills and rock outcroppings. But, when you taste the amazing Garnarcha and Carinena blends that are produced from the broken slate "licorella" terroir and have your taste buds filled with refreshing flavors and minerality, you will understand why wine is produced here. The Cal Grau vineyards also occupy a prime south facing site high in the hills just below the northern ridge which is the boundary between the Priorat and Monsant. Across the vineyard site are 26 parcels that are all vinified separately and then masterfully blended into the estate's two wines, Le Petite Agnes and Clos Badaceli.
Cingles Blaus (Region: Montsant): The "blue cliffs" of Montsant (from the slate in the area) are a significant contributor to the full flavors of Montsant wines. The Cingles Blaus wines, of which I selected a white, a rose, a Joven, and a Reserva, show the talents of the winemaker in fully understanding the potential of the wonderful grapes grown in this terrain. The Cingles Blaus wines also share more of the characteristics of Priorat wines as they are from the north side of Montsant which is much more similar to the broken slate of the Priorat than the alluvial river valley that is on the south side of Montsant.
Cuatro Rayas (Region: Rueda): Cuatro Rayas has been a long-time leader in improving viticulture and producing top quality wines in the Spanish region of Rueda. Although Spain in general is much better known for red wines, the traditional varietal in Rueda is the expressive and aromatic white grape Verdejo. Adding to the expressive characteristics of Verdejo is the geology in the region where there are significant deposits of both limestone and iron is the very stony and otherwise nutrient poor soils.
La Purisima (Region: Yecla): In my search for Monastrell, I found La Purisima. Is this an allegory, or a badly written sentence, or just another of my wUst jokes ever? But the wines from here are no joke as Yecla, in southeast Spain just slightly inland from Valencia, is known for its very expressive Monastrell grapes. For those not familiar with Monastrell, that is the Spanish name for Mourvedre that is better known as part of the "GSM" blends from the Southern Rhone. The Yecla Monastrells, however, have even more deeper flavors from the rocky soils and harsh growing conditions of the region (if there was a PETA-like organization focusing on grape vines, they would head first to Yecla!). La Purisima is also the "good guy" in town given that 60 percent of Yecla wine production is controlled by just two other producers. I've selected a very interesting range of five Monastrells from La Purisima to show the range of wines that can be made from this very wonderful grape.