The Dialog Wines Blog

Our Spanish Treasures

 Published on: Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Anyone who knows me and has talked wine with me before is probably aware that I have been a little a critical and somewhat skeptical of wine reviews, scores and ratings. More so, I feel bad for the consumer that is so caught up in these scores, that they just might be missing out on some really great wines. With that said, I will conveniently put my skepticism aside and I’m going to tell you about two wines that have great scores. But regardless of the scores, the key word here is “value.” We have not brought in a lot of Spanish wine thus far, but these two were irresistible and needed to be shared. Great scores, great price and best of all, great wine that is a little bit different from your average weekend purchase.

1) Bodegas Ondarre Reserva 2004, (Rioja, Spain) $19.98

If its scores and awards you want, its scores and awards you will get!

– Wine Spectator top 100 in 2010 and awarded 91 points

– Robert Parker, the Wine Advocate awarded 92 points

– Decanter Magazine: Highly Recommended, 4 stars!

Those are some pretty serious reviews and ratings from three of the most recognizable names in the wine industry. However, most importantly, this wine has received an award that only few wines ever have; The Dialog Wines coveted “Stamp of Approval.” Yes my friends, this wine is “Old World” in every way. Aged? Yes. Ready to drink right now but still age worthy? Absolutely. Can you get a fantastic Rioja Reserva for under $20? Yes you can but not for long. Almost every case that we imported has been reserved so if you are in the liquor store this week, I highly recommend going to the Spanish section to see if Bodegas Ondarre Reserva is on the shelf.

75% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuleo, 10% Garnacha (Grenache), this wine has been aged for 16 months in American and French oak barrels. “Black cherry, licorice, smoke, tobacco and tar notes mingle in this firm, lively red. Maturing now, but shows balance and length. Still fresh, this brings you back for another sip. Drink now through 2016.”
– Wine Spectator

For $19.98, this is one of those wines that just isn’t available everyday. This wine truly is for everyone.

2) Pago de Valdoneje (Bierzo, Spain) $17.79

While visiting the world’s most famous wine fair, Vin Expo in Bordeaux, we stumbled upon this boutique wine estate and we are delighted that we did. We tasted and shortly after, my colleague commented that the Pago de Valdoneje was really special and incredible value. We decided that we would try to bring in small quantity to see if we could sell a wine from an obscure region, made from a relatively unknown grape in Mencia.

If its points and scores that grab your attention, then you will be pleased to know that shortly after our visit, Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate awarded the wine 91 Points. We moved quickly to secure a larger allocation as we knew that the wine would sell out given its high praise from The Wine Advocate. We were able to secure a nice sized allocation and cases have been bought up since the wine arrived a few weeks ago. The good news is that there is still plenty to go around as we were able to add to our original allocation.

If you are curious about Mencia (the grape variety from Bierzo, used to make Pago de Valdoneje), I will borrow the words of the Globe and Mail’s Beppi Corsariol to help enlighten you:

“Mencia? It’s not exactly famous. But it might be called – I cringe at the word – fashionable. Spanish wine cognoscenti are wise to it, extolling its bright fruit, food-friendly acidity and pretty, herbal-floral overtones. Imagine a cross between delicate pinot noir, crisp cabernet franc and savoury cool-climate syrah from France’s Rhône Valley and you get a vague and enticing picture. Ancient, uncommon and complex, yet light on its feet, it’s a wine geek’s wine.”

Did you hear that? For $17.79, you too can be a wine geek.

Now that’s “Worth the Conversation.” Contact me if you’d like to learn more about Bodegas Ondarre or Pago de Valdoneje.


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