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Visiting Spain through Total Wine

Cincuenta Ugarte Rioja, 2009
Linda Foxworth

Last night was 'Wines from Spain' night at Total Wine. While both whites and reds were featured from both Spain and Portugal, the red Tempranillos were the stars of the evening.

The class began with a light and fun tasting of Nobilis Vinho Verde from the Quinta de Azevedo estate. Vinho Verde is a region in the northern portion of Portugal. The wines from this region are often pétillent, light and acidic. These are not serious wines. They are light, fun and a little bubbly, perfect for summer. The Nobilis, made from the Albarino grape is, typical of its region, a light and slightly effervescent acidic white wine that has tropical fruit aromas, citrus flavors and just enough spritz to be a perfect on the patio. This is a wine so light, it is not unusual to serve it over ice with a slice of lime. The price is also light at $7.99.

The next pour was, also, an Albarino, but this one was from Rias Baixas, a region in the northwest corner of Spain, not too far from Vinho Verde Portugal. No frizzanté on this wine, The Val do Sosego Albarino had a little more body than the Vinho, though still, solidly a light wine. The aromas were peach and grapefruit peel. This wine sells for $14.99

We segued away from the whites with a Eguren Tierra Castilla rosé from Spain. Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, this rosé presented aromas of rose water, cherry lollipop and watermelon with a sloe gin finish. It had beautiful fruit aromas with a crisp, tart finish. It is a steal at $6.99.

After our rosé Tempranillo, we had our first red Tempranillo of the evening. Made by Cincuenta Ugarte of the Rioja region, this wine had a gorgeous ruby red color with aromas of tobacco, blackberry, licorice and spice. It had a lot going on for only $14.99.

Also, from Rioja was a Tempranillo by Valserrano. From the Alavesa region of Rioja, this beautiful wine had aromas of dark fruit, cassis, vanilla and chocolate. It was its great balance and a nice, long finish that made this wine taste so elegant. At $41.99 it is a bit of a splurge, but definitely worth the price.

We left Rioja to try a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero. From the producer, Ninin, Purple red in color, this wine had aromas of espresso, dark cherries, vanilla, and Chinese five spice. Its crisp acidity gave it good structure. We were told that the wine makers in this region, Ribera del Duero like to buck the system. They are hipsters if you will. Many of these wine makers would rather do things their own way and forgo the higher government rating. The result is some very good quality wines coming out of the region at very reasonable prices. The Ninin retails for $29.99.

Our last Spanish Tempranillo of the evening was from Toro, a region not far from Ribera del Duero, made by Liberalia. With a floral aroma and flavors of dark fruit, spice and licorice, this wine was well balanced. It retails for $17.99.

From Bullas Spain, we tasted a Monastrell which is what Spain calls Mouvedre. It was a dark, tannic wine with flavors of blueberry and lavender. It had a nice minerality to it and some good, wood aromas. This wine retails for $17.99.

Our final wine of the evening took us back to Portugal where we tasted a Quina Do Vale Maeo meandro from the Douro region. Red wines from this region are made with the same grapes that go into making a port, but the wine is not fortified. It was a beautiful velvet red color with aromas of sour cherries, chocolate and vanilla. This wine is elegantly balanced and retails for $24.99.

For red wine drinkers, the red wines coming out of Spain can be a great value. Tempranillo and Monestrell are both full-bodied, tannic wines with great fruit and earthy aromas. They can be just as satisfying as the reds coming out of France or California, and can be had for much lower prices.

If you missed this class, Total Wine will be offering another class next Thursday, August 14th from 6:30 to 8:30. This class will focus on Rioja region Tempranillos. The cost for the class is $20. For more information visit their website at

Coming up on Sunday, August 10th is the first annual Backyard Vineyard Tour put on by Nevada Vines and Wines, a nonprofit group dedicated to bringing a wine-making industry to Nevada. For more information, visit their website at

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