Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Montebuena Tioja

Wines from Spain get a lot of press lately for being great values.  Reasonable price points and generally high quality have many wine lovers looking to regions like Rioja, Toro, Calatayud and Rias Baixas for great buys.  I recently attended a tasting event in which a couple dozen tables full of Rioja wine were poured.  All of them were of high quality, even the ones retailing for $10 or less.  I had high hopes for the Montebuena Rioja wine which retailed for all of $12.  I picked it up for eight bucks at a Los Angeles wine store sale.

Montebuena is produced by Bodegas Burgo Viejo of Alfaro, in the Rioja's Ebro Valley.  It's a 100% Tempranillo wine with a 13.5% abv number.

Upon opening and pouring, I'm a little disappointed there there's a good deal of alcohol on the nose and palate.  Even on the second - and third - night the bottle is open the alcohol is the dominant aroma.

Bright cherries come across rather uncomplicated otherwise, with just a hint of spice, but the bite is sharp - too sharp for my enjoyment.  The fruit is bright, but with so few supporting elements the palate is on the thin side.  There’s also an astringency to it that helps tip the scales on the side of unpleasantness.

Even as the tannic nature of the wine lessens a bit - after three days - the flavors don’t deepen or get richer, they simply go flat.  Unfortunately, the astringency is still there.  It's not such a shock that an inexpensive wine fails to impress, but it is a disappointment that such a great wine region is so poorly represented.

My guess is that pairing the Montebuena with the biggest, juiciest, fattest piece of beef you can find would improve its lot - at least the tannins would have something on which they could work.  I sipped it solo, and I have enjoyed Two-Buck Chuck more - a lot more.

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