Wine I Like It Blind Tasting Panel – Spanish Wines


Wine I Like Blind Tasting Panel Results from Thursday, July 22

Wine I Like it is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding out what the “average consumer” thinks about various wines.    To that end, Wine I Like It hosts “I Like It” wine tasting panels comprised of people who are not professionals in the wine industry. These “non-professionals ” taste wines to see if they “LIKE” them “OR NOT”.

There is a series of several different panels. Some are based on age, some on wine preferences and others on a combination of preferences. Our goal is to find out how people outside of the wine industry feel about various products—whether they “Like It” or “Dislike It”. It is fun and informative for the tasting panel members as well as enlightening for us to see what consumers prefer.

Our panel rates the wines based on a proprietary system, exclusive to Wine I Like It that serves to help demystify the number systems wine buyers currently rely on by making valuations as simple and transparent as possible.

This month the wine tasting stayed in a single country and within two specific regions – Castilla y León and Castilla La Mancha, Spain. Some of the tasters were surprised to find they were tasting Spanish wine, only one taster knew immediately they were from Spain. We tasted two whites, two rosés, and six reds that were all classified Vino de la tierra.

Here are the top five including the average price the panel was willing to pay for each wine.

  1. Cotoval Tempranillo 2004
    Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León
    Aged 12 months in Oak
  2. Tavera 2008 Vendimia Seleccionada
    A selected blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah
    Vino de la tierra de Castilla
  3. Cotoval Tempranillo 2006
    Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León
    Aged 6 months in Oak
    Average Price: $15
  4. Tavera Syrah-Tempranillo 2008
    Vino de la tierra de Castilla
    Average Price: $14
  5. Cotoval Tempranillo 2008
    Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León
    Average Price: $13

The all-around number one favorite was the Cotoval Tempranillo 2004 Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León Aged 12 months in Oak. Some of the comments about this wine included: “I need a slice of pizza!”, “Nice finish and flavor”; Awesome I’d lay it down for a year if I could stay away from it!” “Best of all! Would pay $30 for this one!”

This wine, as most of the wines sampled that evening is a Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT). The concept is similar to the Vins de Pays of France and, according to Spanish law, is seen as sort of transitional term for areas that can, after 5 years, apply for Denominación de Origen status. However, many wineries in Vinos de la Tierra areas have relished the greater freedom than exists under the D.O. system to produce grapes and wines as they wish. The result is wines that are more innovative and exciting than those of D.O.s. These broader geographical designations will appear on the label such as Andalucia, Castilla y León, Castilla La Mancha and Levante.

Three of our  top five, (including number one) hail from Castilla y León, IPA. Known formally as the Community of Castile and León, is one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain. It was constructed from the historic regions of Old Castile (Castilla la Vieja) and León, first as a preautonomía—a “pre-autonomous” region—in 1978 and then as an autonomous community in 1983. It is the largest autonomous community in Spain, covering an area of 94,223 square kilometers (36,380 sq. mi).

Number two on the list is Tavera 2008 Vendimia Seleccionada. This wine is a selected blend of Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah. Although this wine is drinking beautifully now, it will  benefit from some time ageing in the bottle. For the word “Vendimia” or vintage year to appear on the label, a minimum of 85% of the grapes must be from that year’s (in this case 2008) harvest. This wine is from the Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla, central Spain, the Spain of Don Quixote. This region is noted for its hot, arid plains. The V. de la T. de Castilla was formed in 1999 to take in those areas outside of the several D.O.s in the area (such as La Mancha). The region as a whole has 600,000 hectares (1.48 million acres) of vineyards, which represents nearly 6% of the world’s vineyards.

Many of our tasters described this wine as “A nice piece of salmon is calling me!”,”Good summer red wine, nice soft tannins” “Great aroma and flavor” “really nice finish, would pair nicely with food” “excellent! A nice full-bodied wine.” The average price our tasting panel was willing to pay for this wine was $14, with some saying they could easily pay more than $20.

Number three on this hit parade took us back to Castilla y León with Cotoval Tempranillo 2006
Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León
. This wine is aged 6 months in oak. In Spain, red wines that are aged for a two years with at least 6 month in oak are considered a Crianza. Our panel agreed that it had a “Great nose and smooth tannins” “Soft tannins with a nice full flavor”and “Smooth finish” this wine fell into the $15 average price category.

The fourth wine, Tavera Syrah-Tempranillo 2008 Vino de la tierra de Castilla took us back to Castilla La Mancha just outside of Toledo. This blend of Syrah-Tempranillo received the following comments: “I need a piece of mild sausage and Italian bread with this!”; “Very Fruit forward – it explodes!”; “Very versatile”; and “Good bold flavor that grows on you!” The average price point suggested was $14.

Our last top wine, number 5, was Cotoval Tempranillo 2008 Vino de la tierra de Castilla y León. One taster commented “I’m in love!” Another asked “Is that a slight pepper taste?”; ”Nice aromatics and cherry flavor” ; “Smells great! Nice finish, best one!” …and the short but sweet “Excellent!” The average price they said they would pay was around $13.

If you noticed, each of the top five wines on this list all contain a grape you may or may not have heard about before: Tempranillo—often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape”. Tempranillo grapes thrive in a short growing season and this early ripening tendency is the source of the name Tempranillo, which translates to “little early one”. Tempranillo also has many different regional identities worldwide, including Aragon, Cencibel, Extremadura, Jacibiera, Tinto, Tinto Fino, Valdepeñas and many more too numerous to list here.

Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones are aged for several years in oak barrels. It is frequently used as the base variety in blends,and is most frequently mated with grenache, (aka garnacha in Spain), carignan (aka mazuelo in Spain’s Rioja region), syrah and, more recently, cabernet sauvignon. Tempranillo aromas and flavors often combine elements of berryish fruit, plums, herbaceousness, vanilla, tobacco, an earthy-leathery character, and good minerality.

As our wine panel discovered, these wines provide value for the money and are definitely worth a taste.

For more information about the wines that were sampled or to find out how you can become part of the wineilikeit.com tasting panel, visit http://www.wineilikeit.com

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