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by Guest Contributor Fernando Vigón

Life always has its up and downs. The downside started a few days ago when Blanca got home after work:
“Fernando, have you ever heard of Montecastro y Llanahermosa?” she asked.
Her ominous tone of voice made me felt uncomfortable, as I tried to read between the lines.
“No, I haven’t. What is up with it?” I answered.
“You haven’t! Oh, it is not big deal, just a 15 € wine, rated 93 by Parker. I guess your value-for-nothing wine hunting skills seem to be a bit rusty”.
That was below the belt I thought. Luckily enough the up side was just round the corner: “By the way, I left two bottles in the kitchen. We can taste one for dinner”

And so we did and the Montecastro y Llanahermosa 2005, D.O. Ribera de Duero, a blend of 95% Tempranillo, 2% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon turned out to be a superb wine, dark ruby, explosive nose of blackberries, with elegant mineral and woody touches. Persistent in mouth, very well integrated tannins, it possesses the right balance between power and elegancy……and of course a bargain.

Ashamed by my poor show of weakness I decided to go on another bargain hunting tour and as usual the results were amazing:

The first prey was the Hecula 2005 Bodegas Castaño, 100 % Monastrell, a terrific example of Yecla, the tiny D.O. in Murcia just 4.000 Ha. located in the barren inland part of Murcia with a strong emphasis on young powerful wines based on Monastrell. With a knock out price of 9 €, deep ruby purple coloured, a sweet nose of blackberry jam and sweet, full bodied exceptionally concentrated in mouth, it is perfect to be drunk now and over the next 5 to 7 years.

The next one was a blockbuster: Nita 2006, Meritxell Palleja, 10 €, D.O. Priorat. 45 % Grenache, 35 % Cariñena, 15 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 5 % Syrah. Very bright cherry, the wine has ripe blackberry and dried herb scented nose, medium to full body it shows the mineral richness hallmark of the Priorat “terroir”.

I must admit I have a certain fondness for el Bierzo and its wines and the Ultreia Saint Jacques 2006, Raul Pérez, D.O. will be from now on my shopping list. The fact that the price is 6 $ does nothing to do with it. With a dense dark ruby colour, highly expressive, owns an stunning level of fruit, it is a simple and yet delicious wine, perhaps lacking complexity but making it up for it with a overall sense of elegance and fruity finish.

I am looking forward to talking to you again about my summer holydays wine shopping. In the meantime, please enjoy these wines.