2013 Monasterio de las Viñas “Gran Reserva” Cariñea, Spain (Alcohol 13.5%, Residual Sugar 3 g/l) LCBO Vintages $18.95 (750ml bottle)

The number of accessible bottles with a bit of age on them on the shelves here are, sadly, few and far between. Personally I adore observing how wines evolve over time, slowly breaking down, decomposing, if you will, and so any time I see something more than five-or-so-years-old I usually try to grab a couple of bottles; but the fact fact of the matter is that there’s never enough affordable older wine to go around.

Enter the understated 2013 Monasterio de la Viãs, stage left…

Hailing from the continental climes of Cariñena, one of the oldest delimited areas in all of Europe (1932), this blend of Garnacha, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon (the cépage changes from vintage to vintage) wears its years with an admirable measure of grace. If you are looking for a real ballbuster of a Spanish red, then these are certainly not the droids you are looking for, as this is a decidedly medium-bodied wine, weighing in at an almost moderate 13.5% alcohol. Too often Gran Reservas having me choking on the dried out fruit and awkward oak impact, but this bottle shows a modicum of reserve despite seeing 24 months in French/American oak. Sure, there’s some of that classic Spanish wine oak spice, but its reasonably dialled down.

Any immediacy of red and black berry fruitiness has dissipated and is now a heady stew of raisined, dried fruit, and Xmas cake, with wafts of sandalwood, and an almost garrigue-like herbal earth note that takes me back to southwestern France, which is not really that far away from Aragón, if the truth be told.

While the wine does fill the palate, its never too weighty, and there is certainly a bit of pull from the still-present tannins to make this a wine modelled for the dining table. If I had one complaint it would be that I wish the finish were just a little more sustained, but at this price I should really keep my mouth shut, as it more than measures up in every other department.

Just last night I sat by the fire with a book, enjoying a few glasses of this with some hard cheese, and all was good with the world.

4 apples out of 5
(Four apples out of a possible five)

Grandes Viños, the producers of this wine, are represented in Ontario by Noble Estates

Noble Estates are a Good Food Fighter.

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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that’s quite a lovely evolved wine.