La Mancha done right: Bodegas Latué


When somebody talks to me about La Mancha, the first thing that comes to mind is windmills and Don Quixote. Although the region is notorious for Miguel de Cervantes’ novel is less known by their few premium wines.

This always sound to me as paradox since La Mancha is the largest wine region in the world. While La Mancha has had a reputation for producing mediocre wines, there is a wind of change in the region. One recurring problem of the region is  that they have had focused on price and volume in the past rather than quality.

Another issue has been the necessary monster of the cooperative. The coop is a big player in La Mancha wine industry. A neccesary evil, they still maintain the idea of bulk wine production and export it to other European countries such as France and Italy. This philosophy has prevented La Mancha to develop a clear wine identity. It is one of those weird anachronisms of the Spanish wine industry

Still you can find Bodegas that do things right like Bodegas Latue in This reference producer in La Mancha started out as the  San Isidro Cooperative in 1954. The philosophy statement of the company it is:

The founding spirit of Bodegas Latúe remains latent. Entrepreneurship, ecology, sustainability, social responsibility, quality and innovation define the personality of Bodegas Latúe, in an environment where equal opportunities and social maintenance of people in the rural area are always present.

These values, transferred to our wines and high quality musts, are recognized by associates, clients, institutions and the society, identifying Bodegas Latúe as a socially responsible, sustainable and ecological company.

You can really feel the words when you taste the wines. I recently had a chance to taste their Verdejo and Tempranillo  available in the Quebec market via their importer: Pot de Vin.  The wines are available only via private import. It is actually worth it to buy a case or two of these wines since only a few references listed in the SAQ  from the region have this incredible quality level.


Verdejo by Latue 2017. ( $19.78/Case of 6, private import in the Quebec market)

From organic grapes. One of the most amazing Verdejos that I tried with an unbeatable price. Great nose reminiscent of peach and tropical fruits. On the mouth, round and quite fresh with delicate notes of roasted herbs and lime sorbet. Pairs well with vegetable soups or light seafood dishes.


Tempranillo Pingorote Reserva 2012 ( $21.80/Case of 12, private import in the Quebec market)

A maturing bouquet. Aromas of tamed leather, spices such as cinnamon and cacao. With time in the glass, the nose develop enticing nuances of coffee liqueur, Kirsch cherry and vanilla bean. On the mouth, structured with a firm poise and noble tannins. The best Tempranillo reserva available in the Quebec market under $25. Buy by the case, because it stills has some mileage for the cellar.

For more information on these wines, please visit Pot de Vin Importation and Bodegas Latue. 



New Spanish wine arrivals at the SAQ Cellier

Recently, I have been tasting a number of Spanish new wine arrivals that are part of the latest SAQ Cellier catalog. These wines over deliver in quality at their price point and are excellent choices for weekday suppers. Here are my favorites. These Spanish wines were awarded very high scores by renowned critic Robert Parker. We all know how he loves Spanish wine.

In Red:

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Agricolas Aguaza SA RA DA Seleccion 2009. $15.30. SAQ Code: 12744816 , Bodegas Almansenas, Castilla La Mancha. ( Represented in Quebec by SDVF)

This wine come from the Almansa wine appellation. At 850 meters above sea level, the vineyards of Aguaza are located in Albacete near the mediterranean ocean.

Fresh and silky on the mouth with a slight sweet sensation. Love its voluptuous tannins and flavors that bring to mind blueberry, blackberries and blackberries with a slight balsamic and oak touch. Very persistent finale. This is a wine that will please both the new wine amateur and the wine expert. I paired it with Penne with meat sauce and it went wonderful. It will also go well with beef and pork stir fry.  92\100

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Terra d’Uro Finca la Rana 2011. $19.15. SAQ Code: 12775241, Hacienda Terra d’Uro, Toro. ( Represented in Quebec by SDVF)

Terra d’Uro is the proyect of Oscar Garrote, Cristiano Van Zeller y Pipa Ortega. The Uro wines are situated relatively high above sea level ( 750 meters) in the area of Bardales. The vineyards are a mix of tinta de toro, prephyloxeric, from 25 years to 140 years. La Rana is their entry level wine, aged 11 months in french barrique.

Compared to its peers in the apellation, La rana is a lighter and more accessible wine. Lovely nose evoking red and black fruits, spices and Mediterranean herbs ( Rosemary and Lavender come to mind). On the mouth, the wine is full body with muscular tannins. Fresh, yet very elegant and balanced. Imposing poise in a classy style.  Enjoy every bit of this wine with grilled deer medallions in a green peppecorn sauce. 96\100

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Bodegas Paniza Viñas Viejas de Paniza 2012. $15.95. SAQ Code: 12721905, Bodega Paniza. Aragon. ( Represented in Quebec by Valmonti.)

From the D.O Carinena, comes this high altitude Garnacha bottling made with up to 100 years old vines. Paniza is made around the village of Paniza. The vines enjoy a continental climate with a marked contrast in temperature between night and day. In addition, the amount is very low ( 360 mm) while the sunlight hours are quite high. Also, the Garnacha sits on a marvelous terroir composed of schist, chalk, loam and red clays.

On the nose, very marked aromas of black cherries, herbs with some nuances of dark chocolate. On the mouth, the wine is full body, very flavorful with a dense structure. Tasting it reveal aromas of black fruits, licorice with vanilla bean,oak and mineral dust. Excellent value for the price paid. Perfect with grilled lamb chops. 88\100.

Voir la photo agrandie du produit. Cette photo s'ouvre dans une visionneuse et peut comporter des obstacles à l'accessibilité.

Albet i Noya Xarel-Lo El Fanio 2014. $19.50. SAQ Code: 12674221

Albet i Noya are pioneers in organic winemaking in the Penedes region of Spain. Their wines are pure and flavourful. El Fanio is monovarietal Xarel-Lo aged 6 months on the its lees in oval porous cement tanks and in acacia barrels. The grapes are grown in terraces on La Guardia hillside. They originates from vines located in Turó de la Gúardia, one of the most unique places in the Serra del Ordal. The grapes are treated with biodynamic methods to bring out the minerality of the Terroir. The soils are characterised by for being poor in organic matter,  permeable and for being sandy-loam.

On the nose, this wine brings to mind delicious floral notes with vegetable and mineral undertones. Very fresh and delicate. Medium body with flavors reminiscent of white fruits. Very good with a shrimp rice with green peas. 85\100.


Petit Verdot in Spain

Petit Verdot is one of those grapes that probably every (somewhat serious) wine drinker has had at some point, though until recently, it was probably only in a blend.  In its best known form, Petit Verdot is one of the “classic” varieties planted in the Bordeaux region of France.  It has never been a majority player in Bordeaux, but it is popular with wine makers there for its ability to add color, structure and aroma to the classic Bordeaux blend.

The major issue with Petit Verdot in Bordeaux vineyards is that it ripens very late, even later than Cabernet Sauvignon, so the grapes only reach full ripeness in the warmest years (its name means “little green” because of the fact that under improper ripening conditions, the grapes never undergo veraison and remain as unusable small green berries).  As a consequence of this, in the past, many estates pulled out their Petit Verdot vines in the 1960’s and 70’s, reducing the total vineyard area of the grape to less than 300 ha by the 1980’s.  As vintages have gotten progressively warmer through the 90’s and 2000’s, many estates are replanting Petit Verdot vines (or, in some cases, tending to vines that they had previously abandoned) and are using a bit more of it in their blends. For example,  By the year 2000, total acreage in Bordeaux had reached around 400 ha.

Many new world countries present warmer and more homogeneous climates than Bordeaux, so plantings of Petit Verdot have started to appear and have taken off in some regions.  Australia is the leaderwith four times more Petit Verdot plantings than France and a fairly substantial number of varietal bottlings.  That California is very high on the list (with about 900 ha planted) shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given the large number of Meritage bottlings in the area and the fact that varietally labeled wines can have up to 25% of other grapes in the blend (so some Petit Verdot probably sneaks in to quite a few wines labeled simply “Cabernet Sauvignon,” “Merlot,” what have you).  Petit Verdot is used mainly as a blending grape here, though there are a few varietal bottlings as well.

The variety was introduced to Spain in the 1990’s by Marques de Grinon of Dominio de Valpedusa near the city of Toledo. By 2008, plantings in Spain reached 1,042 ha.  Petite Vedot ripens very well in the region of Castilla La Mancha. It makes wines that have deep black colour with rich spicy flavors, good acidity and excellent tannic structure, allowing to age wonderfully in the cellar.

Such is the case of the Petit Verdot of Vina Cerron. This is small family producer located in the  in Fuenteálamo (Albacete) in the region of Castilla la Mancha. The produce both wines under the Designation of Origin “D.O.P. Jumilla” and the appellation “Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla”. They are organic since 1995. At Cerron, the terroir is very propitious for the growing of Petit Verdot. The area has extreme temperatures during the summer and winter. Their red soils consist of are rich in clay, chalk and other minerals. Cerron vineyards are also located between 800 and 850 above sea levels giving a nice elegance to counter the power and exuberance of Petit Verdot.

Cerron is represented by Elixirs in the province of Quebec.





Bodegas Cerron

Rabia Petit Verdot 2010.
Vinos de la Tierra Castilla

Deep dark purple Colour. On the nose, the wine deep and enticing aromas of blackcurrants, french oak and balsamic notes.In the mouth, the wine is full body with a smooth feeling on the midpalate and angular tannins on the edges. Mediumacidity, the wine has a Bordeaux cut like profile with lots of black fruits such as black plums, smoked ripe cassis with spices. Long afteraste. Shows lots of promise in the medium to long term future. 92\100

Don’t forget to visit my continuous and improving tasting notes section and region profiles of Spain. Until then, Salud!!!!.