What Would Voldemort Drink?

Last night I tried a Spanish wine at a bar, which is often a dicey choice… depending on the bar.  I say that because Spanish wines are known for their variability in quality depending on the age, vineyard, climate, weather… it’s just a variable climate for grape growin’.  To intensify the problem of knowing which wine to select… you will always overpay for wine when you’re drinking “out” rather than buying your own bottle, so it’s hard to tell the price point/quality of the wine.  If you REALLY know your wines, then you’re probably just fine (and probably not frequenting the same establishments as I do).  I tend to be that girl who selects wine based on the label and the price (I typically choose more expensive Spanish wines to try to allay the potential for a bad one).  And seeing as bar prices reflect nothing of the bottle costs- it’s just a precarious venture.  But, I made that choice last night– with the Conde de Valdemar Crianza 2005.  It was well, interesting.  I might preface this a bit more by stating a good rule of thumb: if you’re in a typical bar is Somerville, especially one where you could find a full crew of people in running attire (short shorts, anyone?)

on a Monday night, you might want to skip the mystery Spanish wine and stick with a cold beer.

I should first mention the real reason I tried this wine…it’s the Conde de Valdemar Crianza 2005; I actually thought the bartender said Conde de Voldemort.  I mean, it was a loud bar and all, but I thought, “if Lord Voldemort drank an evil potion, what would it taste like?”  How could I not try it?  The first glass I tried… seriously might have suited Voldemort.  It was really poor.  I mean, I actually went back to the bar to ask for something else (I was willing to throw away the wine!  If you know me, you know that’s basically unheard of, I’ll put up with a lot).   But this one  had clearly been over oxidized- meaning it tasted like the fruit was starting to turn… “going vinegar”… that’s a verb, right?  It was sour and tangy (and not in that good way).  So, I went up to ‘exchange’ it and to her credit, the bartender said, “you know, that bottle has been out too long.  I’ll be happy to get you something else, or you could try a fresh bottle?”  I thought I should give it a shot… I don’t really know why but I didn’t want to cut a wine short simply because it wasn’t served the right way.  I got my new glass and it was MUCH improved.  I suggest this tactic for anyone who thinks the wine tastes funny.  Sure it could be a bad wine, but it’s actually worth just asking if a fresh bottle is available.

So, here is my review of the Conde de Valdemar:

Some Basics:
Varietals: 90% Tempranillo, 10% Mazuelo.
Vineyards: Oyón, Logroño & Ausejo Estate
Aging: 15 months
Total Acidity: 5.5 grams/liter
Alcohol: 13.5%

Notice anything strange?  It’s called “Crianza,” it’s sometimes called “Rioja” and the grapes are Tempranillo and Mazuelo.  “What the hell are these discrepancies?” a geek I might ask.  Here goes:
Crianza: refers to Spanish red wines aged at least 6 months in oak
Rioja: (in this case) is actually the region where the grapes are grown– province in northern Spain.
Tempranillo: The grape itself, finally. Delicious little flavorful grape native to Spain primarily.
Mazuelo: Another name for Carignan- which is really more for color than for taste.

The wine (as with many Spanish wines) tasted very bold at the start. It was smooth, almost thin tasting over the tongue, then nearly disappeared at the finish, leaving only a trace of the strong Cherry tones. It was still slightly tangy and IMMENSELY fruity.  I could taste- blackberry, cherry and some hint of vanilla- that was a little too strong for my taste buds all together.  I’m not sure why I wasn’t crazy about it- but I felt it lacked complexity and I didn’t even take notes on TEXTURE because I just didn’t recall anything dynamic about that part of the wine.

I can say, I think this would be better with food- like the other bold, tangy, young wines I’ve tried.  This wine was actually aged for 15 months in American oak (they import because it’s cheaper! believe it or not).  So although the wine wasn’t “young” per se, it didn’t have the texture (grit, oak, legs, thickness) that an aged wine typically does.  Again, maybe the bar has been hoarding this bottle just a little too long too.

Overall, because it was bold in taste but light in texture,  I think it would be better with some fried or spicy foods to be honest- maybe those Chicken fingers that Michelle was having. 🙂

Last note– I was at said bar for a fabulous event put on by the Theater 11:11 company.  It was a “choose your own adventure” comedy show, half improv half scripted and really fun to be part of…  They’re worth a shot-out if you’re in Somerville and think your life could use a little more “culture.”  (And by that, let’s remember that at one point the “evil knight” in the show said he was going to “Take his talents to South Beach.” FANTASTIC.) http://www.1111theatre.com/season.html.

JuliaUncorked Says: 6/10

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