2011 Bruberry, Portal del Montsant, Montsant, Spain ($12)
Lots of wine-lovers know Priorat, the huge and hugely popular red wine that comes from an area of cathedral-like mountains in Catalunya. This particular wine-lover (me!) is not usually in love with Priorat, unless it’s significantly aged. The young ones (which dominate the market) are way too fierce, powerful, alcohol, tannic for my sensitive oral machinery. But I do hunt the market for nearby Montsant, which boasts Priorat-like Grenache-based flavors, and is much easier to drink. I love the work that San-Francisco-based CIV Imports has done with a Catalan cava, Jaume Serra Cristalino—and now I’m digging the Montsant they’re bringing in, made from a combo of Grenache, Syrah and (my fave) Carignan. Purple hue, but with a little ruby and soupiness. Lovely mineral-like nose, wrapped around outpourings of medium-ripe fruit. Touch of toasted coffee, suggesting toasted barrels, perhaps. If I’m going to drink a rich red (usually I do not!)…it’s going to be this or something like this. Rich and round mouthfeel up front, but, before it gets scary, it goes through a tunnel of love into balance and elegance, with good acid and only moderate tannin.
Food can’t get too light or fancy with this wine—but if it’s up against a hearty stew or a grilled piece of carne, the wine will be delish.