Mano a Mano La Mancha, 2007

Mano a Mano 2007

Our door is always open to a bottle of tempranillo, especially when brought by a friend. We knew nothing about this wine when it arrived and promptly pulled the cork. After a first sniff and sip at the inky dark wine, we decided to decant it and let it rest for an hour because of its heavy, grating nose.

It’s always interesting going blind into a bottle since you never know what to expect. Sometimes knowing about the wine taints your impressions of it between your face and your brain. The smells, textures, flavors of the wine are free to be themselves without your waiting for them to perform.

Decanting much improved the experience of this intense tempranillo. It had gorgeous, strong flavors of oak and dry earth, and a finish like the heat of a setting sun fading into the deceptively chilly deep red evening. This was not a refinement of subtle tones, or a fun, flirty blend. There was a wildness to the flavor arc. No smooth curve. More of a flexing and wrestling of similar flavors fighting for dominance. And then cleanly disappearing.

This wine would go well with seared, grilled, dark foods, and a hard, salty cheese. It’s something you drink as a second bottle, fit nicely between two more amicable tempranillos. In research, I’ve found the Mano a Mano is from the La Mancha area of Spain, and is slowly aged in French oak barrels. La Mancha is one of the largest wine-growing areas of the world if you measure in acreage. And tempranillos are quickly gaining huge popularity because they’re great table wine at completely affordable prices.

This bottle of Mano a Mano was quite forward with flavors, and after the rough start, it oxidized deeply near the end of the night. We had switched to a very mellow Our Daily Red wine, and having a sip of the long-settled Mano brought a tear to my eye, I confess.

I would try Mano a Mano again, now that I’m prepared. But it’s not for the weak and inexperienced.

Mano a Mano
2007 Tempranillo
La Mancha, Spain
About $10/bottle


Cupcake Merlot, 2007

Cupcake Merlot, 2007

A few people had suggested trying Cupcake wine, so I thought I’d pick up a bottle for my next book club. They are my wine guinea pigs and a name like Cupcake wouldn’t embarrass them too badly. Getting a bunch of busy women together sometimes fails and book club was canceled that week. So out of sheer curiosity later in the week, The Man and I opened this bottle after dinner.

The wine lived up to the name. Not that I’m saying it was bad. It was on the timid side though. Very mild for such a dark red, with dried fruit flavors and barely a hint of cocoa. And it had a slightly rusty finish.

It also oxidized pretty quickly, so after an hour of being open, it was getting hard to drink. A wine with a stronger flavor might have carried this a little longer, but it was so mild, this became the dominant flavor too quickly.

This hasn’t put us off the Cupcake wines though. There was absolutely a potential there. I want to try a white. Looks like they also have some interesting specialty bottles, including a riesling from Germany. I’m giving Cupcake another chance.

2007 Merlot
Central Coast, California
About $8/bottle


Gladius Tempranillo, 2009

Gladius Tempranillo 2009A bottle of this was given to us at the holidays and since it was unfamiliar, we didn’t jump at opening it right away. But our wine rack was looking kind of sparse the other night and a tempranillo seemed like the right sort of thing to celebrate the close of a long week.

Personally, I was put off by the label because it seemed like more thought might have been put into the design than the wine itself. And there’s just no personality in a grey and black color scheme. But I keep reminding myself not to judge a wine by the label.

So I popped the synthetic cork and chucked that into the blue cork vase. An initial sniff around the rim of the glass had me thinking I’d rather wait or The Man to have a go at it first. It was hugely floral and girly (a big statement from a girl who owns far too much pink in her wardrobe). But The Man handed it back and insisted I have a sip before I wandered off to finish cooking dinner.

It had a lovely, delicate fruit flavor initially, which balanced the flowery fragrance. But that girliness quickly matured into a rush of cedar and oak with solid earthy undertones. It finished pretty clean, leaving only a dry, peppery tingle on the tongue.

This is not something you want to decant or leave sitting open as it oxidizes fairly quickly. The last glass was kind of rough. It was a pretty deep purple wine, definitely leaning towards the blue-purple rather than wine red. I say this because this is not a first date kind of drink. You’l be awkwardly looking at each other’s purple tinted teeth and lips. I was not amused by my tongue being as dark as a chow chow dog’s.

My best friend, Google, had a hard time finding anything about this wine, so I couldn’t begin to tell you a price range except ‘somewhere between $7 and $15’. It’s a Spanish red wine. It’s not half bad. I wouldn’t pay more than $9 for this. I’d probably pair it with something Italian or Mediterranean for dinner and serve it to people without vast wine vocabularies. But yes, I would drink it again.


Flock, Smoking Loon

The oldĀ adageĀ “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply to wine. In fact you pay for what you’re willing to pay for. So drink what you like, not what’s on the price tag.

Case in point, this nice little line from Smoking Loon. Flock? So many jokes, so little time. Right?

We’re always on the look out for a decent bottle of dinner wine for under $10. So we picked this up on a random trip to the grocery store one evening. If anything, we wasted a whole $7.99 on a corporate marketing ploy. Anyone who’s bought tickets to Disney World knows a sting much harsher than that.

It was very nice. An interesting collection of fresh flavors. A beautifully balanced flavor curve from start to finish. Lovely little fruity notes. It certainly made us sit back and go “huh, should have gotten another few bottles”.

2007 Dry Creek Valley Old Vine Zinfandel
$8-10 | Flock