Tag Archives: Spain

Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Crianza & Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva

Cost: Average price $13-$19


Where buy now: Marqués de Cáceres: Costco, St. Louis Park – $11.99 OR Surdyk’s Spring Wine Sale Feb. 28-Mar.17, it’s only $9.99! Buy now, buy now!

Campo Viejo: Haskell’s – $9.99


Grapes: Marqués de Cáceres: Tempranillo, Garnacha & Graciano grapes

Campo Viejo: Tempranillo, Graciano & Mazuelo grapes


Region: Rioja Alta, Spain


Vintage: Marqués de Cáceres – 2007  &  Campo Viejo – 2006

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Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza

I had a shitty day, pure and simple. You know the kind where you want to give everyone the middle finger if only you wouldn’t be mistaken for some degenerate?

Anyways, I came home and looked at my wines. Nothing super inexpensive ala $5. I did have two different Riojas, a Crianza & and a Reserva. Perfect – if I want this to be a two bottle night, I’m set.

Crianza or Reserva, what’s the big diff? Let’s dig in, shall we? Riojas are classified into three categories based on two things: the quality of the grapes and how long the wines are aged. Crianza is the youngest. This is like solid Spanish table red wine. The grapes are good, not exceptional and the wine must be aged for 24 months with 6 months in oak. Reservas are made with better grapes and must be aged for 36 months, 12 of which must be in oak. The last is Gran Reserva which is the most exceptional of all the Riojas. These suckers age for at least five years, two of which must be in oak and then the last three years spent in bottles. We will not be reviewing the Gran Reserva for multiple ($$$) reasons.

I started with this $12 sale Marqués de Cáceres Rioja Crianza because I decided I was worth it. I couldn’t get the bottle open fast enough. Splash, I poured a big glass. I even had a Spanish deli meat selection from Trader Joe’s. A combination of Spanish salami, Serrano ham and Chorizo sausage. All that for $5! I ran downstairs to watch a movie. I was home alone, perfect time to watch whatever I wanted. Forlorn, I chose to watch Soapdish – before you judge, I like it. A fun 90s Rom/Com featuring Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Elisabeth Shue and Whoopi Goldberg. PS – have you seen the selection Netflix offers online lately? I can only watch the same six episodes of Portlandia so as not to become a fabrication of the show.

Down the hatch this deep red beauty went. The flavors of berry and spice are abundant in this full-bodied wine. The jamminess has a hint of oak flavor but don’t get me wrong, this wine is smooth and delicious. It was pairing nicely with the Spanish salted cured meats. I continued eating and drinking and thinking, “my, Kevin Kline is a hunk of a man”. I’m laughing at the absurdity of the movie but am thoroughly enjoying myself. Poured the last drop. . .

Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva

Well, glad I had the other bottle to continue to keep me warm. Out came the cork of the $10 Campo Viejo Reserva. You know what, I like this, too. I know, what you’re thinking, “of course you do – you’ve just drank an entire bottle of wine”. Seriously, though, this wine was a little less fruit forward than the Crianza I sampled. Similar flavors of cherry and spice and oak but slightly more tannic, more robust. This is probably due to the induction of the Mazuelo grapes which is absent in the Marqués de Cáceres. The bottle said it was aged for 18 months barrel followed by 18 months in the bottle. I can tell you what, this wine ain’t going to last 18 months in my house.

I’ll have you know I didn’t finish the second bottle. The movie was over and suddenly, so was I.

It’s true, Riojas are my new fave right now. I can honestly say both are on sale and both are worth it. If you are a big Garnacha/Grenache fan – I’ll steer you more toward the Marqués de Cáceres. You can find it in the center bins at the St. Louis Park Costco.

I beg you, however, get out of the Malbec rut and head toward these! Just pick up a couple bottles, that $5 Spanish meat sampler at TJ’s and some Manchego cheese. Hell, throw on some Gipsy Kings and you have a great evening on your hands. Or, in the ways of T.S.L. create your own good time, forget the asshole[s] that ruined your day and turn that frown upside down.

Bodegas San Valero – Manyana

Cost: Average price $6-$7

Where buy now: Haskell’s – $4.99

Grapes: Tempranillo

Region: Carinena, Spain

Vintage: 2010

Bodegas San Valero Manyana

It truly does not get more bang-for-buck than this $4.99 beaut’. Simply put: 100% Tempranillo wine; dark, ruby red in color, with smells of cherries, smoke, maybe a hint of plum. A little fruity, but with a hint of oaky spice, the taste is pleasant and mild. The finish doesn’t last long but, really, who cares? It’s $4.99. (You get an entire 750mL bottle for $4.99.)

If you aren’t a huge wine drinker, pick this up. If you are a huge wine drinker, and you are reading this during liquor store hours, leave now. [Did I mention the $4.99 price tag?] Perhaps it’s just the 2010 vintage, but this sucker goes down easy like a Sunday morning.

This is quite a versatile, medium-bodied red that would go well with typical Minnesota meat and potatoes fare. It would also go well with ribs, pork chops, or tacos. You could enjoy it with some tapas such as olives, almonds and Spanish Serrano ham (Trader Joe’s Serrano would pair nicely on a budget). Or, here’s a great movie snack: a bottle of $4.99 Manyana, a bag of Sweet Potato tortilla chips (on sale at Cub Foods for $2 and change), and mango salsa.

I insisted my husband try this wine immediately after he walked in the door that evening. I’m sure he was thinking “Ah, another cheap wine. Glory.” He took a few sips, and gave me an atypical “what is this?!?!?”. I told him it was $4.99. His next question was “Can we buy a case?” He NEVER asks if we can buy a case. If you didn’t catch this factoid earlier, Manyana Tempranillo costs $4.99.

You are welcome.

Altovinum Evodia Garnacha

Cost: Average $9.99

Where buy now: Costco – $6.99

Grapes: 100% Garnacha

Region: Spain

Vintage: 2010

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Altovinum Evodia
Altovinum Evodia

I’m going to preface this review by saying I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love this wine. I could probably stop there, right?

Grenache or Garnacha? WTF? In short, “Garnacha” (Gar-nah-cha) is Spanish, “Grenache” (pronounce it gren-awsh so you don’t sound like a boob] is both English and French. Spanish Garnacha contains 100% Garnacha/Grenache grapes. The French blend Grenache grapes with other grapes to give you varietals such as Cote de Rhone or the ever so popular AND expensive Chateauneuf-du-Pape (shat-en-uhf-doo-pahp). I’ve also seen blends from Australia, commonly seen as “GSM” which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (moo-veh-dray).

I’ve been enjoying Garnacha for a couple of years now. Garnacha seems to be both palatable and in my price range. I came across Altovinum Evodia at my local Muni [remember Muni=St. Anthony Village Wines & Spirits] on sale for $8.99! Zang! I’m not going to lie, I was drawn to the blue label gleaming in the florescent store lights, it definitely sticks out on the shelf. Perhaps I’m just drawn to pretty shiny things, attribute that to undiagnosed A.D.D. if you want. Beyond the esthetic of the label, let’s pop that cork and get down to business, shall we?

Mmm. . .Oooh. . ., Oh. . .Uh-huh, that’s the stuff. This, my friends, is damn good wine. It is deep red in color and silky; soft and round yet bold with peppery raspberry, blackberry and cherry flavors. It has a nice finish (yes, I swallowed) that lingers long enough to make you want to go back for more. From the Calatayud region of Spain. Read up, it’s the new sexy place to go.

If you like Garnacha but can’t get to Costco nor want to pay $9.99, pick this Castillo de Monseran Garnacha up instead. All you need is a $5 spot and some loose sofa change. You’ll typically find this toward the bottom of wine shelves but this one is almost as good! (I’ve bought it by the case.)

Castillo de Monseran Garnacha
Castillo de Monseran Garnacha

Here’s a kick-ass tapas recipe to pair with it. All I ask is that at least ONE of you try this and let me know, nay, thank me profusely for turning you on to a great wine/recipe one-two punch!

Catalan Pizza w/ Red Pepper Marmalade

●3 cups of drained roasted red peppers [3 – 14 to 16oz jars] thinly sliced

●3 Tbsp oil [I use coconut oil]

●1 large onion, thinly sliced

●¼ cup of granulated sugar

●1 ½ Tbsp. red wine vinegar

●Salt to taste

●Goat cheese [optional]

●Pizza dough [make your own if you are an over-achiever- I’ve used Trader Joe’s dough and Pillsbury’s thin crust dough]

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion in oil until soft but not browned (about 10 minutes), stirring often. Add peppers, and cook for about 5 more minutes. Stir in the sugar, vinegar and 2 Tbsp of water until the sugar has dissolved. Cover and cook on low heat for about 10 min. Then, uncover and increase heat to medium. Stir occasionally until peppers are soft, onions are glossy and the liquid has reduced. Season with a little salt and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Follow pizza crust instructions. I typically bake the pizza dough for about 5 min. Then, I take it out of the oven, top with the maramalade mixture and drop goat cheese on top. Pop back in the oven for 5 minutes, then slide it off the pizza pan to cook directly on the rack for another 5 minutes.

Que bueno!