Is there a more exciting place right now than Spain for wines that are both compelling and affordable? ¡Claro que no! And this fantastically drinkable 2007 El Molinet is only further proof. I discovered this tempranillo-cab blend from the Valencia region at La Tienda, a well-known Spanish import store in Virginia, where it was the perfect red to wash down nibbles of cuminy chorizo, peppery olives, and Spanish cheese. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem at the PLCB's handsomely revamped store on Columbus Boulevard.
It's made by D'Este Vino in a region often considered too hot for tempranillo, so many of the grapes for this vino come from cooler high-altitude vineyards that allow for good slow-ripened acidity. A 15 percent splash of cabernet is added for depth and consistency. Opened for some cheese with friends, it was just as I remembered it - an appealingly accessible burst of ripe red berry fruit, but elegantly framed by Spain's trademark earthiness and spice, with a hint of juniper, licorice, and black pepper to keep it lively until the last drops.
- Craig LaBan
El Molinet 2007, available in limited quantities in select Philadelphia-area state stores for $13.99 (code: 16786) or the PLCB's online store for $11.49 (code: 22719).