Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil Monastrell 2005

Before I begin, let me first point out that this wine is all over the map: it presents a fairly wide array of different smells, textures, and tastes. Is that a good thing? Well, it’s certainly better than a simple, one-dimensional wine, but is it perhaps the lack of a focused direction that makes this a good wine and not a great wine? Is there a way for humans to intervene in a wine’s growth to direct it in a certain way, or is this just a happy accident of certain terroirs?—Anyhow: on to the wine. On the nose, there’s a bit of charry bacon, grilled bread, dusty violet, black berry leaves, smoke, earth, and an underlying sweetness to it all. It may be mataro, but it’s not an animalistic, meaty mataro: it’s more along the lines of sweet Christmas pudding and spice. With time and air, it lightened up a bit into a more perfume-y display, taking on notes of powdered cacao and blackberry jam.There’s a bit of lively acidity on the attach, quickly subsumed by full, round, rich fruit that tends towards blackstrap molasses and dark berries; on the finish, delicate tannins, again that refreshing acidity, and a long, careful finish that carefully divides its time between smoke, burnt sugar, damask rose, tar, and again that fine wash of tannin. It’s a beautiful wine; my only complaint is that it’s perhaps akin to watching a movie with a hundred beautiful scenes but no plot to tie it all together. What is this wine trying to tell us exactly?Bodegas Hijos de Juan GilPrice: US $11.99Closure: CorkDate tasted: December 2007

Panarroz 2005

Pine-Sol, turpentine, and shoe leather came to mind when I first smelled this wine, but then I realized that no one wants to drink anything that smells like the toilets at summer camp. Therefore, let me revise that to pine needles, dirt, rich Corinthian leather, and dark red raspberries. There’s also a whiff of smoke, tar, and black cherry there as well – it’s a fairly complex nose for a wine this cheap. With some air, it started to tend towards cedar shavings (hamster cage?) and blueberry – very impressive, really.

In the mouth, it’s rich, meaty, and chunky, with a prominent streak of savory acidity at the back of it all. What does it taste like? Well, that’s hard to say: it’s a little bit like lavender and meatloaf, somehow. On the finish, you’re treated to firm, drying tannins and then a soft, gentle trail-off of sweet bacon and chocolate. It’s all very appetizing and thank God it’s Friday night because I’m probably just going to stay at home and polish off the bottle with the neighbors.

Price: US $6.99
Closure: Cheesy plastic cork
Date tasted: November 2007