Wine on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 September, 2003, 12:00am


Capcanes Mas Donis grenache/cabernet sauvignon/tempranillo 2001, $150

La Comarca de Falset, a hilly region of Tarragona, consists largely of unforgiving rock. You can trace the roots of vines down the sides of the cliffs for 12 metres or more, cracking through the rock in search of moisture. The grapes are tiny, intense and sugar-packed. This is a remarkable wine, made of five different grapes masterfully blended into a compact, sweet red with room for maturation. It is wonderful to drink young but will get vastly better with ageing. I had this with a herb-stuffed chicken.

Newfame (tel: 2753 5310)

Altozano cabernet suvignon/tempranillo/ shiraz 1999, $122

From the parched heartland of La Mancha comes this surprisingly inexpensive but elegant red. In an attempt to capture a share of the international market in quality wines, many Spanish wine-makers are adding classical French grapes to their blends. I wish they would stay with the wonderful tempranillo grape. There are a lot of grapes on the 192,000 hectares of vineyard in the great south-central plateau that sprawls across Spain. It usually produces something like 70 million bottles of wine, from varieties like verdoncho and mabaceo (for whites) and cencibel, among many other native grapes, for the reds. Try this with grilled sausages.

Oliver's (tel: 2869 5119)

Carlos Serres Onomastica Tempranillo Reserva 1995, $490

Soft and luscious, this is a classic dark Rioja - on which Cellarmaster will give SCMP readers a 25 per cent discount. The aromas are intense with vanilla and oak overtones. It comes from the northern region of Rioja Alta, where vines grow in limestone and clay soils, buffeted by winds from the Mediterranean and Atlantic. The wonderful native grape tempranillo is the basis for all wines from the area.

Open it an hour before you eat and give it time to breath. It goes well with a slow-cooked leg of lamb.

Cellarmaster Wines (tel: 2791 6332)