Let's be clear about one thing. Matt Kramer is a terrific wine writer. We should only wish other writers (myself included) were half as good.
That said, no one's perfect.
Kramer might be best known these days for his long running column in the Wine Spectator magazine. That's not to discount his small catalog of well regarded wine books. He also writes a column that appears in our local newspaper, The Oregonian.
That weekly column usually has two or three terrific buys, mostly around $20 or less, each one picked for its value and distinction. For local producers, getting a review is good for selling at least a palate of wine (that's 56 twelve bottle cases). I highly recommend you check out his reviews if you don't already.
That said, after reading about a super cheap 2006 Spanish garnacha a few Sundays back, I search online for the column to remember the name of the co-op that produced the wine. Here's what I found:
This helps explain just why Castillo de Monséran Garnacha 2004 is so improbably good. The Cariñena district is recognized as a good spot for growing better-than-average grenache. And like so many other vineyard areas in
, these vines are old, which tends to lend character to the grapes. Spain
This is terrific, bursting-with-fruit grenache (the label, by the way, is marketsavvy: It declares both grenache and garnacha). It's silky red wine that slides down the gullet without a catch and is mercifully free of any oakiness.
Hmm. That sounded familiar. But this was Kramer's column in the
Searching further, I found the review I had seen in the Oregonian:
This helps explain just why Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 2006 is so improbably good. The Carinena district is recognized as a good spot for growing better-than-average grenache. And like so many other vineyard areas in
, the vines are old, which tends to lend character to grapes. Spain
This is pretty, bursting-with-fruit grenache plumped with the grapey/black cherry flavors that characterize this variety. It's a silky red wine that slides down without a catch and is mercifully free of any oakiness.
Now this is just a $7 large production wine from a Spanish cooperative. I'm sure the '04 wasn't much different than the '06.
But are we that short of writers that our newspapers just recycle content? I'd gladly write for the local rag if the regular guy is too busy to write something new. Don't people realize that, with the internet, you can't do this anymore without getting caught?
I do like how there are subtle differences between the "different" passages. I'm sure it's just editors doing their thing. But does "gullet" not resonate on the west coast? Can we not handle it? Does the local rag have something against accents in foreign words? There are many questions.
For what it's worth, I bought a bottle of this 2006 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha for $6.99 at a local market. And it's terrific. In a world where budget Spanish red wines have largely become candied, oaky, sweet, fruit punch wines, this wine actually has aroma. It tastes delicious, too. It's the best, cheapest red wine I've had in a while.
Too bad the Kramer review leaves such a bad taste. Better luck next time.