This was our third tasting of Catalan reds (we've done Priorat twice), and these wines continued to impress for their dense, masculine qualities and overall harmony. All improved with air, and none were very expensive, especially compared to the high prices bottles of Priorat get these days.
While there was a clear winner, all the wines received points, with only one point keeping the third place bottle from sharing the podium.
First Place: Jaspe Negre 2011 (Montsant). Tasters found scents of incense, charred wood, dust, rubber glue, spices, and eucalyptus. Andy R felt it was "like a church candle that just got burnt out". Great texture and transition in the mouth, with excellent overall balance. Ali felt it was "like fruit to cola", with Kristin describing it as "a gaucho that likes other gauchos", and Andy R labeled it "a gaucho-sexual". Strong showing. Something medicinal on the finish. Made from 45% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Syrah. Everyone's favorite of the night, except for Andy P. Received 34 points. About $23.
Second Place: Besllum 2008 (Montsant). Looks unfiltered, with scents of mint, burnt tires, sweat, dates, raisins, pine, and fresh cut oak. Mouth-coating and rich, with excellent texture, showing flavors of cherry cola, cloves, and licorice. Ali found "cherry Nyquil", while Andy R noted "clover honey". Bacon on the long finish. David felt that "with air, it has great intensity". Received 18 points. About $18.
Third Place: Cims del Montsant 2010 (Montsant). Unfiltered. Some obvious oak on the nose, plus vanilla, charcoal, cigarette smoke, and cinnamon. Resa felt that it "smells like immaturity". Juicy, but tempered by structure, with notes of tobacco and strawberry moving to cranberry, leather, stone fruits, and tomatillo. Feels a little thinner than most, but maintains its balance. Made from 63% Grenache and 37% Carignan. Received 11 points. About $15.
Cellers Can Blau Can Blau 2011 (Montsant). Smelled of mold, like wet boots, or old leather. Dusty, cheese rind scents emerged, along with wet stone, rosemary, thyme, and iodine. Andy R detected "rotten fruit", while Ali noted "weak licorice", with Andy P finding that it "smells like whale and mackerel". Ali finished with "rented New Jersey shore house". Great texture, offering flavors of cranberry, wild berry, green tobacco, and beef blood. Andy felt that it "shows some machismo", with David describing it as "dark and brooding". Made from 40% Mazuelo, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha. About $18.
Zerran 2011 (Montsant). Unfiltered, with aromas of eraser, cranberry, and butterscotch. Kristin detected "school dust", and Resa was reminded of "sneaker store". Medicinal and more astringent in the mouth, with green apple, licorice, black cherry, and cranberry flavors. David found "smoldering logs". Seems a little immature. Tasty wine, but David felt that there was "not quite as much harmony". Made from 50% Garnacha, 40% Mazuelo, 10% Syrah. Andy P's favorite. Received 7 points. About $13.
Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis 2012 (Montsant). Tasters found scents of mold, dust, bug spray, fresh cut hay, sunflowers (plus the seeds), Band-Aids, and smoke. Great volume to the mid-palate, with mouth-coating flavors of cloves, rosemary, and cherry. Structured. Andy R felt it was "like a fig newton". Received 4 points. About $13.
Warre's King's Tawny Porto. Notes of flowers, caramel, new leather, and walnuts. Andy R detected "new shower curtain liner". Good. About $20.