Two hot little Spaniards … (was I showing off?)

Was I showing off a little with these wines?  Maybe a little, and for good reason, although I got outclassed in the end anyway.

photoRecently I wrote about an old chardonnay that I had at a friend’s place, the one that showed clear, well actually golden, signs of looking like dehydrated equine liquid waste (my wife thought using “horse piss” in a blog was a bit off so I won’t mention it here … whoops).  I had no idea I’d end up writing about that wine, I’d actually brought along a couple of other wines to “show off” and then blog about.  But the old Chardy totally outclassed my two Spanish wines and stole the limelight.  It’s great when a wine really surprises you.

Now the two little Spaniards get their turn, and deservedly so.

A lot of Aussies only drink Australian wine.  It’s probably partly a patriotic thing but it more than likely has to do with the fact that we produce so much more wine than we could possibly ever drink ourselves, although we do try! (We keep the good stuff and throw a funny beast on the label of the rubbish then send it overseas … it amuses me what people find important in wine.) There really hasn’t been much room for imported wines, especially when they are in a language using terminology we generally do not understand.

In my early days of travelling I was marvelled seeing all the Australian wines on shelves overseas so I’d always go for an Aussie wine.  Then it dawned on me that I had the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of exotic wines from the locales of the places I travelled to, and I could save the Aussie wines for when I got home.

Imported wine is slowly making its way into the Australian wine market, thankfully.  It’s allowing wine lovers the opportunity to enjoy wine that is truly different to the wines we make here in Australia.

IMG_2639So I decided to pick up a couple of Spanish wines to take with me to my friends place to have with dinner and made sure they were relatively common and easy for most of our readers to get hold of.  I picked an Albariño as the white and a Rioja as the red knowing that these would be different wines from what many Australians are used to.

The white was a Martín Códax Albariño Rías Baixas Burgáns 2011.  Burgáns is made at Martín Códax, a famous Bodega (winery) in the Rías Baixas wine region located on the Atlantic coast of north west Spain and bordering Portugal.  Albariño is a local grape of the region and accounts for 90% of grapes planted in the area.  It is also grown across the border in Portugal where it is called Alvarinho.  In Australia you can pick this wine up from Vintage Cellars or 1st Choice for around $19.

This was quite a nice white wine with its own unique flavour.  If I was to try to compare it to more common white wines I’d say it’s a cross between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, but that’s like describing crocodile as tasting somewhat like chicken, when it’s more like lizard (a pub in The Rocks of Sydney does an awesome crocodile pizza, but I digress).

It’s unwooded so it is fresh with quite a bit of zing and a lot of flavour that is not hidden by any oak.  It is a lemony slightly green colour with quite a lot of floral notes on the nose.  I enjoyed the smell, and went back for a few more sniffs.  It had that lemon fragrance, and in a nice way.

And you could taste the citrus flavours on each sip, along with peaches and pears that lingered for a little while in your mouth.  We all really enjoyed this wine and would definitely have it again, probably with some light antipasto or BBQ’d prawns even.

IMG_2633The red was a Berberana Carta de Oro Rioja Gran Reserva 2005 that you can pick up from Dan Murphys for about $15.  It is a medium to full-bodied red wine made by the Barberana bodega, under the Carta De Oro brand, and comes from the Rioja region in northern Spain.  It’s about 80% Tempranillo with 20% Garnacha (Grenache).  Being a Gran Reserva just means that it has been held back to gather some age before being released.

This was a really nice red wine!  The 2005 vintage in Rioja was apparently very good and it definitely shows.  On opening I was hit straight away with plum and blackcurrant aromas and even some herbs and earthy leather.  It was a dark ruby-red colour, almost like a port (although nothing like one otherwise).

It had a lovely taste of plums and spices along with those earthy elements and a taste of fruit and vanilla that lasted in the mouth.  It would go very well with hearty meat dishes or strong cheeses.   It reminded me of a South Australian Shiraz, although still very different.  A thoroughly enjoyable wine.

So, if you want to show off a little and look all international without breaking the budget, these two wines will go down very well (unless you end up being outclassed of course). Even if you can’t find these particular wines definitely ask for an Albariño or a Rioja if you want to try something different that I think you may very well enjoy.

Author: Conrad



  1. With such a good review you got me hungry 🙂
    If you want to show off a little more, I can translate to you the labels, the Albariño is written in portuguese and the Rioja in spanish, I only know spanish but its very similar.


  2. I’ve got a bottle of that Berberana sitting in my wine rack – and I think you’ve just tempted me to open it this weekend! (I miss Dan Murphys – it’s amazing what you can pick up in there).


  3. Conrad, I can see I have a lot to learn here about wine. You are inspiring me to stop buying cheap wines at Trader Joe’s here for cooking and then taking way too expensive wines that I know nothing about, as gifts. I plan to reform! Great blog and I love your background theme.


    • Hi Beth. Decent wine need not cost a lot of money. Usually price is a fair enough indicator of quality but there’s often equal quality in lesser known cheaper wines. The condundrum is that it’s hard to know what those wines are without someone or something telling you about it.


  4. Now I want to grab a bottle of that. Just checked that we only have the Burgans where I am in Canada from what you suggested 🙂 I’ve always been more into white wine and cross of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay..sounds delish!


  5. I usually grab an Australian or Californian wine. I should get some spanish wine now! NO your not showing off!


  6. I like your wife! I think she and I would get along. It looks like we both married men who need a wife to occasionally caution them on the crude-factor, but then, that’s why I married mine–he makes me laugh and keeps me from always being too much of a prissy-girl.


  7. You know I reckon we are just a bit patriotic about only drinking Australian wine – true on that. I love looking “all international without breaking the budget” 🙂


  8. Great wines to choose from Spain. I am a huge fan of Spanish wines especially anything from Rioja or Ribera del Duero. If you can find any wine made in Rioja Alavesa those wines in my opinion are much more complex and structured.

    Great review as always!!!!


  9. I just got a nice deal on an Albariño I found quite nice–very like the one you describe, in fact–paying about half price for it and glad I went ahead and bought a couple bottles on the recommendation of the local merchant. But that Rioja, a type I tend to like for its relatively high sophistication-to-price ratio generally, as well as its flexibility in pairing with such a range of foods I like/love, sounds really delicious. Must keep my eyes peeled for that label!


  10. Hi! I’m glad you visited and decided to follow my blog on: “Randa Lane…” is primarily devoted to haiku, tanka, and other short verse forms. I’ve just begun to explore “The Wine Wankers” but based on “Two Hot Little Spaniards…” I am now a follower! About time I shed some of my ignorance concerning wine!
    Best Success,


  11. My brother, who lived in Spain for 3 years, introduced me to Albariño years ago. Lovely whites, ranging from rather simple quaffers to complex, food-friendly wines. I’ve also found some excellent Albariños from Chile, with low prices and high quality.

    bethbyrnes, don’t give up on Trader Joe’s. You can find some very good wines there for reasonable prices. Look for KONO Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, for example.

    Conrad, thanks for liking my recent post on French wine terms. I’m in France for 3 years writing about French wine and food, especially cheese.

    Harvest in Champagne is starting this weekend, always a busy, thrilling time!


  12. One of my best friends LOVES Rioja, precisely because of the mineral, leather quality they aften have. I never would have thought I would enjoy something like that, until he introduced me to it. I forwarded this post to him. We will have to find a bottle and share it:) Thanks!


  13. Thank you for following my blog. I find yours to be soooo helpful, as I have a great love of wine, but looking at them and then trying to pick the right one seems very daunting! I hope to try some of these soon. Blessings…


  14. Thanks for the follow! Your knowledge of wines is very impressive. 🙂 My uncle in Bordeaux has two wine cellars that he is very passionate about so I find your blog very familiar and interesting. 🙂 Your enthusiasm for wine is quite infectious!


  15. This is gonna sound really stupid( but hey, I live with 6 dachshunds, and if they don’t drink it, I don’t buy it. Yes, it is their house.). Anyway, here’s the ignoramus question: how do wine grapes, which I assume grow on a vine not shared by peaches and other fruits, end up tasting Iike them? I get the oak flavor, after all it’s aged in an oak barrel, right? I mean, I’m not totally uneducated in the French Art. ( I made that up. You may use it.). I’d so appreciate being enlightened on this subject.


    • Hi there. Yep, the oak is from the barrel. The rest comes from the minerals and nutrients in the Earth combined with the sun for sugar content and water uptake. Then it’s the fermentation process and oxidation which breaks all the compounds in the wine down creating other flavour types. The truth is wine tastes of fermented grapes but the flavours and smells experienced end up being similar to other flavours you’ve experienced before (usually like fruits, as it is a fruit).


  16. I’m lucky and unlucky to live in Spain. Lucky because we have so many great and different wines and unlucky because I’m still checking out Spanish ones and wonder if I’ll get to try any others!

    Liked by 1 person

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