I'm behind by a week on these posts, so I'm going to do northern Italy and Spain in one post. We tried a plentitude of wines from these countries; from Italy we drank many nebbiolos as well as some of the other indigenous varietals, and in Spain we drank tons of tempranillo because of the incredible breadth of character it can have in different wines. I liked a lot of what we drank from both countries. The warm climates and robust varietals create some really big, bold, brick shit-house wines, in a good way. There is elegance and energy in them too, but they're like a country girl who moves to the city; she's refined and chic, but can still swing an axe. I'm very psyched to go to the liquor store to purchase these - especially since so many of them are affordably priced! Some top wines coming out of these countries (and Portugal as well) are much less expensive than those from France, though of comparable quality.
It's tough to select just one northern Italian wine that I enjoyed most, but Brunello di Montalcino's 2005 La Velona was definitely among the best of the evening. This wine is a sangiovese grosso-based blend. The colour is a deep garnet with a brick rim, which makes it look much like pinot noir at first, and it has some of the cherry, coffee, herb, and mushroom smells and tastes that pinot noir can have too. The give-away that this is an Italian wine is the delicious taste of balsamic vinegar, mingled with mint and thyme on the palate. Nums! This was a rich, velvety, juicy, energetic wine that would suit many different kinds of food or just drinking by itself.
My favourite of the evening from Spain was Emilio Moro's 2007 tempranillo. The tempranillos we tasted were expressive of the many different aspects this varietal can take in wine - some wines were aggressive and brawny, some velvety smooth. Emilio Moro was powerful and elegant - like Queen Elizabeth I. It had a beautiful black raspberry colour, smelled of toffee, cocoa, red berries and dill (with just a hint of vinyl LP), and tasted like cherries, coffee, mocha and just a hint of that characteristic dill on the palate. It felt juicy in the mouth, with pleasantly ripe, firm tannins. Some of the tempranillos were more like a punch in the mouth than a drink of wine, but not this one. This one felt lovely, and tasted delicious.