la_villa_real_crianzaThe 2008 La Villa Real Crianza is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot from grapes grown in the La Mancha DO of Spain. La Villa Real is produced by Bodegas La Remediadora a co-op of 350 vineyards (covering 3,700 acres) who band together to build their own winery, hire a wine-maker and make their own wines. Co-ops are common in Europe, but I think there is only one active  wine co-op in the US. Co-ops are self policing, since the vineyards themselves are reaping the profits from the grapes and the wine, it is in their best interests to produce quality grapes. La Mancha is the largest grape growing area in the world, in the past they produced mainly rustic regional or local wines, but in the past few decades have upgraded the facilities and vineyards to make high quality wines. This Bordeaux blend from La Mancha is aged for 12 months in new oak barrels, 60% American oak and 40% French oak, it is then aged another 6 months in the bottle before release. The alcohol content is 13.5%.

The color is a deep, dark black cherry red with blue-black highlights.The nose is blackberry, sweet blueberry, dusty chocolate, plum, cold coffee and vanilla. This Red blend has a satiny mouth-feel with a nice mix of ripe rounded fruit flavors with tart flavors and a well-balanced counter-point of spice. It tastes of dark berries, licorice, dark chocolate and vanilla spice. The mid-palate brings a transition to tart cranberry, toasted vanilla, slightly sour cherry and mild slap of curry spice. The flavors create a lovely stew and the tannins, the acidity and the fruit are well-balanced, The finish is delicate, complicated and lingers for some time.

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The 2008 La Villa Real Crianza is a 6-year-old Red blend that was aged in new oak barrels, using some of the best vines the co-op has to offer and it should be found (if it is imported to your area) for around $20. That is the beauty of wines from La Mancha, it is an emerging wine-producing region making quality wine. It takes a few years of producing wonderful wine for the reputation to catch up to the wine. In the meantime, cellar worthy aged wines can be had for a few dollars more than the price of a “drink it now” wine. If you see a LA Mancha wine on the shelves of a quality wine shop, give it and try, the price should be more than right.

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Don’t tell anyone, but there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of wine and the quality of wine.