The 2008 Castillo de Almansa Reserva is a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo (known locally as Cencibel) and Garnacha Tintorera (also known as Alicante Bouschet and not the same as Grenache/Garnacha) sourced from the Estate vineyards of Bodegas Piqueras, a family owned winery since 1915, located in the Almansa grape growing DO inside the LaMancha DO in Southeast Spain. Castillo de Almansa is a old Moorish castle that still overlooks the area. In Spain the term “Reserva” indicates the wine was aged for a minimum of 3 years, with at least one year of the aging in oak barrels. The Castillo de Almansa is an example of a Spanish wine, now you say, “Of course it is, it was produced in Spain.” But you would be surprised about how many wines from Europe are made specifically for the American market and are unknown in their home markets. The Castillo de Almansa Reserva uses indigenous (to Almansa) Spanish grapes and is made in a traditional Spanish style. This bottle lists for $13.99, but can often be found on sale for a few bucks less. The alcohol content is 14%.
The color is dark, almost opaque black cherry red. This has the nose of an expensive wine, there are the aromas of oak (light not overbearing), rich, ripe, dark berries, French vanilla, dark chocolate and soft Christmas spice. This is a 2008 vintage, it has had 4 years to mingle its flavors and aromas, “Drink it now wines” can mimic this effect, but they can’t completely duplicate it. It starts with raspberry, cinnamon spice, cassis, cola and plum. The mid palate shows the oak and the tannins, but they have mellowed to the point that they are part of the flavor profile and not something apart from the wine, along with a little strawberry shortcake. The finish is full and of good length.
The Castillo de Almansa Reserva is a “how they used to make them” wine selling at a modern “drink it now” price. There is nothing wrong with “drink it now” wines, it is just that they are different from aged wines. Modern winemakers are doing an outstanding job of taming the tannins and imparting balanced oak flavors on modern wines, but there is nothing like a wine that has gone thru the process naturally. The Castillo de Almansa Reserva is a well priced taste of how all wines used to be and maybe still should be.