The wines offered in the all inclusive package on Sea Dream I were standard stuff, the Danzante Pinot Grigio, previously reviewed here, being a typical example. Among the reds our favorite was the Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva 2007, a Chilean red with a pleasing dark cherry element and soft tannins and hints of soft herbs at the finish. Available in PA for $11.99, but for as little as $8.99 elsewhere.
We also splurged on a Bouza Tempranillo/Tannat 2006. This Uruguayan red comes on with a delicate dark berry flavor, spiced with chocolate, and opens up very nicely when decanted. In imitation of Chateau Neuf du Pape,reflecting stones are placed underneath the wines to absorb heat during the day and keep the grapes warm at night. Some people complain that this results in overly harsh tannins, but we didn't find this to be the case. This is a superior wine, worth the PA price of $18.99.
In Spain, we sampled what is now the standard Parador red, the Melchior Crianza 2005, a Rioja. This is definitely on the light side for a Tempranillo and will go with most anything. Available in Spanish Hypermercados for roughly $8.00, but not in PA.
We tried two reds from Estremadura: A Privilegio de Romale Crianza 2006, a Tempranillo aged in oak for eight months, from the region of Badajoz. This struck us as at the same time especially silky and interestingly spicy. I would buy this wine again anytime. Roughly $10.00, not available in PA, but I certainly recommend it to the powers that be.
Another Tempranillo from Badajoz, The Basangus Crianza 2007, aged in oak for fourteen months, is a powerful wine, reasonably but not excessively heavy, with strong black berry flavors, medium tannins and a kicker of licorice. Goes extremely well with red meats, ca. $11.00, not available in PA.
We also had two very nice whites, a Fernandez de Pierola 2007 from the Rioja, a straw colored wine with white melon flavors, a little subdued in the finish. Roughly $9.00, not available in PA.
And,in Portugal, a Quinto de Azevedo 2008, a Vinho Verde made mostly from the Lureiro grape. Vinho Verdes used to be suspect, as in the cold, wet climate of northern Portugal they tended to be excessively acidic and were sugared to counterbalance this. But with modern methods of cultivation this weakness has been overcome and the wine under review has a very nice lemony flavor with enough of a white fruit element to banish any sourness and no sweetness whatsoever. There is just the merest hint of the bubbly element (the result of adding CO2), typical of the variety ,in this wine. Ca. $10.00, not available in PA.
Finally, back home, we opened a bottle of Olvena 2007, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Somontano in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrennees. With the proviso that it has to breathe for at least an hour, this is an excellent wine. It exhibits a nice blend of dark plum and chocolate flavors with a marked element of spices. For once the PA price of $9.99 compares very favorably with what is being asked elsewhere. I suggest you buy it.