Bodegas Atalaya Almansa La Atalaya 2009: a.k.a. Laya.  I purchased this wine when I was going through my “Spanish Phase,” and after recently sampling the bottle, I’ve decided I’m not over it.  Spanish wines offer outstanding values and ever increasing quality that is hard to match anywhere.  So, this bottle was already in my cellar when Wine Spectator came out with their 2012 Top 100 list, which has this wine at number 54. 

The wine is from the Almansa region, which is between the high plateau of La Mancha and the cooling effects of the Mediterranean in the southeastern corner of Spain. The Gil family Estates bodega sits at about 2700 feet on limestone soil.  The winemaker is a Spanish-born, Australia-trained Fran Gonzales. 

The wine is a blend of mostly Garnacha Tintorera with a smattering of Monastrell. Aged in French oak for 4 months, the wine is full-bodied, which I like.  This is a great wine to enjoy with friends during loud political conversations.  I paired with pasta with meat sauce and grilled sausages.  It was like watching a cherry red corvette in my glass, the color was very clean and bright. The nose was intense and expressive.  I know I might lose some of you here, as my “intense” sends some of you running from the room, but that’s the way I like my wines.  As for the flavor, it is nice right from the bottle, and the Monastrell does a fine job of softening the Granacha.  This wine is a little on the sweet side for me, a bit of a fruit bomb, but wimpy wine drinkers are advised to approach with caution.  This is a youthful wine with an enjoyable long finish. 

So what we have here is an old world wine blended with new world techniques and vision that offers better-than-average value.  Yes, you can get a wine this good from California, but it will cost you about twice as much.  I think I paid about $12 to $14 for this wine.  With 10,000 cases made you should be able to find your own bottle of Laya to explore.  Let me know what you think.


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