We never stop looking out for the rare, amazing deal. These can come at any time, from anywhere, and we have turned more than our share of these kinds of opportunities over the years. But, frankly, given what is currently available in the marketplace, something has to be pretty spectacular to get our attention. This one is.
Yes we know we have gone to the well with Solanera number of times in the past, but the darn wine just keeps delivering, consistently improving and presenting one of the best bang-for-the-buck options out there.
It all starts with Eric Solomon, a consistent source for some of the best wine deals on the planet and his massive portfolio of wines. Simply put, when you are trying to market some 300+ wines in the marketplace, and transitioning through various configurations of purveyors to accommodate distribution of so many brands, there are times a wine or two can get lost in the shuffle.
It’s nobody’s fault, but opportunities get created all the same and, when the wine is already a pretty sensational value with a long proven track record, an aggressive deal can make the offer almost laughable. We have told this story more than once with Solanera, and here we go again with the latest and greatest, the Castano Solanera Vinas Viejas 2015.
Over the years a lot of Solanera has passed through our doors. Why wouldn’t it? You’ve got Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha from 40-100 year-old vines in clay/limestone soils at nearly 3000 feet elevation. It’s ‘always sunny’ in Yecla, and the altitude keeps everything in perspective as the nights cool to preserve sufficient freshness in the wine. You get a rich, substantial, character-filled red year in and year out and, because the real estate isn’t as famous here in southeastern Spain, you don’t pay a lot of money for the quality of juice you are getting.
Hey, it might seem like unfair competition, but it’s just the way it is. It is no wonder that we have sold so much Solanera in our history, and why all thirteen vintages of the stuff that were reviewed in Wine Advocate have scored 90 points or better. Wine Advocate’s Luis Gutierrez was pretty high on this one again, handing it a 92 point score with lengthy comments, “The 2015 Solanera used to wear the ultimate Spanglish label, which said “Viñas Viejas of Monastrell” even if it was always a blend (in this vintage, the blend includes 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Garnacha Tintorera)…
“… they used part of full clusters and sourced the grapes from Casa Marta, a nine-hectare, head-pruned, dry-farmed plot on very stony soils in the north of Yecla at the foot of the Mount Arabí. It fermented in concrete vats and open-top barrels and matured in barrique, each variety separately, for some ten months, after which it was blended and bottled. This is the vintage of the big change in this wine, where, as with the majority of its siblings, there is better balance and more integrated oak, more freshness and better balance.
“The nose is quite captivating, especially after some time in the glass, when it starts developing some floral aromas, perfect ripeness, no warmth or alcohol and a powerful, yet terribly balanced palate with concentration and elegance, fine-grained tannins and clean, focused flavors. This is my favorite Solanera to date.”
Like we said, ours, too. This is a more refined effort that definitely plays above its category in the glass even more than past efforts. This jump in quality may have had something to do with the vintage and most assuredly reflects the touch of Jean-Marc Lafage who consulted on this vintage for the first time. It’s a kinder, gentler, more polished and more engaging bottle of Solanera and for under $10 (the best price in the country), it’s almost like stealing. Good hunting.