Cellar Arche Pages Cartesius Emporda 2005

cartesius-empordaI’m one of the few wine wonks that’ll tell you Spanish wines are overrated. Industry types usually like to talk up the Iberian Peninsula (Spain & Portugal) as an exciting, up and coming area for great values. Those do exist, but for every one that does, I’ve tasted plenty more oak bombs that lack any nuance or personality.

As an example, a 2013 visit to Philly’s Koo Zee Doo with PA Wine Talk still lingers in my mind: 14 Iberian wines, no personality. Though I yearned for a little something to break the monotony, I only found hardcore oak and alcohol, the common problem with today’s Spanish reds.

But here’s the rub: Cellar Arche Pages Cartesius Emporda 2005 ain’t that. This wine is fabulous. A Grenache blend (with some Cab and Carignan) from the lesser-known Emporda region in northwest Spain, it is both complex and beguiling. Ruby red in the glass, its flavor features berries of the same hue, balanced deftly with savory nuance of herbs and earth, as well as tobacco and warm spice. Well-aged from the 2005 vintage, it’s enjoyable from pop and pour, yet evolves over time in decanter or glass, bringing something new to each sip.

At $22, this is not a bargain-basement value, but considering it would easily go for more with a more prestigious name on its label, this still qualifies as a heck of a deal.

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