Review: 2009 Marques De Riscal Proximo Tempranillo Rioja

On a scuba trip to Catalina Island, my other half and I attempted to hit up a wine bar on the main drag. But by the time we got inside, we were kicked out because turns out, the wine bar was actually part of a hotel and only open for guests. Boo.

We asked the Australian concierge where could two folks like us get a bottle of wine at 10 p.m. and not have to go to a Tiki bar or listen to someone sing karaoke. He suggested a fancy restaurant down the street and we gave it a shot.


We sat at the bar, which was nicely backlit with moody colors shining through a wall of wine bottles and ordered the 2009 Marques De Riscal Proximo Tempranillo Rioja. This Spanish red tastes earthy and has cherry notes. It’s very spicy, and warms the soul–and the tongue as it burns a bit at the finish. Yet, it still felt a bit flabby to me, but not enough to downgrade it too much.

The wine delivers round tannins, so we didn’t have that super-puckery mouth feeling.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Marques De Riscal
  • Type: Tempranillo
  • Origin: Spain
  • Vintage: 2009
  • Price: We paid $30 at the restaurant, but has the price falling closer to $10. That’s what you get when you drink at a restaurant.
  • Alcohol content: 14%
  • When to drink: If I paid $10, I’d buy this bottle again, but not if it cost more. Have a friend with a fire pit. Light that baby up and bring a bottle of this with you. Ghost stories aren’t included.

Just for fun: Here’s me under water 🙂


Review: Laya Garnacha Tintorera/Monastrell

I was picking up dinner at Whole Foods and right before I hit the check I saw a Spanish wine for $8.99 and my heart fluttered.

I have a soft spot in my heart since I studied abroad in Spain while in college, although I have to admit–get ready to cringe–I drank a lot of calimocho when I was there. That’s a drink made from red wine, coke and grenadine. I grimace now, but six years ago, in a sweaty club blaring David Guetta, that was the thing to drink in Spain. Despite the calimocho and the cheap sparkling wine, I did squeeze in a nice Rioja every now and then.

Back to Whole Foods and the Garnacha. I picked up a bottle and tried it immediately when I got home.

As soon as I popped it open, I got a whiff of alcohol–this wine was strong. The alcoholic smell and taste makes sense with the Monastrell grapes, which tend to amp up the alcohol level and add a dryness to a wine.


It’s the type of wine that makes you pucker. Super bold, super chewy, it warms up your tongue. It’s a deep purple, and yes that purple showed up mixed with my toothpaste in my bathroom sink later that night. The deep color probably comes from the Garnacha Tintorera grapes, which have red skin and red pulp, different from other grapes that have red exteriors and white interiors. 

I had it again two days later while catching up on Homeland and it’s punchiness resided slightly, but just barely.

According to the bottle, the grapes were grown “between 700 and 1000 meters above sea level, within the region of Almansa, we selected those [grapes] who can design a unique wine that combines complexity, structure and intense color with the explosion of fruit and ease of consumption…”


Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Laya
  • Type: 70% Garnacha Tintorera/30% Monastrell
  • Origin: Almansa region of Spain
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $8.99
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: After coming off the slopes in Big Bear, warming up in your cabin.