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The wines of Palacio de la Vega, Navarra, Spain

Navarra—neighbouring region to Rioja—seemed to be all the rage in the UK marketplace a few years ago, with a reputation as a source of inexpensive, modern-styled, tasty red wines. It's fallen out of the spotlight a bit since, but I was really impressed by some of these wines, especially the Crianza and the two Reservas. With a few years bottle age already under their belts, they are really showing well. Prices should be very fair (the Reservas should weigh in at about 8), which makes these worth seeking out.

Tempranillo 2000
Shows cherry fruit with a leafy edge on the nose, and bright fruit on the palate. Quite leafy and herby. Good+

1997 Crianza
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%) and Tempranillo (30%) that is aged in a mix of 50% French/50% American oak. This wine has a lovely, ripe, open nose of sweet blackcurrant fruit, and has a bright fruity palate with a sweet, rounded character. Very forward and friendly, this is an impressive effort. Very good/excellent

1998 Merlot Crianza
Aged for 1 year in French oak, this is nice stuff. Lovely nose of ripe berry fruit with a spicy edge. The rich, full palate is quite firm with some spicy tannins underneath the fruit. Savoury. Very good+

1997 Tempranillo Reserva
100% Tempranillo that spends 18 months in a combination of French and American oak. Complex herbal notes join the ripe fruit on the nose -- there's also a bit of caramel and spice. Ripe, classy, concentrated palate with firm tannins and good acidity. More traditional in style. Very good/excellent

1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva
100% Cabernet aged for 18 months in a mix of French and American oak. Stunning nose showing ripe, leafy, blackcurrant fruit and herby complexity. Powerful but balanced palate with lovely fruit and rich spicy notes. Great balance and very attractive. Very good/excellent (I've seen the 1995 at 7.99 in some branches of Oddbins)

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