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Friday, July 27, 2007

Alaia red blend 2004

AlaiaThe Alaia Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León 2004 (hereafter referred to as "Alaia") is an unusual and delicious Spanish red blend.

It's made with Tempranillo (45 percent), a splash of Merlot (5 percent) and Prieto Picudo (50 percent), a variety indigenous to the León region and named for its close bunching (prieto means "tight") and shape (picudo means "pointed"). The name isn't completely accurate, as two types of the variety exist — one with elliptical grapes and another with spherical ones; the latter is thought to produce wines of better quality. Prieto Picudo is used to produce high-quality rosados and red wines known locally as claretes, to which it lends fruitiness and an aromatic nose.

Alaia releases its fragrance gradually, beginning with a little cigar box when it is first poured, then blossoming into a brambly cassis aroma as it opens in the glass, making it as much a pleasure to inhale as it is to drink. It has plenty of body, an earthy, blackberry flavor supported by subtle tannins, and a dry finish. It pairs nicely with grilled T-bone steak topped with truffle butter, and does just fine on its own as a sipping wine.

Curiously, Alaia is also apparently sold as Olaia, which wears a much different label but is made from the same blend of grapes by the same producer. However you spell it, it's a compelling wine, and at under $10, an excellent value.
M. Zane Grey, 10:54 AM