Of our early tastings, this was easily the most memorable. First, the prices started to creep upward vs. our previous tastings. Second, I think all of us did more homework to choose the wines. Third, you get a lot more wine for your money in Spain. The combination of these factors let to a spectacular night, and some wines that I buy over and over again. There were only three wines tasted, and all were from the same modest 1999 vintage.
First Place: (tie between the next two)
1999 San Vicente Crianza (Rioja)
Cosme's San Vicente had a powerful nose - citrus, vanilla, oak. On the palate it tasted of chocolate and coffee, it was earthy and very well balanced. Medium to full bodied, with a medium length and nice finish. According to my notes, this would probably be a better wine with food - a big, fat steak. Permanent part of my cellar,~C$55. (RP-92)
1999 Hacienda Monasterio Crianza (Ribera del Duero)
I cheated a bit with my Hacienda Monasterio - only 70% Tempranillo, with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It had a much deeper purple colour, with beautiful scents of oak, vanilla, flowers, rum and "yummy chocolate". The taste was complex, well balanced, with tastes of dark fruit, earthy, tannic, spice and leather. It was full-bodied with a medium length and a very nice finish. "Bold, fruity, silky". My cellar is full of this stuff. Approx. C$38. (RP-92)
Third Place: 1999 Artadi 'Vinas de Gain' (Rioja)
I believe this wine had gone bad. Unfortunate, as this had a good Parker rating (90) and was reasonably priced. On the nose there were interesting smells, but the taste was awful. I will retry this if I ever find it again.
Summary: Do your homework and seek out some Spanish wines. The gems come at terrific prices.