On a rainy Sunday, while hanging around the house reading and watching movies, my husband and I opened an $8 red from north-central Spain's lesser-known Calatayud appellation.
We drank it over the course of a few hours, and it was interesting to see how much even a bargain-price wine can evolve in the glass. At first, the Garnacha-based red was shy on the nose, hinting more at smoke than anything, and I was wondering how literally the brand name was meant to be taken (the striking label appears as if flames are consuming the black bottle). But after about 15 minutes, it started opening up, showing plums and cherries.
The wine really came alive with a pizza (topped with sausage, mushrooms and olives), showing racy acidity and vivid raspberry and bright cherry fruit. The finish was sweet, just on the verge of candied cherry, with a hint of white pepper. Later in the evening, the wine settled into a more sedate profile, dominated by black plums, and the texture softened somewhat. 89 points, non-blind, and a great deal.
Bodegas Ateca is a partnership between the Gil family (makers of Juan Gil) of Jumilla and importer Jorge Ordoñez (read Jumilla's Visionaries). The Garnacha de Fuego earned our Best Values designation when executive editor Thomas Matthews reviewed it officially earlier this year.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review of Bodegas Ateca Garnacha Calatayud de Fuego Old Vines 2007 (89, $8)