A Friendly Wine Taste-Off

6 red wines from Germany, Spain, and Australia

A great selection of very diverse reds.

Six winemakers from Germany, Spain and Australia walk into a wine bar and order a round of each of their wines. After three glasses of each, they still can’t decide which one they like best. Here’s my call:

2011 Vina Zaco Rioja tempranillo ($13). A lovely fruit-and-savory aroma, almost like that of a burgundy, with dark cherry flavors, medium body, a taste of mature oak and lots if tannins. Pleasantly rides the edge between fruits and spices.

2008 Rioja Bordón reserva ($15). My Pick of the Litter. While tempranillo is the majority grape in Rioja, this one also blends in 20 per cent of garnacha and mazuelo. The result is a classic-style wine with gamy, tart flavors, lots of cherries, dusty tannins and a lean finish. It’s a great steak wine in the same way that wines from Bordeaux and Chianti are. 

2009 Bilbainas "Vina Pomal" Rioja reserve ($17) Lots of aromas and flavors of mellow fruit and mellow oak with a few savory notes. A very pleasant, well-rounded glass.

2010 Franz Keller "Franz Anton" Schwarzer Adler pinot noir ($23). A pleasurable light food wine with good leanness for a pinot, yet with lots of cherry flavors in the finish.

2009 G.H. von Mumm Assmanhäuser Höllenberg spatburgunder ($33). A big wine for a German pinot with 14 per cent alcohol, lush, gamay-style aromas of blackberry and strawberry fruits. Moderate tannins and good balance — will improve in the bottle.

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2010 Hardys "Nottage Hill" south eastern Australia shiraz ($12). Very red raspberry bright fruitiness in the start finishing with black raspberry firmness. It’s juicy, a little tangy and spicy around the edges. Good balance.