When I first got serious about wine I got into Malbec – probably similar to many wine drinkers. Shortly after that, I discovered Tempranillo and Garnacha and fell equally in love with Spanish wines.

But as those two opened my wine eyes and palate, I was anxious to try new things. Recently, I’ve had a couple of simply dynamite Spanish reds.

San Roman 2006 Toro – Wow! This is big and silky smooth red wine that will would please most any palate. You might never guess it spends two years in oak from the smooth finish and balanced tannin structure.

I got coffee, smoke, vanilla,  licorice, and maybe some dark chocolate from this gorgeous tempranillo. Of course, I was nibbling some 85 percent cocoa chocolate while sipping so that could have influenced my thinking!

The nose was intoxicating with its aromas of dark, sweet fruit. This wine doesn’t come cheap but it has been frequently featured on the popular internet wine flash sales sites. A friend picked up four bottles of this big beauty for $29 per bottle. Normal retail for the San Roman can range from $50-$65 – and what you get matches the price. If you have the opportunity to find it for less, treat yourself to great Spanish wine.

The critics love this wine: 94 points, Wine Entusiast; 93 points, Wine Advocate’ 93 points, Wine Spectator – sweeping the trifecta of the most important wine publications.

San Roman 2006 Toro, $49-65 normally, 14.5 alcohol, Very Highly Recommended.

Vega Escal 2008 Priorat – With Grenache, Carignan, and Shiraz, it would be tempting to call this wine a “Rhone-style blend.” But you probably have never had a Rhone (short of Chateaunauf de Pape) with this level of richness.

This wine spends much less time in oak, just six months, and might not have quite the intense depth of flavors as the San Roman but it is extremely satisfying red wine.

I would describe the palate as very ripe with rich fruit flavors and beautiful finish. This wine notched 91 points from the Wine Advocate.

Vega Escal 2008 Priorat, $20, 14.5 alcohol, Highly Recommended

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