I’ve been fond of the tasty red Ribera del Duero from Valdubon for some time now. The 2008 Valdubon made it onto The Wine House’s Top Ten Wines for 2010So it was with great anticipation and pleasure that I met with Valdubon’s winemaker, Judit Llop, to taste her other wines; Morlanda and Garbó. At the exquisite Piperade, we sat and tasted Judit’s texturally plush reds the proper way, accompanied by food. This is really a fine way to get to know a wine … in its natural setting as it were. I am accustomed to the accent of French-speaking vintners who periodically visit TWH, it was a whole new challenge to familiarize my ear to a Catalan accent. Fortunately, the language of wine is universal, so where English failed us, the wine did not. Judit is energetic and out-going, an effective ambassador for her wine, not unlike another Wine House fan favorite, Diane de Puymorin of Chateau d’Or et de Gueules. And like Diane, I believe Judit’s skill as a winemaker lies in her ability to flesh out a round mouthfeel, eliminating angles and creating curves of flavors.




The 2011 Garbó comes from the recently created appellation of Montsant, located southwest of Barcelona and surrounding the prestigious Priorat region. All estate-grown fruit from mostly high elevation slopes, the 2011 Garbó is a blend of Syrah and Tempranillo with a small trace of Merlot.  An intentionally modern expression, the vines for Garbó range in age from 25-40 years old. The 2011 Garbó exhibits flavors of black cherry and brambly fruit with notes of crushed rock and dust. Fans of southern Rhones should take a closer look at this one as I think the immediacy and friendly fruit nature of the 2011 Garbó will appeal to palates that favor warm-fruited red blends. The 2011 Garbó will play nicely with grilled summer fare as the suppleness of the tannins will not overwhelm, especially if the reason you are cooking outdoors is to beat the heat. 




The 2007 Morlanda, from the historic remote region of Priorat, is a 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Carinena. Priorat is only one of two Spanish wine regions to be designated DOQ, Rioja being the other.  Morlanda’s vines are grown on rocky slopes and plateaus at altitudes of 500-700 meters high. The soil of the region, called llicorella, is a combination of red and black slate with small particles of mica that reflect sunlight and conserves heat. Judit says she spends a tremendous amount of time in the winery tasting every barrel to determine which ones will ultimately become Morlanda. Morlanda is not produced every year and only in small quantities when it is. The 2007 Morlanda is chock full of dark dense cherry fruit, pronounced minerality and red soil flavors all wrapped up in a succulent finish. This is a big, powerful wine and yet for a Priorat remarkably elegant. Morlanda deserves a special meal like rack of lamb – oh, yeah baby!




It has been an exceptionally good week – took a trip to the farmer’s market for heirloom tomatoes & nectar-plums, completed a major house clean-up (clean floors, yeah!), and as I was driving back into the city after dropping my daughter off at the Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands, I saw a red fox cross the road right in front of me! What a magical moment. —Anya Balistreri