Because I've had so many hits on my write up of the 2010 version of this wonderful everyday red, I thought it fitting that I take a taste of the current 2012 vintage as well. If I wanted to keep it brief, I'd just say, "buy it", you can't do any better for $7.99. But we'll delve a little deeper anyway. And deeper might refer to the color of this wine as well as everything else. The 2010 was listed on the Orowines website (Orowines and the Juan Gil Estates are partners in this and several other Spanish wine projects) as being being 70% Garnacha Tintorera which is also known as Alicante Bouschet. The 2012 however is listed as being 70% Garnacha (Grenache). These are 2 different varietals with the former being a cross of Grenache and Petit Bouschet. There's a big difference between the two and I'd be surprised if there was that big a change in the blend between 2010 and 2012. An email to Orowines and the Gil Estates regarding the blend cleared up the Mystery. The blend is in fact 70% Garnacha Tintorera and 30% Monastrell - except for the Swedish market where for some reason they reverse it to 70% Monastrell and 30% Garnacha Tintorera. Go figure.
Peter Wellington, whose Chardonnay I wrote up in my last post, gave me some great information on Alicante Bouschet when my wife and I visited the winery last year. Wellington has some very old Alicante Bouschet vines on his property dating back to early last century. He told us that it was favored by many California winemakers for not only the big color it gave wine, but for it's very tough skin. He said that you could literally drop an Alicante Bouschet grape on the floor and it would bounce. This made it a very easy grape to transport all over the valley without damaging the fruit.
Anyhow, the 2012 Laya is still one of the best entry level values on the market. Deep, dark and dense purple in color (which is typical of Alicante Bouschet), this great little wine delivers what many wines in the category can't. Beautiful aromas of ripe plum, blueberry, cola, roast coffee and a touch of damp earth lead to large scaled flavors. There's a slight jammy quality to the blueberry and blackberry fruit, though not enough to turn me off. It's not over ripe. It finishes long and lightly tannic with nice balancing acidity. Don't miss it. If you haven't tried the many other everyday Spanish wines the Bodegas Juan Gil produces, you should definitely search them out. Cheers!