It was just about two years ago when I heard that some of my favorite Spanish bargains including wines from Bodegas Naia, Bodegas Luzon, and a few related producers would no longer be distributed in Illinois. This was a portfolio of fun, approachable wines at stunningly affordable prices. Not only was Binny's losing a bunch of easy to recommend values, but I was losing several personal favorites, wines that I liked to drink (a friend of mine had even taken inspiration from one of these wines when naming his newborn daughter).

   Well, they're coming back.

   After some changes with suppliers and distributors, these wines are working their way back into our market. I was pretty excited when I had the chance to taste through the new vintages:


   A white that I remember quite fondly is Las Brisas from Bodegas Naia. The notes of grass and cat pee (in a good way) on the nose indicate the 25% sauvignon blanc in this blend. The 2009 Las Brisas is fresh and high-toned, with notes of tropical fruit salad. It is less graceful than I remember, less floral, but as easy-drinking and fun as ever, and a steal at $9.99.

   Showing more cut and focus is the 2009 Naia Rueda, from 100% verdejo. The nose has a sauvignon blanc-like grassiness, with good citrus fruit. Grapefruit and other citrus fruits dominate the palate, with just a hint of minerality adding complexity to this otherwise fruit-dominated wine. The 2009 Nora Albarino also shows notes of fruit salad big peach and apricot and melon, with a little bit of sweetness that adds weight.

   A red new to the portfolio is the 2008 Granate Garnacha. A slightly Rhoney and dark nose of heavy raspberries leads to a broad wine with good tannins. The fruit isn't the focus in this brooding wine. I was surprised that we can sell this value for $12.99.

   A red that we're excited to welcome back is the Mano A Mano. This Tempranillo from Spain has always been a great value under ten dollars, and the newest release is no exception. The Mano A Mano is full of up-front raspberries and is very full-bodied for the price, offering enough tannins to grip the palate.

   Maybe the biggest surprise of all was the 2007 Venta Mazzaron, a tempranillo. This wine is fantastic on the nose, with notes of big blueberries and meat, specifically bacon. A friend said "This smells like money," and I nodded. Gamey on the palate, with charred bacon and smoke all the way through, riding over big, plush fruit. It might not be elegant, but the Venta Mazzaron offers intensity and complexity you rarely see at this price. Which is $12.99. I'm planning on buying a few bottles for myself.


   Most of these wines are not yet on Binny's shelves. But they're on their way, and should be available any day now. If you've been missing them as much as I have, let the folks at your favorite Binny's know.