TN: 2 Spanish reds, one Italian white

Betsy was making a pot roast Wednesday, and called needing a cup of red wine. I had her open the 2003 Bodegas Castaño "Hécula" (Yecla). With dinner, this actually seemed less ripe/sweet than the 2002, a return to quality that I remembered from earlier vintages. There is a lot of ripe sweet black plum and berry fruit, but it's balanced by quite adequate acidity and broad tannins. A perfectly nice mid-week burger or stew wine, good QPR at around $10. B
Thursday Betsy made bouillabaisse. As I was going out that night, only opened a half-bottle, the 2004 Pieropan Soave Classico. I'd liked this wine before, but this bottle seemed strangely dilute. Good acidity, and that Italian-white nuttiness, but just not much in the way of depth of fruit. Another glass at 2 AM after getting in wet and tired showed quite similarly- nice flavors, just not enough of them. Strangely different from previous 375. B-
Friday Betsy made rack of lamb with a honey-hoisin glaze, rice pilaf, and creamed spinach (the lamb was a recipe from Ed Rasimus- has anyone heard from him since move?). The sweet glaze made me shy away from good Bordeaux, my fallback lamb choice, and I decided it was time to see what had happened to the 1997 Abadia Retuerta (Sardon del Duero). This is the middle of the Abadia Retuerta lineup- between the inexpensive Rivola and the more expensive single-vineyard offerings. This was a wine I liked on release, but that had seemed overwhelmed by oak and tannins in meantime. The oak had calmed down into a nice cedar-meets-leather note, the tannins were soft and integrated. Distinct notes of damp earth, moderate ripe blackcurrant fruit. A little light on the acidity for me, and a bit short on the finish. Could pass for a modest St. Emilion satellite from a ripe vintage (though I think this is Tempranillo and CabS , no Merlot). OK. B
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.
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