06 Bodegas Arzuaga, Ribera del Duero La Planta
They should make bars out of sponge and copper, so you could go to Barcelona, pull up a leather stool, open up a 150-Euro tin of smoked mussels, and ring four ounces of this stuff into your glass. The six months of vanilla-laden French and American oak in this wine brings more than body and structure--it gives purpose to this wine the way a good suit can make you stand taller. Sure, some might just call it the macquillage, but what's a pretty face without any makeup or a chiseled face without chiseled hair? Arzuaga's La Planta, fittingly named after the winery's own game preserve, wears its wealth well. It's a cobbler of blueberries and Nicoise olives cancered with extra skin--roundly fruity, barely tannic, and with a smoky, leathery finish that seems slightly diseased. This could be on a shelf next to Washington merlot and Napa cabernet--it's that kind of New World, everything-friendly wine. But still it manages to stand out on its own. Take me somewhere, however briefly, like a broadband connection could. I guess I'm saying it's distant, but fast-approaching; advanced, but accessible; quiet, but full of communication.