Also recommended: Loma Gorda Almansa 2005 (86). (Grapes of Spain, Lorton, VA)

2006 Bodegas Santa Quiteria Higueruela Almansa

($10; 88% garnacha and 12% syrah) Bright purple. Brooding blackcurrant, dark cherry, tobacco and espresso on the nose; this is more serious than most wines at this price point. Spicy cherry and dark berry flavors are underscored by licorice, black tea and bitter chocolate. Firm tannins carry into the finish, which picks up a sweeter mocha quality. I wonder if most ten-buck wine buyers will be able to wrap their palates around this uncompromising style.

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