Bad bunny, good wine

At first glance, Los Conejos Malditos might look like a wine to avoid: A cute animal on the label often signals a forgettable wine.

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But this Spanish Tempranillo from Castille counters that conventional wisdom. It’s bold but balanced, a food-friendly red that’s well worth its mid-teens toll.

What’s more, a closer look at the label in question reveals a line drawing that’s more disturbing than cute. Small drawings around the text show a bandit rabbit stealing a bunch of grapes. Another lies on his back popping grapes into his mouth, while another dances. And closer up, a blindfolded rabbit, tied to a post, smokes his last cigarette before the firing squad arrives.

What’s going on here? The wine name tells the tale: Los Conejos Malditos means “The Cursed Rabbits,” or as I like to call them, “The bad bunnies.”

Thieving rabbits enjoy the fruits of their labor, and one prepares to pay the price, in the witty (and vaguely disturbing) label of Los Conejos Malditos.

Thieving rabbits enjoy the fruits of their labor, and one prepares to pay the price, in the witty (and vaguely disturbing) label of Los Conejos Malditos.

A name and label as offbeat as that surely has a story behind it, and this one does. It’s brief and basic, but in my translation from the winery’s Spanish, it tells the tale: The Conejos Malditos range of wines “is made with grapes from our vineyards that most suffer from attacks by rabbits. They appreciate the high quality of the grapes so much, and they are so fast, that they leave us with very low yields.”

In other words, it’s an unintentional “green harvest,” the practice of pruning some developing grape bunches early in the season in order to concentrate the flavors of the grapes that remain, at the cost of limiting production.

Bad, bad bunnies! That is the extent of what I could find online, so if you know the rest of the story I hope you’ll let me know.

The result, though, is a very good Tempranillo (locally known as Cencibel). Grown in the Meseta de Ocaña region near Toledo in central Spain, it’s a Castilian cousin to Spain’s more familar Tempranillo-based red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

The winery, Más Que Vinos (“More Than Wines”), dates to 1999, the winery website says, when experienced winemakers Margarita Madrigal, Alexandra Schmedes and Gonzalo Rodriguez met and became friends.

Seeing the great potential of the vineyards in Gonzalo’s hometown of Dosbarrios (outside Toledo), they launched their personal winery project rescuing old plots of indigenous grape varieties and moving to all organic viticulture. They renovated the old family winery, which dated to 1851, and in 2007 built a new modern winery in nearby Cabañas de Yepes.

“Our philosophy is based on working sustainably and farming organically, respecting regional traditions and combining these with our innovative spirit,” they write.

“All our vineyards are farmed organically, manually and without irrigation. As viticulturists and winemakers we are aware of our responsibility to protect and respect our terroir. The production of sustainable wines not only includes the vineyards and the winery but also the habitat, our ecosystem, our employees and society. Our wines reflect our commitment of working and living in balance with nature and our environment.”

That’s an admirable ethos, and, although they don’t mention this, I suspect it reveals that they leave the bad bunnies unharmed, to come back and raid the vineyards again another day.


Today’s Tasting Report

Los Conejos Malditos 2021 Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Tempranillo Carbónico ($14.99)

Los Conejos Malditos

Very dark purple in color with a garnet edge, Los Conejos Malditos breathes good, characteristic Tempranillo aromas and flavors: Black cherries, a whiff of licorice, and a hint of something floral like violets. Black cherries and plums are well structured with brisk acidity and soft but perceptible tannins in the flavor. A hint of stony minerality joins the party in a fairly long finish. 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: Valkyrie Selections, Healdsburg, Calif. (March 13, 2024)

FOOD MATCH: The producer suggests serving this wine with appetizers, pasta, and barbecue. It worked very well with a simple spaghetti and meat sauce made with Beyond Beef crumbles.

WHEN TO DRINK: There’s no need to gu;p it down immediately, and its modern screw cap will protect it from cork taint. That said, though, it’s not really a wine for cellaring. Enjoy it at your leisure.

This food-friendly, textured red is a fine value at my local price and’s $14 average U.S. retail.

Here’s the importer’s technical sheet. Producer Mas Que Vino has an English-language page about the wine at this link.

Check prices and find vendors for Los Conejos Malditos on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link for more information about Spain’s Castilla and La Mancha regions and find dozens of other wines from the area.

Learn more about the Tempranillo grape and browse its wines and vendors at this Wine-Searcher link.


Find the wines you want

Explore Wine-Searcher is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. What’s more, offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.


Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!


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