I selected this wine just for me. Why? Because I wanted to enjoy entering Christmas with luxury and richness. This wine is BIG. 14% alcohol. 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon 25% Syrah, this wine is a Ferrari. It’s a reserva which means it is has the highest quality of grapes, sees a long time 12 to 24 months in oak barrels, and a minimum of 36 months of ageing before it is released. If the vintage wasn’t so good the Consejo Regulador of the D.O. may not even allow producers to label the wine “reserva”. The wine is generally smooth, full complex and capable of lasting up to 10 years. And there is the rub, this wine is 11 years old, by far the oldest bottle I owned, it’s time had come. And I didn’t want to share with anyone.
First teachable moment, always write down the date you purchased the wine, write it on the bottle with a marker or make a simple excel spreadsheet. Next, determine a drink by date. You can determine this by the winemakers notes generally found on the internet or use the the vintage chart. This way you can enjoy the wine and not pour it down the sink.
In the glass this wine was beautiful “ruby red” and clear, yeah there was a hint of it’s age, it was a little “brick” at the rim. Second teachable moment, you can read a wine by it’s colors. The rim or “parentheses” the edge of the wine in the glass, young wines will be clear, moving to red as it ages, “brick” as it enters old age. This wine was mostly clear red, but it did have a hint of brick.
The nose was great, the oak came through like a champ, I loved the aroma, went back again and again. The aroma of the wine is one thing I truly love about wine. I have big snowball type glasses especially for the experience.
The taste was WOW, everything I had hoped for. I love a DRY wine and this was DRY. All the dark fruits were present with a little spice. The wine was full bodied, well structured and very complex. I could have done better pairing the wine, but Moo Shu Beef was the best I could do. I think most Sommeliers would have strangled me with their Tastevin if they knew. I drank the bottle over two days as I usually do, the wine only got better. Last glass I got the lees, which is the sediment in the bottle, not a problem and I would have been shocked if I hadn’t found any.
The wine is made by a brother sister team Carlos and Pilar Martinez-Bujanda Irribarra in the La Mancha area of Spain, that’s right Don Quixote, Sancho, Aldonza the whole crew. Now most of the reviews on the wine had notes about the wine being made in La Mancha, like they were apologizing that this wine came from the wrong side of the tracks or something. There is something to be said about that.
Spain is a old wine making country, with a long history, but until recently Spainish wine did not have a good reputation. Spain has more land planted with grapes than any other country in the world 2.9 million acres. Spain entered the modern winemaking era late only about 30 years ago so they have had a lot of catching up to do.
La Mancha itself is huge, 500,000 acres of vines, it’s not only the largest wine region in Spain but in all of Europe. The name came from when the area was under Moorish rule it was called “al-manshu” which means “parched earth”. And it is, hot in the summer temps as high as 104 degrees are normal and in the winter it’s cold sometimes below zero. Remember big means “BULK” which it the main reason for La Mancha’s bad rap.
When you think Spain think “value” which is why you’ll see a ton of Spanish wines in wine clubs and the “best buy” area of wine stores. There are two DOC’s in Spain one you’ll all know Rioja the other is Priorato, extra points if you can find it on a map, possibly the best wines in Spain are from these two areas. The Winedar will have us visiting both regions in 2017 I’m sure.
There are 54 DO (Denominacion de Origen) in Spain very similar to the AOC’s of France. One of the most historic is Jerez. This is the home of Sherry. Sherry is to Spain as Champagne is to France or Port is to Portugal or Schlitz is to Milwaukee. Sherry comes in seven different styles from bone dry to make your teeth hurt sweet. I’ve never tasted Sherry so stay tuned to Griffy on Wine and we’ll explore it together.
While shopping be on the lookout for wines from these regions of Spain Ribera del Duero, Penedes we’ve reviewed wines from this area in past blogs Cava sparkling wines, Rias Baixas home of Albarino whites. Whatever you choice is now is a great time to enjoy Spanish wines.
Let me finish with an old Spanish proverb “Beber este vino es como hablar con Dios” – Tasting wine is like talking to God!