VARIATIONS ON TWO THEMES
Theme No. 1 – philosophy Theme No. 2 – grape variety
In a Cork Talk a couple of months ago, entitled Botas del Barro, and archived here: http://www.colinharknessonwine.com/articles/page/2/ (scroll down to Botas Del Barro), I alluded to the new wine distribution company, Paladar Español/Spanish Palate. www.spanishpalate.es
Co-founded by Nicola Thornton, a Sheffield lass, who has created quite a storm here in the wine world of Spain, Spanish Palate has an admirable philosophy. They have tasted their way across the length and breadth of Spain seeking out boutique bodegas whose wines, often of a limited production, reflect the terroir of their vineyards, allowing the characteristics of the varieties used to fully express themselves. These are wines with soul, made by passionate winemakers, and are always at a high quality level.
I’ve been lucky enough to receive several samples from a number of the bodegas in the Spanish Palate portfolio and have started the arduous (not!) task of tasting them. First up is the series of wines under the Rompesedas banner, from DO Toro.
I decided to start with Toro wines as this is where Nicola has been based for most of her time in Spain (well, sort of – as a much traveled Export Director, there are few countries of the world where she hasn’t been). Without intending to, she has become probably the best ambassador for Toro wines there could ever be, so it was with absolute confidence that I started tasting these Rompesedas wines, which are all made with the same grape variety – Tinta de Toro.
Yes, the second theme on which there are variations.
It can be argued, indeed proven, that Tinta de Toro is one of many aliases for perhaps the most famous red wine grape variety in Spain, Tempranillo. However, taste a monovarietal Tinta de Toro from, well, Toro, claro; against a Tempranillo from, for example, Rioja, and your senses of smell and taste, for sure, will detect differences. Tinta de Toro is a grape variety that has become distinctly Toro, and, when handled correctly, it will speak of its place, of its terroir.
The Rompesedas wines I tried were all made with Tinta de Toro. First up was Rompesedas 2014 Los Lastros, and a fascinating start to the tasting, as this wine, a joven, gives the taster an opportunity to taste the pure fruit without the, at times lengthy, barrel aging of the following wines. As one would expect, this young red wine is as fruit filled as your grandmother’s pies! It’s a pure pleasure, easy drinking, wine, redolent of light and dark red fruit. I picked out a little light cherry character with some blackberry backup.
Rompesedas 6 Months 2013, as you might have guessed, has had six months in oak, French and American. The vines that contributed to this wine are 100 years old, and yet still produce fruit packed wine. The colour has darkened, the flavour developed, both with the extra year and the integrated oak influence, and the aroma has changed too.
You’ll find a little backbone behind the fruit, a little complexity and, whilst remaining a wine to simply drink and enjoy on its own, it is also moving nicely into the realms of wine with food. Balanced and with a slight creamy note coming from its lees.
Rompesedas 2009 18 months, has the above, but more so! It’s a single vineyard wine, the vines again being centenarians. There’s a greater use of French oak and this seems to make the wine more subtle, more complex. Still juicy, we have cherries again here, but much darker – this goes with the deeper colour too. There’s a touch of spice and a tannic grip on the finish that demands a meat course!
I found the 2008 to be similar in every respect to the 2009, I’m not sure I would have spotted the difference of a year. Perhaps this is because the weather during the growing seasons was similar – certainly the way the wine had been made was the same.
However, the 2007, was even more of a delight, albeit a year older again. This wine has developed brilliantly – in every sense of the word! It’s bright in the glass, defying its nine years of age in looks, and also on the palate. It’s a wonderfully vibrant wine, rich and silky, full and elegant too. There are more dark fruits, black cherry with ripe blackberry and there’s an earthy aroma, flavour and even feel, to the wine. Some faint cinnamon spice, a little vanilla and used leather, with a trail of herbs running through its layers. Lovely.
Having to choose between Messi and Neymar, is not a bad dilemma to have and here I’ve gone with Finca Las Parvas 2006 as probably my favourite of the flight. It’s enjoyed 22 months in French oak following its fermentation in new French 500 litre oak. There’s a difference here – the barrel fermentation seems to have benefited the texture of the wine as well as adding an extra level of flavour and complexity. There’s a noticeable earthy minerality with almost ephemeral whiffs of bay leaf and thyme. More blackberry than black cherry it’s juicy fruity, mellow but with attitude and has a long finish!
NB I’m presenting a super Wine/Tapas/Music Pairing at Palau de Javea on Thurs. 27th October. For more details and to reserve please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org