Today was the 1st International Tempranillo Day, organised by TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society), a North American Organisation dedicated to promoting this intrinsically Spanish grape in America and Internationally. To be fair, for reasons of impartiality, I should also point out that today was the 2nd Global Cabernet Day as well, but I prefer Spanish grapes to French ones (a sweeping statement, but for the sake of today I’ll stick by it)!
In honour of TAPAS my offering to Bacchus was a wine that I bought nearly 5 years ago, back in 2006 and less than a year after experiencing my wine epiphany (April 2006, before which my understanding of wine was Red/White/Good/Bad). This was also the first bottle of wine I bought that cost £20 or more (£19.99 from Spanish Spirit), although I had tasted before buying and deemed it worthy of forgetting about for several years.
Montecastro y Llanahermosa is a Denominación de Origen Ribera Del Duero, and the winery, Bodegas y Viñedos Montecastro, was founded in 2001 by a group of investors headed by publisher Alfonso de Salas who brought in Bordeaux winemaker Jean-Françios Hébrard. The wine is 100% Tempranillo (barrel aged for 17 months) from 2003, the first commercial vintage of the winery and a hot year, although less so in Spain relative to other European countries.Even with its age I decanted the wine but couldn’t resist a sniff and a slurp. The aroma was creamy oak with a little funk and a touch of sharpness, while the taste was tangy with a savoury meatiness wrapped up in a fruity acidity, forceful at the front of the mouth, but with some delicate complexity coming off the mid-palate and finishing fruity and hot, at 14% abv.
After an hour or so the nose hasn’t changed too much, maybe a little creamier on the oak, but with a funky sharpness to it. The acidity is still bracing, but tannins are silky smooth and there’s a rich, thick aspect to the juicy fruit with some chocolate and berry jam. The finish is fruity and long… very long, and the heat at the end has disappeared (in fact I’m hard pushed to detect much of that 14% alcohol now) although the teeth are left with that roughness that confirms a touch of acid erosion! That’s the only complaint on the wine really, the acidity is hoverring on being unbalanced, although the longer I leave it the more it settles down and with food it would likely fade into the background. This is a good wine, but not great; 3+ stars rather than 4.
I reckon there’s enough fruit and structure, and definitely enough acidity, to prolong the aging – this wine could easily have another 5-10 years in it – but right now I’m not sure it’s worth the £20 paid, although it’s not far off with the strong flavour profile and structure. This was made from the outset as a big, extracted wine and the subsequent 2004 vintage is meant to be a step up in quality, which is encouraging as I’ve two bottles of that stashed away. Maybe next Tempranillo Day will see the first of those opened?