Vara y Pulgar by Alberto Orte Tintilla 2016
Opaque ruby. Smoke- and mineral-accented black and blue fruits, candied flowers and succulent herbs on the highly perfumed nose. Juicy and focused in the mouth, offering concentrated boysenberry, bitter cherry and violet pastille flavors that become sweeter as the wine opens up. The dark berry and floral notes linger on the spicy, very long finish, which is given shape by smooth tannins. With roast lamb, spicy sausage or charcuterie in a supporting role, this wine would fare well on the table.
Vara y Pulgar is made from one of the most rare grape varieties of southwestern Spain. The Tintilla grape was cultivated in Jerez for many centuries; however, it, along with many other varieties disappeared after the phylloxera epidemic in the early 20th century. Today, Alberto Orte has recovered a few cuttings from abandoned vineyards that managed to survive phylloxera, and after many years of work has managed to produce the first bottles of 100% Tintilla still (dry) wine in over a century. Jerez is famous for its Albariza soil, a type of chalk that is very light and porous. This same type of soil can also be found in some parts of the region of Champagne in France. Vines that are tended in this type of soil make superior and distinctive wines. Planted in Albariza, Tintilla is able to ripen perfectly without showing extra alcohol or overripe flavors. It has a rare confluence of delicate complexity and medium to full bodied weight on the palate, with lovely minerality similar to other wines of the region. Recent genetic studies show that Tintilla is the same grape as Graciano. It is possible that the first documents published on Tintilla were by Roxas Clemente in 1807. Abela wrote about Graciano in 1885. Tintilla has also the name of Xeres in Australia. As such, it is a reasonable hypothesis to establish that the origin of this grape is in Jerez and that Tintilla is the original name.
Spanish red wine is known for being bold, heady, rustic and age-worthy, Spain is truly a one-of-a-kind wine-producing nation. A great majority of the country is hot, arid and drought-ridden, and since irrigation has only been recently introduced and (controversially) accepted, viticulture has sustained—and flourished—only through a great understanding of Spain’s particular conditions. Large spacing between vines allows each enough resources to survive and as a result, the country has the most acreage under vine compared to any other country, but is usually third in production.
Of the Spanish red wines, the most planted and respected grape variety is Tempranillo, the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. Priorat specializes in bold red blends, Jumilla has gained global recognition for its single varietal Monastrell and Utiel-Requena has garnered recent attention for its reds made of Bobal.