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Vatan Tinta de Toro 2012
The grapes for Vatan come from a vineyard planted in 1943, with some grapes within this vineyard that were planted in 1910. The soils are very sandy, intermixed with alluvial gravel. Six to nine feet below the surface, there is a red clay subsoil, which acts as a reservoir of moisture, which is crucial in this arid region. After fermentation in stainless steel, it is transferred to new French oak barrels where it undergoes malolactic fermentation and is aged for 22 months.
Toro is a special region for Jorge and the rest of Jorge Ordóñez Selections, because it is the perhaps the region that best embodies the Ordóñez philosophy – producing wine from the oldest clones of Spain’s indigenous varieties. The local indigenous grape, Tinta de Toro, is Spain’s oldest and most original clone of Tempranillo. It produces the deepest, most intense expression of Tempranillo in Spain, and it is a grape with a noble history that should be heralded. Bodegas Ordóñez produces wine from ungrafted, head trained, and dry farmed vineyards of Tinta de Toro planted in 1900, 1916, 1946, and 1962.
Founded in 2004, Grupo Jorge Ordóñez is select group of eight wineries that produce wines from grapes grown in thirteen different denominations of origin across Spain. All of the wineries are owned and operated by Jorge Ordóñez. Nacho Alvarez is the Technical Director and Head Winemaker for the Grupo.
Known for bold reds, crisp whites and distinctive sparkling and fortified wines, Spain has embraced international varieties and wine styles while continuing to place primary emphasis on its own native grapes. Though the country’s climate is diverse, it is generally hot and dry. In the center of the country lies a vast, arid plateau known as the Meseta Central, characterized by extremely hot summers and frequent drought.
Ribera del Duero is gaining ground with its single varietal Tempranillo wines, recognized for their concentration of fruit and opulence. Priorat, a sub-region of Catalonia, specializes in bold, full-bodied red blends of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and often Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Catalonia is also home to Cava, a sparkling wine made in the traditional method but from indigenous varieties. In the cool, damp northwest region of Galicia, refreshing white Albariño and Verdejo dominate.
Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins, modest alcohol, and bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. It is important throughout Spain as well as in Portugal, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and is an important component of Port wines and the table wines of the Douro region that Port calls home. California, Washington, and Oregon have all had moderate success with Tempranillo, producing a riper, more fruit-forward style of wine.
In the Glass
Tempranillo is often aged in new oak for the integration of spicy, woodsy, and herbal flavors, often with hints of vanilla, coconut, and dill. The grape itself produces medium-weight reds with bright red and black fruit aromas and hints of spice, leather, and tobacco, with no shortage of flavor.
Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and bright acidity make it extremely food friendly, pairing with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew, or paella.
The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a system is in place to indicate on the label how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release, which is helpful to the consumer trying to determine the style of an unfamiliar wine. Rioja can range from Joven (fresh, fruity, and unoaked) to Gran Reserva (complex and oxidized from extended barrel aging), with Crianza and Reserva in between.