Hello friends. I have to thank our dearly departed Matthew Tessler for today’s offer. Matt was a big fan of a Cava from a Spanish producer called Torre Oria. He sold it on our warehouse shelves. He drank it at home. I think we even slipped it into an offer once.
So, when Torre Oria’s local importer asked if we were interested in tasting the winery’s red lineup, I was predisposed to say yes. And thank goodness (or thank Matt) I was so predisposed, because I ended up tasting one of the strongest $10 wines that my (admittedly baby-addled) memory can come up with:
There really is no place like Spain when it comes to value. The last note in my notebook: “how does this cost this?”
“This” is a blend of 60% Tempranillo and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from DO Utiel-Requena. U-R (located here) is near Valencia, and it occupies this wonderful transition zone between the Mediterranean climate of the coast and the continental climate of Central Spain. It’s a lovely place for grapegrowing, but a lot of it is still planted to the traditional Bobal grape, which tends to produce less-than-thrilling wines. I’ve tasted my share of insipid Bobal from Utiel-Requena, and that’s why I’m worried I might have passed on even tasting this wine if it hadn’t had the Matt-Torre-Oria connection.
But man, tasting this makes me think that Utiel-Requena has potential to be Spain’s Super Tuscan region. Super Valencia anyone? It obviously gets the heat units to ripen Bordelaise varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, and the affinity between Tempranillo and Cab is clear in a wine like this. I could see a future where they rip out some Bobal, replant with Cab and Merlot, blend with Tempranillo, slather with new wood, and charge $80/bottle. In the meantime, we all better enjoy this little ten dollar lovely.
So yeah, for a measly sawbuck we get a Temp-Cab blend now six years past vintage, aged in a mix of French and American barrels; one that clocks in at 13% listed alc and offers a wonderful, clearly developing/maturing nose of mushroom, black cherry, kirsch, orange peel, and leafy underbrush. The nose suggests a wine that is going to be fairly ripe, but this drinks vibrant and beautifully balanced on the palate, with just-right richness, integrated/supple tannins, bright acidity, and lovely finishing rustic chew. The judicious use of oak; the polished texture; the bottle-age-driven complexity: what more could we possibly ask for at this tariff?
This would be a wonderful option for summer parties or weddings, so let’s open it up: first come first served up to 120 bottles, and the wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.