Hello friends. In the middle of last summer, we offered the 2009 Torre Oria Reserva. It went onto become one of our most popular import wines of all time. Looking back at our records, I see that we reordered the wine an additional ten times in subsequent months, as our list members tasted it and came back looking for more.
Today, we have the Gran Reserva from the same vintage. And for all that extra barrel age and care and attention, the GR costs, well, the exact same:
Long time list members might remember that the Torre Oria story is one of our former FP team member Matt Tessler’s enduring legacies. Matt was a big fan of Torre Oria’s Cava. 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 my oh my, there really is no place like Spain when it comes to value, no place that causes more “how does this cost this?” lines in my tasting notebook.
Compared to the Reserva, the GR has a bit higher proportion of Tempranillo. It’s a 70/30 split of Temp and Cabernet Sauvignon, compared to a 60/40 split for the Reserva. The wine comes 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 grape-growing, 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, which is why I may well have passed on even tasting this wine if it hadn’t been for the Matt-Torre-Oria connection.
Tasting the Reserva and then tasting this GR does make me think that Utiel-Requena has potential to be Spain’s Super Tuscan region (Super Valencia?) 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’ll continue enjoying these wines in the $10-$15 range.
So yes, for about ten bucks we get a Temp-Cab blend now seven years past vintage, aged for two years in a mix of French and American barrels. It clocks in at 13% listed alc and offers a nose mixing Tempranillo elements (leafy tobacco, black cherry) with Cabernet subtleties (mint-tinged blackcurrant), all interwoven with smoky/spicy barrel threads. It’s a lovely bridge wine, with new-world flesh and jammy fruit paired to old-world wild earthiness and structure. This is a rustic, chewy, ultimately charming wine, with plenty of character.
First come first served up to 12 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.