Waiting for the Right Time-Spanish Reds

{These wines were provided as media samples. I received no compensation. Thoughts, opinions are my own.}

There is a lot of waiting in wine. Waiting for the vines to produce fruit, waiting to see what the season brings, waiting while it rests in barrel, opens in the glass. We hold on to certain wines, waiting to see what more rest in the bottle can awaken. We hold on to others for the right meal or occasion. These wines waited for me for months after arrival, while I waited for the temperatures to drop.

Fittingly, the name on the label means “wait” in Japanese. Bodega Matsu Wines hail from the Toro region of Spain and the label pays tribute to the viticulturists in the region, not just in name, but in image.

I sampled these wines and a Tempranillo from Rioja, Bodega Classica Lopez de Haro Reserva 2013. On the evening of the first cold(er) front, we opened this bottle. 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano. Aged 20 months in French and American Oak. Dusty cherries, leather, and spice. Balanced. Super tasty.

The others demanded use of the Coravin. I wanted to taste them in conjunction with one another, to compare the vintage, the age of the vines, the treatment. Toro is in the southeast of Zamora. It is a dry region with wide variations in temperature, in seasons and from day to night. The region shows very little change in altitude and low rainfall. The vines are of the Tinto de Toro variety, a type of Tempranillo, grown on sandstone, clay and limestone. Many vines are between 80-100 years old; the vineyards are tended to using a biodynamic approach.

When I looked up the phrase,”El Picaro,” the name of the first wine, I found the terms youthful, adventurous, cunning, mischievous.  Appropriate. While we would not think of 50-70 year old vines as youthful, those in Toro would. Fermented and aged in concrete, the wine spends a minimum of 3 months on the lees. The fruit is at the forefront, acid and tannins softened. The color of ripe Bing cherries, the fruit is rich, nearly stewed, orange peel, minerality, with a supple mouthfeel. The tech sheet aptly uses the description “Strength, nerve, and courage.” (SRP $14)

Recio translates as strong although the subtitle on the tech sheet uses the phrase, “Perfect balance of youth and ripeness.” I concur. From 90-100 year old vines, ferments with natural yeast in concrete, 14 month in second-use French oak. Cherry-berry nose with hint of menthol. Dried cherries, integrated tannins, great mouthfeel. (SRP-$22)

Viejo is a term that did not need translating. The photo on the label, the name, the quality of the wine all pointed to old vines. These are the best grapes, from the oldest vineyards. The patriarchal wine. Ferments as El Recio but spends 16 month in new French  oak barrels. Deep, rich color, nose, and palate. Bing Cherry and black fruit, licorice, sage, cocoa, with a long, spun sugar finish. (SRP-$47) Complex and intriguing.

One of the reasons I am so fond of Tempranillo is because of the great variety you can find in the variety. A shift in origin, climate, age and you will find a very different wine. After spending the weekend with these three gentlemen, I spent the most time with the age-appropriate El Recio.

The grape gets its name from the Spanish term, “temprano,” meaning early because of its early ripening. But sometimes being early isn’t always best. Sometimes, waiting is where the reward is found. A discipline that goes far beyond wine, doesn’t it?






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Being a stay- at-home mom can leave one thirsting for a taste of the outside world, a world in which sentences are composed of more than three words. Being an educator means one is always seeking an opportunity to explore and learn. Being a woman with a need to connect can be a challenge when adult conversations are rare. In wine, I find the marriage of art and science, agriculture and storytelling provides limitless areas to explore. But it is the people that keep me engaged. The tenacity needed to keep the family dream alive, the risk to start anew, the trials and principles. I love the history of the vine, the impact of a season, the sentiment in the bottle. That is why I write. I write to tell their stories, to share a piece of mine. I write to learn as I teach others. I write to connect with new friends, to disconnect from the world. I write to celebrate what makes each of us unique, and that which ties us together.

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