WTN: Spain

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WTN: Spain

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:21 pm

Notes from a Spanish themed dinner.

Jacques Picard Champagne Brut – nice fresh wine showing some floral and apple notes in the nose, clean and crisp with good acidity. Lacks only that bit of complexity that age may bring.

1990 Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva Blanco – this white Rioja was now a medium yellow hue and the nose showed some excellent resin and caramelized apple notes that followed through strongly on palate. Good acidity and a very dry finish. You either love or hate this sort of wine, and I am in the former camp. Some old white Riojas become quite Sherried and bear oxidative notes, but this avoids that and is very vibrant.

1978 Torres Gran Coronas Black Label (Penedes) – my last bottle of this excellent wine. Someone called it Mas La Plana, and I corrected them – that was a name not yet coined by Torres for their top bottling. They started calling it Mas La Plana some time in the 1980s. It is 100% cabernet, aged in new American oak for 18 months. The remarkable thing is that at this age, we all had the same reaction that this couldn’t be American oak and must be French, until we checked it out. None of the dill hints of young American oak you often get. Mature and elegant, the wine still has excellent colour with garnet edges, not browning appreciably. The nose was mellow aged wood and soft fruit, the tannins all resolved. Lovely mature elegant cabernet. Wish I had bought more when it was released almost 30 years ago! This would make out very well indeed in a tasting of 1978 clarets or Californian cabernets (some Beaulieu Georges de Latour has also fooled me into thinking it wasn’t American oak when it was at least 20 years old)

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1995 Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva – corked!

1998 Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva – a nice rounded vanilla and cocoa nose emanating from a dark red wine that still has pretty significant tannin as well as ample acidity. The question in my mind was whether or not this somewhat acidic wine has enough fruit to merit the additional ageing that the tannins clearly warrant. Time will tell. A reasonable showing at this point with a question mark for the future.

2001 Alion Ribera del Duero – this wine from the owners of Vega Sicilia was attractive at first sniff and taste and it just kept growing on me until it was finally all gone from my glass. It was dark and had a sweet nose of currants and berries, some up front soft tannin, well balanced in the middle with a lot of vanilla coming in, and a medium long smooth finish. I caught faint hints of dill after awhile. Very good showing.

2004 Pintia (Toro) – an first tasting of this wine for me, made by the same owners of Vega Sicilia, this showed sweet plumy fruit in the nose and was veritably stuffed with fruit on palate….but it was simple fruit in a simple wine that I doubt will ever develop complexity. Tasty, like a boysenberry cocktail, but hard to take too seriously as a vin de garde. Maybe others can prove me wrong with more data from older vintages? This reminds me a lot of some of the in-your-face Californian wines intended to impress and garner big point scores with shock and awe but then often seem to mature poorly and decline prematurely. Count me as not impressed on this one, but quite impressed with the Alion. Perhaps that’s just my taste preferences showing.

2004 Jorge Ordonez Malaga Seleccion Especial ‘1’ – instantly identifiable as Muscat by the nose that was almost crawling out of the glass at you, but contrary to my fears and expectations (I was thinking about the cloyingly sweet PX Malagas such as Lopez Hermanos (?) in a gold covered bottle that haunted me in year’s past) it was not cloyingly sweet, showed interesting notes of caramel and candied orange. Delightful!
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Mark S » Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:49 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:1978 Torres Gran Coronas Black Label (Penedes) – my last bottle of this excellent wine. Someone called it Mas La Plana, and I corrected them – that was a name not yet coined by Torres for their top bottling. They started calling it Mas La Plana some time in the 1980s. It is 100% cabernet, aged in new American oak for 18 months. The remarkable thing is that at this age, we all had the same reaction that this couldn’t be American oak and must be French, until we checked it out. None of the dill hints of young American oak you often get. Mature and elegant, the wine still has excellent colour with garnet edges, not browning appreciably. The nose was mellow aged wood and soft fruit, the tannins all resolved. Lovely mature elegant cabernet. Wish I had bought more when it was released almost 30 years ago! This would make out very well indeed in a tasting of 1978 clarets or Californian cabernets (some Beaulieu Georges de Latour has also fooled me into thinking it wasn’t American oak when it was at least 20 years old)


Raiding the far reaches of the cellar, eh Bill? I think I had a Gran Coronas once but I forget which year. Interesting the oak changed character.
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:57 pm

Mark S wrote:
Bill Spohn wrote:Raiding the far reaches of the cellar, eh Bill? I think I had a Gran Coronas once but I forget which year. Interesting the oak changed character.



There are wines that you like so much that you are really reluctant to open your last bottle, but are torn by the knowledge that lengthy delay will only be to the detriment of the wine. This was one of those bottles. Glad I opened it! When my hand stops shaking I should go and look for the 1964 Trotanoy I've got in there somewhere.....
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Paul Winalski » Sun Feb 24, 2013 3:07 pm

I have fond memories of the 1978 Gran Coronas, but I finished all of mine years ago.

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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Mark Lipton » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:24 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:1978 Torres Gran Coronas Black Label (Penedes) – my last bottle of this excellent wine. Someone called it Mas La Plana, and I corrected them – that was a name not yet coined by Torres for their top bottling. They started calling it Mas La Plana some time in the 1980s. It is 100% cabernet, aged in new American oak for 18 months. The remarkable thing is that at this age, we all had the same reaction that this couldn’t be American oak and must be French, until we checked it out. None of the dill hints of young American oak you often get. Mature and elegant, the wine still has excellent colour with garnet edges, not browning appreciably. The nose was mellow aged wood and soft fruit, the tannins all resolved. Lovely mature elegant cabernet. Wish I had bought more when it was released almost 30 years ago! This would make out very well indeed in a tasting of 1978 clarets or Californian cabernets (some Beaulieu Georges de Latour has also fooled me into thinking it wasn’t American oak when it was at least 20 years old)


Too cool, Bill! That is the only Torres Black Label/Mas La Plana that I've ever had. Jean and I had it with two other friends at a birthday dinner (for me) at a podunk Italian restaurant in Brooklyn that sold wine at cost. That would have been ca. 1987 and it was still a very young Cabernet then. I'm not at all surprised that it has aged well. (That same dinner featured a bottle of 1985 René Dauvissat Chablis Les Preuses that forever changed how I thought about Chardonnay -- too bad that the food there was execrably bad)

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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby JC (NC) » Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:11 am

Interesting. I had a glass of the 1978 Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Black Label at a wine dinner in Raleigh in 2006. I just went back and looked at my notes from that dinner and it was served in a flight with the 1991 and 1994 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve wines. The Torres Gran Coronas was one of my favorite wines of an impressive lineup that night. Haven't had a chance to try any since then.
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Jenise » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:38 pm

I'm sorry you don't have more of that 78 too. I had a few bottles of both it and the 75, the last of which was emptied on the occasion of one of my recent birthdays. A worthy choice!
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Hoke » Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:03 pm

Talk about bringing back vinous memories!

Back in the 70s and 80s I was Wine Director/Buyer for a large beverage chain in Texas, and we had the exclusivity on Torres (working directly with Marimar).

Sold bucketloads of Torres, each and every one of their wines. Sold a lot of Sangre de Toro, Corona and a bunch of Gran Corona. The '78 Gran Corona Black Label was a gorgeous wine, from its beginning to the last of numerous bottles I sucked down.

As I recall, that wine retailed for $12--14. Remarkable.

And the Ordonez Malaga? I agree, they are doing some great things with Malaga now. I was amazed when I was their a few years ago and had a chance to taste the "new", lighter, more balanced, and seductive Malaga sweeties----quite a change from the heavy, treacly days of yesteryear.
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:10 pm

Hoke wrote:Sold bucketloads of Torres, each and every one of their wines. Sold a lot of Sangre de Toro, Corona and a bunch of Gran Corona. The '78 Gran Corona Black Label was a gorgeous wine, from its beginning to the last of numerous bottles I sucked down.


Speaking of memories, Hoke, Jean and I met while in graduate school in the mid-'80s. After establishing that we both liked wine, we started buying wines for various occasions. For special occasions, I had the case of California Cabernets and Zins that I'd drug with me from the Golden State when starting grad school in NYC. For the everyday occasions, we had Sangre de Toro. By the end of her stay at Columbia, she'd amassed a whole herd of black plastic cattle. :D

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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Bill Spohn » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:18 pm

I was always faintly embarrassed about the plastic bull and some friends made mock about it, but damn it, the wine istelf was pretty darned good and great value!


Anyone remember Gran Sangre de Toro? Not brought in here any more, but I reecall it with fondness too, when one was feeling particularly flush in the wallet department.
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Mark Lipton » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:23 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:I was always faintly embarrassed about the plastic bull and some friends made mock about it, but damn it, the wine istelf was pretty darned good and great value!


Anyone remember Gran Sangre de Toro? Not brought in here any more, but I reecall it with fondness too, when one was feeling particularly flush in the wallet department.


Precisely our situation with it, Bill.

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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Jenise » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:23 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:I was always faintly embarrassed about the plastic bull and some friends made mock about it, but damn it, the wine istelf was pretty darned good and great value!

Anyone remember Gran Sangre de Toro? Not brought in here any more, but I reecall it with fondness too, when one was feeling particularly flush in the wallet department.


I've had the Sangre de Toro which of course requires no deep pocketsto buy, but didn't even realize there was a Gran version. It was impressive?
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Re: WTN: Spain

Postby Hoke » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:31 pm

Those bulls were kinda ticky-tacky, but boy were they popular. Got so popular that people would come in the stores and ask for "the wine with the black bull on the neck".

I always thought the Gran Sangre de Toro was a great wine buy---excellent quality for the money, a real step up from the regular Sangre. But the popular one was the regular. When people wanted quality they went with the Gran Corona Black Label. Awesome good wine, it was.

Best QPR we had in the store.

Since I was in Texas, I sold a lot of the Vina Esmeralda as well.
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