Tempranillo from Malagon, Ciudad Real, Castile-La Mancha, Spain
100% cencibel (tempranillo)
Purchased: 18 Aug 2014 $13.98
Opened: 7 Feb 2018
Cellar Tracker: 93
In the early 1990s the Arzuaga Group established themselves in the small hamlet of Quintanilla de Onésimo, Spain, north of Madrid about 90 miles and 125 miles south of the northern Spanish Atlantic coast. The hamlet of little more than 1000 souls occupies the flat agricultural plains adjacent and immediately south of the Duero River. The companies vineyards in the area grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Chardonnay grapes.
In 1997 the company, looking for additional olive groves for their olive oil business, instead found and purchased the existing 143 acre vineyard: La Solana. The vineyard is near the small town of Malagon, Spain, located between the Toledo Mountains to the north and the Sierra Madrones to the south. The vineyards and winery did not begin producing wines until 5 years later in 2002. In 2009 the vineyard was granted Vino de Pago status; the highest quality category of Spanish wine. To obtain this designation the wines have to not only meet the DOCa requirements, but must also have a proven track record of consistently high quality and the grapes have to be grown, processed and aged on the estate.
Tempranillo grapes, called cencibel in the Ciudad Real area, are thick-skinned and love sunny, long hot days and cool nights, all of which brings forth a deep red wine with mild to moderate tannins and low to medium acidity. These qualities help generate a deep-colored medium-bodied wine with a wide range of aromas and tastes, including strawberries, blackcurrants, cherries, leather and tobacco.
The La Solana vineyard is on the north side of a series of low hills, with the vines growing in a rocky, pebbly top soil with an impermeable clay layer below. The vineyard grows, in addition to Tempranillo; Syrah, and Petit Verdot grapes. The growing season temperatures range from about 50-92ºF with rainfall ranging from as little as 0.25 inches to as much as 2.25 inches per month.
The grapes are hand-picked, sorted, de-stemmed and then gravity fed into casks or barrels. The grapes undergo approximately a 5 day cold maceration and a 7 day hot fermentation at roughly 82ºF. Only some of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in new oak barrels. The wine is aged for about 12 months in French and American oak barrels.
The wine has ruby-red to purple color with a garnet rim. A bouquet of fresh cherries, leather, and earthy mushrooms. On the palate the wine is well-balanced, medium to full-bodied with a medium finish. Wonderful.
An outstanding wine at a good price, if you can find it, but later vintages should be similar. The 2012 vintage was a good year with similar ratings. Serve with traditional La-Mancha dishes; such as pisto soup, cuchifritos and paella. If you wish lighter fair try with crab stuffed mushrooms and soft cheese. Drink now, but should last until 2020. Decant and aerate for one hour before drinking.