Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Winner From Navarra: 2006 Bodegas Ochoa Tempranillo

We go back to Spain tonight, back to Navarra. I opened this 2006 Tinto (Tempranillo) after receiving it about three weeks ago. As I wrote about previously, Navarra has some seriously ancient wine making traditions and is now making a concerted effort to get back into the consumer consciousness as a wine region. As a fan of Spanish wines in general, I was happy to get some samples and see how Navarra compares to more well known regions like Rioja or Priorat.

Bodegas Ochoa Tempranillo Crianza is 100% Tempranillo from a single vineyard, called "El Bosque". Alcohol by volume is a modest 13.5%. Under Spanish labeling laws, Crianza means that the wine (red in this case) must age for at least two years with a minimum of six months in oak barrels. Historically, the Spaniards have use the ageing time to classify wines rather than other methods like the Cru system in France. Of the three major categories, Crianza is the lowest level. That isn't to say it's an indicative of a cheap or sub-par wine though. As it happens, Ochoa aged their Tempranillo for a year in oak and two years in the bottle before releasing it.

One hour went by, agonizingly slowly, after I opened Ochoa. Very nice purple color in the glass, not quite opaque. If red wine has a generic color, I strongly suspect this would be it.

Aromas of cherry pie, dried herbs and leather came to the party tonight. Alcoholic heat tickled my nostrils (I hate that word!) but only just so. This wine needed more than an hour to open up, which I found oddly pleasing. Wine like that always carries itself more elegantly and often tastes more structurally sound, it has gravitas even.

Dried cherries, tannin, and a touch of oak all rounded out by a streak of classic Old World minerality. The '06 Ochoa is very well put together wine and now, four years after it was made, is perhaps drinking at it's peak. Admittedly I'm biased towards Old World wines, just ask my wine-geek friends. Still, for someone who is more familiar with New World wine, the Ochoa Tempranillo is very accessible and a good way to get acquainted with wine from Navarra.

For a wine geek like me, it's hard not to be impressed by the structure and balance considering the Suggested Retail Price is $14.50. Easy B for me and a BUY recommendation, it isn't often we get to find such an affordable Tempranillo with some bottle age on it. Try pairing this wine with some Iberico cheese shaved over an omelet that you've put some fresh tomatoes, jalapenos and mushrooms into.

This wine was a sample for review purposes.

Beau Carufel

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