Tempranillo From Spain

Castilla y Leon is the largest autonomia in Spain.  Located in the north-west portion of the country, it contains such Denominacion de Origen (DO) as Bierzo, Toro, Rueda, Cigales, and Ribera del Duero.  The Mas de Leda is a Vino de la Tierra (VT) which is technically a quality step down from a DO.  While a VT Castilla y Leon may be produced from grapes sourced throughout the autonomia, the Mas de Leda fruit is sourced from vineyards near Ribera del Duero.  This region is characterized by flat-topped mountains and hills at altitudes of 700-800 meters.  The climate is more moderate with dry summers, wet falls, and short, cold winters.  Tempranillo is locally known as Tinta del Pais and does not produce excessively alcoholic wines.  Ribera del Duero is located east of the Toro DO where the Cal Blanca vineyard is located.  The Toro region is characterized by mostly flat terrain at altitudes of 620 – 750 meters.  There is little rain, the summers are dry and hot with the winters hard and full of frosts.  The variant of Tempranillo that is grown here is locally known as Tinta de Toro.  After centuries of acclimatization Tinta de Toro may naturally produce potent wines of 16 to 17% alcohol.

Cal Blanca Vineyard, Image by Friederike Paetzold at Ole

The Mas de Leda is imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners, locally distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd, and available for ~$22.  The Cal Blanca is imported by Ole, locally distributed by Bacchus Importers Ltd, and available for ~$15.  While the Mas de Leda could benefit from a few years of age to tame the tannins there was a bit too many wood notes for my taste.  The Cal Blanca is a balanced, thoroughly enjoyable wine that benefits from the high altitude fruit.  While it is drinking well now it will develop for a few more years.  I definitely recommend you try this well-priced wine.

2007 Bodegas Leda Vina Viejas, Mas de Leda, VDT Castilla y Leon
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from 40 small vineyard plots throughout Castilla y Leon.  These plots are typically located near the Ribera del Duero DO through some are from Toro DO.  The wine is aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.  This is a rich Tempranillo with dusty textured fruit.  There are initial notes of wood mixed with sweet, grapey tannins that coat the lips in the aftertaste.  On the second night there is a Port-like nose followed by a good mouth feel in this structured wine.  There are flavors of blackberries, balsamic notes, and grainy drying tannins. *(*) 2014-2017.

2009 Cal Blanca, Toro
This wine is 100% Tempranillo sourced from the Cal Blanca vineyard located in the Cerro del Almendro area in Toro.  This vineyard was planted in 1985 at an elevation of 800 meters on soils of chalky, limestone.  This is one of the highest vineyards in Toro.  The wine is aged for 6 months in two-year old French oak barrels followed by three months in 5,000 liter concrete tanks.  This showed dark red fruit that has a pebbly texture.  There is good weight to this concentrated wine with supportive acidity coming out in the finish.  On the second night the dark red fruit mixed with blue fruit in a smooth, supple manner.  The first sip is a bit tart then there steely minerals come out midpalate followed by grapey tannins that coat the lips. **(*) Now-2017.

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