February 24, 2008

2003 Rotllan Torra "Amadis" D.O.Q. Priorat Red Wine

When people ask me where to find the best values in wine, one of the first regions that come to mind is usually Spain. You can still get an unbelievable wine for under $20, and when compared to other major wine regions, that's no easy feat. Many Spanish wines have shot up in price and popularity, but you can still find delicious wines for a fraction of the price you'd pay for an equal wine produced in say, Oregon. Some might argue that with all the attention Spain has received in the past few years, the style has been incresingly leaning towards the "new world," with jammy, alcoholic fruit bombs. I think for every fruit bomb there's another Spanish wine that still carries the charm and elegance that drew outsiders to the regions different wines in the first place…

I won't pretend I dislike over the top and powerful wines. I do, and they make up a good chunk of my cellar, but I also love and seek out wines packed with subtlety, nuance, and even more important- a sense of place. For instance, I don't think anyone can argue that one of the hottest Spanish reds (El Nido Clio) is a bit over the top and a monster of the wine at the moment. But it's done so well, and it's a great wine at a lower price than many of it's peers. Rotllan Torra does an excellent job of straddling the line, achieving wines that meld power, grace, and tradition. The result is intoxicating wines with bold aromas and flavors that are shockingly silky on the tongue.

Located in the heart of Torroja del Priorat, Rotllan Torra is a family run winery that began in 1984 but never released it’s wine until 1995, an outstanding vintage in Spain. Many of the vines are about a century old, planted in soils composed primarily of slate, as well as younger vineyards with a number of different grapes including Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, and Pinot Noir. The winery is an old farmhouse turned winery by monks back in the 16th century, now updated with modern equipment while still preserving much of the original d├ęcor. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and wines are aged in French and American oak barrels, depending on the wine.

Amadis takes it's name from a noble knight, and is a blend of Carignane, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Most of the grapes are harvested from 100-year-old vines and aged in French oak. Each bottle is hand numbered prior to release and aged 10 months in French oak. Along with Amadis, Rotllan Torra releases a number of other blends, as well as various dessert wines, some of which look very intriguing. This is a wine I'd like to revisit each year for the next decade or so, and see how it changes over time. Bottled unfined and unfiltered, it's drinking great right now but will only get better and more complex with time.

Tasting Notes:
Almost as dark as black coffee with a ruby tinge to the rim, the nose attacks your senses with chocolate, coffee, dark sour cherries and a juicy kiss of oak. Red berry and currant flavors coat the mouth with well integrated tannins and just the right amount of acidity. Hedonistic but restrained, Amadis evolves very well over time in the glass. I think this wine will appeal to those who enjoy fat and opulent wines that can still be paired with food and really shine.

Price: $55

Score: 89-93

14% Alcohol
25% Grenache, 25% Carignane
25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, and 10% Merlot
Aged 10 Months in French oak
About 2,300 cases produced

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