Wines of Compaņia de Vinos de Telmo Rodriguez at Tabou
Wednesday 27th April 2005
By Frank McEwen
Telmo Rodriguez comes from a Rioja wine making family but has struck out with a team of winemakers separate from the family under the banner Compaņia de Vinos de Telmo Rodriguez. They identify old regions with run down vineyards, acquire or rent the vineyards and renovate them, then apply what is evidently great winemaking. The inclusive team philosophy reminds me of Fritz Maytag at Anchor Steam. The vineyards are set to bush vines which they see as being the best for the natural expression of the grapes. Wines are fermented with wild yeast in open vats but are amazingly clean. Where used, all oak is new and the wines deliberately see a lot of oxygen during making; micro-oxygenation is not used. Some white grapes are included in the red ferments to add complexity and further character. The end results are some of the most distinctive wines you'll taste - packed full of character, clean and elegant.
Wines are produced and marketed in 3 tiers:
· Entry - no oak, drink now
· Super Premium - individual vineyards/select parcels, minimal handling
Finally, Rodriguez works with a designer friend to produce the most distinctive labels around. Designs are modern, humorous and quirky but still elegant, and have caused some controversy in Spain.
The Tabou dinner was at the end of a 10-day whirlwind tour of Oz with importer Scott Wasley of The Spanish Acquisition (firstname.lastname@example.org). While it may seem strange to have a French meal with Spanish wines, it worked very well with good food from the team at Tabou. It was delightful to meet the maker of some of my favourite wines and a great night.
Scott and Rodriguez spoke at length to the various wines poured. My tasting notes follow. Prices given are from deals on offer on the night through Five Ways Cellars and Best Cellars.
· Basa Verdejo (a.k.a Verdelho) D.O. Rueda 2004. Light, fresh. Some fruit sweetness and herbal elements. Drink now. 17/20 $18
· Gaba Godello D.O. Valdeorras 2004. Entry level Godello. Bright and clear with a dry finish. Good with food or as an aperitif. My pick of the nights whites. 17.5/20. Drink Now. $22.50
· Al Muvedre Monastrell (a.k.a. mataro or mourvedre) D.O. Alicante 2003. Light bodied. Pleasant with dry tannins and cherry fruit. Good acid - hint of VA? Fairly short finish but good with food. Drink Now. 16.5/20 $18
· LZ Tempranillo D.O. Rioja 2003. Entry level wine in the Lanzaga Rioja range. Medium/light bodied. Tight palate with slight spicy character - good with food. Drink Now.17/20 $20.50
· Dehesa Gago Tempranillo D.O. Toro 2003. Entry level wine in the Toro range. Medium/full bodied. Round with big berry finish. My pick of all the entry level reds. If this does not turn you onto Toro reds nothing will. Drink Now. 18/20 $20.50
· Gazur Tempranillo D.O. Ribera del Duero 2003. Entry level wine in the Ribera del Duero range. Medium bodied and smooth. Lifted spicy tempranillo character. Drink Now. 18/20. $25.
· M2 de Matallana Tempranillo D.O. Ribera del Duero 2002. First vintage. Nose opens like a Barossa old vine red. Full bodied and concentrated. Will keep up 4+ years but drinks well now. My pick of the night and now my favourite of his wines after the Lanzaga (which was not on tasting). 18.5/20. $48.50.
· Matallana Tempranillo D.O. Ribera del Duero 2001. Next step up from the M2. Medium bodied. Nose has hints of violets. Quite closed on the palate at this point. May keep 10+ years but check after 5. 19/20 $160.
· Pegaso Granacha, Tierras de Castille 1999. Single walled vineyard with highest grenache vines in Europe. Medium bodied. Tight with good acid (some VA?) and a hint of strawberry. Drink now. 18/20 $48.50.
· Molino Real Moscatel D.O. Malaga 2002. Grapes are dried to the point where an olive oil press is required to extract the juice. Despite this the wine is bright and the palate light with no jam or port characters. 13% alcohol. Quite complex with an overwhelming muscat character. It is very good but, sorry, I can't help but think of fruity gordo when drinking this. Drink now. 18/20. $80.