WINE: Jorge Ordonez Actea 2012 Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain (Available from Vino Volo)
Last night I visited Spain, the Spain Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra described when he wrote “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.” As I sniffed and sipped this inky black-red liquid lined in beet-red edges, I heard the sounds of mules slowly making their way along arid, rocky-clay hillsides, the dust from their passage gently filtering through the air, smelled thyme and burning shrubs, and felt the warmth of the sun on my back as I picked fresh blackberries and raspberries from their vines, eating more than I should as their warm skin and plump ripeness was just too enticing.
I’ve never been to Spain, but this wine transported me from the very first sniff: deep cherry notes, leather, warm red-clay soil, bright sun, hints of something rich waiting to be explored. This morning I read others’ online tasting notes, some suggesting the wine boring and simple, but my palate disagrees. It just requires some patience to let it breath, which I did while I marinated pork chops in a dry herb mixture of hot paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and chili powder thanks to this recipe I found on Food52.com. As I nibbled on the pork and sipped the wine wafts of cinnamon, warm cherry pie, green earth, and meyer lemon (or tangerine?) rind came through and titillated my tongue.
I stumbled upon a quote about the terroir of the Castilla – La Mancha D.O. wine region by Karen MacNeil, author of “The Wine Bible.” She says “Complexity, as it happens, for a grape to develop nuance requires an incrementally slow march to ripeness … you can end up anywhere, but the longer that it takes to get there, the better. Long growing seasons, especially long growing seasons with huge amounts of luminosity (as opposed to heat, per se) are fantastic. That’s how these wines get to some measure of complexity… by the virtue of a long growing season which can only be possible with cold nights.” For a long time La Mancha was known as the center of indifferent table wines, rather than quality winemaking. Today, however, a visitor to the region will see an arid, expansive plateau, mercifully punctuated by the Guadiana river that flows through the center of the La Mancha D.O., and experience a wide range of quality wine styles, which is evident in this 2012 Actea Tempranillo.
I found myself not wanting to stop drinking this soft, delicate, gently-bright and low-tannic wine being the texture-whore that I am, but stop I did as I want something to savor as I eat leftovers tonight. Can’t wait to see how much more depth it offers.