I used to buy the Saucy Dressings’ Chief Taster a sort of wine subscription for Christmas – two bottles of ‘surprise’ red wine would arrive every month along with tasting notes. The concept was a success – we were always intrigued to know what might be coming next – but quite often it was a disappointment.

I decided to try another tack and enlisted the help of specialist vintner, Ralph Smith. Ralph imports award winning, but not especially well known, wines from small boutique family run vineyards, and he has a particular expertise in northern Spanish wines. I briefed him on what was required and accordingly collected a crate of individually selected wines each with its own story.

January’s selection is a 2012 Rejadorada. On tasting all we knew of this was that it’s a 100% Tempranillo. “Hmmm” commented CT with surprise (it was the first bottle of wine I’d ever bought for him and he’d been eyeing it dubiously) “it’s rather nice, but it doesn’t taste like a Rioja. I think it might have been made using modern methods, or perhaps it’s just made somewhere else…. different terroir. It’s just that I always think of Tempranillo as being a Rioja grape”. We both thought it had an intriguing earthy taste, backed up by some power – it weighs in in terms of alcohol at a stonking 14.5%. All in all we agreed with the flavour notes on the label – ‘Amable paso por boca’ – it certainly slipped down a treat.

CT was right – it’s not a Rioja. As Ralph explains,

“This one’s from Toro… the last region of the Duero river before you reach Portugal and port country. It’s big, heavy, bold with lots of tannin. ‘Roble’ means oak, and this young wine is aged in oak barrels. It’s one of the three premium bodegas of the region and they are all located in the same little village, San Roman. I first met the father of the family that makes it five years ago, standing in the middle of his vines, and he’s since passed the business onto his son.

It’s not selling as well, I think because it’s been more years in the bottle, so it’s worth keeping for a year or so before you open it.”

Try it with steak, or a stew – Entente Cordial.

 

£15 from Ralph’s Wines Online