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Hi everyone –
A favorite part of my job is working with importers and distributors that, for lack of a better term, do the right thing.
“The right thing” would include such work as supporting small wineries, choosing organic over industrial, holding true to a vision, and looking at their business as more than a dollar sign on a spreadsheet.
Who imports the wine matters, as you have heard me repeat time and time again. The importers are the ones that curate collections, act as the gatekeeper, and can build a reputation of greatness by being picky, selective, and true to their vision. The most famous of these great importers is Kermit Lynch, and his book Adventures on the Wine Route is a must-read to understand the role of the importer.
Over here at TCWE, one of the importers that we love to support is Olé and Obrigato, who specialize in exceptional wines from Spain and Portugal. They were one of the few importers that we did live webinars with over at The Wine Workshop during the pandemic, and they continue to be on the front line of doing innovative marketing and promotion of their portfolio in ways that no other importer is doing. Their portfolio represents some of my favorite under-the-radar wineries of Spain and Portugal, including Luis Sebra (Douro Valley), the Azores Wine Company, Caves Sao Joao, and Vara y Pulgar.
In other words, Olé and Obrigato are awesome importers.
I was lucky enough to sit down with their new Minnesota sales rep this week and taste through some wines that I haven’t had in a while. We found three gems for this week’s offer, including sweeping up the last 32 bottles of an insanely delicious 13-year-old Rioja Reserva that is firing on all cylinders at this very moment.
Here we go!
2010 La Antigua Clásico Reserva Rioja (special, limited, and awesome)
NOTE: EXTREMELY LIMITED. WE GRABBED THE LAST 32 BOTTLES AVAILABLE IN MINNESOTA. Don’t hesitate on this one.
So there are three neat things to note about this wine.
First, it’s a 2010 vintage Rioja Reserva, one of the best vintages in Rioja and the highest-rated Rioja vintage in Wine Spectator in the last 25 years. It’s getting harder and harder to find 2010s in the marketplace, so right away this is something special. It was aged for six years in older oak barrels and has now spent seven years in the bottle. It’s at a perfect sweet spot right now, and will hold steady for another five or ten years (but I’d drink it now, it’s so damn good).
Second, it’s a Garnacha (Grenache) based Rioja (60%, with 30% Tempranillo and 10% Granciano) from incredible old vines planted in 1940. These vines are in a relatively little-known sub-region within Rioja Alta, and at high elevations, they give more concentration to the resulting fruit.
Lastly, the soils these old vines grow in are red silica, a rare geology in Rioja, which gives this wine a distinctive personality I love. The photo here is of winemaker Alberto Orte (recently featured in the New York Times) with some of the old Garnacha vines.
Tasting note: This is traditional Rioja, meaning the oak is present but not overwhelming, and the fruit is complimented by fascinating aromas of pipe tobacco, cloves, and bitter cherry, along with all the fabulous raspberry you should expect from a Rioja. The age has done this wine well, seamlessly bringing tertiary characteristics that can only happen with time. This sucker is seamless.
Food pairing: Save this wine for a very special cut of red meat, carefully prepared on the charcoal grill. Or lamb chops … oh my, that would be delicious.
2020 Torremorón Ribera del Duero
The first rule around here is the wine has to be good. Really, really, good. Which, of course, this one is.
But the next rule is that it has to have a story that sets it apart from the others.
And the story here is pretty damn incredible.
There is a town in Ribera del Duero called Quintanamanvirgo. It’s a tiny village of only 94 people, and 85 of them work at this winery. You read that right. (The other 9 work at the one bar in town. I’m being serious here.)
The winery was founded in 1957 as a way for the local families to keep their heritage, build a product they can be proud of, and maintain their independence.
Google map to Quintanmanvirgo.
From one of their American distributors:
The Torremorón winery is located in the small town of Quintanamanvirgo (population: 94). Quintanamanvirgo has two businesses: the bar and the winery. The people are proud of their common wine heritage, and everyone in the town works for the winery. If you ever want to experience and taste the authentic personality of Ribera del Duero, head directly for this town and ask for Fernando de la Cal. When you meet him, ask him to show you his vineyards and his family cave where wine was made in the 1800’s.
Torremorón’s vineyards are close to the town of Quintanamanvirgo at an elevation of 824 meters (2,703 feet) within the north central part of Ribera del Duero, within the province of Burgos. Many of Ribera’s top bodegas farm vineyards here. The Ribera del Duero’s eastern sub-region has a cooler climate than Rueda or Toro, due to its higher altitude. The wines are usually darker, more concentrated and aromatic than wines made in the western part of Ribera del Duero. The soil is primarily sand with small particles of clay and a limestone subsoil. The soil is deep and compact in texture with a balanced pH factor contributing to crisp acidity on the palate. The climate plays a greater role than the soil, in this case, in revealing the qualities of these wines.www.creamwine.com
This wine is what keeps this town alive. The residents cherish their wine, and the village is full of wine cellars that go stories into the cool limestone. ISN’T THIS LIKE THE COOLEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN?
Tasting note: Beautifully medium-bodied with loads of black cherry and raspberry up front, a pepperiness in the mid-palate, and a long and graceful finish full of the typical Tempranillo acidity. This is a fantastic wine, with layers of detail and precision that force one to slow down a bit and pay attention. It’s a youthful wine and will age gracefully for five or ten years, but the exuberance of it today is super appealing to me. Enjoy it with BBQ ribs or hard cheeses.
2022 Liquid Geography Rosé of Mencía (supporting charity)
First, let’s mention this: 50% of the importer’s profits on this wine go to two fantastic causes.
From the Olé and Obrigato website:
To express our gratitude to the many who have helped us over the years, Olé & Obrigado donates 50% of Liquid Geography Mencía Rosé’s profits in equal parts to: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to support cancer care, research, and education, and Wheeling Forward to help those with disabilities experience life to the fullest.
Liquid Geography is a dry rosé made with Mencía grapes from 53 year old vines in the region of Bierzo in northwest Spain, a region with a wine history that dates back to the Roman times. Mencía is a red grape that is indigenous to the area. This rosé sees no oak and is fermented in stainless steel vats.
Liquid Geography is produced from vineyards owned by the Guerra winery, which farms 1/3 of all vineyards in the Bierzo region. Out of the 3,000ha (7,413 acres) of vineyard land in Bierzo, Guerra takes care of 1,000ha (2,471 acres), however, they only make wine with the best 10% of grapes. This rigorous selection process allows Liquid Geography to show consistent extraordinary quality.https://www.oleobrigado.com/wine/750-liquid-geography-mencia-rose
Never heard of Mencía? It’s the great red grape of Northwestern Spain, grown on some of Europe’s most extreme vineyards. Learn more at WineFolly: Mencia – The Red Wine To Know.
Tasting note: I can’t do better than the importer’s own note, which is right on the money: “Pale pink. Aromas and flavors of strawberries, red-currant and white pepper show very good clarity. Concentrated yet lithe rosado, with a nervy acid structure providing shape and lift. Finishes taut and minerally, with an echo of red berries.”
I will add to that note a bit, though: this rosé has an energy to it that I’m not finding in others right now. The whole category of rosé has exploded so fast and grown so much in the last ten years that we’re now seeing a TON of underperforming dry pink wines in the market. And the best description I have of those wines is “unenergized,” which is really hard to describe, but I’m coming across it repeatedly. This wine here is the opposite; it is fully energized and does what a rosé’s number one job is: making you want another sip. 🙂
These are three very different wines that serve different purposes.
Regarding the Rioja, I’d grab a few bottles. This may be the last time to access 2010 Rioja Reserva; the quality is off the charts.
Regarding the Ribera del Duero, the story alone justifies the purchase but the fact that it’s so damn delicious only seals the deal. This is a great wine to enjoy during grilling season; chill it down a bit. But especially buy this if you like sharing a great story while you pour wine for friends and family.
And regarding the rosé, that is a no-brainer stock-up wine.
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education
Offer and special pricing are available through Monday or as inventory lasts.