Wine Rarity at a Great Price (extremely limited): Vara y Pulgar Tintilla 2018

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Hi everyone –

Something exceptional is available this week. Unfortunately, it’s extremely limited. Only 53 bottles are available.

It’s one of our favorite wines of the last few years. It’s an obscure wine (to say the least) and it’s from one of our favorite importers, Ole & Obrigato.

The local distributor for Ole & Obrigato has been a big supporter of this quite unknown wine. They’ve done the heavy lifting of bringing it to the best restaurants and sommeliers around town, gaining a little traction. The best thing, though, is they support brands such as this via regular purchasing vintage after vintage, even if there is some inventory already in their warehouse. They have always believed in financially supporting smaller wineries. This is unusual in the wine distribution business, where the normal mantra is “only order when we need to” to keep inventory down.

But sometimes, due to this kindness, inventory backs up a bit.

We received a phone call from the distributor earlier this week letting us know they have three vintages of this wine in stock and would like to reduce it to two. They offered Solo Vino a great price on the remaining inventory of the delicious 2018, and here we are. All the savings are passed on to you.

Where it’s from: Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz

Where? Yep, you’re not the only one to ask that.

Located in far southwestern Spain, this is totally off the beaten track. It’s the oldest continuously inhabited region in Spain, with a winemaking history dating back to the 8th Century BC. They currently have VT status (Vino de la Tierra) but are working quickly toward DO status.

Vino de la Tierra de Cádiz has a spectacular geological feature that makes this wine special: white chalk soils—everywhere! The microclimate is hot during the day and cool at night. It’s off the beaten path, but the wines from here have historic importance and decades of accolades. Americans, however, rarely see them in the States. Most of the wines of this area are consumed there.

Learn more about Cádiz.

What we have here is the rare Tintillia grape!

Only 26 hectares of this grape are to be found in its home region of Cádiz.

From the importer’s website:

Vara y Pulgar is made from one of the most rare grape varieties of southwestern Spain. The Tintilla grape was cultivated in Jerez for many centuries; however, it, along with many other varieties disappeared after the phylloxera epidemic in the early 20th century. Today, Alberto Orte has recovered a few cuttings from abandoned vineyards that managed to survive phylloxera, and after many years of work has managed to produce the first bottles of 100% Tintilla still (dry) wine in over a century.

Jerez is famous for its Albariza soil, a type of chalk that is very light and porous. This same type of soil can also be found in some parts of the region of Champagne in France. Vines that are tended in this type of soil make superior and distinctive wines.

Planted in Albariza, Tintilla is able to ripen perfectly without showing extra alcohol or overripe flavors. It has a rare confluence of delicate complexity and medium to full bodied weight on the palate, with lovely minerality similar to other wines of the region.

Recent genetic studies show that Tintilla is the same grape as Graciano. It is possible that the first documents published on Tintilla were by Roxas Clemente in 1807. Abela wrote about Graciano in 1885. Tintilla has also the name of Xeres in Australia. As such, it is a reasonable hypothesis to establish that the origin of this grape is in Jerez and that Tintilla is the original name.

The winemaker and champion of this long-lost variety: Alberto Orte

Alberto is somewhat of an anomaly, as he is a farmer, producer, and historian. He approaches his vineyard sites with the past in mind and aims to apply lessons to the modern day. “I like to observe and understand how different regions tended their vineyards in the past,” he says. “Not to replicate these methods, but to understand and create my conclusions of the best farming approach to each region.” Today, Alberto currently owns 16 hectares of vines in Jerez. He also purchases fruit and rents vineyard sites in the Sil and Bibei riverbanks in Valdeorras, Campo Arriba in Yecla, and Sierra de la Demanda in Rioja.  

Alberto’s main contribution to the world of Spanish wine is his revival of nearly extinct local varieties, showing the true potential of grapes like Tintilla and Vijiriega. Alberto has identified 200+ old clones and 22 forgotten varieties in Jerez alone. Alberto is also passionate about old vines, as these plants tend to produce low yields of concentrated and thought-provoking fruit. Alberto favors high-altitude vineyard plots with deep soils when searching for sites to work with.

Tasting notes on the 2018 Vara y Pulgar

I can’t improve on Josh Raynold’s tasting note. I agree with every word of it. The bottle I opened on Tuesday night still showed great power and detail two days later. This is an outstanding, complex, slightly aged, and ready to enjoy now wine. It will drink great through 2025, for sure.

Opaque ruby. Smoke- and mineral-accented black and blue fruits, candied flowers and succulent herbs on the highly perfumed nose. Juicy and focused in the mouth, offering concentrated boysenberry, bitter cherry and violet pastille flavors that become sweeter as the wine opens up. The dark berry and floral notes linger on the spicy, very long finish, which is given shape by smooth tannins. — Josh Raynolds.

Enjoy with roast leg of lamb, rotisserie chicken, or turmeric-dusted roasted cauliflower. This wine is extremely versatile and works well with a wide range of flavors.

Buying advice

There is not much of this wine. Sorry about that. (But that’s also part of the fun!)

The regular price of the wine on the shelf at Solo Vino is $28.99. You can buy the 2020 and 2021 vintages for that price. The 2020 is on the shelf right now at Solo Vino. The upcoming 2022 vintage has a significant price increase, making today’s deal even better.

Here we have the 2018 for you at an exceptional discount. We’ve also made a three-pack available for the most profound savings.

First come, first served. This is going to go quickly.

Thank you!

Jason Kallsen
Sommelier and founder/owner of Twin Cities Wine Education

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