Wine Review: Torres Patio Party

16 06 2015

[These bottles were provided as samples for review purposes.]

Summer fun - ideally outside, without rain.

Summer fun – ideally outside, without rain.

Call it countercyclical marketing or just really bad weather judgment, but I’ve managed to hold off on writing up a patio-wine-themed review duet until the week when we’re due to get utterly deluged with rain.  In the event that you’re soaking wet while reading this, consider it a faint flicker of hope for the future.  So far the forecast has been, as usual, wrong, which will hopefully allow you to disregard this entire paragraph.

I wanted to write up these two wines together because they share both a similar grape source (Garnacha, better known in the New World as Grenache) and a similar vision:  to be a cheap and cheerful source of quality fun out of a bottle.  Of course, they also share a producer, Miguel Torres, whose fifth generation family estate has become one of the most solid wine bets out there, a name that evokes trust regardless of the region, country, grape or style of the wine behind the label.  These relatively new releases are twin 2013 Torres bottlings of Garnacha-based wines:  the De Casta Rose, which blends Garnacha with Carinena (Carignan), and the 5G, a 100% Garnacha representing five generations of the Torres family tree and the winery’s constant hunt for perfection in that grape.  Both are value-priced (under $15 and under $20 respectively) and both are meant for easy and early enjoyment.

Look at that colour!!

Look at that colour!!

The De Casta Rose comes from the large Catalunya region in Mediterranean eastern Spain, the area that is home to Barcelona and is the wider wine area surrounding the more prestigious appellations of Priorat and Penedes.  Both the bottle label and the tech sheet that come with it speak of Torres (in this case, generation #3, Miguel Torres Carbo) striving to create a fully unique style of rose, with strong colours and fruity aromas.  One look at the bottle shows that they got the colour part down:  the wine is a vivid, almost lurid, deep flamingo pink colour, almost red-tinged, with none of the orange tint that you often see in more delicate roses.  The aromatic experience is, perhaps happily, less intense than the visual one, with measured notes of strawberry, rock salt, flowers and a slight citrus sharpness.

Once you start tasting, the De Casta trades even more exuberance for freshness and crispness, belying its wild child appearance.  It is bright and clean, showing off impressive weight to the tart pink grapefruit, red apple, seawater and mineral flavours and balancing prickly acid with just a touch of leftover sweetness that plays nicely off the tangier, saltier notes.  The red fruits and flowers start to emerge again on the clear finish.  It is textbook patio goodness, with enough versatility and flesh on its bones (thanks largely to the subtle acid/sugar balance) to stand up to a wide array of foods.

87 points

$10 to $15 CDN

Stelvin Ratings:  0/10 & 6.5/10 (I like the regulatory-approval-on-screwcap thing. Plain black - no.)

Stelvin Ratings: 0/10 & 6.5/10 (I like the regulatory-approval-on-screwcap thing. Plain black – no.)

The 5G Garnacha is not textbook patio goodness, but only because few people writing patio textbooks would think to bring a red out there.  But this one is a likely candidate, primarily due to the fact that its tannins are so subtle and smooth that they are barely perceptible, meaning that you can chill this red without fear of tongue sandpaper retribution on your first sip.  The fruit flavours are bold enough to stand out even when muted a bit by the cold, and believe me, when it’s +30 out there, a cold red will taste WAY better than a warm one.

Young and purple.

Young and purple.

The 5G is a new addition to the Torres lineup, and it comes from a lesser known Spanish wine region that I had to Google in order to locate:  Campo de Borja.  If you already know where that is without running a browser search, you either already work in the wine industry or you should.  As it turns out, Campo de Borja may be somewhat obscure, but it rubs shoulders with the stars:  it is immediately southeast of glamour regions Rioja and Navarra in north-central Spain.  The main feature of the region is the large Moncayo mountain in the middle of it, which impacts both the soils and the climate of the area.  Apart from Garnacha, Campo de Borja also grows Riojan staple Tempranillo and numerous international varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah).  The more you know!

Campo de Borja’s finest certainly showed its youth in the glass, coming across almost fully purple, although not opaque or heavy.  It smelled and tasted almost like a joven (meaning “young”, a designation signifying no oak and little bottle age) Rioja:  zero oak influence, gobs of sweet excitable red cherry and raspberry fruit with a currant-y Wine Gums edge, a clear violet/floral note and a deft medium body.  The fruit never came across as ultra-ripe or got carried away, however, and there was a papery and herbal note on the fringes of the palate, liniment and parchment, that held things in check and guided the 5G to a minty, cherry Halls sort of finish.

True story:  I inadvertently wore this shirt while writing this review.

True story: I inadvertently wore this shirt while writing this review.

This red patio Garnacha drinks easily by itself but also stood up without difficulty to barbecued ribs, where the sweetness from the BBQ sauce actually played nicely with what may have been a slight hint of sweetness in the wine.  But don’t worry too much about the details.  Don’t overthink this, just drink this.  With a chill.

87+ points

$15 to $20 CDN

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