Wine Review: 2012 Torres Celeste Crianza

29 03 2016
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Mysterious heavens. Mysterious brown bottle.

I must admit that the weekly sale flyer from my neighbourhood Solo Liquor store doesn’t usually flood me with inspiration,  but this past week, nestled in its pages amongst the Barefoots and the Yellow Tails, was an offer that made me make a special trip down the block.  The current edition (and 10th anniversary vintage) of Torres’ Celeste Crianza, a 100% Tempranillo bottling from the famed Ribera del Duero region in north-central Spain, was on sale for $17.99, down from its usual $26ish.  I now regret buying only one at that price.  It’s becoming harder and harder with the sordid state of the Canadian dollar to find a well-made go-to bottle of wine for under $20, but for one glorious long weekend, this one easily fit the bill.

Torres is as trustworthy a wine name as there is at this kind of price point.  I’ve had a wide range of their offerings over the past couple of years, some of which ($15 Chilean rose?) did not necessarily spike my expectations going in, but all of which delivered quality, character, consistency and obscene value, to the point where I now seek them out in junk mail flyers.  They are a Spanish family-based winery, but their headquarters are in the far east of the country, in Catalunya near Barcelona; Celeste is their first bottling from Ribera del Duero.  Made from grapes grown in the upper reaches of the region, at close to 900 metres of elevation where they are exposed to blisteringly hot days but remarkably chilly nights, the Celeste is able to offer up full fruit ripeness without coming across as loose or flabby.  The wine’s name and label emphasize the celestial, showcasing the heavenly bodies on display nightly above the elevated vineyard which keep watch over the crop.

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If I could ask Miguel Torres Maczassek, fifth-generation head of the winery, one question about the Celeste, it would be:  why the brown-tinted and not green-tinted glass bottle?  Other than Port and German Rieslings from Rheingau/Rheinhessen, I can’t think of another type of wine off the top of my head that gets the dark amber treatment, but here we are.  Torres’ other red wines are in green bottles, as far as I know.  I keep thinking about this.

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Cork Rating: 7/10 (The Torres emblem is on the other side, but I had to show you the constellation. Thematic = nice.)

Anyway, the Celeste emerged from its brown-tinged vessel a deep but not opaque ruby-purple colour and unleashed an array of creamy, dark and fruity aromas, from primary blackberry and black cherry to equally prominent milk chocolate to a series of supporting notes that grounded the exuberance just enough:  smoke, burnt candle, asphalt and peppery spice.  It was modern and full in style without losing touch with itself or seeming overbearing, kept firm by prominent dusty tannins that rise up on the finish.  Chocolate-covered cherries, ganache, violets and cinnamon coated the palate, accented by just enough tar and grime and topsoil to anchor the wine’s lushness in the Old World.

This is (obviously) highly enjoyable now and could probably cruise in the cellar for up to a decade.  It is big and bold without being brash, with the structure and character that make it more than your standard liquor store bargain.  As with any Torres label, buy with confidence.

89 points

$25 to $30

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