2015 Alvear Alange Tempranillo

28 09 2016

[This bottle was provided as a sample for review purposes.]

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ALANGE SMASH!!

Some bottles immediately grab your attention for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on.  Other bottles grab your attention by screaming strange Spanish words in 128-point font.  Alvear’s Alange (sorry – ALANGE) is an example of the latter.  Its minimalist / maximalist label and Beetlejuice-like neck pinstriping are designed for the visually primed North American market, as is the consumer-friendly bottle indication of the grape inside (100% Tempranillo), a rarity on Old World wines.  It is a daring display from one of the older family-run wineries in the world, but it serves its purpose well, making you pause for that split second and linger over the bottle; after that, its price tag (a shade over $15) and the quality of the juice inside does the rest.

Alvear is truly a dynastic estate, now on its 8th generation of family winemaking.  The Alvear bodega was first constructed nearly three hundred years ago, in 1729.  Since then, it has not only stayed in the family but is now handled in all aspects by Alvears — there are currently over 50 members of the extended family involved in some capacity.  Alvear is known primarily for sherry, made in the region of Jerez in Spain’s arid southwest corner, but it is also gaining traction as a table wine producer, growing estate grapes due north of Jerez in the Ribera del Guadiana sub-zone of Extremadura.  To say this is an under-the-radar global area for red wine would be a marked understatement, but it’s places like this where values are often found.  Ribera del Guadiana is known primarily for scorching hot summers, freezing cold winters, reddish clay soils and an obscene array of planted grapes: while Tempranillo takes up the most acreage, the area is home to a crazy mix of red and white indigenous and international varietals, from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir (!) to Pedro Ximenez and Graciano.

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Trying to trace the origins of this bottle of Alange is a bit like reading a Dan Brown novel.  Ready?  The bottle says “Alvear”, but when you crack it and pull the cork, it says “Palacio Quemado” instead.  Palacio Quemado, in addition to being the name of the Presidential Palace in La Paz, Bolivia (really), is also the name of a single-estate-vineyard winery joint venture founded in 1999 by Alvear and Extremadura’s Losada Serra family, which makes varietal-based wines from homegrown Tempranillo, Syrah and Garnacha grapes.  Alange is the name of a village near the Palacio Quemado estate vineyard and was used as the moniker for PQ’s range of early-released younger wines, which receive limited oak maturation in order to showcase the character of their fruit.  The more you know…

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Cork Rating: 2.5/10 (Weird to pull an Alvear Alange cork and see a wholly different name. I’d have preferred a pic of the Bolivian palace.)

The 2015 Alange Tempranillo saw a brief 4 months in French and American oak and comes out of the bottle ready to play.  A rich but not fully opaque purple colour, it spills out sweetly perfumed and herbal-tinged aromas of redcurrant, raspberry, cherry Halls, balsamic vinegar and Fisherman’s Friend.  The oak’s light touch is more prevalent on the lush, modern palate, as vanilla and malted chocolate round out a tangy red fruit core tinged by pomegranate brightness.  It lives up to its all-caps label by being right in your face from the first sip, bold and plush, but its subtle dusty tannins kick in on the back end to keep the peace.  Right now it comes across as a touch put together and unsettled, but that should be aided by a little more time in bottle; it remains easy delicious flavour for a wallet-friendly price.

87 points

$15 to $20 CDN

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