Red wine, Spain, Tempranillo, Toro

Alabaster 2007

Winemaker: Marcos Eguren
Grape: 100% Tinta de Toro
Region: D.O.Toro, Spain

Recently reviewed:
Wine Enthusiast 94 points
Wine Advocate 94 points
Wine Spectator 91 points

See other wines from this winemaker:
Bodegas Teso la Monja Almirez, Toro
Bodegas Teso la Monja Victorino, Toro
Senorio San Vicente, Rioja

When one of my most admired Rioja’s winemakers Marcos Eguren sold his successful project Numanthia-Termes S.L. in Toro (some of the highest rated Spanish wine in history), I knew he wasn’t done with Toro just yet. It had way too much potential and so unique terroir, perfect for growing Tinta de Toro (a local clone of Tempranillo) not to challenge somebody like Marcos.And sure enough, just a few years later, he releases his first 2007 vintage of his new Toro project – Bodegas Teso la Monja. I had the pleasure to taste their wines (Almirez, Victorino and Alabaster) for the first time with Marcos’s son, Eduardo.

The vineyards that family Eguren purchased for Teso la Monja project are located at average altitude of 2,296ft above the sea level, in the small village of Valdefinjas, in Zamora province. So close to his previous Numanthia – Termes vineyards, that it must make new owners of Numanthia very nervous.

Thanks to sandy soils of Toro, the growth of phylloxera that devastated so many wine-growing regions throughout the world, didn’t stand much chance here. Therefore Marcos is able to cultivate 30-45 years old, ungrafted Tinta de Toro vines. The harvest of grapes determined for Alabaster in 2007 yielded low 10hl per hectare.

The fact that everything is done by hand and Marcos’s very strict and attentive approach is a norm for his trademark. Grapes were harvested by hand (only perfectly mature and clean clusters were picked), brought to the winery to sorting tables where an additional selection was made. Another excessive selection was done when the grapes were de-stemmed by hand, one by one. Grapes chosen for this top of the line Alabaster wine were cold macerated for 5 days, traditionally foot pressed and left for 10 days fermentation in open tanks.

The must than stayed for an extended maceration of additional 14 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in new French oak Bordelaise barriques. Another set of 100% new French oak barrels was prepared for aging Alabaster for 18 months. 2007 is the first vintage of this wine. There was only 1,500 bottles made for U.S.A.

Eduardo Eguren told me that this is a first wine project that he is personally committed to (obviously, with Marcos’s hands on approach and TLC). So, Eguren family could be proud of yet another generation of passionate ‘vino entusiasta’. Very proud!

Tasting notes:
Does this gorgeous label evokes a structure of chocolate cookie, or is it just me? That description would give me the sensation of sweet taste unless you like the darkest, highest cacao content chocolate. The kind that is so rich, so bitter, yet velvety, melts in your mouth slowly and makes your eyes roll. Alabaster is something like that. Just sensational.

When I looked up the name Alabaster, I found out that it describes this wine perfectly. This name belongs to two distinct minerals: gypsum and calcite. One is so soft that you can scratch it with the fingernails. The other hard and resistant. Very muscular, sexy, but tender. Something like fighter Arnold with warm Ralph Fiennes’s eyes.

Alabaster offers intense dark color with aroma of blackberries, dark plums, spices and earthy tones. On the palate you taste super rich, very dense red and dark fruit with dust of cacao – so typical for Toro. A lot of tannins that promises super long aging potential. Espresso tones and spices on the never ending finish. Wow! This is a wine we are going to hear about! Very small production, very high reviews, hard to get = serious collectible.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $ 235.00

Ideal food pairing:
I wouldn’t pair anything with this wine. O.K., maybe a great little piece of Fillet Mignon with black pepper creamy sauce….. 🙂

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