2019 Telmo Rodriguez Pago la Jara
Pago la Jara is the best wine from Telmo Rodriqguez in Toro, but is also considered by many to be the absolute top of the Toro. The Jara receives a traditional vinification in wooden barrels of 3000 liters, then 18 months of aging in French barriques, 70% of which are new. The Jara has a ruby red color with high intensity. In the fragrance aromas of jammy blackberry fruit and plums, herbs such as laurel, cocoa, leather. Very powerful, sultry attack with firm tannins, which are well kept in check by minerality and freshness. Extremely long, sultry finish.
Winemaker Telmo Rodriguez is labeled as one of the young lions of the Spanish wine industry. He studied at the University of Bordeaux and later in the Rhône with the famous August Clape. He was the winemaker of La Granja Senora De Remelluri, his father's bodega in Rioja. He left there to become what some would call a flying winemaker. However, Telmo prefers to call itself a 'driving winemaker'. he lives in Madrid and drives his car to the areas where he makes wine. In a short time his wines have found a place on the international playing field. One example: in Tom Stevenson's Wine Report 2008, Telmo is included among the top 10 producers from Spain. We once again spoke extensively with Telmo Rodriguez. That is always a pleasure. If you sit down with him you always learn something or he gives food for thought. What makes this 'conscience of the Spanish wine world' so special? When Telmo completed his studies in Bordeaux and then had internships with people like Chave (Hermitage), Clape (Cornas) and Dürrbach (Trévallon) he came back to Spain. There he saw other Spaniards who had studied in France bringing French grape varieties and customs to Spain. For example, there was more and more wire guidance, while the Spanish system had always been free-standing sticks. Telmo concluded that he wanted to focus on the old qualities of Spain such as freestanding sticks, indigenous grape varieties and field blends. In addition, he was the first in Spain to introduce modern labels and he opposes the rigid Spanish wine laws.
Free standing sticks
Spain used to be a country of bush vines: the sticks were so far apart per area and per vineyard that they could each get enough water. If you place your sticks far apart with wire articulation, the stick will grow far and become much too large. With wire articulation, you therefore need many more sticks per hectare. However, the problem is that there is not enough water for this and you therefore have to irrigate, in areas that often already suffer from a shortage of water. In addition, the grapes hang more in the shade with free-standing sticks, which gives less chance of 'burning' and leads to less stewed fruit and fresher acids. The only downside to free-standing canes is that more manual work is involved in vineyard management and harvesting. Telmo works almost exclusively with bush vines.
Native grape varieties
It was clear to Telmo that there are so many good indigenous varieties in Spain that importing 'the big five' (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah) from France was not necessary at all. He was one of the first to produce good Rueda from Verdejo and Viura, he embraced Mencia and Godello in Valdeorras, Monastrell in Alicante, Moscatel in Malaga, Garnacha in Cebreros…. In the mid-1990s he was still considered crazy with this philosophy, but now everyone is following him.
There used to be many vineyards in Spain with various grape varieties mixed together, also called 'field blends'. It is often argued against field blends that the varieties (that are picked together) are not all ripe at the same time. It speaks for the fact that diversity and disease resistance increase and that it promotes complexity. Telmo now has two vineyards with field blends in production. In Rioja he makes it Las Beatas (named after the vineyard, first vintage awarded with 97 points by Parker) and in Valdeorras Las Caborcas. Beautiful, original wines!
Spanish wine laws
Telmo was the first to remove the word Reserva from a Rioja in 1995. In his words: 'I ask my wines how long they want to stay in the wood'. One year grapes can easily handle a 12-month aging in wood, but not in another year. There was consternation about Las Beatas: the Consecho initially did not want to approve the wine made with a field blend as Rioja… while there was a time when all Rioja was made that way! Consecho did not push this to the extreme and ultimately fortunate for them, given the enormously high international appreciation.
|Type of Wine||Red|
|Region||Castilla y Leon|
|Drinking as of||2023|
|James Suckling rating||95|
|Tasting Profiles||Complex, Dry, Aged on wood, Powerful, Spicy, Red fruit, Tannines, Full|
|Drink moments||Indruk maken, Lekker luxe, Open haard|