The Eguren family has been making wine in Spain since 1870 — a period spanning five generations. Today they own and operate six wineries producing a wide array of carefully crafted, distinctive wines that both honor tradition and embrace modern winemaking techniques and standards. Most of the family’s properties are situated in the Rioja region, but the winery that produced the 2011 Almirez — Bodega Teso La Monja — sits a little farther southwest in the Toro appellation roughly 30 miles from the Spanish-Portuguese border. Here the Tempranillo grape variety is called Tinta de Toro (red [wine] of Toro), an early-ripener which flourishes in the region’s seasonal, continental climate, broad daytime-nighttime temperature swings, and well-drained, sandy soils at elevations of 2,000-2,500 feet. The Almirez is a gorgeous rendition of Tinta de Toro — dark, inky purple in color; aromatic of ripe dark fruit, mineral, and spice; and densely layered in flavors of dried black- and blue-berries, dark chocolate, and black tea; all nuanced with suggestions of sweet, cured tobacco and mild, toasty oak. (The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak barrels.) It is a rich and savory red that’s ready for immediate enjoyment. Try it with medium to sharp cheeses, charcuterie, roasted pork, stuffed peppers, and any number of spicy meat dishes.
Availability: For more information on Bodega Teso La Monja and other Eguren family wineries in Spain, visit them virtually at www.eguren.com. The 2011 Almirez can be found through various online wine merchants — check www.wine-searcher.com for a list of merchants who carry it. Ask your favorite local wine merchant, too, if it can be ordered through a distributor.