I have gone to few very wine tastings this year but happily accepted an invitation to try seven vintages of Mas La Plana — from the inaugural 1970 to the most recent release 2010 — madeÂ by Spanish winery Torres and handled by its branchÂ company of the same name here in China.
The wines were presented by Miguel Torres, who said the grapes for Mas La Plana come from a 29-hectare vineyard close to the winery and to the farmhouse where his parents live.
“My father wanted to make a wine that would represent the potentialÂ of Spanish wines,” he said.
“In the 1960’s, people around the world didn’t know Tempranillo, Granacha or other Spanish grapes,” Torres explained.Â “My father said if we can do this, we can show the world Spain is a great place for making wine.”
He also talked about the historical role of Jean Leon, a fellow Spanish national who went to Hollywood to be an actor.
“He was only in one film becauseÂ he was so bad, so he opened a restaurant,” said Torres. “He was friends with people like Marilyn Monroe and had this idea to bring over Spanish wines.”
“He came back and wanted Cabernet Sauvignon, so at night he went to France to get cuttings from Lafite and Laguarde and brought them back,” he explained. “The Spanish authorities said they would not recognize Cabernet Sauvignon and Leon said he didn’t care. His wine became famous because of people like Ronald Reagan who came to his restaurant.”
The hope for that first vintage of Mas La Plana, in 1970, was to emulate what the Italians were doing with the Super Tuscans.
“My grandfather didn’t like it, as it wasn’t typicalÂ Garnacha,” said Torres. “But my father liked it, so my grandmother stepped in and said to put the wine in a tasting in Paris.”
“My father put that Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon into Burgundy bottles and it did really well,” he said.Â “Then myÂ grandfather tried it again and said, ‘Maybe it’s not so bad, maybe we can sell this.'”
We then tried Mas La Plana from 1970, 1971, 1987, 1988, 1993, 2000 and 2010.
Both wines from the 1970’s were holding up well. Torres said the 1970 was good forÂ “five more years without any problem, then we will see from there”. He added that he was “confident in these wines because of the acidity.”
I found earthy elements in both wines, with some truffle and black olive aromas. IÂ especially liked the 1971, which also had red fruit and chocolate aromas. Torres said “this is a wine to enjoy today”.
He told us he was rarely able to try these wines.
“I had a chance to try the 1970 a few years ago.Â A restaurant owner had three bottles in his personal collection and put a couple on the menu. It tasted just like this, in very good condition. It was very emotional to try a wine made by my father 40 years ago.”
Back to the wines: the 1988 was ripe with lots of red fruit, and some tepanade, licorice and menthol aromas. As for the most recent vintage on 2010, it had much jammier fruit, including plums, plus touches of red licorice, dry grass and herbs.
A “vertical tasting”, which includes different vintages of the same wine, are fun because it allows you to contrast and compare wines made over a period of time. In this particular case, it is even more special because some of the bottles are so rare and because we had plenty of historical context, including personal anecdotes, to bring the story ofÂ these wines to life.
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