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Vatan Arena 2014

On the way back from the Costa de la Luz, I’m going through my tasting notes of Spanish wines that have made a particular impression on me in recent months. One of them is the Vatan Arena 2014 by Jorge Ordóñez, one of Spain’s essential wine pioneers.

His Vatan Arena, which I tasted together with my colleague Claudia Stern in June, is demanding and unique. It is vinified from grapes from old, ungrafted Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) vines, limited to 500 cases and punchy in price and alcohol: 15.5 vol % for around 400+ euros retail price per bottle.

The vines were planted in 1943; some even date back to 1910. The soils here are sandy and gravelly. A subsoil layer of red clay ensures that the vines get enough moisture in this dry area. The result is a real ‘borderliner’ dancing on the wire – on the one hand, extremely dense with lots of oak and a pronounced warming finish. On the other hand, however, it is also very complex when given time in a large glass: Dark berries, oriental spices, orange peel, mocha and dark chocolate. In addition, there are fine-grained tannins.

For me, this is not a wine of which I would spontaneously want to drink an entire bottle, but it is also exciting in its intensity and density. If you have the chance to try this icon wine – do it!