Tintoralba tasting - at long last

Okely dokely, here at very long last, with sincere apologies to the forward-thinking and web-aware folk at Bodegas Tintoralba in Almansa in Spain, are the findings of the Cork jury in respect of their distinctive and full-blooded wines made from the Garnacha Tintorera grape, the dyer's grenache, deeply coloured and robust in flavour. They should be happy enough at the moment anyway - they've just found an English importer . These frequent and RSSable news updates are the kind of thing I wish more of Bubble Brothers' suppliers would do. They may not seem like thrilling news for the wider public on a global scale, but you never know who's reading; and the people who are interested are probably very interested. I think because we had some chocolate samples in the office (oh yes, it's all cakes and ale here, I can tell you - never a dull moment) we opened the Dulce , the dessert wine, first and thoroughly enjoyed that. It smells of nothing so much as Ribena: cassis for you wine fiends, but Ribena's what it smelled like. Lovely and blackcurranty on the nose, sweetly, deeply fruity in the mouth. Spot on with the chocolates, in the way that our Maury wines from Mas Amiel more famously are. Red dessert wines can be hard to sell, but if you like the sweeter styles, very easy to enjoy. To the tasting, though:

tintoralba-group.jpg Wine one, Higuerela 2006, was a powerful introduction to the Garnacha Tintorera grape as a single varietal, with spirituous aromas of coffee and brandy that developed into almondy flavours blending with the textured, almost gritty dark fruits. Pretty macho stuff, we thought - but good. Wine two is the Tintoralba Roble 2006, blending 35% Syrah with the ol' Garnacha T. Roble means oak aged, usually in respect of a young wine, and represents up to six months or so in barrels. This was more rounded than the Higuerela, with the full monty of toffee, chocolate, leather and liquorice provided by the oak, and a long finish besides. Bottle three is the Tintoralba Crianza 2002, again with a proportion of Syrah spicing things up. We drew a short straw here: the bottle was faulty. Those things happen; and from what we thought of bottles one, two and four, I'm confident this is a big, bold dining wine with plenty of charm. Bottle four is the Crianza Seleccion 2002, a Syrah blend too. This is a wine that is not afraid to beat its hairy great chest, and probably doesn't even know the meaning of fear: it's big and very concentrated, with so much intensity that its burnt, rubber and metallic flavours seem entirely appropriate to the overall impression of dark, brooding volatility. We felt that these were distinctive wines, i.e. we've nothing like them at the moment on our list. Spanish-and-not-Tempranillo is an interesting strand of the return to European wines in the Irish market, I think. Their robustness would appeal fairly broadly, and their presentation would not limit to whom we might sell them: they're not obviously on-trade (restaurant) or off-trade (wine shop) wines, to look at them. Whether we have room for still more new wines in the Bubble Brothers portfolio is a topic of discussion at the moment. If we find a way to bring these wines in to Ireland, of course I'll let you know. In the meantime, I recommend you try them if you're in any of the countries lucky enough to have an existing supply. They'll make a man of you.