Alabaster 2019, Teso la Monja
Teso la Monja Alabaster is a prodigious and historic wine. The Toro region boasts some of Spain’s oldest vines, including some that escaped the scourge of Phylloxera and have been growing, ungrafted, on their own roots since planting more than a century ago. Alabaster is made from the fruit of vines originally planted before 1915. These ancient vines, together with Toro’s arid climate (it receives half the rainfall of Rioja) mean that crop size is infinitesimal, making this an extremely rare wine. Keeping these unproductive vines in the ground instead of replanting means the wine has to be expensive. Is it worth it? Oh yes! One of the most extraordinary wines we have ever tasted, with an incredibly deep, black-fruit flavour, cradled in a cosy nest of sumptuous (but never overbearing) French oak. The tannins go beyond ‘velvety’ – they give a sensation like treading on a luxurious,deep-pile plush carpet with bare feet. While it is massive, concentrated and succulent, it also boasts vibrant acidity that will stand it in good stead for long cellaring. That said, you don’t have to wait a long time – decant at least an hour before serving, and this will impress at a relatively early age. It’s costly, but if you can swing for a bottle, then do!