Wine of the Month
Note: Create joy, one sip at a time.
Featured Wine: Brega
Grape Variety: 100% Old Vines Garnacha (planted 1900-1911)
Denomination: D.O. Calatayud
Production Zone: Calatayud, Spain
Vinification: The grapes are handpicked; de-stemmed and whole berries are put in temperature controlled 3,000 L stainless steel vats. Maximum eight days of maceration.
Aging: 22 months in 50% new and 50% secondary and tertiary used French oak barrels where natural malolactic fermentation occurs.
Color: Deep plum purple
Price: Around $30
The other day I was thinking how much I miss the coyotes of my old neighborhood; there were many hot L.A. nights that I would lay in bed and be wooed to sleep by their yipping. We crossed paths so often, to me, they were old friends. I have never, in all of the years I’ve been to Flagstaff, never ever, seen a single coyote. Days after I thought this, as I lay awake on a cold Flagstaff night, I started to smile and yep, you got it, I could hear coyotes yipping away. I was so happy and just like old times, I fell fast asleep; my old friends were here. A few days later, early in the morning, I met up with a coyote in my backyard, she was beautiful; I was thrilled to see her, but also relieved our dogs were still safe in the house. What an amazing surprise.
That is how I felt about Jorge Ordonez’s Brega, it is an amazing surprise. I’ve never had anything like this; it is full of surprises; it is so unusual; it is so very much like the coyote’s visit. When I first opened the bottle, I was greeted by such strong heady fruit, oak and vanilla, I knew I needed to let it decant. So, even though I was anxious to try it, I waited; I waited two hours and am glad I did. When I finally poured my first glass, the notes had subsided but were still quite similar, a bit more distinct, plum, black cherry, oak and vanilla. When I had my first sip, my first thought was, ‘Damn, this is a meaty wine.’ It is like cutting into a thick piece of chocolate lava cake. I was taken aback by the very prominent buttery brown sugar (not buttery like chardonnay, but like when you are baking and you warm brown sugar in butter), which is accompanied by syrupy plum, black cherry, tobacco, and nutmeg. The fruit is a bit bullied by the buttery brown sugar. It also has some acidity, thank goodness, to balance it out. The finish is long, all oak and mineral. As far as drinking it without food, that is feasible, it is quite balanced, BUT use caution, as it is 16% alcohol; normally wine has around 13.5%. That being said, in my mind, it is too heavy to drink with a full meal. I paired this wine with a light meal of bread (a lot of bread), spicy cheeses, baby gherkins, olive tapenade, nuts and dried fruits. It was very satisfying and keeping my hands busy with the food, kept me in check with this powerful libation.
Brega is so thick and warming that I think you should enjoy it outside, where there is a chill in the air; Brega alone will keep you warm, but, if you have a fire pit, light it up, get cozy, curl up with your snacks and just listen to the wood crackling. If you can’t build a fire, just listen to the sounds of the night, the sounds of your neighborhood. Brega has so much to offer, there is no need to stimulate anymore of your senses as you enjoy this wine. If you are having an open house for the upcoming holidays, filled with light snacks and treats rather than the traditional dinner, this would be a nice addition to your bar; I honestly think Brega makes a great conversation piece (just in case).
Although I appreciate Jorge’s use of natural viticulture, and I appreciate the use of old vines and I appreciate the uniqueness of this wine, this is not a wine I would drink regularly for a few reasons; the main reason being oak and vanilla are not aspects of a wine that draw me in, also, it was just a little too syrupy and heavy for my liking, but did I enjoy it? Yes. Each sip was intriguing. Like I said before, I’ve never encountered anything like Brega. Do I recommend you try this wine? I do. And I’d even go so far as to say that many people who don’t normally partake in wine may really enjoy Brega. But like the coyote’s visit, it is not a surprise I need all of the time.