Tinto fino is a specific clone of tempranillo. In fact, it’s thought by many to be the purest expression. Last week, I tasted with Emilio Moro winemaker Jose Moro and learned firsthand about this grape’s purity of expression as well as the wide swath of flavors and characters it can exhibit, which vary based on a number of factors. Everything they do at Emilio Moro is aimed at producing the best possible expression of their vineyard sites. Emilio Moro has plantings that are relatively new, and others that are close to 100 years in age. Their goal is to showcase what tinto fino can achieve in their vineyards in Ribera del Duero.
Each wine in their portfolio is a carefully considered expression that is site-specific in its intent. As a winery, Emilio Moro employs a combination of tradition and innovation. At their heart, they are traditionalists, and their winemaking methodologies are time-tested and pure. However, they have the foresight to use modern technology and technical innovations to provide the information and support they need so that they can employ those traditional techniques in the optimal manner.
Tasting through the wines below, first by themselves, then with some tapas, I was struck by a few things. First and foremost was the quality and purity of the wines. Second was the real difference between each expression. In every case it was the grapes, the vines, and the place they came from that screamed to the forefront. The wines are wildly different because the places they grew, the age of the vines, and the different conditions. Additionally, each wine is more than fairly priced for the quality and value it represents. In each case, these wines are 100 percent tinto fino; newer vines are planted from cuttings from their older vines.
After harvest and fermentation, this offering spent four months aging in a combination of French and American oak. Super fresh black and red fruit aromas fill the nose. Blackberry and raspberry flavors dominate the palate along with hints of spice. Leather and earth characteristics emerge on the finish. At $15, this wine is aimed at everyday drinking. It’s perfectly suited for just that. Drink it in its fresh, glorious youth for optimal satisfaction.
Emilio Moro 2012 Emilio Moro ($25)
The fruit was sourced from vines with between 12 and 25 years of age. Barrel aging was accomplished over 12 months in French and American oak. Cherry aromas dominate the nose here along with a copious amount of spice. Continued red and black cherry characteristics fill the well-proportioned palate. Graphite, cinnamon, cloves, raspberry earth, and references to cherries jubilee are all in evidence on the above average finish.
Fruit for this offering comes exclusively from vines with 25 to 75 years of age on them. Aging was accomplished over 18 months in new French oak barrels. A plethora of spices light up the welcoming and intriguing nose. Red fruits tinged with black and hints of purple dominate the dense and layered palate. Earth, continued spice, and dried red fruits are all present on the long finish. Firm tannins and racy acid mark the structure. At around $50, this wine is a steal. It has the layers of depth and complexity that bring to mind wines with $100-plus price tags.
Emilio Moro 2010 Malleolus de Valderramiro ($140)
The fruit for this wine comes from a combination of three specific vineyards that were planted in 1924. It was aged for 18 months in new French oak. Black cherry and plum aromas dot the nose. The palate is full-bodied and dense, with layers of fruit and spice flavors in evidence. Black tea, earth, and lingering fruit flavors emerge on the impressive finish. Firm, gripping tannins and solid acidity come together to inform the lovely structure. Most impressive about this offering is a measured intensity from the first whiff to the last sip that demands attention but never strays out of control.
Emilio Moro 2010 Malleolus de Sanchomartin ($165)
This is a single-vineyard offering from a site that was planted in 1964. Barrel aging was accomplished over 18 months in French oak. The moment you pour this wine, the brick red color shimmers in the glass. Hints of violets and leather accompany tons of red fruit on the somewhat gentle nose. The palate is loaded with red fruit flavors, but it’s softer and a bit more refined than the valderramiro, which showed more heft. The extraordinary finish goes on seemingly forever, with bits of earth, leather, and spice all making their mark. Somewhat firm tannins yield easily with air. I enjoyed each of these wines in very different ways and for a multitude of reasons; however, this particular one simply blew me away.
Emilio Moro 2010 Clon de la Familia ($450* Only auctioned for charitable causes)
Fruit for this wine is sourced in spots in the vineyards that represent each of the three soil types on their properties. Aging took place over two years in hand-selected, limited-edition French oak. The only fair way to describe the color of this wine in the glass is “darker than night.” Violets, black plum, and blackberry aromas each present on the dark and somewhat brooding nose of this wine. The intense and dense palate is marked by boysenberry, black raspberry, spices, and droves of minerals. Roasted espresso, chicory, and continued dark fruit characteristics mark the long, lusty finish. Big chewy tannins and rock-solid acid keep things in check.
It’s always a pleasure to be around true artists in any discipline. When it comes to winemakers, Jose Moro is certainly that. What he is doing at his family’s winery in Ribera del Duero is remarkably impressive. Equally noteworthy and absolutely palpable if you spend more than 10 seconds with the man is his passion. He delights in showing off his wines, his region, his country, and his beloved tinto fino. If you want to sample some awesome Spanish wines, I heartily recommend Emilio Moro.