The Gordo is a Spanish red blend where cabernet sauvignon adds character instead of detracting from it
The Spanish do not need to make wine with the so-called international grapes. If you make some of the best tempranillo and albarino in the world, why bother with cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay? Because, sometimes, as the Gordo demonstrates, international grapes used correctly can make the native grapes that much better.
The Gordo ($12, purchased, 14%) comes from my pals at Ole Imports, perhaps the best Spanish wine importer in the country. And, even more importantly, the wine is a labor of love for Ole impresario Patrick Mata – a tribute to his father, whom he called Gordo, and to his family’s long gone winery.
This Spanish red is a blend of 70 percent monastrell and 30 percent cabernet, and when I saw that on the label I almost didn’t buy it. Why ruin the monastrell with lesser quality Spanish cabernet?
But the cabernet doesn’t overwhelm the monastrell; rather, it adds structure and complexity to the monastrell’s fruit and spice. Look for a surprisingly rich wine for the price, as well as lots of black fruit. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2018 $10 Hall of Fame. And always, always trust great importer to provide great wine.
There are a couple of importers whose wines are so trustworthy that the Wine Curmudgeon will buy them regardless of what’s in the bottle. Kermit Lynch, of course, for French wine, and Ole Imports and Patrick Mata for Spanish wine.
Mata’s passion for Spanish wine is famous, and his palate is exceptional. Which is why I trust Ole implicitly. Otherwise, a wine like the Zestos would raise all sorts of red flags. It’s a white wine from a region in Spain best known for red wine, and the red wine doesn’t have all that great a reputation. Its color is different, sort of off-yellow, and it’s made with a grape, the malvar, that is obscure even for those of us who appreciate obscure. Malvar, grown only in that part of Spain, is not even listed in the incredibly comprehensive Winegrape Glossary.
My faith, not surprisingly, was rewarded. The Zestos ($10, purchased) is unique, though it had some similarity to the Gascon wines I like, including a little white grapiness. It is simple, but definitely Spanish in style — less fruit than the Gascon wines (some lemon, maybe) with a stone fruit pit kind of finish. One tasting note described the finish as bitter almonds, and that works, too.
Drink this chilled on its own or with a any week night dinner that calls for white wine. It’s a candidate for the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame, and is highly recommended. Just don’t expect it to taste like something you’ve tried before.