El Espinal is a fascinating wine which evolved in the glass and came up with totally unexpected flavours and textures. Very dark colour and surprisingly open on the nose. The texture is of luxurious – soft and plush with plenty of laced tannins. Pastile fruits of blackcurrant, nuances of cherry cola, blueberry and licorice root. Fabulous, unique vineyard expression.
This is the first label under Tom Puyaubert’s Colección Miguel Angel Mato from the grower of the same name. Mato cultivates these vineyards by mule. This site–a 0.3-hectare, limestone/clay vineyard–is planted to bush vines of the extremely rare Maturana Tinta vine, which Puyaubert tells us that this is is related to Cabernet Franc. When you taste this wine you feel sure he is correct. The colour alone tells you that it could not be Trousseau and the aromatics took me straight to the Loire.
Regardless, this wine is a rare (perhaps even unique) 100% example of this grape. Another atypical facet of this cuvée is Puyaubert’s use of Vinification Intégrale, whereby he places the fruit into closed, 600-litre, French oak barrels where they ferment and are rolled several times a day. This results in more of an infusion than an extraction. Following fermentation and pressing, the juice is then racked back into these same casks for 15 months before bottling. The result is unlike anything we have tasted from Rioja. Like an outstanding Saumur yet with perhaps more flesh, this is a unique and outstanding red from Rioja’s high country.