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swirl and savor

Wine of the Moment, Finca Labajos Ibero

Beth Ribblett

Although the area of "La Mancha" is more famously known for a certain Spanish knight, Don Quixote's stomping grounds are also home the world's largest wine-producing area, with a total of 191,699 hectares under vine. Once known only for producing large quantities of simple quaffing wine, the last ten years has seen a huge cut back in production matched with a giant leap in quality.

Located in the heart of the Iberian peninsula, halfway between Madrid and Andalusia, this immense plateau of arid lands experiences extreme temperatures, hot summers and very cold winters. The vineyards are set out on a large plain with loose and healthy soils of limestone-clay composition. Its climate is suitable for creating wines of high quality, Mediterranean with continental influences, it experiences marked seasons and considerable contrasts in temperature, which is a very favorable factor in the production of aromas.

A look at the label of the Finca Labajos Ibero states that it is a "Vinos de la Tierra" denomination, a concept that is similar to the "Vins de Pays" of France and, according to Spanish law, is seen as a sort of transitional term for areas that can, after 5 years, apply for Denominación de Origen status. However, many wineries in Vinos de la Tierra areas are embracing the greater freedoms allowed outside of the D.O. system and are producing some really innovative and exciting wines. The main requirement under the Vinos de la Tierra designation is that the wine has to be made from grapes grown with in the region, which leaves the door wide open for creative winemakers to compete on an international stage.

The Finca Labajos Ibero is made by a female winemaker, Raquel Labajos, the current owner of the property that has been in her family for over 300 years. A blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Tempranillo, the wine epitomizes what is happening in the region with its intense complexity, red fruit aromas, juicy ripeness combined with earthy spice notes.

Robert Parker gives it 90 points and says "...Purple-colored, the wine reveals aromas of cedar, earth, mineral, black currant, and blackberry. This leads to a medium-bodied, balanced, structured wine with 2-3 years of aging potential. It has excellent grip and depth followed by a firm, pure finish. It should drink well through 2015."

We paired this a few weeks ago with Chef Glen Hogh's Pinchos Morunos at our Tapas event and was a show stopper! The best part? It's a lot of wine for only $13.50!!