Some of the best contemporary wines come from historical wine families like the 2008 Celeste from Spain’s Torres clan.
In 1870, after nine years in Cuba, Jamie Torres returned to Spain. During his sojourn abroad, he gained the financial resources to open a winery with his brother Miguel in their native Penedes region.
The entrepreneurial spirit of the founders has flowed through the succeeding four generations as they expanded into new vineyard areas of Spain and established wineries in Chile and Sonoma, California. But expansion for its own sake has not been the Torres model. Time and again, the family has brought new winemaking and vineyard procedures to each endeavor.
In 2005, Torres produced its first Ribera del Duero Celeste red wine. As required by Spanish wine regulations, it is made only from tempranillo, or tinto fino as the grape is called locally. Fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in new oak barrels, Celeste is modern but not excessive.
Last spring, I spent a week in Ribera del Duero visiting traditional and cutting-edge new wineries. Most of the latter produce wines with a cookie-cutter style of opaque color, raisin-y and black olive aromas and flavors from overripe fruit and long aging in new French oak barrels. Alcohol levels of 15 percent are common, and boring they are.
The 2008 Torres Celeste is much more interesting. Classified crianza, as it was aged one year in barrel and bottle, the wine’s red color is matched by a red berry scent with a mild perfume of toasted oak. Its medium body carries a spicy, blackberry flavor with soft tannins, and its 13.5 percent alcohol is a rarity in today’s Ribera del Duero wines.
The 2008 Torres Celeste needs no cellaring. While it has the structure to age five years, it is made for immediate enjoyment. You’ll find it delightful with 20 to 30 minutes of aeration in a decanter.
I enjoyed my glass of the 2008 Torres Celeste with a sautéed duck breast, spinach steamed in olive oil, and roasted fennel and red bell pepper. Savor the wine with a selection of Spanish tapas such as ham croquettes, barbecued ribs, sliced Iberico ham, or grilled rye bread rubbed with garlic and covered with sliced tomato and chorizo or blue cheese.
The 2008 Torres Celeste retails for approximately $22.