The Man Who Found Value In Spain
When Jorge Ordóñez arrived in the United States in 1987, the international Spanish wine market was bleak. Jorge grew up in Málaga and managed his family’s wholesale wine business before arriving in the United States. As a result, he understood the potential market for Spanish wine in the U.S. For his vision to succeed, however, drastic changes had to occur both in Spain and abroad. In a market flooded with California, French, Italian, besides Rioja and Ribera Del Duero Spanish wine was thought of as cheap junk.
Jorge revered the wines of his homeland and was one of the few to recognize the vast potential of Spain’s old, dry farmed vineyards of indigenous grapes. Most importantly, Ordóñez sought to preserve the ancient vineyards of his homeland and fought brazenly against the trend of ripping up indigenous varieties to replant with more productive international grape varieties. Ordóñez boldly challenged the international palate by being the first to introduce and champion exotic varietals such as Albariño, Godello, Garnacha, Monastrell, Tinta de Toro, and wines from Txacoli. Jorge focused on regions such as Toro, Málaga, Calatayud, Jumilla, Alicante, Montsant, and Valdeorras, Ordóñez partnered with the most talented winemakers to produce fine wines where none existed.
Jorge now owns Grupo Jorge Ordóñez, a group of eight boutique wineries that produce wines from these unheralded regions. Jorge is also co-owner of Bodegas Volver, alongside Rafael Cañizares, and has ownership stake in Bodegas Alto Moncayo. (WOW TO ALTO MONCAYO)
Jorge boasts an impressive list of accolades; twice named one of the Top 20 Wine Personalities of the Year by Robert Parker, who also named him one of the most influential wine personalities of the past 20 years.
2016 Breca Garnacha
Garnacha, though most well-known for its French name Grenache, was originally cultivated millennia ago in what is now the autonomous province of Aragon. Garnacha was first spread to southern France and Italy by the medieval Spanish Kingdom of Aragón, which had holdings across the Mediterranean. Due its original cultivation in Spain, the oldest clones worldwide of the Garnacha variety are planted extensively in D.O. Calatayud and nearby D.O. Campo de Borja. Bodegas Breca’s philosophy is to highlight the unique characteristics of the Garnacha from Calatayud.
Breca is crafted from multiple tiny vineyards planted over 115 years ago high up in the mountains, 3300 ft above sea level. Calatayud is an arid and mountainous region three hours to the northeast of Madrid. Jorge Ordóñez, founder of Bodegas Breca, was the first person to introduce D.O. Calatayud into the United States!!
The plots that are used for Breca vary from black slate (like in Priorat), to gray slate, to iron rich, red slate, to limestone, and to red clay intermixed with decomposed slate and quartz. Each soil type produces a drastically different wine. The variety of soils in the final wine lend a distinct complex minerality to Breca. The grapes are hand harvested when they have reached ripeness, and sorted at the winery. They macerate and ferment with indigenous yeast in 5,000L open top stainless steel vats. The maceration only lasts eight days as the SMALL, blueberry sized grapes do not require much extraction. The wine is pressed extremely slowly over the course of twelve hours in a vertical basket press to avoid the extraction of bitter phenolic compounds. It ages for twelve months in the large format oak barrels before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. This baby hits 15.5% ABV on the Richter Scale and this is what you would expect from an old vines Garnacha from this region. Let’s Review
I might mention before I review that the 2015 vintage of this wine made it to the 29th Wine of 2018 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 List.
Personally. right off the bat, I am not a fan of 15.5% Alcohol. I am expecting a heady, Mollydooker like Jam Bomb and Indigestion. I, as a reviewer and open minded give unbiased reviews based on my trained palate and expertise and as much as I love Jorge Ordonez Selections this will be completely open an honest and not about my PERSONAL likes or dislikes.
The wine has a shimmering dark purple/ruby color in the glass and is star bright. I gave it 2 hours to open up and dissipate some of that high alcohol and brought the wine down to 65 degrees to review. On the nose although blackberry liqueur , raspberry, purple flowers and spice (Alcohol) jump out of the glass the forefront is the minerality and the aromas of scorched earth coming from that black and red slate. On the palate, it is quite a full bodied mouth full of blackberry brandy, melted black licorice, raspberries and black pepper (Alcohol…I know but it’s true) and the finale of ripe tannins, juiciness and a long floral finish with lingering black pepper (one last time Alcohol) Despite the very borderline overripe fruit it is a very well made wine and certainly a textbook example of Old Vine Garnacha from High Altitude in Calatayud. The black slate, melted licorice and the minerality is what keeps this wine in check and complex and avoids being a jam bomb. I will score this a solid 90 Points out of 100. If there is ever a wine that calls for Ribeye Steak this is it!!!.
Would I drink this wine again by itself? The answer is NO!. Will I be calling this to the attention of all my guests and friends who love The Prisoner, Saldo, Caymus Cab, and California Zins YES!!. This is $16.99 not $40, not $75 and is in the ball park of the style of wines you enjoy but has so much more complexity and will save you a fortune. Would I buy this wine for myself….Yes. This is a Carnivore’s Wine. This is not Vegan Friendly. Every Meat Lover from Beef, To Pork to Duck To Lamb will be a hit at their next dinner party with this wine. With my Kale Salad and Salmon…Not So much lol.. It’s a Tremendous Bold Flavored wine and complex and we owe it all to the man that put the indigenous grapes of Spain on the Map…Jorge Ordonez. Salud Mi Amigo!!
Grape-fully yours, Larry
Jorge’s Wine Map (Areas in Black)