An article in the October 15, 2011 edition of Wine Spectator, “Bright Stars & Big Surprises,” praises a few of Spain’s leading winemakers, and draws some interesting comparisons between Telmo Rodriguez and Miguel Torres. Here is an excerpt:
“Rodríguez, 48, is one of the most intriguing stories in Spanish wine today. His career makes an interesting counterpoint to that of Miguel Torres of Catalonia, whose innovations since the 1960s in many ways foreshadowed Rodríguez’s ventures.
Both men brought international influences to Spain, especially from France. Torres, 69, was among the first, and arguably the most influential, of vintners to plant French grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in Spain; his “Black Label” Cabernet (now named Mas La Plana) has long been a benchmark. The 2007 (90, $63) is dark and well-structured, with dried herb and mineral notes.
Rodríguez began his career at his family’s Bodegas Remelluri in Rioja, after studying in France and working in Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley. At Remelluri in the 1990s, he was a pioneer in his focus on estate-bottling, developing a fresher, more concentrated style of Rioja. (The winery’s top cuvée, the Colección Jaime Rodríguez, has earned outstanding scores in all three vintages I’ve reviewed: 2001, ’02 and ’03.)
Torres and Rodríguez have expanded well beyond their home bases. From Catalonia, Torres first moved south to Conca de Barberá and Priorat, then more recently west to Ribera del Duero and Rioja. Rodríguez established his own company in 2001 and now produces wines from nine different regions, mostly in the western half of the country; besides Toro and Rioja (he returned to Remelluri in 2010), they include Ribera del Duero, Cigales and Valdeorras in Galicia.
Both vintners focus on value. From Torres, the 2010 Sangre de Toro Viña Sol (85, $11), made from the indigenous Parellada grape, is a soft-textured white with notes of melon and pear, while the 2010 Sangre de Toro de Casta (84, $10), a refreshing dry rosé from Garnacha and Cariñena, shows creamy raspberry and wild strawberry flavors. Rodríguez delivers the 2010 Basa (85, $15), a Verdejo-based white from Rueda that’s focused and flinty, and the 2009 Al Muvedre (85, $15) from Alicante, a supple, spicy red made from Monastrell.
Perhaps their most important similarity is their devotion to the environment and natural winemaking. Rodríguez is moving all of his vineyards toward biodynamic cultivation, while Torres is a global leader in combating climate change through the use of renewable energy and reducing carbon footprints. Both vintners support indigenous grapes and despite-or perhaps because of-their understanding of international trends, are fiercely devoted to making Spain’s wines not only as good, but as “Spanish” as possible.
Torres and Rodríguez have also put extensive effort into white wines. Long seen as the stepchildren of Spanish wine, whites are now a strong suit, providing great diversity and enjoyment.”