Monday, August 13, 2007

2003 Oriel Setena

Oriel is an interesting wine company that includes about two dozen famed winemakers from all over the world. Oriel only makes wines in good vintages. Their wines are made in limited quantities, usually a few hundred cases. Oriel acts as vintner, importer and wholesaler, and this enables them to cut costs. I have tasted some Oriel wines before and most of them have been good.

The 2003 Oriel Setena Red ($23) is from the Terra Alta region of Spain, which is near the famed Priorat D.O. The word "Setena" is the Catalan word for "one-seventh" which is the amount of the harvest that farmers in ancient Spain once paid landowners for the right to work the land.

The winemaker is Xavier Clua who was born into a family with over four generations in winemaking. Cellers Clua currently specializes in producing low-volume, high-quality Grenache blends. Xavier's technique is to interfere as little as possible in the natural winemaking process. "The essence of simplicity is the best way of making wine," he says.

The Setena is a blend of 40% Garnacha, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Syrah, 10% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot. The wine is aged for eight months in French oak, 70% new.

I found this wine to have a bit of a closed nose, except for a very mild smell of almost violets. But, once it crossed my palate, there was an explosion of lush fruit flavors, including blackberry, plum and dark cherry. There is a bit of spice and mild tannins on the finish. It has a medium length finish. The flavors mesh well and it definitely pleases the palate. I very much enjoyed this wine and it is a Drink & Buy. This wine would go well with wild game, or poultry like duck.

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