Have you ever opened a bottle of wine, poured yourself a small sample and a smile slowly crept across your face. What meets your olfactory receptors is a mix of fruit, spice and everything nice. In fact, you find your nose lodged so deep into the glass that you seem to forget the next step in the procedure and desperately trying to remember what you were doing in the first place. Ah, it’s coming back to me: taste the wine, swish it in the mouth, taste further and explore, all the while searching out the intoxicating flavors that the nose seems to be screaming out loud. Tannin, light acid, mild fruit and alcohol, but what happened to the pretty spices, delicate fruit, and the rich and ethereal sensations? Maybe it needs time and air? So you wait for awhile, occassionaly sticking your nose in the glass trying to relive that momentary high you remembered from when you first opened the wine. But no, matter how long you wait, the harmony of the nose never shows up, never fully shines. “Why? Why? Why?” you scream out as you tentatively take sips, hoping that by invoking the name of “Bacchus”, the god of all things vinous, that he might somehow come to your rescue with all the king’s men to help you put your wine back together again. But alas, all you receive is a blackberry here and a touch of anise there, as you slowly come to accept that the wine sitting before you will never be all that it could be.

This was my fate last night when I opened a 2002 Fructuoso from V.T. Castilla, made just a few hours drive south of Madrid. In reality, the wine was nice and fun, rich and tasty, but balance was not it’s forte.
On the nose, I was in love, but in the end, the palate was a confused mix of tannins, alcohol and random tastes of fruit and spice. It just never came together. In fairness, I did buy it that same day, carrying it on the metro home and then walking it over to my friend’s house for dinner. So it might have been a bit bottle-shocked. Therefore, I wouldn’t rule out trying it another time after letting it rest for awhile. On the other hand, letting it rest might not help at all. Wine is alive and mysterious; and like a good novel, I keep going back to find out how it might turn out. The difference being that wine is one novel without a last page. Everyday I walk into the wine shop, I know that I will find something I haven’t seen, heard about or tasted before. Even if it’s not my favorite, it still teaches me something new.

I used to have customers at my store back in the U.S. say to me, “once I find a wine I like, I stick with it. That way, I know I’ll always be happy.” I understand this works for some people, but even though there are wines out there that might disappoint me, I still stand by my response to the question “what is your favorite wine?”. My response will always be, “the one I haven’t tried yet.”

Till soon,
Ryan Opaz

  • 2002 Fructuoso V.T. Castilla – Spain, Castilla-La Mancha, V.T. Castilla (1/15/2006)
    The nose jumps out of the glass hitting me head on with strong aromas of anise, caraway, black cherry, and a background of smoke. Intense and alive you almost smell the seeds in the blackberry flavors. Too bad this doesn’t continue to the palate. for the most part very firm and rich with a medium acidity and firm tannins the flavors fall flat. Thin and over shadowed by a 14% alcohol that seems a bit out of balance the fruit and spice of the nose does not carry through. Blackberries framed by heat, sadly this wine seems like there could be so much more too it. 2.5/5

People in the EU can buy this Spanish wine here.

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