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Bodegas Ortiz Mirabel 2006

This week we travel to the end of the land beyond the Duero, this being a reasonable translation of Extremadura (the same can be said for the Portuguese region Estremadura, which lies north of Lisbon). Extremadura lies in Spain's southwest corner, inland from the coast, sandwiched between Portugal to the west and La Mancha to the east. It is a rich and fertile land, although characterised by rugged and rolling brown-green hillsides, where the sheep outnumber the human inhabitants. Although the soils are very favourable, it is not a region strongly associated with wine, despite some illustrious history; Roman settlers arrived here in 25 BC, laying the foundations of the modern-day town of Mérida on the Guadiana, which flows westward through Spain and then turns south, forming the border with Portugal, until it empties into the Gulf of Cadiz. It is difficult to imagine the Romans not bringing the vine with them, and yet two millennia later the region remains more famous for its pata negra ham, from black-legged pigs fed on acorns, than its wine.

Mirabel 2006This might change in the future of course, especially if the region produces more wines like the one up for discussion this week. This is the 2006 vintage of Mirabel, a Vino de la Tierra de Extremadura from Bodegas Ortiz. This wine is a blend of 70% Tempranillo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and it sees six months in French oak before bottling. It is made with assistance from Anders Vinding-Diers who hails from a veritable dynasty of winemakers; both his father Peter and brother Hans are accomplished in this sphere, although perhaps even more famous is his cousin, Peter Sisseck of Dominio de Pingus on the Ribera del Duero.

The wine itself has a good dark colour in the glass, and the nose opens to reveal aromas of smoky and peppery fruit, with a very clean and fresh character, red and black fruits, raspberries and damsons. The oak is not at all dominant, the fruit defining the character of the wine, which has a stony-dry character. First impressions suggest to me that this is really stylish. There isn't anything on the palate to dissuade me from this view; it has a lovely, fresh, sappy substance, with a mouth-filling, spicy-peppery, tingling acidity. It has a mouth-watering, somewhat sappy-sour fruit character to it which I find just delicious, a sort of cherry-skin, cherry-stone textural quality. Yes, there is plenty of style in this delightful wine. I hope Extremadura has more to offer like this...I might just become a committed fan. £13.45 from FromVineyardsDirect. 17/20 (8/12/08)

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