2012 Bodegas Teso la Monja Alabaster

Year: 2012
Appellation: Toro
Country: Spain
Wine Spectator: 93
Wine Advocate: 95
Vinous Media: 95
Wine Enthusiast: 97
Red Wine
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"The blackberry, boysenberry and plum flavors are ripe yet fresh in this bold red. Well-integrated tannins and vibrant acidity give this a weightless power, as spice, mineral and mocha notes echo on the long finish. Drink now through 2022. 250 cases imported. -TM " (WS)

"The 2012 Alabaster is produced with the fruit of three plots (Valmediano, La Jara and Marinacea) of over 100-year-old, ungrafted and dry farmed Tempranillo vineyards in Toro, totaling 11.5 hectares. The bunches were hand-destemmed and the grapes fermented in open top vats with foot treading and soft pumping over. Malolactic fermentation was carried out in new French oak barriques where the wine matured for 18 months. I visited the Valmediano vineyard, at some 700 meters altitude; it is an ancient plot surrounded by pine trees where the main enemy are rabbits that eat all the leaves, grapes and branches from a handful of vines. The three vineyards are different and complement each other. What I liked about the 2012 was the sense of harmony and the subtlety to the aromas; everything is there, but nothing takes the leading role and the wine shows itself compact and as one, perfectly in synchronicity. There is something that made me think of Bordeaux here, perhaps that combination of energy, power and elegance. The palate is really balanced with ultra-refined tannins and a fine thread of acidity going through the core that is long and persistent. This wine is subtle, complex and elegant. This is the best wine I've ever tasted from Teso La Monja. As a reference, I tasted the 2010 that is also a superb vintage from Alabaster side by side with this, and there is one extra degree of depth and subtlety in this 2012. The 2010 is aging at glacial pace, and I don't see why the 2012 should age any faster, but it's approachable now and I think it should be pleasurable throughout its life. Only 4,000 bottles were filled in June 2014.

I tasted the current and future vintages with Miguel Eguren in their impressive winery in Toro. The 2012s are among the best they have produced in the appellation, and I was especially impressed by the 2012 Alabaster. It was a very warm and dry vintage with around 220 liters of rain in the whole growing season, but 30 of those fell in September, which according to Eguren was what saved the vintage.

2013 was a rainy, cold and late vintage, and 2011 was the opposite, very warm and early. I see 2012 as something in between, a year capable of providing fresh and balanced wines" (WA)

"(malo and 18 months of aging in small, new French oak barrels): Bright purple. Deeply scented spice- and smoke-accented aromas of ripe cherries, boysenberry and cassis, lifted by a suave floral element. Shows impressive depth and vivacity to its black and blue fruit liqueur flavors sharpened by juicy acidity; a smoky mineral quality adds another element. Supple, harmonious tannins come on late, adding focus to the sweet, strikingly long, mineral-driven finish." (VM)

"Gorgeous from head to toe, this saturated Toro heavyweight sets a new bar for this winery and the region as a whole. Ribald blackberry aromas are toasty and carry a strong note of crushed stones. Cassis, black plum and blackberry flavors are complex and inspired, while the finish tastes of chocolaty oak, blackened toast and a black-fruit potpourri supported by just the right amount of acidity. Drink from 2017–2030." (WE)