Alberto Orte Espejo is a talented Spanish winemaker who handcrafts unique wines from Spain’s indigenous grape varieties. The grapes are primarily sourced from low yielding old vines grown in exceptional sites often at high altitudes in different regions of Spain. Orte’s wines include rare grape varieties like Tintilla, Merenzao, and Brancellao as well as better known ones like Mencia and Palomino. Born in Madrid, Orte now lives in El Puerto de Santa Maria (Cadiz) with his family.
Since 1999 Alberto has partnered with his friend Patrick Mata, a native of Malaga, to create and manage Ole Imports. Alberto handles the selection of wines and winemaking in Spain, while Patrick manages the commercial and marketing side of the business in the USA. Readers who have yet to try the unique wines of Alberto Orte will find them in retail stores and restaurants throughout the US.
Alberto Orte 2015 A Portela Valdeorras ($28) 92 The A Portela is 100% Mencia. Medium dark red in color, it offers aromas of wild cherry with hints of earth and tobacco. Cultivated at high elevation, it displays a silky mouth feel, vibrant acidity, good depth of flavor and a long finish.
Alberto Orte 2016 Escalada Do Bibei Valdeorras ($71) 94 The Escalada Do Bibei is a superb blend of Mencia, Merenzao and Brancellao. Medium ruby in color, it displays a lovely nose of red raspberry. plum and cranberry. It is bright on the attack with a silky mouth feel and complex flavors of red berry, pungent herbs and underbrush. It has excellent concentration of flavor on the palate, firm tannins, excellent persistence and freshness with vibrant acidity on the finish. Still a young wine with a great future.
Alberto Orte 2016 Escalada Do Sil Valdeorras ($49) 93 The Escala Do Bibei displays a medium ruby purple robe and offers a bouquet of red fruit complemented by earth and herbs. It is light and silky on the palate showing lovely purity and depth and intensity of flavor. It displays vibrant acidty, freshness and good length. A winner made of Merenzao, Mencia and Garnacha.
Alberto Orte 2015 Vara y Pulgar Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz ($25) 92 Vara y Pulgar is crafted from 100% Tintilla, a rare grape variety of southwestern Spain. It has a savory nose of ripe dark red fruit complemented by meaty, earthy notes. Somewhat rustic in character, it offers full-bodied flavors, firm round tannins and a pleasant finish.
Alberto Orte 2015 Atlantida Tinto Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz ($40) 91 This wine of 100% Tintilla is sourced from a single parcel of an organic coastal vineyard. It is light-bodied with a silky mouth feel and offers aromas and flavors of blackberry and boysenberry with hints of dried fig. It is nicely balanced with good acidity and has a persistent finish.
Alberto Orte Bodegas Poniente NV Fino Jerez ($58) 93 The Fino Bodegas Poniente is a blended sherry sourced from organic vineyards in El Aljibe. It has a median solera age of 8 years and is sourced from different Palomino clones. More complex than most finos we have tasted, the Bodegas Poniente Fino reveals a variety of solera flavors combining dried fruits, hints of aged barrels, and flor. Sherry enthusiasts who have not tried this Fino should definitely do so.
Alberto Orte Bodegas Poniente NV Oloroso Jerez ($152) 94 The Bodegas Poniente Oloroso is a very fine sherry. Like the Fino reviewed above, it is blended with rare wines from 18th and 19th century soleras and criaderas in the historical estate in El Alijibe. The median age for these wines is 30 years. This oloroso is a rich dark tawny color and displays intense yet subtle flavors of nuts and oxidative dry secondary notes from casks. Once opened, this sherry will offer drinking pleasure for a year as an aperitif or desert wine. Try it with a wide variety of dishes like figs, nuts, olives, foie gras, cheese and game.
Photos courtesy of Friederike Paetzold.