Carmen Rodriguez Carodorum “Issos” Tempranillo, 07 Spain, Toro

Yes, I know, it’s Summa-time, and this is a big, nasty Red Wine.  So uncharacteristic of me, given my long-standing obsession with pink and white wine.  But sometimes, folks, you have to break the mold, and this is one such occasion.  A wine so good, that I will still drink it when it’s 90+ degrees outside.  Okay, maybe after I cool down with a glass of Rose, but STILL; I will drink it.  Happily.

So here’s a little background on the Bodegas Carmen Rodriguez wines, per my own accord.  I occasionally buy wine on www.wtso.com (which you should check out, they’ve been known to have some cool deals), and this wine’s big (like, REAL big) sister- the Carodorum Seleccion Especial, 2006 vintage, was on WTSO for something like $35.  As I was feeling indulgent that day, and I am a sucker for a big, nasty Spanish wine, I bought three, untasted.  The box arrived at Cellar and I ripped it open unceremoniously, and even though it was the morning (let’s be honest- when has that ever stopped me?), I opened a bottle. It was one of the more memorable wine moments of my life.  I stood, somewhat dumbfounded, on the verge of comprehending that this was an incredibly special and amazing wine- but had no one to bounce my thoughts off of.  So I mostly just stood there saying “holy shit” to myself over and over.  A good customer whose palate I trust came in a while later and tried it, and agreed that it was a phenomenon.  A force to be reckoned with.

That is all well and good, but we’re still talking about the Big Sister- fast forward to NOW!  I was delighted to discover just two weeks ago that our tiny little hippie friends at Sour Grapes Wine, located in Asheville NC, carry the Carmen Rodriguez wines!  AND was even more delighted to discover that there was a baby sister, the Issos, available!  It may not sound that exciting, but this was pretty much the high point of my week that week.

This wine hails from a hot little pocket of Spain called Toro- located just west of the Portugese border:

Toro has long, hot summers (sound familiar??) and Tempranillo (aka Tinta de Toro) is the primary red grape grown there.  Reds from Toro are generally potent, dense, and pack a lot of character.  Issos is no exception!  She is rich and exotic, and delights the senses with notes of espresso, blackberry liqueur, anise, balsam/cedar, and a touch of vanilla.  The palate is not weighty; the acid really grabs hold and it finishes with a punch of dark fruit, leather and graphite.  And a little smoke.  Day-um, y’all.  I’m serious; this wine is rockin’.  If you’re used to lighter reds, it might be a bit much for you, as the tannins are fairly present- but if you’re, y’know- into that– this is right up your alley.  It’d be amazing with anything off the grill, maybe a spicy-espresso-rubbed steak?  Now you’re talkin.  Merguez sausage?  (one of my favorite things on the planet) HELLS yeah.  Bring. It. On.

I like to imagine that this is what this wine would look like, personified.  Maybe it’s just me:

*le sigh*  A girl can dream.  Until then, we have the wine.  I urge you to come sample a glass (it’s by the glass for the foreseeable future), or take a bottle home for $18.  Also- if you’re feeling muy especial– we do have exactly three bottles of the 2007 Seleccion Especial available for purchase, too, at $48. Oh, and I almost forgot- Issos got a lovely little 89 point rating from Robert Parker- Big Sis got a 92.  Happy drinkin’ peoples!  Til next time…

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