Two Thursdays ago I attended a lunch and wine tasting given by José Moro at Balvanera restaurant in Manhattan. José, a third-generation winemaker and President of Emilio Moro Wines was in town to promote their wines, something he has been doing in major cities for a while now. The wines are made in Ribera del Duero region in Spain from grapes grown in their own vineyards.
Emilio Moro Sr., born in Penafiel is the founder of Moro wines. He developed vineyards and produced bulk wine. His son, also named Emilio Moro (José’s father) took it a little bit further and started to do things differently by modernizing the process, which included leaving the bulk production, and giving importance to quality over quantity. The Ribera del Duero region is famous for their Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) grape. Moro family grow a bespoke version of Tinto Fino on chalky Ribera soil – which they developed by cloning some of their best grapes by grafting them to vines a few decades back. Emilio Moro maybe old world wine, but they use lots of new world techniques to keep track of winemaking – like using drones and smartphone apps.
I am no wine expert but when you drink Emilio Moro Wines, the one unmissable thing is the flavor and aroma of oak. One of the characteristics of Tinto Fino grape is its neutral profile, this makes it easy to blend with other grapes. Because of this, if the wine is aged long enough in oak, it just takes on the flavor of the barrel. An additional tidbit – grape’s thick skin gives Emilio Moro wines their ruby red color.
The tasting started with one of their most recent wines – Finca Resalso 2016. Other than the distinct oak, wine connoisseurs going to notice blueberries, licorice, and black fruits. The easy to drink wine was served with Tartar de Cordero (slow poached egg yolk, harissa chimi, and toast). Wine costs about $10.
Next, we sampled Emilio Moro 2015. Named for both José’s father and grandfather, the winery pays tribute to its founders by including them on the label. The purplish wine is made from the grapes of vineyards that are 15 to 25 years old. A wine aficionado would notice wood, black fruits, and vanilla scents. It was served with Balvanera’s popular Pulpo De Playa (octopus) dish. A bottle costs between $15 and $20.
The Malleolus Tinto Fino 2014 is an important wine for the Moro winery. According to José, this is the wine that made Bodegas Emilio Moro what it is today. Malleolus means “majuelo” which in turn means “vineyards” in Spanish, so they named their wine, the vineyard. The grapes for this wine came from vines about 25 years old. What to expect from this well-balanced wine – black fruit and oak aromas, and strong tannins. Balvanera paired this wine with Cordero (saddle of lamb, lemon puree, labneh, and polenta). Retails for about $30.
Next, they indulged us with the Malleolus Tinto Fino 2011. This is same as 2014, but aged 3 years more in the bottle, prior to bottling they spend 12 months in Oak barrels. This full bodied pure Tinto Fino is one of the top Spanish wines in the market and regularly get rated highly. For this wine, Balvanera served us Cachetes (braised pork cheek and king trumpet). A bottle goes for about $40.
The fifth and final wine to arrive at the table was Malleolus de Valderramiro 2011. Grapes for this wine comes from one of the oldest vineyards owned by Moros – the Valderramiro. Records of this seasoned vineyard go as far back as the 1920s, and the Tinto Fino grapes for Valderramiro 2011 version comes from vines planted in 1924. An expert with a proper wine nose will recognize the subtle floral notes, licorice, blackberries, and grapefruit. Wine pairs well with dishes like Ojo de Bife (grass fed rib eye, radish salad, and anchovies). This upscale wine retails for about $90.
Visit Emilio Moro website to learn more about their wines and to place orders.