When I first started on the road of discovery about wines, a gentleman in the trade had suggested that I try some Spanish wines as well as the French wines. Since he was in the trade, and I was a high school student trying to look and act more mature, I accepted his suggestions with out hesitation. I had bought an assortment of Clarets, some Rioja Reserva wines and a bottle of Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Black Label 1961.
I would have to say that this was about 1969 or 1970, and here I was buying a 1961 vintage, when most of the other wines were of the latter half of the 1960’s. I thought to myself, is he just trying to dump a bottle of wine off on me, because I am naive, or was the wine already too old and that is why is was not expensive. These were thoughts that were going through my head as I was driving home with my mixed case of wines that I had just purchased. I just had a limited knowledge of wines back then, and when I look back upon the situation I realize that the Reserva entailed a longer aging period and would not appear on shelves until much later (so much for me being savvy at that age). I remember that this was one of the first wines that I tried, as I did not have a large selection to choose from and I was concerned about this particular bottle. I should have known better, as it was so smooth, that even I realized at that point in my learning curve that this was an excellent bottle of wine. In fact I made it a point to go back a couple of weeks later with the intent of just buying some more of this wine, but it was all gone, and I was informed that there was none left at the distributors. Live and learn, this was a good teaching moment for me.
I recalled all of this as I was looking at my scrap book of wine labels and I thought I would do some research on this early bottle of wine, that I remembered the story of so well. I had to get a magnifying glass out the read the back label, as it was small gold print on a black background and from the soaking to remove the label; it had lost some of its clarity of printing. The wine was from the town of Vilafranca de Penedes, which is now officially called Penedes, and it is the capital city of the area known as Alt Penedes in Catalonia, in the province of Barcelona, Spain. The wine is a blend of two varietals Ull de Llebre and Monastrell, which are the Catalonian names for Tempranillo and Mourvedre as indicated on the back label. This wine is still being produced but it is now a Cabernet Sauvignon blended wine, as the new vines were just being planted in the first half of the 1960’s. This was fun to go back and research a wine that I still remember so well, but I had no real knowledge of it.