How often does one get the chance to taste a sixty-one-year-old wine, when they walk into their local wine shop, but this is what happened the other day. I was only seven, when this wine came out, and while I may have tasted some wines, nothing of this caliber; back then most alcohol was administered as medicinal. West Side Story won the Academy Award, JFK was the President of the USA and I was always told that it was the Third Best Vintage in France.
Bodegas Manzanos is a large wine producer in Spain, founded in 1890 and is now run by the fifth generation of the Fernandez de Manzanos family. They are in the top three of Navarra and the top five in Rioja for production and they own ten wineries. The original winery for the family is in the Rioja Alta zone back in 1890. A cache of bottles was discovered in the cellar of the winery by Victor Manzanos. After trying a bottle of wine, the decision was made to rebottle, recork and relabel the wine. After spending three years in French Oak, this wine was bottled in the mid-Sixties and has been untouched since then, until two years ago.
Familia Fernandez de Manzanos “Manzanos Red Wine 1961 Spain” was the relabeled wine that was reissued. The designation of Rioja was not as well known internationally, and it was not always indicated on the labels of wines from the region. The wine is a blend of Tempranillo and Grenache (Garnacha) and was considered a Vino Tinto at the time. The fruit was hand-harvested (automated wasn’t available then). The wine on the first time was aged for three years in French Oak. This wine was originally listed as a lighter wine at the time, and perhaps that is why it was left to age longer and then forgotten, as it was stored in a hillside cellar. There was six-hundred bottles of the original cache, every bottle was opened and four-hundred bottles were selected. The four-hundred bottles were emptied into vat and re-blended together, prior to re-bottling and re-labeling. The wine was a deep garnet with notes of dark fruit, cigar box and spices. On the palate there were tones of dark cherry, plums, licorice, soft tannins with secondary tones of coffee, vanilla and balsamic tastes. The wine surprisingly had a shorter finish with a touch of terroir. It was definitely a Rioja, even without being identified as one, and a very interesting wine to chew on and I needed to use one word, it would be elegant.