Gentle Giant – Torres Salmos 2015

How on earth a vast aircraft carrier, or rather a whole warfleet like Torres is able to execute such delicate maneuvers is beyond me. Perhaps we can get a step closer to unlocking the mystery by reading the proudly presented corporate anthem written by a man of exquisite taste Andrew Jefford.

Mind you, the Torres style and policy was not always so sophisticated, environmentally conscious and focused on saving endangered varieties. I clearly remember how cumbersome and oaky the first imported vintages of Salmos were. To be fair, Salmos was not the only wine from Priorat made in that style. However in recent years Priorat seems to have changed from steel toe boots to ballet shoes, likewise today’s Salmos is an elegant, vigorous, juicy, delicious wine with just a touch of rustic character. My version for a shelf talk would go like this: „A thoroughly up-to-date wine coming from a region that had to hang on for dear life and made from a variety that not so long ago was considered utterly hopeless.” (For more details, see „The rise of Carignan”.)

55% carinyena, 35% garnatxa and 10% syrah. It spent 14 months in 25% new French oak. Though the cheapest Torres offering from Priorat, Salmos is still quite expensive by Hungarian standards. The thing I like most about this wine is the total lack of blockbuster pretensions; it doesn’t hide behind a wall of tannins, it’s not black and thick like tar, it’s not made from raisins and even the oak has been scaled back.

I don’t normally take much notice of colour but this is really eye-catching: luminous ruby-red with a purple rim. The nose is rich, seductive and interesting with notes of nutmeg, blood oranges, blackberries, blueberries and fine tobacco. The alcohol is well integrated, the palate is mid-weight and probably due to the brightness of carinyena it’s surprisingly light on its feet. Balanced, seamless, with juicy deliciousness and velvety tannins. Long and rich finish. Though the signs of top notch oak are unmissable it is the quality of the grapes that defines this wine. With Salmos you can have the best of two worlds: the polished elegance and assurance of modern wines is gently disrupted by the savoury juiciness of carinyena.

7 points (a rather conservative estimate) and 27 euros.