Our door is always open to a bottle of tempranillo, especially when brought by a friend. We knew nothing about this wine when it arrived and promptly pulled the cork. After a first sniff and sip at the inky dark wine, we decided to decant it and let it rest for an hour because of its heavy, grating nose.
It’s always interesting going blind into a bottle since you never know what to expect. Sometimes knowing about the wine taints your impressions of it between your face and your brain. The smells, textures, flavors of the wine are free to be themselves without your waiting for them to perform.
Decanting much improved the experience of this intense tempranillo. It had gorgeous, strong flavors of oak and dry earth, and a finish like the heat of a setting sun fading into the deceptively chilly deep red evening. This was not a refinement of subtle tones, or a fun, flirty blend. There was a wildness to the flavor arc. No smooth curve. More of a flexing and wrestling of similar flavors fighting for dominance. And then cleanly disappearing.
This wine would go well with seared, grilled, dark foods, and a hard, salty cheese. It’s something you drink as a second bottle, fit nicely between two more amicable tempranillos. In research, I’ve found the Mano a Mano is from the La Mancha area of Spain, and is slowly aged in French oak barrels. La Mancha is one of the largest wine-growing areas of the world if you measure in acreage. And tempranillos are quickly gaining huge popularity because they’re great table wine at completely affordable prices.
This bottle of Mano a Mano was quite forward with flavors, and after the rough start, it oxidized deeply near the end of the night. We had switched to a very mellow Our Daily Red wine, and having a sip of the long-settled Mano brought a tear to my eye, I confess.
I would try Mano a Mano again, now that I’m prepared. But it’s not for the weak and inexperienced.
Mano a Mano
La Mancha, Spain