When people think of Spain's wines, they tend to think of crisp Albariños from Galicia, Tempranillo-driven reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, and powerful cuvees from the Priorat, where Grenache is the dominant grape. Cabernet Sauvignon, the world’s most famous red variety, tends to be a supporting player here.
But not too long ago, at the Torres Winery in Penedès, I had the opportunity to do a historical tasting of Mas La Plana, arguably Spain’s greatest Cabernet. It comes from a single vineyard near the winery, entirely planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (unusual in an area that really specializes in Cava production). The vintages spanned over 40 years, and proved that, at least in this instance, Spain can make Cabernet on par with any other country in the world.
1971 Torres Gran Coronas Mas La Plana
This 43-year-old wine, though from a rainy, not-so-great vintage, is still drinking beautifully. It’s austere in an old-school way, with dried currant flavors and tart acidity, and an aromatic note that recalls brown sugar. At this time, there was also 20 percent Tempranillo and 10 percent Cabernet Franc in the blend.