Saturday, April 7, 2012

Updated Review: **** $$ Portal Roble, Terra Alta, Spain - BEST VALUE

By way of background: The Portal Roble Terra Alta, Spain, 2004, is built of equal 20 percent portions of cabernet sauvignon, garnacha, merlot, tempranillo and syrah.

Original review, April, 2008:

In the glass, it is a deep red burgundy, moving to opaque as you move midway into the glass.

Aromas right out of the bottle are major deep and rubbery-funky... think ripe, aged helium balloons.

On the palate, the sensation moves from helium balloons to ripe sesame seeds, slathered over slim pieces of cracker. Along with that comes a balance of deep fruit and tannins, moving the sesame finish into a long, long encore. This one starts with three stars with a plus for intensity and intrigue... I'm gonna let it decant a bit. My hunch is that will blow off some of the freakier elements and leave the plush, vanilla, aromatic deep fruit. We'll see... For now, three plus stars out of five.

After just a few minutes with air, the sesame reduces a bit, bringing deep fresh raspberry into the fruit mix. The intensity remains. It's just gonna move me to four stars, meaning I'd stay with it for an evening. And trust me, this one can use a couple years aging on its bones.  Best value.

Wine Advocate awarded 90 points, with this description: "Aged for 6 months in French, American, and Hungarian oak before being bottled unfiltered. It is purple-colored, with an impressive array of aromas including vanilla, spice box, pepper, cassis, black cherry, and blackberry."

After a full day's decanting: the rubber balloon aroma has blown-off, but leaving only a muted cherry. The palate has also grown less interesting, being now pretty exclusively a one dimensional deep raspberry fruit. At this stage, it would drop to only two stars with a plus for pleasantness, so I'd encourage finishing this off shortly after opening. Meanwhile, I'll back rating off to the original three plus stars. I've seldom seen a wine move around so much in its ratings within a day of opening.

Updated review, four years later, now 8 years from vintage date:  Consistent color, only the faintest hint of brick at the edge.   Bright and bold, somewhat oxidized berry fruit on the nose.  Deep fruit and fresh acids on the palate, beginning to be overtaken by a little too much genericized "mixed vegetable" oxidation for my taste.  But still holding up - good and strong.  Don't hold any longer.  Drink up.  Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle: Oww, berries going funky.  Still sweet and full on the palate.

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