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Ludovicus Tinto

This mineral, spicy Mediterranean red drinks like a wine two times its price. It is produced from organically grown grapes in the high elevation Terra Alta region. These high lands are located just 45 minutes south of Barcelona in the mountains of Tarragona overlooking the Mediterranean. Ludovicus pays tribute to the roman heritage of this region. The Romans planted vineyards in this area during the 3rd century. Terra Alta neighbors the acclaimed Priorat region. Just like in Priorat, Garnacha and Mazuelo (aka Cariñena, or Samsó) are the most commonly planted grapes. The Garnachas that grow in Terra Alta are among the finest in Spain due to three factors: the elevation, the limestone soil and the plethora of old vine that Terra Alta possesses.

WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Ludovicus is a wine that appeals to both new world and old world palates. People who like Cab, Syrah, Malbec and Zinfandel love Ludovicus. Produced from dry-farmed grapes that are organically grown.

RATING HISTORY: 2014 90VM & JS; 2013 92JS; 2012 90IWC; 2011 89RP & IWC; 2010 89IWC

GRAPE: 100% Garnacha. Organically grown vines planted from 1990-2002. Tended in limestone soil at 356 m (1,168 ft) elevation

PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This ripe, juicy, vibrantly big-fruited red wine is a real crowd pleaser, and Ludovicus's easy drinking nature makes it a versatile wine, either with meat and pork main courses or with more casual tapas or small plates. Of course, this wine is also a great sipper on its own.

VINIFICATION AND AGEING: The grapes are picked and brought to the winery in the early morning hours, and bunches are de-stemmed and crushed. Prior to fermentation, the must undergoes maceration for 4 days in 10,000-liter tanks at a cool temperature of 43F. Once fermentation begins, maceration on the skins takes 25 days. Afterwards, malolactic fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 4 months in 300-liter French and American oak barrels.

PRODUCTION: 9,000 cases

LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located a few miles south and west of Priorat, within the Terra Alta DO (Zone 5) in Catalunya's Tarragona province in northeastern Spain. In this remote region, the winemaking tradition dates back to the Romans, around the 2nd or 3rd Century. The vineyards are located near the town of Batea, situated at 356 meters (1,427 ft.) elevation. The soils are composed of 95% limestone and 5% clay. For climate, the average temperature from April-October is 67.3F. The hot day and warm-to-moderate night temperatures make Terra Alta a drier and warmer region than Montsant or Priorat. These conditions produce bright purplish-garnet hued wines with greater weight and ripeness than wines from other areas within Zone 5. The low average yearly rainfall of 16.3 inches is less than neighboring regions.

TASTING NOTES: Deep red. Fresh red berry and candied rose scents are lent urgency by mineral and peppery spice notes. Juicy and incisive on the palate, offering gently sweet raspberry, cherry and spicecake flavors that demonstrate an appealing marriage of power and finesse. Finishes gently tannic and long, leaving behind a subtle suggestion of red fruit liqueur. -- Josh Raynolds.

UPC CODE: 810411010679

All photos: Friederike Paetzold