The Matsu El Picaro 2019 is a Tempranillo wine sourced from 90-year-old vineyards in the Toro D.O. of Spain. Toro is located near the Northeast corner of Portugal, the northwest of Spain wraps around the Portugal border.
Matsu is a Japanese word that means to wait and El Picaro translates to the Rouge. Bodega Matsu is one of the projects from Vintae, which is three generations of winemakers who produce wines from nine separate regions in Spain. The El Picaro is the youngest wine of the 4 wines made under the Matsu name and I believe that is a photo of the youngest son on the label.
There is an old adage that wine grapes need to suffer to produce interesting wine. The two most commons ways for the grapes to struggle are poor soil or old vines that naturally struggle due to age. The El Picaro grapes are 90-year-old vines grown in poor soil, the struggle is real.
The grapes were fermented in large cement vats/ Cement works well with winemaking since the thickness of the cement keeps the juice contained inside the vat at a constant temperature. Wine grapes like steady temps and the winemakers’ ability to control the temperature assist in certain production techniques.
Sparkling wines/Bubbly is said to undergo 2 fermentations, but the reality is that most Red wines and sometimes White wines such a Chardonnay are fermented twice. The second fermentation is malolactic fermentation which changes the natural tart acids in the grapes to more rounded tasting acids. With El Picaro, the malolactic fermentation occurs when the wine is transferred from the cement vats to oak barrels.
The oak barrels are not there to age the tempranillo and oak conditioning, just to add a little character to the malolactic fermentation. This is intended to be a young wine, bright, juicy, and fruit-forward.
The grapes were farmed with bio-dynamic methods that go beyond organic farming. The vineyard decisions are based on the phases of the moon and complimentary plants are grown in the vineyard to attract the insects that feed on pests that plague the vines.
I sometimes read articles about the best places to find “cheap” wine is South America or South Africa, along with a few other locations. While those growing regions at one time may have concentrated on value-priced wine, they now are concentrating on more expensive offerings.
If you want to find the best location (outside of the West Coast of the USA) learn to like Tempranillo and Garnacha from Spain. There are more 90 plus point wines under $15 in your wine shops Spanish aisle than any other region. The Matsu El Picaro 2019 is an old vine Tempranillo grown with bio-dynamic practices and any interesting wine production style and I found it selling for $9.99. The alcohol content is 14.5%.
Matsu El Picaro 2019 Tasting Notes
The color is a very dark black cherry red. The nose is intense, ripe blackberry, licorice, a little cola, soft spice, raspberry, and faint herbs. This is an intense full-flavored wine with sharp spice and persistent acidity.
It starts with blackberry, Australian licorice, sharp spice, and blueberry. The mid-palate offers cherry cough syrup, a salty sensation, and dried strawberry bits. This wine is unfiltered and unfined, which removes solids from the wine. Anytime you remove something from the wine you also remove a certain amount of flavor. This wine is full-flavored, I do not think anything has been removed.
- The Matsu El Picaro is a lot of wine for the money. It is made with a very bold, intense style. Often ten buck wines have the edges smoothed off to appeal to greater audience. The El Picaro makes a singular statement that is refreshing in a value priced wine.