…which has been my comfort zone in tinto terms given that in recent years I’ve rarely ventured beyond the sacred gorge of the Ribeira Sacra and the great holy cauldron of El Bierzo. Till last night. Whilst having dinner with some lovely friends who live in Galicia’s version of Tolkien’s Middangeard, an enchanted wild wood on the fringes of the Fragas de Eume, near Miño in Galicia, I was introduced to a seductive coupage by the name of Cartema. The winery is located in the Montes de Alamín, province of Toledo and part of the D.O. Méntrida appellation. The landscape is rolling hills dotted with ancient oaks. After carrying out exhaustive soil checks, they decided on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah procured from the finest Bordeaux nurseries and the native Tempranillo which prosper well in the sandy soil known here as ‘suelos de aluvión’. Set up to process around 20,000kg of fruit, they have an ageing room with just twenty French oak barriques. Vinification of the three varieties is done separately, always with their respective native yeasts and strictly controlled fermentation temperature. Once the alcholic fermention is done, the wine is then transferred to the barriques for malolactic fermentation. After that the wine racked, leaving a fine layer of lees in the barrique. Once the wine has gone through ‘the necessary ageing period’, the winemaker decides on the final blend percentages. The wine we drank last night was Cartema Crianza 2007, ruby red with violet tinges. In the nose it’s spicy, with hints of rosemary, thyme and liquorish and rich red fruit. In the mouth it’s medium bodied, silky, slightly glycerine with the fruit standing out and delicate vanilla notes indicating complete harmony with the wood. This is a great wine. Open it and stick it in the fridge for fifteen minutes before serving it and ignore the dullards that scream sacrilege at the mere suggestion.