I was at a tasting on Saturday of varioius Oriel wines after having been alerted to them by my wine guy. (The story in a nutshell is that a very wealthy guy decided to assemble a group of award-winning wine makers from around the world to produce the best handcrafted wines possible, sort of a rich man's hobby.) Anyway some of the wines were out of this world. The Pinot Noir and the Reisling were both absolutely delicious. I thought the Italian wines were less successful, but they weren't bad. I've linked to the website below for the whole list.
Has anyone else tried and enjoyed these wines?
I was sceptical also about the whole idea of an umbrella producer, but then i tasted the wines. All of the wines are made by winemakers who have freedom to express the terroir of the region that they are working in. The Oriel Barolo 2001 made by Paolo Cagiorgna is a fantastic Barolo, true to its ancestry and a floral, heady example of Nebbiolo. Bravo to John Hunt for being an international negociant!
I was introduced to these wines about a month ago by my sommelier. Haven't tried one I didn't like. In fact, we're having a "wine dinner" at my restaurant next month featuring their following wines:
2005 Fem Fatale
2002 Alma de Llicorella
It's a pretty interesting project - i work for one of the largest wine importers in the US and we met with John (Hunt - the owner) about representing the project but ultimately took a pass.
From a jaded industry perspective, having one brand name for all regions smacks of commercialism to some degree (Albertson's supermarkets tried this approach with a private label brand called Origin a few years back sourcing Rielsing from the Mosel, Chianti from Italy etc).
However, there is a high degree of credibility with the Oriel wines given some of the winemakers associated with the projects. The winemaker from one of the wineries we represent in Spain makes the Oriel Priorat and it's seriously good juice.
Kudos for the vision and innovation!
I recently joined their wine club since I too heard about it through my local retailer. Thrilled when my first shipment arrived. I have tried the Rose so far...Femme Fatale, and it was seriously the best one I've had, and especially refreshing in this summer heat. I'm looking forward to trying the chard--also in the shipment, since I'm a big fan of Dutton-Goldfield and Dan Goldfield made the wine. I'm definitely looking forward to trying others. If anyoen wants to chime in on their favorites, I'd appreciate it!
My two favorite Oriel wines so far are:
2003 Oriel Midnight Rambler, Rutherford ($35). The nose of this wine really enticed me, a lush fruity scent with a bit of vanilla. It was a very smooth wine with a long finish. It had some smoke and spice on the palate and definitely showed complexity. A very fine wine.
2003 Oriel Taralula, Toscana, Italy ($35): This was a spicy Italian wine that would go so well with Italian food. But, it rises above the usual Chianti's and Sangiovese in being more complex and with a longer finish.
I can't believe there is not more conversation going on about these wines. Literally I guess that i'm a year behind. They are my new favorite discovery. First of all high quality and so reasonable. Second of all, it gives me something to look for on a menu without feeling intimidated and I've been seeing them everywhere. My favorites currently are the Femme Fatale (not to be a me too), the new 365 Prosecco, which truly lives up to drinking 365 days, VQM from Chile and the Portia, which my friends POLISHED off. Literally I feel like its being a kid in a candy store, not being able to wait for what's next.
Would love to hear any others that people have loved.