Taco Wine

Chapel Downs Ortega The brief for this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday given by William Wilson at Wine for Newbies is a to try a white varietal wine that isn't Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. I chose a 2003 Chapel Downs Ortega and all the exotic promise it held: a German grape variety with a Spanish name made by an English winery. Ortega? My first thought is of supermarket Mexican food and my second is of the Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. Both are definitely more interesting than the grape variety, at least in this case. Ortega was developed in 1948 by German Scientists as a cross between Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe (see compleat lineage below). Like similar lab crosses, it attempts to create a super- grape that is cold resistant, disease resistant, higher yielding etc. The problem is that what usually suffers is the flavor, even though Ortega is said to enhance the flavor of Riesling in poor harvests. Unfortunately the back label's promise of rich peach and pineapple didn't materialize (do they ever?). The most distinctive thing about this wine was vanilla oak masking melon and lemon juice flavors. This light-weight wasn't bad but perhaps a little too cute like an 11 year old wearing aftershave. For the record, I made a big attempt to find out why post-war Germans would name this grape variety Ortega (The Boys from Brazil?) but it also came up fruitless. Thanks to William for hosting this blog fest and for encouraging adventurous wine drinking. And if you're a true wine adventurer, you may consider joining the Wine Century Club. Ortega Lineage

7 Comments

The Other Jamie G
The Other Jamie G

June 16, 2014

We need wine by Goya. Oh Boy-a!

Steve De Long
Steve De Long

June 16, 2014

Thanks for the Ortega reference, Brad.

The parentage of Muller-Thurgau has been unclear. Dr. Hermann Muller for which the variety was named crossed Riesling and Sylvaner. Or so he believed. Some enologists believed it was actually a cross of two strains of Riesling. Recent DNA analysis now shows that one parent is Riesling and the other is Chasselas also known as Fendant or Gutadel.

Brad Sullivan
Brad Sullivan

June 16, 2014

Muller-Thurgau is a cross between Riesling and Gutadel (not Sylvaner). Gutadel itself is an ancient grape.

Ortega is named after the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset.

Steve De Long
Steve De Long

June 16, 2014

Hi Ryan,
Yes, it’s probably the producer. Even Marechal Foch and De Chaunac can produce good wines in the right hands. Not to forget Alicante Bouchet!

Ryan Opaz
Ryan Opaz

June 16, 2014

I love the grape Ortega or at least I loved one bottling I had back in the states. I think I still have a bottle or two stashed. It was an beerneaulese with tons of lychee fruit goodness. On the other hand this was probably the only Ortega I’ve had and with all the richness it showed at the time I look forward to seeing how it aged.

ryan

Francisco Figueroa
Francisco Figueroa

June 16, 2014

I also enjoy Ortega wines, specially the sweet ‘Berenauslese’ Ortega’s made with botrytised grapes.
I discovered them while I was living in Germany in the 90’s, visiting little family cellars in the Palatinate. Yes, it is debouted to Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset, who wrote his PhD in Germany and was member of the Spanish Parlament during the 2nd Spanish Republic in te 30’s.
I do not mean to compare them with a good 5 putonios Tokaj or a premier cru Sauternes, which are quite differente in character, but I found those Ortega’s pretty nice.
Fran

Ryan Opaz
Ryan Opaz

June 16, 2014

I love the grape Ortega or at least I loved one bottling I had back in the states. I think I still have a bottle or two stashed. It was an beerneaulese with tons of lychee fruit goodness. On the other hand this was probably the only Ortega I've had and with all the richness it showed at the time I look forward to seeing how it aged.

ryan

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