April 18, 2009

Tequila Ocho Plata

Bill Dowd photo

A vintage-dated tequila? The second such has just hit the markets in time for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, and it's from the same Corona Del Mar, CA, company that introduced dated Mexican-made tequilas with its 2008 line. For 2009, 12,695 bottles were produced, according to the label information on my sample, compared to about 11,000 bottles of the 2008.

• Tequila Ocho Plata

Tequila is, by its very nature, essentially a young spirit. Yes, there are reposados, añejos, even extra añejos, but the quality of the fire and passion of the younger spirit are the hallmarks to be assessed.

Both the plata and reposado varieties are available now, but the 2009 añejo, aged for a full year, will not be released until July.

Tequila Ocho is the product of collaboration between third-generation tequila maker Felipe Camarena and Tomas Estes, ambassador of Tequila to Europe. The blue agaves are harvested from various Camarena ranches, but care is made not to mix fruits from different areas, thus preserving the "terroir" so prized in the wine industry and just now being noticed in the tequila world.

Tequila Ocho Plata has taken on a bolder character this year.

The original Rancho Carrizal Estate expression was a creamy, soft spirit with touches of banana, mango and sweetness. This year's plata, from Rancho Las Pomez Estate, has more of the agave base in the nose, along with hints of lime and mint. On the palate, a pleasant oiliness carries with it elements of jalapeño, carambola, pimiento and pepper.

Suggested retail price: An ultra-premium pricing, with the plata and reposado at $60 and $70, respectively, for the 750ml bottle. When the añejo -- from El Carrizal -- comes out, it will be priced at $80.

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