Tequila Ocho Shares Their Vision on Terroir as “A Sense of Place"

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Imported exclusively in the US by Altamar Brands

 

Terroir [ter-whar] (as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary): the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that give [agave] its distinctive character.

 

We like to think of terroir as, “a sense of place,” where we believe that several factors influence the harvested material: whether it be grapes, corn, wheat, or agave.

 

The soil content, elevation, surrounding vegetation, slope of the land, and microclimate of an area of land all speak to its terroir.

 

While the idea of terroir has always existed in the Tequila-producing world, Tequila Ocho was the first brand to celebrate the diversity of flavor expressed by the agave based on the terroir in which it was grown.

 

Of any agricultural product, terroir may be most important in the cultivation of the agave. The reason for this: Most agricultural products have a single year growing season. During that year, the environmental factors (soil content, elevation, nearby plants, slope of the land, microclimate) will affect the flavors and character of the final product. The Agave spends a much longer time in the Earth, absorbing the surrounding elements.

 

For example, a properly cultivated Blue Weber Agave for use in Tequila production will typically spend a minimum of 6 years in the ground, absorbing the energy and terroir around it, before it is ready to be harvested.

With Tequila Ocho, we select only the estates and agaves that show signs of being overripe, testing sugar & acid levels to determine peak ripeness.

 

Each vintage has shown its own unique flavors, structure, and character over the years. Even estates (aka Ranchos) that are very close to one another display vast differences based on its surroundings.

 

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The majority of Ocho's ranchos are located within an area known as the “Golden Triangle” - named as such by the CRT (the regulatory committee looking over all of Tequila production) for its high quality and ideal growing conditions for the plant. The three towns that constitute the Golden Triangle are Arandas, Atotonilco, and Jesus Maria. Further, the elevations and microclimates vary greatly within the triangle, which makes the agave grown there so interesting and unique. The Golden Triangle has been compared to Grand Cru regions of France’s wine production because of its prized agaves.

 

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When tasting Tequila Ocho, one must think of the spirit and tasting experience as a journey to explore all of the vast flavor and texture differences between each vintage. To experience, feel, taste, and smell the nuances of the spirit, it is essential to slow down and take time while you sip and savor. There are many comparisons between Ocho and fine wine, and the tasting experience is no exception. 

Nosing the tequila with parted lips before taking a small sip and allowing the liquid to cover all areas of your mouth is a great start. Ocho will change in the glass the same way wine would. You’ll discover different flavors and aromas as the tequila opens up over time in the glass.

 

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The best vessel for a tequila tasting is a stemmed glass with a narrow opening, similar to a champagne flute. The narrow opening keeps the nuanced aromas from escaping the glass before hitting your nose, allowing less oxygen into the glass than a standard rocks or shot glass would.

 

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Ocho has proven to the tequila-drinking world that terroir exists in agave by releasing a different Single Estate, and Vintage Expression each year since its inception in 2007.

 

A look at some of Ocho’s previous releases of Plata:

 

2009 “Los Pomez”

Las Pomez is 2,055m above sea level with red soil rich in organic materials and iron oxide. The rancho is located in Jesus Maria. All plants were well over matured at harvest. There are natural acids that form at this point of hyper-ripeness that impart unique and special flavors to the tequila.

 

Tasting Notes

Blanco (Plata)
Color – Bright and clear with thick ‘tears’.
Aroma – Sweet molasses, butterscotch and ripe agave. It opens up to cooked pumpkin and hints of peppermint.
Palate – Fresh lively, rounds sweetness, subtle tropical fruits, and some cinnamon.

 

 

2011 “El Puerticito”

El Puerticito is 2,150m above sea level – the highest elevation agave field owned by the Camarenas. At the beginning of harvesting around 25% of the original plants were already over-matured and decayed. The extreme maturity of these agave leads to an extremely high sugar and acidity content. The field is orientated southeast so that it receives most of the daily sunlight, even throughout winter. The North and West edges of the field are surrounded by oak and cedar trees, which prevent the agave from becoming too hot during the summer.

 

Tasting Notes
Color – Crystal clear, showing thickness of ‘legs’ and slow rivers of ‘tears’ on the side of the glass.
Aroma – Olive oil, cantaloupe, lily flower, white and black pepper, slight cedar hints, beef jerky and fennel.
Palate – Root Beer, spearmint, anise, chestnut and butterscotch, smoke, raw almond and blunt radish.

 

2015 “La Magueyera”

This name derives from the plant the ‘maguey’. It is at 1600 meters, has grey soil and a ‘terroir’ similar –in general- to that of Tequila Valley. The land is slightly sloping from north to south making it south facing, catching the full effects of the sun. There are Guamuchile trees that bear edible fruit. This tree is specific to this location and grows wild in the clay soil.

The agaves were harvested with a brix level of 27-28 %, the average for Los Altos being 24-25% and 22-23% for Tequila Valley.

 

Tasting Notes
Color
 – Crystal clear and thick tears.
Aroma – Spearmint chewing gum, over-ripe mango, lime zest, nutmeg, white pepper, powdered sugar, iodine, gooseberry, caraway seeds, orange marmalade.
Palate – Ripe tropical fruits in begin, anise, menthol, cereal, pink and green peppercorns, cream soda, arugula, toasted coffee, green Thai papaya, green banana finish.

 

2016 “Puerta del Aire”

About 3 km northeast from La Alteña, this field has oak and cedar trees growing both inside and at the sides of the field. The land is a gentle slope of red soil oriented north, going from 2,118 to 2,095 meters above sea level. The agave was 7 years old, with an average weight of 42 kg (some piñas above 100kgs) and 26% sugar content.

 

Tasting Notes
Aroma – Menthol, lily, banana skin, cooked turkey, cooking oil brought to a high heat, raw asparagus, round spices, cinnamon, rose water, chalk and calcium.
Palate – Molasses, brown sugar, coffee, cacao, pink pepper, white rum and basil.

 

 

 

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