Carbonic Maceration: a promising future

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A term we are starting to hear more and more in the world of wine, so let’s go over its history a little.

Carbonic maceration was scientifically created by Luis Pasteur in 1872, when he studied the spontaneous fermentation process of stored grapes in closed containers. Later, in 1935, Michel Flanzy (a French researcher) confirmed that grapes didn’t break down when CO2 was injected into the tank, and that this fermentation resulted in very fruity, colourful wines. Investigations about this type of maceration/fermentation continued to develop until a solid scientific basis was established in the 1960s. Nowadays, modern oenology has a scientific description of the process, but it is a practice that has been used for a long time. Carbonic maceration is typical of two wine-making areas: La Rioja Alavesa and Beaujolais.

In the past, carbonic maceration was the standard process for producing wine in Rioja Alavesa. They had large stone tanks where they would deposit the whole harvested grapes. Spontaneously, the must would start to ferment at the bottom of the tank, which generated CO2 and created an anaerobic atmosphere inside the tank. As the entire harvest could not be completed in a day, the whole grapes added the next day started to macerate due to intracellular reactions. This phenomenon produced coarse and long-living wines, since they then finished the wine production with strong pressings and stored it with large lees until it was transported.

It continued this way until 1786, the year in which Don Manuel Quintano y Quintano travelled to Bourdeaux to perfect his wine-making skills. There, he learned to make wine with ‘finer’ methods: greater cleaning, different fermentation tanks, grape selection, stem removal, treading, decanting and clarification etc. This change led to fermentation of the must first and then maceration with the skins. The results were satisfactory and, in Rioja, they started to produce wine in the Bordeaux style. From then on, the two wine-making techniques existed side by side, although in the Rioja Alavesa area, carbonic maceration dominated.

From a scientific and artisanal viewpoint, they have now perfected this type of wine. From more industrialised and homogeneous wine to more artisanal wines full of character.

In Beaujolais, Marcel Lapierre, along with Jules Chauvet (chemist, wine trader), approached the area’s industrial processes with a more artisanal focus, in viticulture as well as oenology. They started to introduce ecological viticulture (in an area very damaged by pesticides and herbicides) and incorporated traditional production techniques, without adding yeast and with low doses of sulphur. This gave a new focus to the area and to this type of wine-making. Nowadays, these wines are aged and can be kept for a while whereas before, the old attitude was to drink it quickly. A few wine-makers in the area (Thevenet, Jean Foillard etc) are known and admired by wine-makers and drinkers all over the world.

In Rioja Alavesa, they made wine using this technique and united colours, aromas and tastes after the most industrialised and cooperative era. Small producers started making traditional wines again (with expertise from science and years of experience). They cultivated the vineyards ecologically, using native yeasts (no more bananas, please) and carrying out long maceration-fermentations. This produces wines full of personality and with a certain potential for ageing. At Decántalo, we have a few examples. What are you waiting for? Try them!

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New Wines for November 2016

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November, a month full of contrasts thanks to the sudden changes in weather, characteristic in autumn, and an appropriate month to present new vintages (the barrels have to be emptied to make room for the 2016 harvest). Therefore, we present new wines and vintages, in both red and white varieties.

Rodrigo Méndez Sálvora 2014: These are wise Albariño vineyards, more than 100 years old and planted on granitic soil, separated from one of the large plots in the Salnes subzone, in the Rías Baixas. Aged for 12 months in old barrels to ease the tension of the soil and of the Atlantic, this wine is direct, electric and austere in aromas of its youth, but broad in its old age.

Remírez de Ganuza Blanco 2015The acclaimed Samaniego winery continues its faultless production down to the smallest detail. They use Viura (mainly), Malvasía and some Garnacha blanca. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged for 8 months in barrels from Nevers (France). Battonage (stirring) is carried out by turning the barrel to avoid opening the lid and therefore, oxidation. The care during production allows us to taste their crystalline white wines, full of white fruit and well-integrated wood.

1954 Xarel·lo 2014New in the house. Costador is a project spanning mutiple Catalan regions in order to find old vines and make artisanal wine without adding any oenological products. 1954 Xarel·lo comes from Garraf, one of Penedés’ more characterful subzones due to its special microclimate and limestone soil; amphoras and old barrels shape this vineyard that dates back to 1954.

Pies Descalzos 2015Albillo Real comes from a vineyard situated 750 metres above sea level in San Martín de Valdeiglesias (Madrid), an enchanting town, with a castle in which one of the best wine events in the last few years took place. This plot is settled on eroded granitic soil where the Albillo grape’s more mineral and less fruity profile comes out. According to Fernando: ‘This wine acknowledges the old owner of the vineyard, who cultivated it so carefully that he walked through it barefoot’.

Gómez Cruzado Vendimia Seleccionada 2015The new vintage of this magnificent wine has already arrived, one we were able to taste at the Cata del Barrio de la Estación 2016. It is an accessible and drinkable Rioja, in which the fruity character takes precedence over everything else. 50% Garnacha and 50% Tempranillo, it is harvested in advance to conserve its good acidity. This wine forms part of the new profile in La Rioja that we like so much.

Planetes de Nin Garnatxes en Ámfora 2015: The Nin-Ortiz family makes this wine in amphoras and without sulphites. 100% Garnacha from the youngest vines in the winery, it allows us to see how to produce wine with the minimum possible intervention. A colourful, fruity and balanced wine.

Ladredo 2012: Dirk Niepoort’s project in Ribeira Sacra comes from a very high plot looking out over the canyon of the river Sil, planted with the Mencía and Alicante Bouschet varieties. This wine transports you to those dizzying terraces and Atlantic climate. Long, fresh and with a lot of life ahead of it, what more can you ask for? I drank it for the first time in 2011 (the 2009 vintage) and I still remember it, a fantastic wine.

Fredi Torres & Antoine Touton La Deva 2014: A new addition to the Decántalo catalogue. A wine by Fredi Torres, a wine-maker who never sits still and conducts multiple projects in various wine-producing areas. Their philosophy is to treat the vineyard with the upmost respect and interpret it without any kind of additives. This project was founded in Montsant with Antoine Touton. The wine in question comes from an old single plot in Molar. It is mainly composed of Garnacha (85%), Cariñena and a hint of Macabeo, and refined in ‘fudres’ and 500 litre barrels. An elegant, fresh and intense wine, like its maker.

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New Parker points for Catalonia

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In the latest Parker ratings, Luis Gutiérrez has analysed Catalan wines in three different sections: Priorat, the rest of the Catalan DOs, and Cava.

priorat

We will begin by discussing the first section, dedicated to Priorat, one of the most improved regions, according to Luis. The magic wine was Clos Erasmus 2013, the only one awarded 100 points and an unprecedented vintage in Priorat for its balance and freshness. Among the highest scorers continues to be Clos Mogador 2013, with 98 points (one of the best in terms of the price-quality ratio), and the classics L’Ermita 2014 and the plots of Terroir al Limit. As a outstanding entry in the Olympus of Priorat’s great wines was Nit de Nin 2014 with 96 points.

In addition, the edition highlights the incredible improvement of the Mas d’en Gil winery under the eye of Marta Rovira. The descendent of this family of wine-producers has taken the reins of the winery and is pushing the vineyards as well as the production of the wines forward. She has returned to basics, to the old technique of making wine in ‘fudres’ and bigger barrels with less new wood. Their Clos Fontà 2011, 94 points, and Belmunt 2013, 91 points, are examples of their excellent work.

Another matter to note is the 3D map they are producing in the region, similar to the one of Barolo in Italy. This demonstrates the clear commitment to the valuation of the plots and the diversity in the territory, recognising the many orientations and altitudes that result in the different and unique wines from the same DO. The dedication is obvious, and they will soon begin cataloguing the wines according to a pyramid, from the village wines to the single-estate wines.

Luis Gutiérrez perceives the rest of Catalonia unequally; in Penedés and Montsant, he glimpses a shift towards wines with personality. On the other hand, he criticises the other regions for being anchored in the past and not looking to the future, with over ripe grapes, lots of new wood and many foreign varieties.

In Empordà, as a point of reference and an example to follow, he highlights Vinyes d’Olivardots.

With respect to Costers del Segre, he emphasises Raul Bobet and his winery Castell d’Encús. Their vineyards are planted at high altitude in Pallars and Vall Fosca and their traditional production methods awarded them Luis Gutiérrez’s distinction, naming the Thalarn 2015, 95 points, as the best Syrah on the Peninsula.

Montsant has two important wineries and wine-producers in this edition. One is Joan Asens from Orto Vins and the other, Rene Barbier (the son) and Sara Pérez from Venus la Universal. Orto Vins produced Les Talledes de Can Nicolau, 94 points, a black Picapoll from an old vineyard planted by his grandfather, with huge personality and subtlety. Venus la Universal produced the recently released Venus Blanc, planted with the autonomous variety Cartoixa and produced without any additives, with 94 points. Also, the red Dido, 93 points, has been awarded a good score. As an icon wine, Espectacle 2013 has 96 points.

In Penedès, he stresses the movement of young people and natural wines, which makes us reconsider the traditional producers in the area. Alemany i Corrio with their Sot Lefriec, 94 points, and Principia Mathematica 2015, 91 points. Amós Bañeres with their natural wines Vinya Oculta 2013, 92 points, and Missatge en una Ampolla 2015, 91 points. Mas Candí with Quatre Xarellos 2014, 91 points, and their natural wine Cabòries 2015 with the same score.

The DO Cava is the last to be analysed and has the worst scores. According to Luis, there are no young, energetic projects and he only highlights five interesting wineries: Gramona, Loxarel, Mestres, Recaredo and Raventos i Blanc. These are different from the rest because they give special attention to the vineyard, putting particular emphasis on caring for it. In addition, he highlights the poor image of cavas due to mediocre wines being sold at low prices, therefore giving a negative focus on single-estate cavas. Gutiérrez considers it necessary to sort out the bottom of the pyramid and not the top, owing to the brilliant cavas that are well distinguished.

Turó d’en Mota 2005 continues at the top with 95 points, this single-estate cava has the maximum distinction in the DO, and their Reserva Particular 2015 is close behind with 94 points. Another single-estate cava following in the wake of a great winery such as Raventos i Blanc, is Manuel Raventós Negra 2010 with 94 points. Loxarel 109 2005, the sparkling wine within the Clàssic Penedés was awarded 93 points and Gramona and their Celler Batlle 2006, 93 points.

 

Escrito en Parker | Tagged , , , |

XVII Show of the Peñín Guide’s Best Spanish Wines

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Last Thursday, 27th October, we attended the annual show of the best Spanish wines organised by the Peñín Guide in the Palacio de Congresos in Madrid. More than 150 wineries exhibited their best wines valued by the Guide; a great opportunity to try the most distinguished in the Spanish winemaking sector.

The day started at midday. The first thing we did was go and meet the wineries that don’t form part of our extensive catalogue (pay attention because we will tell you about some of these soon). Next, we headed over to the wineries that we currently have in our portfolio to try their new vintages. The following stood out:

Dominio del Águila: This is one of the trendy partnerships in Ribera del Duero. Their wines are treasures, full of character thanks to the hard work of Jorge Monzón and Isabel Rodero when interpreting the surrounding landscape. Their Reservas and Gran Reservas can be kept to continue improving,  and their Pícaros are intended to be enjoyed up until the last drop. They let us try a white Albillo from 2012 which will be released to the market even at such a young age, although it is likely to become a classic in the region.

Suertes del Marqués: Jonatán García is a vintner from the Orotava Valley in Tenerife. The winery concentrates the volcanic character of the region, bottling it in different shades. Phosphorus, fruit and liveliness in equal measures transport you to the slopes of this incredible valley in the Canary Islands. Their Vidonia stands out, an austere and mineral Listán Blanco.

Viña Zorzal: Xabier Sanz and his brother couldn’t miss this show with their Malayeto. It is a fantastic Garnacha grown in Fitero and produced very smoothly.

Bodega Algueira: If there are key figures in Priorat that make the region well-known and give it a high standing, then in Ribera Sacra, one of the greatest pioneers in the area would be Fernando, owner of the Algueira winery. Their single-variety Merenzao and Brancellao continue being spectacular.

Alfredo Arribas: Their whole range is of a high quality, in Montsant as well as in Priorat, and we would highlight their magnificent Trossos Tros Blanc 2008 Magnum. It stands out for its youth and the life it still has ahead of it. We also tried wines from their other winery in Montsant called Siurana, which are natural with a limestone profile.

Bertrand Sourdais: An expert on soil, Sorian vineyards and currently one of the most influential people in Ribera del Duero. He tries to express them in two different projects. The first, La Hormiga del Antídoto, has a profile in which the dry tannins and the wood are more noticeable. The other gem in the crown is Dominio de Es; their Viñas Cuvée has a fresh and smooth character and, La Diva, their cherished vineyard, offers a fleshy wine with distinct personality.

Pardas: An icon in Penedés. These are wines full of Ramón’s personality. He presented Aspriu, the white as well as the red, from the 2012 vintage; a Xarel.lo which doesn’t seem to age a day.

Telmo Rodríguez: They produce wines in different regions in Spain. We think the red wines from Valdeorras and Rioja, As Carbocas and A Falcoeira, have a special magic, they are smooth with a great balance, structurally gifted in a way that makes them unforgettable. Up until now, their greatest work is in Rioja (cultivated near where Telmo grew up), nowadays Las Beatas is one of the greatest wines from Rioja.

Dominio de Pingus: A key part of Ribera de Duero in the last few years couldn’t be missing from the show. We tasted their best iconic wines, PSI 2014 with a very fruity profile and Pingus 2015-2013, one of the most exciting wines from Ribera del Duero.

Artuke: A relatively new winery with a new profile in Rioja. These are wines that express the earth and traditional varieties without allowing them to be masked by the wood. It should be noted that Finca los Locos 2014, because it was created on a hillside with very little soil, has a high concentration of fruit as a result.

Scala Dei: Since the introduction of Ricard Rofes as oenologist, the winery has changed spectacularly. Their single-plot wines, Mas Deu and Sant Antoni, made in cement and aged in large barrels, are already model examples in Priorat.

Recaredo: This winery is a clear example that a great cava comes from a great vineyard. The biodynamic viticulture, the single-plot wines and the lengthy ageing processes give each of the cuvées a singularity as a result. Turo d’en Mota 2005 is spectacular even as young as it is.

In conclusion, it was a very appealing exhibition, where we were able to try fantastic Spanish wines, although there were also some noticeable absences.

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Blind wine tasting: The great practice that brings us back down to planet earth

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It is an art, an exercise in sincerity, of stripping a wine down and creating a coherent opinion on what’s in front of you. It is a perfect tool to develop, for professionals as well as amateurs.

“A Set of 9” by Alexa Clark (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For sommeliers, it is a brilliant test of their knowledge, since they have to draw on everything they have studied. They consider where the wines come from by the colour, the different aromas and the different tastes, and they defend their opinions by ruling out grapes and production areas that couldn’t be the wine in front of them for the climate and the soil. They more they travel, the more they learn and the more they taste. They start to recognise how each wine-maker produces wine in each area and then they narrow down their choices until they arrive at the desired producer and vintage. There are fantastic professional sommeliers who can guess correctly. And it isn’t luck, it takes years of dedication and study.

For wine-producers, it’s a good tool to see how their wine is situated in the market and among the competition, carrying out blind tastings with wines from the same area or comparing them with their favourite wines to see differences and similarities.

For amateurs, it is a perfect way to play and learn. Of course, you should have some basic ideas and have tried a number of wines before attending a blind wine tasting. To start, the best thing to do is join a group with more or less the same knowledge level and begin with topics: areas, varieties, then more. Improving is quite easy, since you find yourself without any external influence and you have to focus on the small details. The learning level is excellent.

The only thing you need to do is organise a meeting and ask each person in the group to bring a wine related to the topic that you have decided on: Garnachas de España, for example. Keep going until you get to a point where you dare to approach them all, and you can start carrying out blind wine tastings with every type of wine: the Essential Spanish Wines III pack, for example.

We don’t suggest using certain types of wines:

Firstly: Don’t bring wines that you have had in your fridge for a long time. They can be disappointing. Drink them, enjoy them and remember fondly the wine you carefully bought somewhere in a store on holiday.

And secondly: No myths, please! They could be destroyed in a second. Don’t put the wine that you’ve read a lot about and only managed to buy once in your lifetime into a blind wine tasting. It is much better to taste it fully exposed.

That’s it. Enjoy. It’s a fantastic game.

Escrito en Wine tasting | Tagged , , , , |

Harvesting Comunica

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22/09/2016

Pep Aguilar and Patri Morillo are Comunica, a joint project that never fails to inspire. Created from knowledge acquired throughout many years of experience in various wineries, Comunica is the product of a long journey. A ‘Do It Yourself’, with few means, but with a lot of enthusiasm and expertise. They produce sincere and direct artisanal wines, a reflection of the people involved in the project.

Therefore, given what we have seen, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit them.

The alarm went off at 5 in the morning, a very odd hour for the person writing this, but it was worth the effort. We were going to Falset to see the Comunica partners and spend a day at the harvest.

At around 7, we arrived at Mas en Cosme, a beautiful country house surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, situated very close to the Falset Oenology Institute. How can they be in such an idyllic place with so few resources? Be calm, all will become clear. They have rented the estate, meaning the vineyards (about seven hectares), the olive trees etc… and left a space in the house to construct the winery, which will become a garage winery. By coincidence of life and destiny, the estate is situated on their favourite soil: granitic soil, which provides good integrity in the vines.

When we arrived, Patri was already ready and Pep arrived straight after. A big welcome hug, a black coffee to clear our heads and then, to work. First, a little fitness, pigeage (wine stomping) and we checked the must densities that were fermenting, which were already almost wine. We also tried the deposits to see if there was any deviation, eg. if it was unstable etc… Pep was in charge of analysing the fermentation trajectory.

To ferment and macerate the musts, they use open plastic tubs so that each part undergoes the process separately. This way, they conserve the different yeasts and the authenticity of every vine. When they finish macerating it, it is pressed and continues fermenting in stainless steel tanks.

maceracioncita

We left Pep with his oenologist tasks and went with Patri to visit the Vinya Goretti plot (the owner of which is Josep, a third Comunica) to see the state of the vineyard’s ripeness. It is a Cariñena plot about 70-80 years old, planted on clay-lime soils in the Marçà area.

Here we experienced a masterclass in ripening control. Not in the way they teach in oenologist schools, but from years of experience. They traversed the entire estate, testing grapes not with a refractometre, but with their senses. And the selection tables are for separating the grapes by sight, yet they don’t avoid the most important part: the taste. Patri has spent more than half a lifetime testing grapes, undertaking ripening controls with some of the great masters like René Barbier. The result: the grapes were still very well hydrated, and they hoped that the grapes would ripen a little more and acquire some complexity. They would harvest them four days later, more or less.

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When we returned to the winery, the grapes from the Mas vineyards had already arrived, collected by Josep and the team of harvesters. We had to unload, weigh and process the grapes. Once processed, we put the grapes into the plastic tubs so that they would begin fermenting. The stem is used from year to year, there is no established rule. If it looks ripe, they incorporate it at fermentation. This knowledge comes with intuition.

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After having processed the grape, we had to clean the boxes and put them in order so that they could be used again in the vineyard.

While they were harvesting the last plot, we went to carry out the ripening controls for the Garnacha Peluda found in the same Mas vineyard. Roughly 80 years old, the vineyard is established on clay-limestone soils with granitic sand and slate. The Garnacha Peluda variety gives wines with a tactile profile more silkiness in the mouth. This time, the grape was a little more dehydrated and almost ready to harvest.

It was already a little late, but we decided to extend the day a little longer and sit down for lunch, which became a snack and then almost dinner. We received the grapes and cleaned the winery so that it was spotless for the next day. Meanwhile, Pep started to cook.

We sat on the terrace, happily eating the delicious rice while trying the new 2015 vintage.

The 2015 vintage is the first that they have produced in the new winery. All of their wines were exceptionally well-defined, including the Fristyle. Changing the location for the project has been phenomenal for the wine and for them. You only need to walk around the estate to see that this is exactly where they should be, and that their future is promising.

Thank you Comunica, for having allowed us to share a day of the harvest with you, a very important time for a wine-producer.

  • La Comedia 2014

    Red wine Barrel. 10 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Syrah and Cariñena and Garnacha Tinta.

    9,25 IVA inc.
    6x
    8,75 €/u
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    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
    La Comedia 2014

    Red wine Barrel. 10 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Syrah and Cariñena and Garnacha Tinta.

    9,25 IVA inc.
    6x
    8,75 €/u
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
  • Comunica 2012

    Red wine Reserva. 20 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Syrah and Cariñena and Garnacha Tinta.

    • Decántalo 92
    12,60 IVA inc.
    6x
    11,95 €/u
    Unidades
    Comprar
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
    Comunica 2012

    Red wine Reserva. 20 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Syrah and Cariñena and Garnacha Tinta.

    • Decántalo: 92
    12,60 IVA inc.
    6x
    11,95 €/u
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
  • Vinya Goretti 2013

    Red wine Crianza. 10 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Samsó.

    • Decántalo 93
    16,90 IVA inc.
    6x
    15,95 €/u
    Unidades
    Comprar
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
    Vinya Goretti 2013

    Red wine Crianza. 10 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Samsó.

    • Decántalo: 93
    16,90 IVA inc.
    6x
    15,95 €/u
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
  • La Peluda 2014

    Red wine Barrel. 10 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Garnacha Peluda.

    • Decántalo 92
    16,80 IVA inc.
    Unidades
    Comprar
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
    La Peluda 2014

    Red wine Barrel. 10 months on lees in stainless steel vats. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Celler Comunica. Production area: Montsant. Grapes used in this wine: Garnacha Peluda.

    • Decántalo: 92
    16,80 IVA inc.
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!

 

Escrito en Wineries | Tagged , , |

New Wines for October 2016

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We’re starting October with new vintages from the heavyweights leading the Spanish wine-making scene and some other very interesting new projects.

Sacristía AB saca 2015A very interesting project in Jerez. It is comprised of the limited amount of wine extracted from the sediment selected by Antonio Barbadillo in the Sánchez Ayala winery. An unfiltered Manzanilla with plenty of character and breed.

As Sortes 2015: Since 2004, Rafael Palacios has been producing white wines with the Godello variety in Valdeorras. Year after year the quality climbs; this is a refined and mineral white wine. As Sortes is a key wine in order to understand the Valdeorras area.

PSI 14An entry-level wine by Peter Sisseck that keeps gaining freshness and fruity flavour. This change in style comes from the Garnacha variety, which is becoming more and more prominent in the final blend. This is a wine that represents the new profile of Ribera del Duero.

Clos Mogador 2014One of Priorat’s emblematic wines. Rene Barbier repeats the outline of her famous walled vineyard (clos) in Gratallops planted with the Garnacha, Cariñena, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties on slate soil. Pure Mediterranean essence.

Villa de Corullón 2014: This village wine by Ricardo Palacios is already available. It contains all the qualities provided by the Mencía variety in Corullón, due to the area’s different altitudes and exposures. This vintage was marked by an Atlantic influence until the end of August, when it endured blisteringly hot weather that rushed the start of the harvest. Ricardo had to struggle to contend with this setback with an excellent result.

Casa Castillo Pie Franco 2014If Jumilla is included in the panorama of great wines, it is down to this Pie Franco by Josemaría Vicente, made with the Monastrell variety planted on ungrafted soil (pie franco) in 1941. This is a subtle and elegant wine, a far cry from the stereotypes that have characterised the region. You can appreciate the Mediterranean character of the climate, but in a refined way.

El Pecado 2014One of Ribeira Sacra’s iconic plots. This wine is made by Raúl Pérez, one of the most famous and influential people on the global wine-making scene. El Pecado was born on the heart-pounding terraces looking out over the River Sil Canyon. A superb wine.

Laventura 2015A new project in La Rioja founded by Bryan MacRobert, a South African man who has been working with the legendary Eben Sadie in his Terroir al Limit projects and lately in the Swartland family winery. He is a vintner with an open mind and a gaze placed firmly on the ancestors. Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo are cultivated ecologically and produced in a traditional way.

Escrito en Decantalo, News, Wine news | Tagged , , , |

A day in the world of ‘El Mozo Wines’

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El Mozo Wines includes Itxaso Compañón, Gorka Mauleon and their two children. Theirs is a story of revisiting roots. Due to certain life circumstances, they had to return to Lanciego in order to maintain the legacy that Itxaso’s father, Félix, left.
They have nine hectares of vineyards planted in bush vines, divided into eighteen plots located in different places in Lanciego and Viñaspre, all maintained in an environmentally friendly way. The main variety planted is the Tempranillo, but they also have Malvasía Riojana and a little Garnacha and Viura.
Our intention was to carry out an interview and see the vineyards and the winery. It was cold and grey on the day in Lanciego, as if it was autumn suddenly on the 17th September. We arrived at around ten in the morning and arranged to meet in the bar next to the church. While we were eating our breakfast, Gorka came in with a smile, as always. In the bar, there was some data on ageing provided by the Diputación Foral de Álava for different plots in Viñaspre and Lanciego.

Gorka, when are you going to begin the harvest and how is the vintage going?
I think we’ll start the harvest in a week, this year looks like it is going to be very good, with a slow maturing process, the grapes have a good state of health and a good acidity.
Come on, let’s go to the vineyard.

The day being as it was, we couldn’t visit any more than two vineyards; it had also rained in the days before and the paths and the vineyards were quite muddy. We arrived at the first vineyard ‘Monte de Viñaspre’, planted in the 1940s by Gorka’s grandfather, Teodoro Mauleón. It is a sloping vineyard planted with both red and white varieties, among which were Tempranillo, Garnacha, Viura, Malvasía Riojana and some others. It is planted in bush vines and with various Morgones (Acodos in other areas), an ancestral practice to replace dead vine shoots. We climbed to the top of the vineyard and kept talking while we observed the vineyard and its landscape.

04

What was it like at the beginning, an IT Engineer coming home with your wife to manage nine hectares of vineyards?
In 2010/11, we had to come back to Lanciego to take control of the winery. Compañón Arrieta, as the winery was formerly known, used to make wine using the traditional method with carbonic maceration and bulk harvest. In 2011, the whole harvest had to be sold the same way.
In 2012, we bottled the first Herrigoia vintage, we took this step to add value to the wine and, of course, the winery.
And how was it?
Bad. We fell flat on our faces with the wine market and with the word Rioja. We tried to sell our young wine at what we thought was a suitable price, but people didn’t understand it. There are some prices set by the market for different types of Rioja wine (joven, crianza, reserva…) whichever vineyard it comes from. This vineyard produces about 1000 kg per hectare and the average in our other vineyards is 5500 kg/ha, when the DO allows up to 7500 kg/ha. It was a turning point for the following vintage. Roberto Olivan gave us some advice about starting to make single-estate wines and therefore be able to raise the value of the vineyards. We decided to make Malaspiedras in 2013, a wine produced with grapes from the best micro-plots and we aged it for 10 months in 500 litre barrels.
So your opinion on the DOC Rioja…?
For us, as a small producer, the Rioja brand doesn’t help. The market already has set prices for Rioja, which the large wineries sell at lower prices than what we are able to offer. The problem is that it is not the same product, therefore we have to start increasing the value of the towns and subzones.
Do you think the DOC will produce a plan of the new classifications?
I think it’s difficult, but it would be best. It has spent years defending this type of classification, but it seems the DOC management is finding it difficult to take the plunge.
And the latest controversy between ABRA (Asociación de Bodegas de la Rioja Alavesa) and Rioja?
It was a vote between the members of ABRA about abandoning the DOC Rioja and right now, it has a list of conditions for a new DO presented to the Basque Government.

It started to rain harder and we decided to head towards the next vineyard. We passed through beautiful old vineyards on the hillside before reaching the road. Meanwhile, with the main conversation centering on meteorology, it begged the question:

Do you have a passion for weather and meteorology?
(Laughs) From a young age, I had a weather station and I liked writing down all the information about how the temperatures, rains etc were developing… I am all about writing everything down, Excel is essential in my life. It has helped me to have an exhaustive control over what happens in the winery.

We arrive at the next vineyard, a younger one, destined to produce Herrigoia, their wine produced by carbonic maceration. A vineyard planted in bush vines with the Tempranillo variety and a small amount of Viura, cultivated in an environmentally friendly way and with a yield of 5500kg per hectare.
Our last stop was the winery. It is a typical winery in Rioja Alavesa with two large cement vats where the grapes ferment (carbonic maceration). Underneath, there were cement tanks where the wine finishes fermenting. Simple and with enough space, they were preparing it for the introduction of the new vintage grape. When we entered, his wife Itxaso was labelling the last bottles of the new Malaspiedras vintage.

02

Where do the new wines and the name Cosmonauta come from?
Cosmonauta is the character that comes down from the sky in the patron saint celebrations in Lanciego. Every patron saint celebration in the towns in Álava has a character, here we have an astronaut. This is where the name of the two new wines we have produced comes from.
The Cosmonauta en el Barranco del Agua, a Malvasía Riojana (90%) and Viura (10%); the Cosmonauta en el Viaje del Tiempo, the first vineyard that we visited. Only 212 Magnums produced, as if it were a Claret, without the intervention of oenological products. We have already run out.
Which wine do you like the most from the winery?
The Herrigoia is our favourite. To think of the wine Félix produced, we are positioning it so well and selling it in places that he could never have imagined. This is what fills us with pride and satisfaction.
And the style of Carbonic Maceration with banana aromas?
When we released our first Herrigoia, we didn’t encounter this problem. People associated this type of wine with very prominent fruity aromas like banana, pear etc, but our Herrigoia didn’t have it. This type of aroma is not typical of carbonic maceration, but of the yeast that they used to sell during that period. However, nowadays, the concept of this type of wines is changing.
Which wines do you like in the area?
They coincide with the people that produce them in the vineyards, with maximum respect for the environment and the landscape such as: Abel Mendoza, Roberto Olivan, Tentenublo Wines, Oxer Bastegieta, Vinos Subterráneos etc.
How do you see the future of the area?
Well, don’t think I see it so promising. It is true that there is a current of vine growers that defend the landscape and the old vines, but we also have a problem with convenience and production. People that uproot an old vine to plant a trellised vineyard and a productive clone, that don’t go beyond and sell their grapes to the large cooperative wineries. It is a problem that is not only going to have an effect now, but will be harmful to coming generations.
But, regarding us, we are more and more happy. Things are starting to set off, if we compare with our first vintage in 2012. There is a larger segment of the market that is interested in knowing where wine comes from.


And lastly, will you continue to attend some of the town fairs explaining your wines?
Of course! It is something we will continue doing. If we want to bring wine closer to people, we shouldn’t keep it away from them.

Finally, we climbed to the winery’s txoko (an area where people come together to cook, eat, drink and socialise) to try the wines and enjoy Saturday. Many thanks, Itxaso and Gorka, for your hospitality. It was a pleasure!

03

Herrigoia 2015: Mainly Tempranillo with a little Viura. A wine made with carbonic maceration, a classic method of the Rioja Alavesa. Its best vintage up until now. Fresh and vibrant.
Malaspiedras 2015: Nothing more open, toasty aromas from the barrel. After five minutes, it changed completely, giving some very pronounced Violet notes that provide it with a very good complexity. A wine which the passing of time in the bottle will make it great.
The Cosmonauta en el Viaje del Tiempo 2015: We tried the wine from the first plot we visited. A wine made the old-fashioned way, like they used to before the clarets in the area. The wildest wine of the whole range.

  • Herrigoia 2015

    Red wine Carbonic maceration. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Tempranillo and Viura and Malvasía.

    • Decántalo 90
    • Parker 89
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    Herrigoia 2015

    Red wine Carbonic maceration. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Tempranillo and Viura and Malvasía.

    • Decántalo: 90
    • Parker: 89
    5,20 IVA inc.
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
  • Malaspiedras 2015

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Garnacha Tinta and Viura and Tempranillo.

    • Decántalo 93
    12,25 IVA inc.
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    11,65 €/u
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    Malaspiedras 2015

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Garnacha Tinta and Viura and Tempranillo.

    • Decántalo: 93
    12,25 IVA inc.
    6x
    11,65 €/u
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  • El Cosmonauta en el Barranco de Agua 2015

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Malvasía and Viura.

    • Decántalo 92
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    13,75 €/u
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    El Cosmonauta en el Barranco de Agua 2015

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: El Mozo Wines. Production area: Rioja. Grapes used in this wine: Malvasía and Viura.

    • Decántalo: 92
    14,50 IVA inc.
    6x
    13,75 €/u
    ¡Disponible sólo en Internet!
Escrito en Decantalo, Interview, Rioja | Tagged , |

Cata de la estación de Haro Wine Experience 2016

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recorrido-por-haro

On Friday 16th September, we went to the Haro Station district to the wine tasting organised by six wineries that form part of the district. It is one of the epicentres of Rioja wine and the Spanish wine-making scene, with more than 150 years of history since Haro railway station was built in 1859. The French arrived needing to buy wine due to plagues of mildew and phylloxera, and the train became the perfect link to transport it. The wineries were established in the following years:

– 1877: R López de Heredia
– 1886: Compañía Vinícola del Norte (CVNE)
– 1890: La Rioja Alta
– 1901: Bodegas Bilbaínas
– 1970: Muga
– 1987: RODA

The event was based on visiting the different wineries on foot, trying the new additions. We did the following tour:
CVNE: They had three different wineries and the represented brands that we would highlight are the Imperial range for its loyal representation of the Rioja reservas´ classic style; Viña Real Crianza 2012, which has a more Garnachero style and less woody presence, and Contino, with its Contino Reserva 2010 and single varieties of Garnacha and Graciano.
Muga: We were able to try their wines in the Torre Muga barrel room where the new addition, Prado Enea 2009, is in line with the great classics of the area.
Gómez Cruzado: We liked that this winery has changed its direction towards wine divided into plots and has a lower presence of new wood. In the range of blended wines, Vendimia Seleccionada 2015, with 50% Tempranillo and 50% Garnacha and with five months ageing in new wood, has gained a fresh and fruity spirit. Pancrudo, from a Garnacha plot located in a cold area in La Sierra de la Demanda, is made in barrels and concrete eggs and in our opinion, it is the best wine of the house.
Rioja Alta: Along with Tondonia, this is one of the wineries that brings classicism to all its wines. The new additions across the range that we tried were all very good, particularly the Viña Alberdi 2010 and the 904 Gran Reserva 2007.
R. López de Heredia: The new additions continue the classic style of long periods of ageing in old barrels. Their Viña Bosconia 2005 stands out.
Roda: In the winery´s modern wine cellar, we were able to try the whole wine range. The Roda I Reserva 2009 stands out for us for its great balance, fruit complexity and age.
Bodegas Bilbaínas: The Vinos Singulares that they were making very much attracted our attention. The single varieties of Graciano and White Tempranillo foretell a bright future. As a single-estate wine, the Viña Pomal Alto de la Caseta 2010 stands out, it is a high-end Tempranillo. It should also be noted that this young team from Bodegas Bilbaínos are enthusiastic to produce different wines.

Finally, we attended the `masterclass´ organised by Pedro Ballesteros, in which we had the opportunity to carry out the coupages characteristic of the district. Each winery presented wines in different stages of ageing, showing how to produce a completed wine. It was a very practical exercise to understand the philosophy of wineries.

After having tried wines from the district´s wineries all day, we have arrived at the conclusion that something is shifting. The single Tempranillo varieties are no longer the panacea, with the help of the Garnacha, above all in the youngest wines, they are more refreshing and fruity. Likewise, the contribution of new wood is decreasing in this type of wine. Regarding the classics of the long ageing process, they are the coupages, the terciary aromas and the delicate colours contributing to the passing of time, the bastions of the Station District.

 

Escrito en Designations of Origin, Events, News, Rioja, Wine tasting | Tagged , , |

Industrial and Traditional Viticulture

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‘The vine is born in the vineyard’, this is one of the phrases that we often hear when we visit a winery. Before finding out how a wine is produced, it is essential to know where it comes from. For this reason, we are going to analyse how the landscape of wine-growing has evolved since the establishment of industrial agriculture.

agricultura

Viñedos by SOPHOCO (CC by 2.0)

Industrial agriculture has developed a lot since the Second World War due to the need to provide food for a population with scarce resources. Just as in agriculture, technological advancement in wine-growing started towards the end of the 1940s, although it didn’t arrive in Spain until the 1960s.

According to the FAO (Food & Agriculture Organisation), ‘Industrial agriculture is based on the mass cultivation of food products for consumption by humans. It involves a high level of technological advancement and requires a high investment of capital, energy, natural and artificial resources. It normally requires external work and specialist advice.’

The state promoted industrialisation of the sector, introducing irrigation techniques, fertilisers, chemical herbicides and machinery. In addition, the most productive clones were being introduced into the largest regions’ vineyards, in some cases substituting the native varieties. Industrialisation also involved the homogenisation of processes, systematic fertilisation and regular chemical treatment so that the vineyard didn’t suffer any type of illness, and therefore they could guarantee the harvest.

The widespread use of fertilisers increased production towards the end of the 1960s, so much so that it fostered the appearance of large industrial wineries. These wineries could produce a great quantity of bottles, which generated an economy of scale and a concentration regarding the number of wineries.

The process of industrialisation in the sector, and in the market in general, in rural areas of traditional wine-making like Priorat, Gredos, Ribeira Sacra or Bierzo (with a complicated and difficult orography to mechanise), caused vineyards to be abandoned or not developed as much as other Spanish regions such as La Mancha, La Rioja and Castilla-León.

Since the 1990s, when the predominant viticulture was industrial, wine-growers with an interest in restoring the character and identity of the regions returned to traditional methods, incorporating the technical knowledge they had acquired in the years of industrialisation.

Traditional agriculture is a production system based on the knowledge and ancestral experience that has been developed throughout history. It is carried out on a small amount of cultivatable land in order to observe the plants better and therefore be able to anticipate future diseases. The fertilisation of the soil is not done in a systematic way and so each year they analyse the possible deficiencies that the plants could have. From this, ecological and biodynamic agriculture is derived.

Many of the areas that were abandoned are now the standard bearers for Spanish wines. These emerging areas that keep growing based on traditional and sustainable agriculture include Comando G in Gredos, Raúl Perez and Ricardo Palacios in Bierzo, Sara Pérez and Rene Barbier in Montsant-Priorato, 4 Kilos in Mallorca and the restoration projects by the Envínate team in remote areas in Tenerife. Also in large areas such as Ribera del Duero, with people like Jorge Monzón from Dominio del Águila or in La Rioja with Roberto Olivan, they are looking to return the territory’s identity at a small-medium scale.

Nowadays, the two types of viticulture live side by side. There is feedback between them, to contribute knowledge and in an attempt to carry out industrial viticulture in a more sustainable way, reducing the use of chemical products and trying to achieve an integrated viticulture.

Escrito en Sin categoría, Winemaking | Tagged , |