Decantalo Wine Blog

Characteristics of the varietal Pedro Ximénez.

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We are following on from our recent review of white grapes from Spain. After having highlighted the characteristics of Verdejo, Viura and the Galician varieties Albariño and Godello, we now travel to the south of the peninsula to focus our attention on the varietal Pedro Ximénez.

A grape varietal that is like no others sweet Spanish wine, offering us some of the best dessert wines in the world. Would you like to find out more about PX? let’s go!

vinedo-jerezEstate and vineyards in DO Jerez.  Image by Ignacio Palomo (CC BY 2.0)

The varietal Pedro Ximénez is located mainly in Andalucía, more exactly in the appellations of origin jerez, Montilla-Moriles and Málaga.

The most important characteristic of the PX, more so than its fine skin, juicy pulp and medium size grape, is its sugar levels, a property that converts this varietal into an ideal candidate for the production of rasins and naturally sweet wines, this means, no additional sugars are added.

To produce the typical characeristics of Pedro Ximénez wines, the grapes are picked and transported to the ‘paseras’ (placed on the ground in a field) where they will be dried out by the sun. This is however, a very time consuming process, where every 2 to 3 days the grapes are turned over, to insure that each grape dries evenly.

Once the grapes arrive at the winepress, the must is extracted and given a partial fermentation to conserve the natural sugars. This is competed leading the wine to the desired level by the winery.

Would you like to know of some good wines produced from the grape Pedro Ximénez? Here are our recommendations

Alvear Pedro Ximénez 1927 Since the D.O Montilla Moriles produces Alvear 1927, made from raisined grapes that are 100% Pedro Ximénez and aged for 5 years by the Spanish technique: criaderas y soleras. A juicy, strong and enveloping sweet wine with a great quality to price ratio, unbeatable. 96 Parker points for only 10,75€!

Don PX 2012 we are staying in the same place to highlight another great sweet wine from this region. Don PX 2012 is a dessert in its self, although aswell as functionning as an ideal partnership for blue cheeses. High recommended.

Ximénez-Spínola Exceptional Harvest 2014 Who said that the varietal PX only offers sweet wines, they obviously never tried this wine! Ximénez Spínola Exceptional Harvest originates from a fermentation of the PX grapes with its own husks, aged for 4 months in oak barrels with constant battonages. A different wine, full of so many tones. Fresh and warming at the same times. Juicy, deep… A MUST!

These are only three recommendations, but there are so many more options! What is your favourite PX wine?

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Ageing wine in the bottle.

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The ageing  and maturing process of wine is a long, calm and delicate stage, of which the final objective is to give wine, tones, aromas and distinct characters that we find in the younger wines.

This process involves a two stage process: An oxidation phase and a reductive phase. Precisely this second phase, often ignored by consumers, is what we would like to explore in today’s article. Prepare yourself, we are going to show you the goodness and depth of character it brings by process of ageing and stacking the wine. Let’s go!

 

rimaMaturing of sparkling wines. Image by Joopey (CC BY 2.0)

The reductive ageing phase gives birth to the precise moment in which the wine, recently removed from the barrel is bottled and corked. These bottles are transferred to the cellar, where they will remain stacked in a horizontal position (the wine must always been in contact with the cork, this is to facilitate the micro-oxygenation process).

During this time, the wine’s elements are reacting, modifying its chemical structure, rounding its self out, and refining it’s character until reaching the optimum moment of consummation.

Whilst the wine is maturing in the bottle, aromas are being softened and integrated. The wine loses the rough, fresher aromas and becomes smooth and round.

The proof is that these wines matured in the bottle and that are truly great wines, can last for many years if preserved correctly.

Would you like to know some great wines that have been matured in this manner? Here are our list of wines.

Protos Reserva 2010. One the most recognised wines at national and international level, from the D.O Ribera del Duero. Protos Reserva remains for at least 18 months in America and French barrels and subsequently, rests in the bottle for 24 months. A silky, fleshy, subtly and enveloping wine. You will love it.

Tilenus Crianza 2008. A 100% Mencía produced by the D.O Bierzo head up by oenolgist, Raúl Pérez. This wine is aged for 12-14 months in oak barrels and rests in the bottle for a long period of time, up until its sale. An elegant, tasty and very well balanced balance.

Muga Prado Enea 2006. A minimum of 36 months in barrels plus another 36 additional months of reductive maturing makes this wine a perfect example of what a Gran Reserva de la Rioja should taste like. Classy and character combined in one wine glass. A pure joy.

What are you waiting for to discover these wines? You will love them!

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What is a Mediterranean wine?

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In such a passionate, wide, and often subjective world of wine, few categorizations exist to describe a consensus that is in as much, is so wide and varied when we refer to the division between the characteristics of Mediterranean and Atlantic wines.

In some way, most fans and professionals alike seem to agree on the attributes given to each type of wine. In today’s post, we would like to look at one of these factors: Mediterranean wine. Will you join us?

murciaPanoramic view of the vineyards in Murcia. Image by Ward Kardel (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Despite the apparent evidence, when we refer to Mediterranean wine, we are not necesarily refering to wines produced from coastal regions by the Mediterranean sea, but a generic type of wine, that is influenced by a series of climatic characteristics.

In general, a feature of Mediterranean wine would refer to wines being produced in warm and sunny countries, with annual rainfalls not exceeding 400 litres, this results in more intense, ripened (often almost compote like), structured wines with a good alcohol level.

This is why in more warmer and drier climates, we can enjoy more ripened and concentrated fruit. More cooler and wetter climates, on the other hand, offer fruit that is more acidic, fresh and lighter.

As a result of the higher concentration levels of the sugars, the yeast will convert this into higher level of alcohol (Wines starting at 13,5%, we can begin to talk about wines of this character), these wines will present themselves to be much more sweeter on the palate.

Would you like to discover some interesting Mediterranean character wines?

Here are our 3 recommendations:

Embruix de Vall-Llach 2013. Arriving from the town of Porrera, in the DOQa Priorat, this is a warm and intense blend of Spanish and internation varieties. On the nose, it is concentrated and powerful. On the palate, juicy, direct and fleshly.

Las Gravas 2011. One of the best monovarietals from the varietal Monastrell, that is currently produced in DO Jumilla. Las Gravas surprises everyone by its fine balance between ripened black fruit and a balsamic freshness. An elegant full bodied wine.

Finca Espolla 2010. We travel to the shores of the Costa Brava to meet up with the blend of Monastrell and Syrah, originating from slate soils and aged for 15 months in the dark, from the winery of Castillo de Perelada. A very good wine, very juicy and warming.

 

What are you waiting for? You are going to love them!

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5 flowery white wines not to miss out on.

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Orange blossom, honeysuckle, acacia, jasmine, magnolia…We all know these aromas, but could you find them in a glass of wine? Fragrant, seductive and summery aromas, these are a few aromas that we enjoy in our wines.

In today’s post we invite you to discover five flowery white wines that we are sure you are going to love. Would you like to see what they are?

vinoVino blanco y arcoiris. Imagen por Michael Porter (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When we talk about floral aromas in white wines, inevitably we find ourselves in the territory of white and yellow flowers.

These aromas can be expressed in our glass through two different means: on one side, certain varieties of grape are very flowery (for example, Chardonnay often releases aromas of thorns and orange blossom), furthermore, these aromas can be released during the winemaking process, and this is thanks to the reaction with the yeast.

What would you think if we were to dive a little bit deeper whilst filling our glasses with some excellent (and flowery) white wines? Here are our recommendations:

Barbazul Blanco 2014. Orange blossom, white stone fruit and possessing a very good balance between warmth and freshness, produced by the winery Huerta de Albalá. A very interesting wine form Cádiz.

Gramona Gessamí 2014. This is a statement of intent, even from the off, the label gessamí means jasmine in Catalan. A blend of Musctat de Alejandria, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat de Frontignon, seductive, mellow, subtle and ever so enveloping.

Mestizaje Blanco 2014. A very special white wine, created by a very special winery (Mustiguillo possesses the exclusive certificate of Vino de Pago). A rich and full bodied wine.

Vallegarcía Viognier 2012. This is without doubt, one of the best 100% Viogner (if not the best), that is produced in Spain. An enveloping, mature, complex and persistent wine.

Inspiración de Valdemar 2013. We close today’s round of recommendations, demonstrating our devotion for this wine, produced 100% from the varietal Tempranillo Blanco. A grape that is practically extinct (a mutation of Tempranillo Tinto), but little by little, we have the pleasure of discovering this great wine once again. Don’t miss out!

These are only some recommendations, don’t forget that there are so many other options. What is your favourite white wine?

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Characteristics of the grape Viura: One the best white Spanish varieties.

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Viura, Macabeo, Alcañol, Blanca de Daroca, Forcalla, Gredelín, Perpignan…different names for the same varietal. A varietal that has become one of the most respected, having one of the best potentials in Spain, and the undisputed star performer for Catalan and La Rioja vineyards.

In today’s post, we would like to examine in depth all the goodness and characteristics of Viurra (the name given to the grape in La Rioja), or Macabeo (in Catalanya). Will you join in with us?

viuraBunches of the grape Macabeo in the Penedés. Image by Shoes on Wires (CC BY 2.0)

 

The origins of this varietal, although are not very clear, seem to be found in the river Ebro, in Cuenca. This city, famous for being a world heritage site in central Spain.

Viurra or Macabeo, offer wines with a notable acidity level. These wines are extraordinarily fresh when young, and very apt for being either aged in the bottel as well as the barrel.

It is precisely this fantastic capacity for being aged that has converted Viurra into essential status in La Rioja, where it is now, the home of the largest ageing of wine in barrels, similar to Catalunya, Macabeo brings structure to the cava, which is acheived through the ageing process over many years, without losing any of its freshness.

Would you like to discover some good monovarietals from the grape Viurra? Here are some suggestions.

Finca la Emperatriz Viura 2014.  A young wine, originating from the parcels 2, 3 and 6 of the Finca la Emperatriz in Rioja. On the palate, potent, fresh, overwhelming. A very good option at a price available for everbody.

Viñas de Gaín Blanco 2009. All the aromatic subtleness of the Viurra concentrated in a great white wine to be stored. Viñas de Gaín Blanco is 100% Viurra that is fermented for 5 weeks in oak barrel, passing to 24 months of ageing in a steel container. A complex, pleasant and persistent wine.

Finca Racons 2013. Now we head off to Catalunya, to be exact, the appellation of origin Costers del Segre, to highlight this fantastic 100% Macabeo produced under the direction of a great wine maker, Tomás Cuisiné. This wine has a very limted production that you should not miss out on.

These are only a few suggestions, however, there still are so many other options! What is your favourite Viurra/ Macabeao wine?

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New wines for the month of June at Decántalo.

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Although we find ourselves well into this new month, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to mention some of our new Spanish wines that have only recently, in the last 30 days have been added to our already wide selection of Spanish wines.

Please don’t forget about the new vintages and recommendations that we incorporated last month in May. These are still available on our website. You are going to love them!

novedades-junio-1

Javier Sanz verdejo 2014. This new interesting vintage of 100% Verdejo produced by the winemaker, Javier Sanz and protected by the appellation of origin Rueda. A fresh white wine, intense and juicy, recently awarded the silver medal in the Sommelier Wine Awards 2015.

Artadi Joven 2014. Now we travel to the highly praised La Rioja, to visit one of the best expressions of wine that is produced by carbonic maceration that is available on the market. A blend between Tempranillo (90%) and the white varietal, Viura (10%) which is amazingly fresh, juicy, intense and ever so appetizing.

Gaba do Xil Godello 2014. When Telmo Rodríguez presents a new vintage for one of his wines, it is worth stopping what you are doing and take a look! In his new launch of Gaba do Xil Godello 2014. It’s 100% Godello, with subtle aromas that are overflowing with harmony. A very nice wine, very fine.

Prima 2013. The new Prima 2013 is already here, this little beautiful wine from the winery, Bodegas Maurodos, in Toro. This wine has perfect aromatic balance, potency and intensity which is making it one of the best wines based on quality for price in the region. This is one that you don’t want to miss out on.

Baigorri Crianza 2011. We are now heading back to Rioja to present this new 2011 vintage (an excellent year for this appellation) from Baigorri Crianza. This is very smooth and pleasant on the palate and it won’t leave you feeling indifferent, that is for sure.

novedades-junio-2

 

Cims de Porrera Vi de Vila 2008.  From the appellation Rioja to one of the other biggest appellations of origins in Spain: DOC Priorat. This introduction of the new vintage from one of the most charismatic wines, we promise this is well worth a try. A tradition blend of Garnacha and Cariñena. Creamy, intense, long and oh so, perseverant.

Culmen Reserva 2010. This is the new vintage from Culmen, which has now become the flagship wine for the Bodegas LAN. Enveloping and fleshly, intense and velvety, complex and fine. An exceptional wine from an exceptional vintage.

Finca Villacreces 2013. Time to travel to the D.O Ribera del Duero, the territory that presents this new edition of Finca Villacreces. This strong, deep and intense wine that combines perfectly fruity and spicy tones. This new vintage 2011 is getting more and more interesting, if that is even possible?

Bassus Pinot Noir 2013. One of the best examples of an excellent quality wine. This new 2013 vintage from Bassus Pinot Noir is unctuous and enveloping as ever. A great red wine for a special occasion.

Ekam 2014. This new vintage is one of the greatest white wines from the appelation of origin Costers del Segre. Ekam belongs to the collection of wines produced by Raúl Bobet in Leridano, in the Pyrenees at 1,000 meters above sea level. An excentric blend of Albariño and Riesling that you will fall in love with. Highly recommended.

What are you waiting for? Try them, you are going to love them!

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Wine aged on its lees.

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Unctuosity, aromatic intensity, density… Surely we won’t be wrong if we affirm that most of our readers prefers wines that are similar to what we have just mentioned. These are some of the attributes that are typically found in wine aged on its lees.

In today’s post we want to delve deeper and explore this method of winemaking. Today we ask ourselves what are some of the characteristics that are produced through this process, and how does it affect the end result. Additionally, we are going to give you 4 examples of wine aged on its lees (2 whites & 2 reds) that I´m sure you will love. Let’s start!

 

pinot-noirPinot Noir during the fermentation process. Image by Stefano Lubiana

Before exploring the virtues of wine aged on its lees, it is worth clearing up what exactly the lees are.

Lees are microorganisms, yeast that is involved in fermenting the wine, in the most part, once the fermentation process has finished, the yeast die, decompose, and sink to the bottom of either the fermentation tank or the barrel.

Normally the lees are separated from the wine before starting the ageing process, however, another option is to leave them in contact with the wine for a longer period of time. In this case, this is known as ageing the wine on its lees.

This process provides the wine with certain properties, such as better balance, unctuosity, and fuller, more persistent aromas. To achieve an even distribution of the yeast compounds or lees. The wine needs to be stirred regularly, by means of a utensil, normally in the shape of a stick, in the case that the wine is placed in barrels, the traditional battonage (stir)  method is preferred. If the wine is in the vats or containers a technique called remontage (pump over) is used.

Would you like to know the virtues of wine aged on its lees? Here are some recommendations:

Doumia 2011.  One of our favourite red wines from the appellation of origin (D.O) Rías Baixas (Yes, we said red wine) Doumia 2011 is an original blend of Mencía (70%), Caíño Tinto (20%) and  Espadeiro (10%) originating from very low yielding vineyards, aged for 12 months in steel on its own lees. Elegant and rustic. A very special wine, a reflection of its homeland.

Auzells 2014. Since the appellation of origin (D.O) Costers del Segre, and also under the technical direction of a true great, Tomás Cusiné, arrived in Auzells.  The wine has a blend of up to 7 different varieties that have been aged for 3 months on their lees.  The nose shows the wine to be complex, intense and potent. Wide and moreish. A suggestion to always keep in mind.

Nisia 2013. We are now going to travel to Rueda to showcase this fine, unctuous wine that has spent the best part of 4 months on its lees and what the best part is, it’s 100% Verdejo, produced by Jorge Ordoñez, who is one of the best names in Spanish wine. This is without doubt one of the best wines based on the quality-price ratio from Rueda. A great wine!

Tarima Orgánico 2012.  Without having all this planned, we close this list of recommendations with another wine from Jorge ordoñez. On this occasion, we travel to (D.O) Alicante to highlight the excellent oenological work of Tarima Orgánico 2012. This wine is 100% Monastrell, originating from organic vineyards that gives us a lot more than it costs.

What are you waiting for? Go on, you are going to love them!

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5 White wines aged in the barrel for your enjoyment. Don´t miss out!

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Creaminess, structure and versatility in perfect partnership… All this, and so much more, this is what white wines aged in oak barrels can offer us. A type of wine that is surely not as well known by the public in comparison to young white wines, but these are still without a doubt worthy of our absolute devotion.

For all this, in Decántalo we have thought about 5 great suggestions of white wines aged in the barrel, these wines are ideal to enjoy with an endless amount of great food for a special occasion, and I am sure that you will love them. So don´t miss out!

blanco-barrica
Reflections of wine in a glass. Image by  Northsky79  (CC BY 2.0)

One of the main characteristics of white wines aged in oak barrels, the wines are slightly darker in colour, this is due to the phenolic compounds present in the wine.

On the other hand, the notes most commonly used to describe wines that have been exposed to oak barrels include, other than fruity, are tertiary aromas, such as caramel, cream, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon or even smokey.

Would you like to discover some great white wines that have been aged for one year in the barrel, typically called ‘crianza’ in Spanish. let us give you 5 of our best recommendations that we think that you shouldn’t miss:

Muga Fermentado en Barrica Blanco 2014. A fantastic blend of 90% Viura and 10% Malvasía (as it should be in the Rioja), fermented in the barrel and aged on its lees for 3 monthsIt is surprisingly fruity with a sweet base. A great option. 

1583 Albariño de Fefiñanes 2013. One of the white wines that most represents Rías Baixas. 100% Albariño fermented in barrel and aged for 4 months on its lees (2 additional months in an iron tank), carrying out repeated batonnages, this aids the wine to become creamy and fuller on the palate. A very elegant wine. 

Marqués de Riscal Limousin 2013. This is a perfect example from the varietal Verdejo in oak. The wine completes an ageing process of around 6 months (Crianza) in French oak from Allier, known worldwide for its fine pores that give the wine one of the best quantity of different aromas. Unctuous, dry fruit and notes of toasted wood. Perfect to be accompanied with fish or white meats.

Mas d‘en Compte Blanc 2010.  A splendid blend from a wide range of white varieties (White grenache, Macabeo, Picapoll and Xarel-lo), aged for 6 months in French and American oak barrels. Strong and warming, structured, complex, sweet and wide on the palate… A wine for that special occasion.

Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco 2001. We return to Rioja, the birth place where we first started the list of recommendations, we propose this WHITE CRIANZA WINE, yes, it is in capital letters. Why? Because its 72 months (Yes, 72) of care and nurturing makes this Tondonia Reserva Blanco a wine highly structured, with hints of aromas that are difficult to explain if you have never enjoyed it before. A must to try.

These are only some suggestions, the list is endless! What is your favourite white?

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Wines made from free-run juice

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Most of you will have already have heard of this type of wine, which is fine, soft and fruity, although possibly not as many will know the secrets of its preparation. In this article, we will talk about free-run juice wines, a different winemaking process than usual, more expensive, but that gives us exceptional wines. We will also recommend white wines produced using this technique which will not leave you indifferent

Would you like to discover how these wines are made? Well, pay attention, because we’re about to get started!

prensado-vinoWhite grapes in the press. Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis (CC BY 2.0)

It is worth starting by explaining what free-run juice is. In short, the free-run juice is the first resulting wort from grapes crushed by gravity and emptied in the press.

This type of wine flows by itself as a result of the weight of the grapes, and without any extra pressure.

Free-run juice wines are of the highest quality, thin and light, aromatic, soft and fruity. It is no wonder, then, that this technique is so highly prized in the production of white wines.

Due to the small amount of wine resulting from the first pressing, compared to wort from grapes crushed by the press, is not too common to find in the market wines made with 100% free-run juice, but fortunately, there are some great examples, as we recommend below:

Erre Punto Blanco 2012. A white wine from the Remírez de Ganuza winery, produced 100% from free-run juice. The skins and pulp of  the grapes are pressed and not at all wasted, as done in the preparation of its brother wine, Erre Punto Tinto. An aromatic, smooth and balanced white wine.

Gramona Sauvignon Blanc 2013.  A phenomenal varietal Sauvignon Blanc from “Can Aguilera”, whose vineyards are on the slopes of Montserrat, at 500 metres of altitude. This white wine from Cavas Gramona presents an intense floral and citrus nose, in perfect balance with the creamy notes fruit from its time in oak. A great wine.

Miranda d‘Espiells 2014. We stay in the Penedes on this occasion to highlight the freshness and aromatic intensity of this white wine made 100% with Chardonnay free-run juice. Another great wine from Juvé & Camps.

Alma de Unx Blanco 2012, We traveled to the slopes of San Martin de Unx, in Navarra, to highlight this interesting wine made from 100% Garnacha Blanca. An intense and complex wine. Mineral and delicate. Interesting!

What are you waiting for? You’ll love them!

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What is a mineral wine?

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In recent years, wine described in terms of minerality seems that it has become quite a trend. Minerality, a wine characteristic which is always ambiguous and not too rigorously defined, changes hues and memories depending on the person tasting the wine, but nevertheless most can be perceived.

In today’s article, we decided to tell you a little more about minerality in wine. Throughout the post we will try to explain the origins and the characteristics that seem to define it. In addition we will propose three examples of mineral wines from some of the most famous Appellations of Origin in Spain. Prepare the corkscrew!

licorellaSlate soils in Priorat. Image by Maria Rosa Ferre (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The sense of minerality in wine is supposed as the attributes from the rocks and soil of the vineyard, which are absorbed by the roots of the vines. Thus, it is thought that these features are transported to fruits and from there to our glasses, but unfortunately, it seems that there are few scientific studies that say otherwise.

At this point, it seems clear that the mineral aromas of the wine does not have the exact origin as the plant root. In fact, it demonstrates the inability of the root to transmit these minerals to fruit.

To complicate everything, the source of “mineral” in oenology term is inherently curious, since we did not begin to talk about this concept until the mid-80s when Robert Parker used this term in his tasting notes.

But is there then definitely minerality in wine?

Perhaps minerality does not exist from the empirical point of view, in terms of the number of specific minerals in a glass of wine, although it is undeniable that there are wines with more or less minerality.

In addition, it is scientifically proven that the stress experienced by some vines planted on very poor soils, at very high altitudes, or with very large thermal contrast, leads to the emergence of volatile compounds that could be interpreted as mineral flavours or tastes.

For our part, and beyond these debates, we know that some mineral wines continue to be enjoyed as we propose below. Do not miss:

Salanques 2012. If we talk about wines with minerality and don’t include any wine from Priorat, it is a sign that we have done something wrong. And the Priorat, with its slate soils, offers some of the best examples of minerality in the world. This Salanques 2012 is a magnificent example. Powerful and elegant.

Guímaro 2014. The Designation of Origin, Ribeira Sacra, besides being one of the most interesting and most promising in our country, is also considered one of the greatest contributors of minerality to its wines. This Guímaro 2014 offers a subtle nose of ripe red berries that gives way to fragrant floral notes, spices and a delicate minerality which gradually makes its way into the glass. Great wine at an unbeatable price.

4 Monos Tinto 2012. And finally, we travelled to the Sierra de Gredos to pay tribute to their great grenache, always full of that special minerality. We recommend this 4 monos, a signature wine that perfectly reflects the characteristics of the area, made with maximum respect for the environment.

What are you waiting for? You’ll love them!

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