Didier Belondrade made a wine that marked the difference between quality Verdejo wines and exceptional ones. He was one of the pioneers of barrel fermentation in D.O. Rueda, and his white wine Belondrade y Lurton is, since the start, one of the modernity icons of the area. His Belondrade y Lurton wine, made exclusively with the Verdejo variety, ferments and ages in barrels on its lees. It was released on the market with the 1995 harvest, and since then, it has been in the hands of the best distributors in the country, and in the best restaurants in Spain.
Didier Belondrade left his 15-year career as the communications director of Air France to begin his adventure as a winemaker. He first visited Andalusia in 1993, and there he discovered a white wine and a variety that he was passionate about: the Verdejo.
This made him visit Rueda, until a year later, in 1994, Didier Belondrade and his wife, Brigitte Lurton (a French aristocrat) founded the winery Belondrade & Lurton, in La Seca (Valladolid). Their aim was to produce Verdejo wine from old vineyards of Nava del Rey, in D.O. Rueda, in the Bordeaux style, but with a Spanish spirit.
At first, the winery was called Belondrade & Lurton, but Brigitte Lurton and Didier Belondrade got divorced, so the winery was renamed Belondrade. Another matter is the commercial name of the wine, Belondrade y Luton, which is registered as such. The couple's children and future heirs of the winery are still Belondrade Lurton, so the name of the brand is guaranteed.
The first vintages of the wines from Belondrade were made by Jacques Lurton alongside his brother, the "flying-winemaker" François, in rented facilities in Álvarez y Díez, known for their brand Mantel Blanco, and with an approximate production of 10,000 bottles.
Since 2000, the final winery, built by French architect Vicent Dufos du Rau, is located in the municipality of La Seca, in the farm Quinta San Diego, named after the second son of Didier. The new winery, which was a giant step for the settlement of the brand, presides over the vast Castilian landscape, where the assembly between the product and the soil is integrated. The winery's building is quite simple, with rectangular shapes, and combining cement and metal, following the geometric and minimalist tendencies that are lately quite in vogue in architecture and decoration. The winery has a tasting room and a small bottle rack, a warehouse with capacity for around 300 barrels and stainless steel deposits with a capacity of around 70,000 litres.
After their final installation in La Seca, Didier began to make two other wines which he named after his daughters: Quinta Clarisa Belondrade, a rosé made 100% with Tempranillo, and Quinta Apolonia Belondrade, a young wine made 100% from Verdejo, the latter with the aim of making a "second vin" to improve the selection of its first wine, Belondrade y Lurton.
The terroir, the Verdejo grape and the creation of a solid team, with oenologist Marta Baquerizo at the head of the production from the beginning, are some of the keys to the success of this Frenchman who is passionate about Spain.
Belondrade has 30 hectares of their own vineyard divided into 19 plots, which provide very differentiated musts depending on the soil type, orientation, grafts and clones. In general, they are young vines that do not exceed 35 years of age. They aim for low yields that allow them to control the production for its later and meticulous winemaking. Here is where the strength of the reds and Verdejos from this winery from Valladolid can be found, in the purest style of the most select Burgundy wines. In addition, from the beginning, the vineyard is cultivated reasonably and respecting the environment, leading the winery to achieve their organic certificate.
The composition of the soils of the plateau consists of a layer of boulders of around 10 to 60 centimetres, a sub-layer of clay, and a deep layer of limestone. However, in the different plots we can find boulders and varying percentages of sand and clay, which will give the musts and wines different features.
The plantation density ranges from 1,100 to 3,300 plants per hectare, with an average yield of 30 to 35 hectolitres per hectare. A relatively long pruning is carried out due to the high risk of late frost and hail. Green pruning is carried out to favour aeration and green harvesting, if necessary, to control the production. The vineyard is located at around 750 metres of altitude, in an area with an average rainfall of 300-350 mm per year. The climate is continental, characterised by long and cold winters, and short and hot summers, with a great thermal range between day and night.
The quality policy of the winery does not allow the use of hoppers, which could cause an early fermentation of the grape during their transport to the winery, making the must lose its organoleptic qualities. They monitor the evolution of the wines in the 330 French oak barrels with a capacity of 300 litres. These barrels are from brands such as Sylvain, Vicard and Dargvaud & Jaegle, which give the wine all its elegance and character.
Wines from the winery Belondrade
Belondrade y Lurton is the first wine from the winery and the only one with D.O. Rueda. It is made 100% from Verdejo grapes. It is fermented with local yeasts in barrels and then it continues ageing in French oak barrels on its lees for 10 months, and a minimum of 5 or 6 months in the bottle before it is launched on the market. Since the first vintage of 1994, this wine has evolved to achieve a more subtle contribution of oak, so right now, only 300-litre barrels are used. It is a wine that benefits of its development in the bottle to integrate all its elements, and it also has the capacity to evolve over time, as shown by the vertical tastings carried out so far by the winery.
Quinta Apolonia Belondrade is the other Verdejo white wine that is marketed as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León. It is made from the youngest vines of the winery and the remains of Belondrade y Lurton discards, so it can contain up to 30% of wine fermented in barrels. On the nose it has fresh, young notes of ripe white fruit, such as medlar, apricot, apple, alongside very attractive herbaceous notes and some slight spice in the background. In the mouth it has a very good acidity, a lot of fruit on the mid-palate, long, perfumed, with herbaceous plants in the background, and nuances of citrus and its lees at the end.
Quinta Clarisa Belondrade is a 100% Tempranillo rosé, which is also marketed as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León. It has aromas of red fruit on the nose, along with herbaceous notes that give it freshness, a rosé that is more fresher than sweeter on the nose. In the mouth it still has its freshness, well compensated with its acidity/alcohol. It has a correct structure, with good acidity and a herbaceous finish.
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