Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Frenchman in Arlanza

Olivier Rivière, a native of Cognac, and trained at various French domaines came to Spain, first to work with Telmo Rodríguez. At the same time he was buying vineyards, and he now owns land in Rioja, Navarra – and here in Arlanza (Castilla y León). True to the lands and the traditions, this is the kind of guy that Spain can’t get enough of. I think he can help to get Rioja on the right track, and Arlanza needs all forces put together to bring the area into the lime-light for the first time. Anyway, here is a 95% tempranillo, 5% garnacha that in fact reminds me a little of the garnachas of Gredos, at least in terms of mouthfeel (the rich, in one way alcoholic, but in another not alcoholic after all, if you know what I mean…). Here it is!

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Viñas del Cadastro 2009 (Olivier Rivière)

Deep young red. Dark fruits, plums, morelloes. Full-bodied and long and with a warming, but not pungent, alcohol, and lots of rounded tannins.

Price: Medium

Food: Red meat and roasts, but surprisingly good without too.

 

On Garnacha day

There are a great many grapes with a special day dedicated to them. As today is the international Grenache Day our pick of the week will be one of that sort, from the Alpujarras in Granada. This is one of the Spanish regions that have offered an alternative to the traditional northern interpretation of the grape, supposedly originated right there in Navarra (Rioja Baja) area. Others are Aragón, most notably Calatayud, that could maybe be seen as an extension to Navarra, but they offer a quite distinctive style. In more recent times the garnacha tratitions of Montsant/Priorat (mostly in blends), and the western outskirts of Madrid (like the Sierra de Gredos) have come to prominence.

Valenzuela Father Manuel (right) and son Lorenzo Valenzuela

Back to the ‘granadino’ highland: Much has been said about the great work of the Valenzuela family, in this blog too. Their pioneering work and innovative spirit has inspired many, both fellow vinegrowers and tasters. Innovative yes, but it’s really a wish to go back to the roots of their own tradition that best characterizes their approach. So all the vineyards are grown naturally, no herbicides, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers are used, just like in the old days.

They dispose of some of the highest vineyards in Europe, in fact their Cerro Las Monjas 1368 has for long been the bottled wine sourced from the highest vineyards, 1368 meters to be precise. In this vineyard there is garnacha too, planted between 1983 and 1989.

For this wine no SO2 or any other additives or preservatives have been used, no stabilization processes, no clarifying, only a slight filtering before bottling.

 

Garnata

Garnata 2009 (Barranco Oscuro)

Bright red. Clear-cut, pure aromas of red berries, aromatic herbs, and some graphite. Quite full and round on the palate, fresh and appealing appearance, and a long aftertaste with fruit around the acidity.

Price: Medium

 

Natural Ribera del Duero

Today’s first revelation was what is supposedly Ribera’s first wine without added sulphur, an unoaked tempranillo from La Horra. Jordi Alonso, from Girona and with a background from Montsant and Priorat, took over as technical director and winemaker for coop Virgen de la Asunción in 2012 and seeks to make Priorat style wines.

2015-09-11 11.11.40 Jordi Alonso

The cultivation he calls traditional, meaning “pre-conventional”, with no need for chemical treatments, not even fertilizing.

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Zarzuela Joven sin sulfitos añadido 2014 (Bodega Virgen de la Asunción)

Dark with a blue hue. Lovely pure tempranillo fruit, with sensations of dark and wild berries, some balsamic notes, but no noticeable volatile acidity (0.7 g). Light yet mouthfilling, with a refreshing acidity and just the right touch of berry tannin.

Price: Low

Guldgrube from Mosel

One of two good and cheap wines I have tasted from the organic wine gut Wolf lately. It is Markus and Ulrike Boor who runs the estate (together with another named Louis Klein). Founded by monks who moved into the monastery in Wolf in 1478, the production contunued after reformation (of the church, that is), and today’s church was in fact built upon the old cellar in 1685.

From 4 hectars where the “Guldgrube” is one of the vineyards in Wolf (there is also one in Traben), good organic, crisp, light, elegant and sometimes mineral wines are made. The most significant ground is schist and the most prominent grape is, not surprisingly, riesling – but several other whites, and reds as well.

 

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Riesling Spätlese Wolfer Guldgrube trocken 2012 (Kirchengut Wolf)

Light yellow. Yellow apple and some lichi and lime in aroma. Slightly off-dry, with a nice acidity, and luckily with that typical Mosel lightness.

Price: Low