Las Tres Amigas
Today, we take a little foray into Spain, the 3rd largest wine-producing nation on earth, and one that to this day is criminally underrepresented and under-appreciated at the top level, particularly in the British wine sphere! Yes, we all know and appreciate top Rioja, however, a country with 7 distinct climates across its length and breadth has a huge amount to offer and explore. Let’s take just a little dip in the ocean of Spanish wines and see what little treasures we find, with our 'Las Tres Amigas' Special Discovery Case!
We begin on the North-East coast, in the dramatic rocky Catalonian landscape, with winemaker Xavi Buil, the maverick who is endeavouring to change people’s perception of the wines of Priorat. Then we journey inland, to taste sumptuous Tempranillo from renowned Riojan producer, Juan Luis Cañas, whose passion project is producing incredible results in the rolling hills of Ribera del Duero! Then to complete the journey west, and as a refreshing alternative to the characterful reds, we turn to that small ‘unknown’ grape variety, that put the little region of Rueda on the world wine map, Verdejo. Responsible for some of Spain’s finest white wines, we visit one of its most accomplished champions, Almudena Alberca.
In the late 1980’s, the worldwide prestige of the wines of Priorat soared. The reds coming from the region's diverse terrain and microclimates were, and are stunning, however, as the reputation of Priorat skyrocketed, so too did the price tags. Winemaker Xavi Buil, is on a mission to prove that making great wines in Priorat, doesn’t mean that they must be overly extracted, high in alcohol wines, unapproachable in their youth, and that also don’t have to come along with a monstrously premium price tag. The wines he is crafting at his winery, Buil y Giné, are challenging this perception, providing fabulous value and offering a fresher and more appealing style, whilst still possessing all of the spice, minerality and fruit that are to be expected from this region. The winery itself was established in 1998, on the famed steep slopes of Gratallops, in the heart of the Region. Xavi plants on the classic soils of Priorat - slate, shale and liquorella, with vines averaging over 40 years in age. These are poor soils, restricting vigour and yield, perfect for making powerful and characterful wines. His efforts to create a stylish, approachable Priorat to the world, without sacrificing the spirit and classic attributes that have made the region famous have not gone unnoticed, with Wine & Spirits Magazine selecting Buil & Giné as one of the Wineries of the Year in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
His Giné Giné is a 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Cariñena and has intense notes of flowers, ripe black fruits, and earthy minerals from the soil. It is not only at an accessible price, but also style, with its more open, vibrant expression, whilst still showcasing the Priorat power and minerality. This is a pure, very fruity, round, and balanced wine with a very long finish. It is perfectly suited to partner a wide variety of dishes, possessing the great complexity necessary to accompany rich meat dishes or, enjoy a glass on its own, served slightly chilled.
This beautiful, and ultra-modern bodega was created in 2008, and was somewhat of a passion project for acclaimed winemaker, Juan Luis Cañas. Famous for his outstanding Riojas, Juan also has a real passion for the Ribera del Duero region and set himself the challenge of crafting stunning and approachable wines from this region, alongside his longtime friend Juan José Iribecampos. Amalgamating the first two letters of their surnames, they came up with the name ‘Cair’. Driven by the ultimate goal to produce wines that would reflect the greatest attributes of Ribera del Duero and after searching high and low, they finally found the vineyards of their dreams. At 900m elevation, tucked away in the hills, with superb schist terroir and a cacophony of 100+ year old Tempranillo bush vines, they had found the perfect plot. The soils and vines give low yields, but incredibly concentrated grapes, full of character.
The Cuvee de Cair, is a blend of 85 % Tempranillo and 15 % Merlot, aged in used French and American oak barrels, for 9 months. It later spends at least 6 months in the bottle, to round out its aging. It is a lovely drinking wine, approachable, fresh and morish. It exudes intense, complex and enticing aromas of ripe berry fruit, preserve, raisins and caramel notes. Dark Chocolatey nuances are joined by hints of jam and sweet spice and a warming, leathery and smokey backbone. The tannins are silky smooth and polished. The two Juan’s of Dominio de Cair, set out to make a pure, silky, fruity, sweet and all-round tasty wine here, that no one would want to put down once they had taken the first sip. In our opinion they definitely succeeded!
Run today by the remarkable Almudena Alberca, one of the most renowned winemakers in Spain and the first Spanish woman to achieve the status of Master of Wine, is Caserío de Dueñas. It is a singular estate, with a history dating back to the 1700s, with over 300 hectares of prime vineyard land in the heart of Rueda, some being amongst the most highly regarded in the region, in terms of quality. To preserve all the nuanced aromas, the grapes are harvested at the lowest possible temperatures, generally at night or first thing in the morning, and then thanks to minimal intervention throughout the whole winemaking process, the characteristics of the Verdejo variety are preserved fully, in all their facets. The grapes undergo incredibly soft pressing, slow maceration and low temperature-controlled fermentation in order to truly preserve the subtlety of fruit. The wines Almudena creates with the Verdejo grape are truly profound and expressive.
The Verdejo superior is a gorgeous wine, with great aromatic intensity. The nose lights up with citrus aromas, delicately interlaced with notes of chamomile, fennel, and subtle touches of honey. The palate is wonderfully balanced with light creamy notes, intertwined with citrus, limes and grapefruit. Thanks to a small amount of time on its lees, it has a wonderful silky texture and great breadth and volume, which is all streamlined with some mouth-watering acidity and a refreshing minerality. It would perfectly accompany a wide variety of dishes including fish, white meats, salads, a variety of vegetable dishes, foie gras and cheeses.
The Tres Amigas Special Discovery Case is a six-bottle mixed case, containing 2x each of the following wines:
2015 Priorat ‘Gine Gine’ - £21.65 per bottle
2015 Ribera del Duero ‘Cuvée de Cair’ - £21.00 per bottle
2017 Verdejo Superior - £26.60 per bottle
Normal Retail Price - £138.50
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL PRICE - £124.65