Continuing our journey through the vineyards of Europe, we venture to another favourite destination to sample the flavours of the Spanish sunshine. Starting in the west, we have two super white wines from Galicia. The delightfully fresh, aromatic and great value Godello from Adegas Pazo do Mar and a long time ‘Gauntley’ favourite, the amazing Albarino of Pazo de Senorans. Travelling inland, we find the exciting Tempranillo, ‘Cuvee Cair’ from vineyards in Ribera del Duero and the charmingly characterful Grenache from the Bodegas Bernabeleva, situated close to Madrid. Finishing our tour, we reach the vineyards of Catalonia in the east, with the gorgeous, Gine Gine from Priorat and from one of the world’s greatest producers of sparkling wine, the perfect ‘wine on its own’, ‘Visol’.
The Spanish selection is available in either a Six Bottle Case, containing 1 bottle of each of the following wines @ £116.30 Less Quarantine Support Discount = £104.65
Or Twelve Bottle Case, containing 2 bottles of each of the following wines: £232.60 – Less Quarantine Support Discount = £209.00
Adegas Pazo do Mar, a group of three family wineries, was created in 2002. Pazo do Mar, in Ribeiro, Vieja da Princesa in Rias Baixas and Pazo das Tapias in Monterrei, all share the same passion for their native vine varieties and viticultural traditions but have invested in the latest oenological technology, which they have installed in their wineries. Their wines retain the distinctive characters of both vine and vineyard, portrayed in a balanced, clear and fresh fashion. This delicious Godello is produced by the Mendez family from the Monterrei vineyards of Pazo das Tapias. The winery was founded in 2006 and its surrounding vineyards are among the best and oldest of the DO.
Produced from 30-year-old vines planted on the sandy slopes of ground quartz and fermented on its lees. There is no oak ageing here, to keep the lovely aromatic freshness. Clean, zesty and delicately floral bouquet. Tropical and citrus fruit, subtle spice notes and lovely zing of acidity, to give a fresh, clean finish.
In the little over 25 years that Pazo de Senorans has been established, it has become recognised as one of Spain’s leading producers. Marisol Bueno and Javier Mareque purchased the beautiful 16th-century Galician estate, in 1979, complete with old Albarino vineyards, planted on sandy soils, of decomposed granite from the bedrock below. They soon recognised the great potential of the Albarino here, bottling their first wine in 1989 and helping to instigate the creation and build the reputation of the DO. Today the estate is safely in the hands of their four children, Marisol, Vicky, Javier and Santiago.
Due to the close proximity to the Atlantic ocean, the vineyards enjoy a cool, fresh microclimate which is reflected in the wines. To enhance and retain this freshness, after careful selection, the grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel vat and the malo-lactic is blocked. The wine remains on the lees for around four months with regular battonage, before an early bottling. This is a generously aromatic Albarino with a tantalizingly crisp freshness.
This superb Albarino displays a wonderfully clean, vibrant profile with aromas of nectarine, fresh figs, orange zest and white flowers. Dry, citrus and complex flavours with elegant mineral notes. Seamless but delineated with persistent length and elegant balance.
The elevated vineyards of Ribera del Duero, combined with their superb schist terroir, have attracted many prominent growers from neighbouring Rioja, to invest in vineyards here. Dominio de Cair was the inspiration of Juan Luis Canas and his great friend, entrepreneur, Juan Jose Irbecampos. The name Cair is derived from an amalgamation of the first two letters of both their names. Driven by the ultimate goal to produce wines that would reflect the greatest attributes of Ribera del Duero, Juan-Luis set out on a quest in search of the ideal location. This he found in the form of high altitude vineyards, some 830-950 metres above sea level, planted with old Tempranillo bush vines. Created in 2008, today Dominio de Cair owns 20 ha of vines here and manage a further 90 ha on a combination of chalk, clay, sand and stony soils. To ensure that they make the most of the vineyard’s potential, nothing is left to chance. The vineyards are meticulously managed and the fruit handpicked and carefully selected. Taking advantage of the most up to date vinification equipment in the winery, the wines portray the same power and finesse as the Canas’ Rioja. The Cuvee Cair is a blend of 85 % Tempranillo and 15 % Merlot aged for 9 to 14 months in French and American oak of 1 to 3 years, plus a further 6 to 12 months in bottle before release.
Black cherry with good depth of colour. An intense nose of fine wood, leather, cigar box, dark chocolate & fruit combines with sweet tannins to produce a beautifully balanced, elegant red wine. Full and powerful on the attack with good balance. A meaty, juicy mouthfeel with sweet tannins and a long, lingering finish.
Driving around the steep hairpin bends that link the villages of Priorat, makes punctuality somewhat impossible. However, feeling the dramatic landscape certainly enables you to appreciate the incredibly diverse terrain and micro-climates responsible for the escalating rise and prestige of Priorat. Indeed, as prices for these wines soared in the late 1980s, they sadly became beyond the means of the majority. Situated on the hillside on the edge of the village of Gratallops, the estate of Buil y Gine, not only produces top-flight, micro cuvees, know as their ‘Coleccion familiar’, but the pioneering, Xavier Buil is also crafting beautifully expressive generic wines which portray the true spirit of Priorat at an incredibly accessible price. Produced from a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Carignan, grown on the classic, licorella slate soils of Priorat, the Gine Gine is not only at an accessible price, but also style, with its more open, vibrant expression, whilst still showcasing the Priorat power and minerality.
2015 Priorat, Gine Gine, Buil y Gine Aged two months in French oak. Intense, concentrated but open nose, fragrant and floral, with ripe black fruit and earthy minerality. Lovely purity and freshness of fruit on the palate, round and harmonious! This partners a wide variety of dishes, possessing a great complexity to accompany rich meat dishes or, enjoy a glass on its own, served slightly chilled.
Moving to the centre of Spain, just to the west of Madrid, lying at the feet of the Cerro de Guisando and Credos mountains, we find Bodegas Bernabeleva. The 35 ha estate is run today by the descendants of Dr Vicent Alvarez –Villarmil, who purchased the estate in 1923. (The fourth generation to tend the vines here). Only indigenous varieties are planted on the infertile sandy soils, formed from decomposed granite. Although not chasing certification, the vineyards are managed organically with full respect for the environment. Many practices are also carried out according to the lunar phase. The diligent attention to detail is evident in the quality of fruit brought in at harvest. To best showcase, the terroir of San Martin de Valdeiglesias’, this 100% Grenache cuvee, is produced from vines from every vineyard on the estate. The average age of the vines being between 40 and 80 years. The wine is aged 12 months in used French oak and bottled without fining or filtration, to fully capture all the subtleties of its generous flavours and complexities.
Lovely ripe sweet fragrant, loganberry fruit, pepper, spice and vanilla with a hint of pine and cocoa powder. Smooth, silky tannins, with black and red fruits, cherry and berry fruits, with hints of spice and nutmeg. Lovely elegant balance and lingering finish.
This amazing, family-run estate can trace its origins back to the 13th Century and have been producing Cava wines for over 90 years. Based in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia are the ancient cellars, with a sign hanging proudly above the gateway which reads, Mestres, Wines of Cava. These words immediately reminded me of the philosophy of our long time partner, Laurent Champs of the formidable Champagne Vilmart, who always states, ‘First and foremost, I craft wine. The Champagne comes next’. Like the Champagnes of Vilmart, the sensational Gran Reserva Cavas are not insipid, neutral wines with bubbles, but have the depth and complexity akin to the greatest wines from Burgundy’s Cotes d’Or. Indeed they represent some of the most phenomenal, sparkling wines of the world today. First produced in 1945, the ‘Visol’, translating as, ‘wine on its own’, was the first zero dosage, Brut Nature Cava. Produced from a blend of Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada, the initial fermentation takes place in chestnut cask, where it stays on its lees for several months, with the secondary fermentation, of course in bottle. The Visol then remains sur latte for a minimum of 40 months, prior to disgorgement by hand. The finished Visol is excitingly complex but vibrantly uplifting with real focus and finesse.
The recently released, 2012 vintage, combines floral notes with apple and both fresh and dried apricot fruits, together with enticing complexities of baked bread, honey, vanilla and hints of balsamic. Gloriously balanced with a long stylish finish. Sumptuous and sophisticated.