There is a lot to discover in the interior of Andalucía. Just like last year I have been holidaying in the area. And as there is much more than sand under the sun, a perfect occasion for visiting wineries. This year I saw some people that I already knew, and met some new people and tasted some new wines.
I had read about Lauren Rosillo and his red wines from the village of Sedella in the malagan Axarquía hills. So on a summer Sunday I wrote him an email (that can’t hurt anyone, I thought), and yes!, he answered almost directly. He is not there that much, as he is busy working as an oenologist for Riojan family company Martínez Bujanda, and all their activities around Spain. But that Monday morning he happened to be there on a short trip, so I popped in on my way to Córdoba.
From the long and winding road I recognize the architect-drawn bodega building in some of the curves, so I’m no longer in doubt that I am on the right track. Lauren greets me. We are the only two people on that hill now.
To explore the bodega was done rather quickly. In one room there were a couple of steel tanks, in another a couple of concrete eggs, one tinaja (clay amphora) and two or three oak barrels, and apart from that there isn’t much more to report on.
We are 700 meters over sea level, and there is a refreshing breeze coming up from the Mediterranean. To the east we find the Sierra de Tejeda mountains, and to the north La Maroma, a 2.066 meters high peak. In winter it can be down to minus 5 or 6 here, which is well reflected in the wines. The soil in this 1,8 hectar vineyard is slate, and the local romé and the nacional garnacha (known as grenache in France) were the grapes that were planted here around 1940. The vineyard management is organic, and both draft animals and ancient ploughs can be seen here at times.
Silver coins are used to preserve the wine
Strangely enough, Lauren was born in Villarobledo (Albacete), a town that was once a real nucleous for production of tinajas, and which I have reported on earlier. (See this article about master tinajero Padilla.) The clay tinaja Lauren uses, however, is made in Úbeda, not far away in the Jaén province, in his own words “to honor the Andalusian tradition”.
Only two wines are made: Laderas de Sedella and Sedella, respectively. Ladera (meaning hillside) is sourced from the steep vineyard towards the south. This wine is aged in concrete, and never sees any oak. The Sedella is from the vineyard on the other side of the winery, facing north-west. This wine is aged for 14-18 months in second hand oak.
Lauren calls them “mediterranean mountain wines”, Mountain Wine being an old expression for some of the dessert wines in the region, and also a branded name for collegue Telmo Rodríguez and his moscatel wines made in association with nearby Bodegas Almijara.
Lauren Rosillo on the terrace facing the “laderas”
The alcoholic fermentation is always carried out in tank, and only natural yeast is used, the malolactic in concrete eggs. After malo he uses a little sulphur. In Lauren’s opinion it is at this stage that the use of sulphur is most important, as there are microbes that can do some “damage” here.
We tasted the actual vintage. The Laderas de Sedella 2013, made from grapes romé, garnacha, and a touch of the white moscatel, had 13% alcohol, quite moderate (or: low) to be this far south. The wine is dark with a violet rim, with aromas of plums and cherry, wild berries. It’s rich, but with a lovely acidity, in the mouth, – and with a mineral aftertaste. Next vintage will carry the denomination Ánfora, by the way.
The Sedella 2013 is made from older vines in a north-facing vineyard. It is a touch darker with a violet rim, balsamic on the nose, very fruity, with darker fruits, notes of herbs, some lickorice, and just a hint of oak. On the palate it’s full, with some tannins, and a lovely acidity. The aftertaste is persistent. It’s a very appealing wine for medium term ageing.
Lauren calls the latter the “premium” wine. I understand what he means, and the Sedella is undoubtedly the more ambitious. Still I appreciate the difference: Laderas is the south-faced, clay aged wine, while the Sedella is the north-faced old barrel aged wine. Both very different, and both very good!
The first vintage was 2008. Lauren wanted to fetch an older vintage of the Sedella. We agreed to try the 2010, that had still some violet/purple, wild berries, plums. Rich, still that appealing fruit and acidity. Will keep.