Gota is a relatively new wine bar in Madrid, in the Chueca district. It’s quite hidden, with no signposts. You simply have to know where it is and look for the doorbell, that is the only place you can find the name. I popped in a couple of hours ago. I have booked my first visit to Les Mouvais Garçons, a few blocks away, tonight. But the talk of the town said that I should pay Gota a visit, so there was no time left, as I leave tomorrow.
Manager is Fede Graciano from Argentina. He opened Acid Café near Atocha some years ago, which is recommended for coffee freaks, and Acid Bakehouse (I think it was later). Nahuel is his sommelier, when he’s not making his own natural wine in El Tiemblo, Gredos.
At Gota they specialize in natural wines and homemade kombuchas. They offer a sharing menu that works well with their wine list. They specialize in music of various types, that can be as “acid” as the wines and reflecting the name of the original bar. But don’t think of it as a noisy place, it’s a haven, relaxed and perfect for wine lovers who want to disconnect after a hard day at work.
I had two wines at this first try.
Verbena 2022(Uva de Vida), a pét nat from Santa Olalla in the Toledo province, based on graciano and tempranillo made with direct press, malolactic, three months on lees and no additions.
Ruby red, with bubbles. Smells of cherries and flowers. Rounded in the mouth, no sharp acidity, but still fresh and saline. The wine is simple, but Herbie Hancock’s music is complex, says Nahuel, referring to what plays in the background.
1301 2021(Samuel Párraga), an orange wine vijiriega from the Málaga province partly made under flor.
Amber colour. On the nose, oxidized notes, like almonds and nuts, and flowers. Full and savoury, with a salty finish.
The pét nat went with an oyster, and the orange wine with rugbrød (I recognized the Norwegian/Danish spelling there), sourdough bread with butter and anchovies.
The rain in Spain was falling on the plains that day. Castilla, otherwise known for its dry, almost prairie-like landscape, was even less inviting than usual. I met a man in a cowboy hat. His name was Goyo.
I will not embark on a wild west novel. I had indeed been invited to Gumiel del Mercado (province of Burgos) by Goyo García Viadero, one of the new guns of Ribera del Duero. Goyo makes expressive, lightly extracted, terroir-focused wines without additives and without oakiness, in a region rather famous for the opposite.
I had originally been aware of Goyo through his sister, who is winemaker at Bodegas Valduero in the same village. In fact Goyo gets his oak barrels from them. He explains:
-I don’t like oak, it’s not from the grape, not from the soil. So the barrels he uses are always at least 7-8 year old barrels, and from Valduero. He uses oak with ultrafine grain, -because I like a slow evolution.
He has a careful approach to winemaking. All grapes are destemmed by hand, pressed gently, and fermentations are slow in the cold, ancient cellar. For the wines that age in barrel, Goyo uses, as we have heard, more than 7-8 year old very finely grained barriques from Bordeaux. Sulfur and other additives are never used. The resulting wines have a striking sincerity and elegance that communicate a strong sense of place. All vineyards have 800 meters or more of altitude, quite impressive. The sun of the meseta and the high altitudes bring both phenolic concentration and bright acidity to the wines.
His bodega dates from the Roman times. Upon meeting there we tasted through a number of wines from tank and barrel, some of them from vineyards both here and in the Soria province. Among these was the white skin-contact García GeorgievaMalvasía 2021 from tank, a wine with a lovely fresh acidity. The wine was pressed in an old basket press, fermented in steel with 14 days skin contact and malolactic fermentation. Bottled without fining, filtration or added SO2. Another was the Finca los Quemados Clarete 2021 from all tinto fino (or: tinto del país), a clone of tempranillo, with its splendid cherry fruit. It’s made with short maceration (5-6 days), according to the most common style of the region. The Los Quemados vineyard has almost 60 year old vines planted on red sands with pebbles 960 meters above sea level.
Here we also tasted one of my personal favourites, a house-wine so to speak. Joven de Viñas Viejas 2021, which means young/unoaked wine from old vines, gets a richness and concentration from the age of the vines and the low yield, and it does not need any oak. It’s from a dry-farmed vineyard planted entirely with tinto fino at 880 meters altitude. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and fermented with wild yeasts in steel tank with 3 months of skin maceration, then raised in tank before being bottled without fining, filtration or any addition of SO2. Dark, lovely, concentrated fruit (blackberry, morello); juicy with fine tannins and and lovely acidity.
All the vineyards are old; the youngest 40 years, the oldest more than 100. Goyo never uses filtration, almost no additives (only sulphur and copper in the vineyards).
-Most important is the quantity of tartaric acid in the grape. It should be 7 or 8 grams tartaric acid per litre, says Goyo. All grapes are destemmed. The maceration lasts for 10-15 days at 6 degrees, and fermentation takes place at no more than 22 degrees. -We only play with temperature and batonnage, says Goyo about possible variables.
His adventure began in 2003 with three parcels of old vines, that he says the French public call “the three musketeers”, named Finca Valdeolmos in Villabuena de Gumiel (90% tinto fino, 10% of the white albillo), Finca el Peruco in Olmedillo de Roa (85% tinto fino, 15% albillo), and Finca Viñas de Arcilla in Anguix (100% tinto fino), that are still the basis of his portfolio. From these he produces his three single vineyard wines and his annual Reserva Especial, all made the same way, with two to three years in barrel. -All this is a nod to the area’s past, before it became too commercial, he says. Valdeolmos, nicknamed “the elegant” has limestone. Finca el Peruco, “the fine”, has white sand and is one of the highest in Ribera, with over 900 meters of elevation. While Finca Viña de Arcilla, “the serious”, has clay, as the name implies.
We tasted the 2017 of the three wines. Finco Valdeolmos 2017 has dark fruits (blackberry), touch of licorice; gentle tannins and some minerality. Finca el Peruco 2017 holds back, is even more mineral: evident tannins, salty (from the white sand). Finca Viña de Arcilla 2017 is more balsamic (pine, encina), evident tannin, but also more fruit. Reserva Especial is made from Goyo’s favourite each year. This wine first ages in the same fashion as the three. Then it’s blended and gets another one or two years before release. We tasted the 2015, a blend of the three. This showed a slight mousiness, so down in the storing cellar we felt like trying the 2016 also. This one was in good condition, in that vintage made only from Valdeolmos. Down in the storing cellar we also tasted the 2018 vintage of all the three muscateers.
Goyo also makes wine in Cantabria, the region where his mother comes from. He has 2 hectares of mencía and palomino grapes on slate in the mountainous Liébana Valley. Here he makes a red wine and skin-contact white wine. These are called Beâtum from the 2019 vintage on (formerly Cobero).
Beâtum Tinto is made from 80% mencía and the rest palomino fino. The latter is the same as the sherry grape. This vineyard blend is often found in the vineyards of northern Spain. The vines here are more than 80 years old and are planted on broken slate soils. The red and white grapes are co-fermented with indigenous yeasts, then raised one year in French oak barrels, without any sulfur additions. The red is typically made of 80% mencía and the rest palomino fino. The latter is the same as the sherry grape. We tasted the 2019: Very dark; super expressive, floral (violets), a touch licorice; lovely mouthfeel, luscious and [a bit spritzy]. Beâtum Blanco is made from bush vines of palomino grown on brown slate soils at 500-600 meters elevation around the town of Potes in the Valle de Liébana, Picos de Europa. It’s fermented on the skins in stainless steel tanks without added yeast, and bottled without sulfur additions. The 2020 smelled of mature apples and orange peel; it was quite full in the mouth, some tannin.
On the way out: One of the wines was Tempranillo a Mano 2019, where he takes the best grapes from every bunch, so it takes 3 parcels to fill a big barrel. The wine was big and bold, darke with some coffee. Finca de Quemado Clarete 2019, with one year in barrel, was lovely scented and perfumed. Graciano a Mano 2019 was dark and very fruity, light-bodied but long. Its origin is the Finca Guijarrales (formerly Finca Cascorrales), a vineyard planted entirely with graciano.
Finca Valpiedra is a single estate owned by Martínez Bujanda family. They started out in Rioja as early as 1889, and bought this place in the 1990’s. The finca is located in a bend of the Ebro river, between Fuentmayor and Cenicero. From here they launch wines in a crossroads between tradition and modernity, with some initial oakiness. Among the modern features are organic growing, estate focus, and the wines will reach the balance between oak and fruit after only a few years.
Tempranillo is the main grape, supported by a little cabernet sauvignon for structure and graciano for aroma. This particular wine also contains a tiny percent mazuelo (cariñena/carignan). The 2001 was a great vintage in Rioja, and the best wines, like this one, will last long.
Here you can read a report from their Rueda winery, where we also tasted their riojas.
Dark red with hint of brown. Forest fruits (blackberry), plums, thyme and eucalyptus over a thin layer of roast and dried fruits. Quite big, mature fruits in the mouth, with rounded tannins. In an optimal stage of evolution, without the sweetness of oak, still some freshness, the fruit intact, the individual parts integrated but still possible to detect.
Food: We had it with entrecôte, and perfect with lamb, roast, game, hard cheeses…
I have taken a two day break from my seaside city holiday in Málaga. We are now trekking in the mountains. And we, we are my friend Jan Inge Reilstad (writer and culture activist) and me. I thought I’d give you some main lines in a postcard format, before I go into more detail later.
First of all I must say a big thanks to all the kind and lovely people who set their work on pause for a while to welcome us, after having given them a very short notice!
First stop was Barranco Oscuro, outside Cádiar in the Alpujarras. I have met Lorenzo Valenzuela many times and many places, but it must be ten years since my latest visit to the winery. This time it’s his father Manuel who welcomes us. He shows us around the premises, before we end in a room to taste some wines.
We can’t help notice the wordplay on many of the labels. Tres Uves resembles the Spanish expression for three grapes, but what it really means is three V’s. And aptly enough the wine is based on the varieties viognier, vermentino and the local vijiriega. It’s obvious that Manuel has great fun talking about this. And he tells the story behind the labels, one by one, ending with the Salmónido, with the subtitle rosado a contracorriente, meaning: rosé against the stream.
And when you think of it: It’s not only the salmon that is going towards the stream. The Valenzuelas started to make natural wines without any additions or corrections at a time when few others did. Manuel Valenzuela is by most regarded as one of the true pioneers of Spanish natural wine.
Everything we tasted was expressive and full of energy; like the Art Brut 2017, a sparkler made according to the ancestral method, the yellow fruit-packed viognier La Ví y Soñé 2017 and the always lovely cherry fruit-dominated Garnata 2012 (obviously from garnacha). For those interested in ampelography (the study of grapes), the La Ví y Soñé has now a small percentage of vijiriega negra, a very rare variety that the white vijiriega once mutated from. We ended the tasting with two vintages of 1368 Cerro Las Monjas, whose name refers to the altitude of their highest vineyard (until recently the highest in Europe). Both were very much alive. Vintage 2004 was a bit reduced, cherry red, showed red and dried fruits, and a good acidity, and a slightly dry mouthfeel. The 2003 was a bit darker, with dark cherry dominating the aroma, and a rounder palate – and still more years ahead. (Read my report about the 2002here.) A terrific bonus was Xarab, an amber coloured wine from the pedro ximénez (PX) variety, with aroma of apricot, figs, a touch of raisins and a balanced acidity. Manuel had showed us a barrel of the wine in the cellar. At this point it had been fermenting for three years (!).
High altitude vines grown organically and unirrigated on schist and clay soil
After a lunch in the centre of Ugíjar, rabbit and chicken with a dark, meaty nameless Cádiar wine, we continued our short road trip. Just outside Ugíjar we were met by this signpost.
I visited Dominio Buenavista around ten years ago too. Nola, from Dayton, Ohio has been through tough times since her husband Juan Palomar passed away last year. They both used to travel between the two countries. Now she has been forced to stay in Spain to look after the domaine, and continue the work just the way her beloved husband would have done himself.
Nola makes it clear that she wants to have control over the end-product. Therefore the wines can be said to lack the “savagery” of Barranco Oscuro. Their wines called Veleta (the second highest peak in Sierra Nevada, but also meaning weather-bird) are well-made, and their followers in Spain, the US and elsewhere know what to expect. -Natural yeast scares me, Nola says. So she relies on cultured yeasts, and hesitates to go completely organic. But the amount of sulphur is low, and added only following the harvest. In the cellar we tasted some red samples, from tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon (2018), and cabernet franc (2014), the grapes that make up Noladós, one of their signature wines. There was also a promising graciano (2016).
Should I pick just one wine it would be the Vijiriega “Viji” 2017, a fruity and mellow wine with apple, citrus and herbal notes.
We decided to see if there were room for the night in Trevélez. This is the second highest municipality in Spain at 1.476 meters, a place with thin air, good for curing of the famous Trevélez hams. So we climbed the steep slopes, and Jan Inge maneuvered the car through the narrow streets of the town. At last we found a room in the highest hotel of Trevélez.
Hams hanging in the restaurant where we had dinner
Next morning, continuing over the province border to Málaga, we arrive in the village of Moclinejo, as we enter the historic Axarquía landscape. Here we met Ignacio Garijo. He represents both the well-known Bodegas Dimobe, a family company that dates from 1927, and the new project Viñedos Verticales. The director is Juan Muñoz, one of three brothers. We can maybe say that stylistically, at least philosophically, these wines fall in between the two producers from yesterday.
Dimobe’s highest vineyard: Moscatel de Alejandría on slate and stone ground. These are 50-60 years old, while average is 80-90. On the north side of the hill there is moscatel for dry wines, on the south side moscatel for sweet wines picked a little later
Ignacio and Jan Inge looking south
Dimobe was dedicated to sweet wines, as was the tradition in Málaga. Around 2001, when the DO Sierras de Málaga was established as a means to meet the challenges and demands of modern times, they started to incorporate dry table wines in their portfolio. Pepe Ávila (Bodegas Almijara, of Jarel fame) and Telmo Rodríguez probably made the first dry moscatel in the area in 1998 (I visited them in 2001, I think), and since the new regulations came many more followed. Now it’s the norm, and one can wonder about the future of the traditional sweet and fortified wines.
Dimobe owns 5 hectares and controls 38 in total. All viticultors work the same way: Harvest by hand, sulphur as the only chemical product, and organic farming (though not certified). This is easy: -In 40 years we have only had two mildew attacks, in 1971 and 2011.
The old part of the winery looks like a museum. But it is also in operation; there is actually wine in the barrels. -There are many seals in here, says my friend. Ignacio explains that it is goat’s stomachs, very useful in old times to keep wine from oxidating, from Quijote’s time untill much more recently.
We tasted Verticales’ four wines first. La Raspa 2018, a moscatel 70% and doradilla wine. The moscatel is aromatic and fresh, while the doradilla rounds it off. It’s an appealing wine; light in colour, and typical moscatel aromas of flowers, some herbs, and some citrus (lemon). Filitas y Lutitas 2016 is a moscatel 90% and PX. This is a complex and very interesting wine that you can read more about here. We had a 2018 sample of El Camaleón. The grape here is romé (or romé de la axarquía, to be precise). It’s a grape that’s difficult to work and that offers little colour. So the colour is light red, aroma predominantly of red fruits, and fine-grained tannins. Ignacio explains that the tannins come from the vat, and they need some time to soften. He also claims that the tannins from the vat help to get some colour, even if I don’t see how this could work. Anyway, all these wines come under the DO Sierras de Málaga.
The last Verticales wine is Noctiluca Vendimia Asoleada 2016, that is a DO Málaga and comes from grapes totally dried in the paseros. It arrives 10% alcohol and has never seen any barrel. It’s yellow because of some oxidation in the paseros; aroma of apricot, flowers, and some tender sweetness (173 g/L). We went straight over to a couple of wines from the extensive Dimobe range. Señorío de Broches 2017 comes from grapes dried only on one side of the clusters. It reaches 8% natural alcohol, then it’s fortified up to 15. It’s a fresh wine, easy-to-drink, with the same sweetness at the Noctiluca. Trasañejo is an expression from the old Málaga classification that means that the wine must be at least 5 years old. Pajarete Trasañejo is a naturally sweet wine from moscatel and PX (again with the same sweetness), and one is not allowed to use arrope, the traditional reduced must. Amber or mahogny in colour, nutty and concentrated, with figs and dried fruits. Absolutely delicious.
Time to get back to our rented flat on the beach of Málaga capital. I must also confess that my wife and I had the wonderful sparkling moscatel Tartratos 2015 that Ignacio gave us (for the road), during the evening and night. Yellow, yeasty, tasty; just delicious summer drinking.
It’s two years or so since I first met Tom Puyaubert and tasted his range of wines, and I instantly knew that this was something to take notice of. I have tasted some occational wines since then, and they have never disappointed. Now at wine bistró Guardaviñas in Logroño, capital of La Rioja, I tasted the Horizonte again. Read about the visit here.
Tom Puyaubert, Exopto
Tom is one of the so-called Rioja’n’Rollers, a new generation vintners that put their focus on terroir. Exopto comprises 10 ha, divided into 15 micro-plots, of 30-90 years old bush-trained vines. He has chosen the vineyards to be able to blend from different types of soil, orientation, altitude and so on. The winery is in Laguardia (Rioja Alavesa), the tempranillo vineyards are found on calcareous soils in Ábalos (Rioja Alta, but near Labastida, San Vicente, Laguardia, i.e. the road that snakes in and out of Alta and Alavesa). For Tom the Atlantic influence of this site is ideal to express the refined fruit and the complexity of the variety. The garnacha and graciano is mostly grown in sandy soil near the Monte Yerga range in the south-east, where maturation especially of the garnacha is easier. The altitude is around 1.000 meters (in Rioja Baja, imagine).
Horizonte is based on tempranillo with around 10% each of garnacha and graciano. The fermentation was in oak vats and concrete tanks at 22-26ºC. It was macerated for 21 days, and aged 12 months in French oak barrels (20% first use).
Horizonte de Exopto 2016(Exopto)
Dark, dense ruby colour. On the nose blackberry, blackcurrant, a second layer of roast and subtle vanilla in the background. Good concentration, young tannins, very fresh, still in its youth, and will keep for long.
Yes, the wine is young. Yes, it’s maybe too young. But if you don’t grab it now you will never see it, and never taste it again, because the production is so small. The best would obviously be to buy some and put them aside for a few years.
A while ago I was invited to speak about Rioja at a Norwegian fair. Originally the speech should have been done by one of the big Rioja companies, and it was already sold out. After some hesitation I said that if I should speak about Rioja it would be my way, presenting my opinions, and the wines from the company the participants had submitted to would not be present.
I love Rioja, the food and the culture and the scenic landscapes, the shifting soils and the many well-managed vineyards, many of them really old. But I also think that Rioja is in serious trouble, and hopelessly out of fashion, at least out of sync with the discriminating wine lover. I am aware that I am in danger of getting myself some new enemies by saying this, and I beg for understanding. And it’s not my intention to be snobbish either, in fact I am also speaking against many wine nerds in my own country. Leonard Cohen sang “I like handsome men, but for you I will make an exception”. Many people accept Rioja as “something different”, and let the the Rioja “industry” get away with a lot of characteristics you wouldn’t have accepted from another region that claim greatness: Too much oak, that one is well known, nearly identical wines (especially in the crianza and reserva categories) in spite of coming with different labels and from different companies, the domination of cooperatives (including huge bodegas that act as such), blending of grapes from all over to make millions of liters of the same wine. The list could go on.
Time to move on!
No surprise that something like the “Artadi case” should come up, it was just a question of when. In this case the ‘death’ was ‘foretold’, and it’s difficult to see that the conflict couldn’t be solved. We ought to take a closer look at this case later, but in short it’s about Juan Carlos López de Lacalle leaving the DOC Rioja because of regulations don’t accept mention of specific vineyards nor villages on the label, and the back label only promoting the word Rioja as a brand name. It’s easy to agree with his opinions. On the other hand there are people who don’t agree with the way he acted in the process, and “who was he to do this”, after all Artadi is also a quite big company that has sold wines to supermarket brands (more specificly the Valdepomares label to Marks & Spencer). Then comes the geographical-political side of it: Many fear, and the Consejo Regulador (the wine authorities) really should, that Artadi will label their wines as Vino de Álava (or the Basque name: Araba), and that many others will follow. Then the old question will come back: Why are villages like Ábalos and San Vicente part of La Rioja, not the Araba province? Many travelers from Haro on their way to Laguardia have wondered why they’re driving in and out of that province while staying on the same road. And if I haven’t mentioned it before, the only official distinction in Rioja Alta, Baja and Alavesa… Well, it’s nothing but useless. For those not familiar with the Artadi case, here is an article where the decision to leave is announced. And for a brief introduction in English, where the Consejo also is allowed to hold the microphone for a while, look here.
Now to the tasting. In Norway one can chose among some 400 available Rioja wines, of which I have tasted most of them. Still I only managed to come up with less than 10 that fit my few and simple specifications: The viticulture should be organic, and the yeasts should be natural. One should be able to trace the wine back to a specific place, and the wine should have no disturbing trace of oak. Other than that it should only be good drinking. It’s possible that I am ignorant about wines that could have met my specifications. But the Rioja regulations and labelling doesn’t help much either, when many of them says “viña” or “pago” (words for vineyard), and it’s not. Readers of this blog will have noticed that I am no fan of huge, oaky, overextracted wines, so many of the big names were disqualified, with the result that my selection was less than half the price of the organizers’ budget. There is a group of modern growers that call themselves Rioja’n’Roll. At times in this process I felt that I could have belonged to it, and somehow I was eager to see whether I were booed out or not.
These were the wines:
Ad Libitum 2013(Juan Carlos Sancha) – The only white wine in the selection, made from white tempranillo, a variety that was officially recognized in 2007 and that is genetically speaking 97% same as the red. Sancha owns 5 hectars in Baños de Tío Tobia in the Najerilla valley. This is among the coldest parts of the whole DOC; high-lying, southfacing vineyards (around 600 meters) on low-yielding calcareous soils.
Straw yellow. Typical aromas of gooseberries and fennel, along with some white flowers, and a slight hint of apricot. Quite full, mellow, but good fruitiness all the way.
Navarrsotillo Tempranillo 2013 – Best Buys Organic Series(Navarrsotillo) – Andosilla is in the region of Navarra, and the vineyards are in a radius of 10 kilometers from the bodega – in Andosilla, San Adrián and Calahorra (the last two over in La Rioja). The Serrano Arriezu brothers call this the “Rioja Mediterranea”). Here are cold winters, mild and wet springs and autumns, and warm and dry summers. The soil is calcareous, but also with sand, clay and stone, that gives wines with soft tannins, but can also give a freshness to the wines. This one is especially made for their Norwegian importer. Only tempranillo, spontaneously fermented and matured in inox.
Bright red. Earthy, mature fruit, herbs. Not very concentrated, but enough to reflect its origin.
LZ 2013(Telmo Rodríguez) – From Lanciego/Lantziego, towards the east of the Alavesa road, past Laguardia, a cool zone with predominantly clay and calcareous soils. Telmo claims that Lanciego reflects the contrasting influences between the Atlantic (that is closest) and the Mediterranean (whose influence is brough up by the Ebro river). The wine is made from tempranillo, graciano and garnacha, grown “en vaso” (bush wines). For this wine there is to a lesser extent a collaboration with local growers, carrying out traditional viticulture (pre-conventional), and all the grapes were picked by hand and fermented in cement with natural yeast and aged 4-6 months in cement.
Quite dark with a violet hue. Dark berries, fennel, with notes of licorice and some balsamic, a bit earthy. Medium body, good tannin grip and a nice acidity.
Ad Libitum Maturana Tinta 2011 (Juan Carlos Sancha) – While his white wine was all tempranillo this hasn’t a drop of that grape, but in-stead the variety mentioned in the wine name, maturana tinta that originates from Rioja. Sancha is a professor of enology at the University of La Rioja. He and his collegues were instrumental in the rescue operation of this grape and others in the region (like trousseau, bastardo and red verdejo).
Dark red. Balasamic notes combined with red berry fruit. Just the right amount of tannins for good drinking now, and matching acidity.
Rayos Uva Vendimia Seleccionada 2014(Olivier Rivière) – Rivière, from Cognac, was a consultant for Telmo Rodriguez from 2004. By then he had started to buy vineyards. He works organically, ploughs regularly, uses a minimal amount of treatments (organic too). Altitude is important for him, for freshness in the wines. This wine is made from tempranillo and graciano in equal parts (some times he puts in some garnacha) grown around 6-700 meters over sea level in the hills over Aldeanueva de Ebro. The wine was only gently macerated in inox before fermentation. He likes to ferment with stalks to achieve a wine that has a fresh feeling to it, but is nevertheless not light. After a 10 months ageing on lees, and only slightly sulphured, it was brought down to Aldeanueva to be bottled by Bodegas Lacus, where Rivière has also consulted.
Dark red. Dark fruits, blackberries, lightly balsamic (menthol). Soft tannins, a juicy, luscious feel, and just that right touch of inspiring acidity.
Predicador 2011(Benjamín Romeo) – OK, I admit it, I decided to give something to the people who had come for a “Rioja” tasting. Predicador 2011 was made of Benjamín Romeo, formerly at Cosecheros Alaveses (eventually known as Artadi), but left for his own “garage” project in his native San Vicente de la Sonsierra, altogether 7 hectar of vines in alluvial soils, calcareaous clay and sand. When I visited him some 10 years ago it was under very humble circumstances, but with ideal storage in 800 years old underground caves. I think he was going to build a new bodega, but I don’t know if it’s done. It didn’t seem to me that impressive bodega houses are among Benjamín’s focal points. But he is a true cosechero, he makes the wines he believes in, and he has many followers these days. His Predicador white was tested, and left out, but the red (from 89% tempranillo, 10% garnacha and 1% viura) passed the test. I don’t dare to think what disaster could have happened to this wine without that 1 decisive per cent of viura…
Dark red colour. Red berries, blackberries, a touch of vanilla. A smooth velvet texture, quite full and concentrated.
6 very nice, serioius, and quaffable wines. There could have been a few more, but honestly there ought to have been many, many, many more to chose from.
Positive news from Rioja: Another terroir-oriented company, this time David Sampedro and DSJ Vineyards, a man and a company with projects in several Spanish DO’s such as Rioja, Navarra, Valencia and Rías Baixas. Common for these wines are indigenous varieties, organic farming, little intervention along the way and wines that express their terroir.
This one is a 100% graciano from the high Elvillar area in Rioja Alavesa. In this project he is now working to get a biodynamic certification. The company is also called Bodegas Bhilar, from the Basque word for Elvillar. The Lágrimas is the only varietal in the portfolio, made with purchased grapes.
Lágrimas de Graciano 2014(Bodegas Bhilar/ DSG Vineyards)
Dark red with a violet tinge. Fruity with aromas of red berries, some blackcurrant, aromatic herbs, a hint of lickorice too. Luscious with a slight tannin grip.