Back to the fu­ture

Costa Levante News - - WINE AND DINE - Cork Talk by Colin Hark­ness

With to­tal in­credulity I read a Tweet on Twit­ter last Novem­ber, I think, whose the­sis was that the Span­ish wine world is stag­nant! The call to arms was first taken up by one of this col­umn’s Movers and Shak­ers (see www.col­in­harkesson­ click Ar­ti­cles), Vic­tor de la Serna. I’d have joined him im­me­di­ately, had it not been for the vol­ume and weight of Vic­tor’s ex­am­ples prov­ing that this as far away from the truth as is the space probe cur­rently leav­ing our galaxy from planet Earth!

Cork Talk read­ers will know that I am for­ever mar­vel­ling at the dy­namism of the Span­ish Wine Fir­ma­ment (mov­ing from sim­ile to metaphor in one easy shot!). There is such in­no­va­tion here in Spain that said sorry tweet re­ally couldn’t have been made by any­body who ac­tu­ally had on vine­yard soil, in bodega, first­hand ex­pe­ri­ence of the Span­ish wine scene.

I’m heart­ened to learn, al­most each week, that part of this dy­namism is a fun­da­men­tal de­sire to get back to the fu­ture, and this, driven in the most part by new young wine­mak­ers, through­out the coun­try.

There are in­creas­ing num­bers of ed­u­cated cava­lier, oc­ca­sion­ally nec­es­sar­ily re­bel­lious, young­sters who are keen to put into prac­tice that which they have learned on their wine­mak­ing cour­ses, ex­pe­ri­enced in their in­tern­ships at other winer­ies (in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, even hemi­spheres), al­lied with lo­cal tra­di­tion and fam­ily his­tory and re­assess some of the old, an­cient grape va­ri­eties cling­ing to life in their for­got­ten fields!

One such win­ery is Viñe­dos y Bode­gas Parde­valles, DO Tierra de Léon, at about 800 me­tres above sea level in the Pi­cos de Europa moun­tain range. They make a small port­fo­lio of wines us­ing the very old red wine (and Rosado, of course) va­ri­ety Pri­eto Picudo; and the equally an­cient, Al­barín Blanco (not to be con­fused with the to­tally dif­fer­ent, though per­haps sim­i­lar sound­ing, Al­bar­iño va­ri­ety). If look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent, a wine away from the ho­moge­nous Cab Sauvs and Chardies etc that are served so ubiq­ui­tously, I urge you to seek these out!

I loved the Al­barín Blanco – it’s so dif­fer­ent! There’s noth­ing un­usual about its pro­duc­tion – har­vested at night, to en­sure the op­ti­mum tem­per­a­ture when it en­ters the win­ery, adapted to in­clude the 300 years or old caves hewn by hand, the grapes fer­mented in tem­per­a­ture con­trolled stain­less steel tanks. The aim here is to al­low the va­ri­ety to ex­press it­self – there’s no oak age­ing, nor in vogue ce­ment eggs. Nei­ther is there any use of tina­jas, also cur­rently de rigeur. What you get is the fruit, pure and sim­ple.

There’s a slight nod to the cat’s pee, goose­berry fruit of Sau­vi­gnon Blanc, if look­ing for any sim­i­lar­i­ties with any other va­ri­eties, but more to the fore are blanched al­monds, per­haps some hazel­nuts and an en­dear­ing wet stone min­er­al­ity. Su­per wine, from a va­ri­ety saved from ex­tinc­tion!

We tasted the Rosado made with the Pri­eto Picudo, a very dark skinned va­ri­ety, known as well for its sugar con­tent and nat­u­ral acid­ity. At 13·5% alc it packs a punch be­hind the el­e­gance it also dis­plays. You’ll find, as so often with Span­ish rosé wine, some de­light­ful rasp­berry fruit, with the added ad­van­tage of some straw­berry too. How­ever, there are dark fruits to this wine as well, some bram­bly black­berry and a faint whiff of dam­son.

We en­joyed it with a red len­til based veg­e­tar­ian dish and the next night with salmon. It’s adapt­able, pair­ing wise, as well as be­ing a lovely Rosado to drink when the weather starts to be­come a lit­tle warmer – though why wait?!

Ga­monal, a sin­gle es­tate wine, is one of three reds made with the same va­ri­ety, Pri­eto Picudo. It’s a sen­sa­tional wine! The bunches are care­fully har­vested by hand and taken to the win­ery. Fer­men­ta­tion and mac­er­a­tions oc­curs over a 14 ­18 day pe­riod, al­low­ing the skins to give off some of their dark

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