By Olly Bartlett, of Indigo Wine
Come and meet the new Spanish Terroiristas
The case for the prosecution: If one limits oneself to the standard offering of Spanish wines at a supermarket or even one of the few remaining national wine retailers, one could be forgiven for thinking that Spain was still in the grips of New World consultant-hiring, North American critic point-chasing wine enterprises, lovers of over-extraction, new oak and expensive, quirky and some would say, vulgar, new bottle shapes.
The case for the defence: at The Real Wine Fair on March 17th and 18th, we will debunk this myth by presenting Spain’s most exciting and accomplished ‘terroiristas’, winemakers dedicated to expressing their unique blend of indigenous grape varieties by using old and new techniques, and capturing the physical attributes of their terroir by working organically or biodynamically and with minimal intervention. Some of these, such as Suertes del Marques from Tenerife, are brand new entries to the UK market whilst others, such as Jimenez-Landi, Zarate and Escoda Sanahuja have been at the forefront in establishing a strong platform for thrilling, terroir-driven Spanish wines.
Our pick of the Spanish winemakers attending The Real Wine Fair:
Terrific Tenerife: much more than just winter sun…
- Suertes del Marques, Valle de la Orotava – With native varieties like Listan Blanco and Negro, Tintilla and Baboso Negro, this bodega offers the chance to taste something truly unique. Winemaker Roberto is cut from the same cloth as his mainland stable mates, using minimal intervention and a combination of old and new techniques to produce fresh wines with a sense of place.
Spain’s North West: the Atlantic Influence
- Zarate Albarino, Rias Baxias – Eulogio Pomares is the winemaker of these long-lived wines which have the ability to age similar to Riesling. As well as the regular Zarate, there are two single vineyard offerings, and three rare, unusual and minute production reds (around 300 bottles each!) made from Loureiro Tinto, Caino Tinto and Espadeiro.
- Guimaro, Ribera Sacra – we think Pedro Perez makes some of the best Mencia in the world, from ancient and restored vineyards on the vertiginous terraced slopes overlooking the River Sil. Schist soils add a minerality to the perfumed, herbal Mencia grapes.
- Also from the North West will be Bodegas Mengoba, Gregory Perez from Bierzo & Tierra di Cangas and Bodega Alfredo Maestro, Ribera del Duero.
Catalonia and the Levante Coast: Eastern Promise
- Escoda Sanahuja, Conca de Barbera – Joan Ramon Escoda is one of life’s enthusiasts, always ready with a smile. One of the few in Spain to completely eschew sulphur, he uses French and native varieties, a common practice in this outward looking region, to create wines of genuine character.
- Sao del Coster, Priorat – Another of life’s infectious personalities, Fredi Torres makes some of the most elegant, restrained Prioratos in this esteemed DOCa. Equally in love with his gorgeous donkey as his grapes, Fredi’s Terram has found a small but dedicated following in the UK on-trade and indie scene. Come and try top wine Planassos, an 800-bottle-a-year beautiful old vine Carignan.
- Bodegas Ponce, Manchuela – Beautiful Biodynamic Bobals as well as super rare Albilla de Manchuela and Moravia Agria. Juan Antonio uses a Beaujolais-like combination of large format old oak and whole bunch to great effect to tame the often monstrous Bobal and produce wines of refinement and elegance.
- Also present will be Loxarel and Cava Recaredo from Penedes and Rafa Bernabe from Alicante
Central Spain: Garnacha is King
- Maldivinas, Cebreros – Two guys, halfway up a mountain looking for some old vines. That is pretty much how La Movida came about. Guillermo Fernandez and Carlos Arenas have acquired 4 Ha of super old bush vine Garnacha, which by its very nature, around 950m, is farmed by hand and hoof. A mixture of granite, schist and sand lends beautiful elegance and the use of old oak allows the variety to exhibit all its subtleties. Around 1,600 bottles a year.
- Bodegas Jimenez-Landi, Mentrida – if it is possible for such a young guy as Dani to be an old hand, he is definitely one of the most respected leaders of the Spanish natural scene. He also seeks out old Garnacha and is obsessed by trying to make the perfect wine from each of his individual plots. Undoubtedly world class wines by anyone’s measure.
Still not convinced? Well, you can reserve judgement until after the final summing up, which will take place at The Real Wine Fair, Tobacco Dock, Wapping, E1W 2SF
•Sunday March 17th (Trade & Public) 10am – 6pm
•Monday March 18th (Trade) 10am – 6pm