First Published Costa News Group, November 2012

BODEGAS TIERRA HERMOSA

HIGH QUALITY WINES FROM THE SIERRA NEVADA

A COSTA NEWS EXCLUSIVE!

It’s a long way from the City of London to the beautiful mountains towering over one of Spain’s most enigmatic cities, Granada – both physically and culturally,  too!

The difference between the frenetic fast-track life of Public Relations where blue-chip clients, and their potential clients, are pampered with top quality wines in the major metropolises of the world, and the actual making of those fine wines in the rural, high altitude bucolic bliss of the vineyards of DO Vino de Calidad de Granada, is immense.

However those who have walked the tightrope suspended between success and failure in the dynamic world of PR are perhaps well equipped to cope with taking that life changing step. Harry Hunt, ex-Managing Director of a successful Public Relations Company, headquartered in The City, hasn’t downsized, he’s sideways-sized! The challenges he and his wife, Katie (and their young children), now face are at least, just as demanding.

Katie and Harry first travelled to Andalucia in the early 90s and although it was unknown to them then, the seeds of discontent with their lifestyles of the time were sown, along with the budding and nurturing of a lasting love affair with the stunning beauty of Southern Spain.

Harry, owing partly to his time fine wining and dining his PR clients, was also developing an interest in wines, and although he didn’t articulate it at the time, in wine-making too. He took an interest in the differing styles of wine emanating from the varied topographies that are available to wine-makers in Andalucia.

It was something of an epiphany when the opportunity to enrol in the University of Brighton’s Plumpton College, Viticulture and Oenology course presented itself. Harry signed up!

After an extensive and demanding course, which included practical experience, not only in the college vineyards but also with stints in UK vineyards as well as in Bordeaux and the Rhòne valley, Harry was handed his degree in Science in Wine Production in 2010. Fully qualified and nicely experienced, all he needed now was a winery!

Or was it? What about the creation of a negociant-style wine business in Andalucia, an area where no such enterprise existed? This novel idea became a reality after meeting a young up-and-coming winemaker in the Granada area, Alberto Villarraso Zafra. Although a local lad Alberto also had the crucial (to Harry’s business plan) experience of international wine making, including vintages in the Southern Hemisphere, in New Zealand to be precise.

Harry’s experience in the business world told him that whilst it was a super idea to make distinctive wine in Andalucia, it was also going to be necessary to sell that wine, not just locally, not even just within the boundaries of Spain, but also internationally. Harry was looking for contemporary wines that had a foundation in the tradition and practise of their homeland including a sense of that place, but also the added value of modern, international thinking.

Harry’s fledging Bodegas Tierra Hermosa owns no vineyards, no wine making facility, none of the trappings that one would normally expect for a wine business. And yet Harry has just released their first two wines and Cork Talk has the honour of being the first to revue them!

Following the classic French negociant model, Harry, along with his advisor, Alberto, identified various vineyard plots whose soils, micro-climates, altitude and grape varieties fitted their requirements. Bodega owners were approached and a deal was made where Harry would buy the grapes from the targeted plots, supervising every aspect of wine production, from vine to bottle.

Thus the wines of Bodegas Tierra Hermosa are wholly theirs, with the exception of ownership of the vines whose bounty they use – and to such good effect!

Neblerío 2010 DOP Vino de Calidad de Granada has the unmistakeable soft red fruit combined with darker, brambly berries that are characteristic of wines made from 100% Tempranillo. The vineyards used for this wine are at a very high altitude where night time

Neblerío, quality red wine from Bodegas Tierra Hermosa

temperatures are dramatically lower that those of the daytime, when the sun beats down mercilessly. The sunshine and consequent high temperatures allow the grapes to ripen perfectly, but the significant heat loss of night time insures against a flabby wine, increasing the acidity so necessary in fine wine.

However Neblerío also has another advantage, indicated perhaps to those who have an understanding of Spanish, in the name. Neblerío is the local name for the mists that form in the early hours of dawn and beyond, until eventually chased away by the rising sun. This mist provides added moisture to help grape production as well as some respite from the sun.

The wine enjoys a short ageing period in small French oak barrels which gives it some added depth with vanilla, slight coffee and dark chocolate aromas and tastes. The oak is handled judiciously, an indication that Harry has not only learned his craft well, but that he is also aware that the modern wine drinker is not keen on wood hiding primary fruit flavours. This is a juicy wine with a mineral quality, drinking well now but with time on its side too. There’s mature tannin, acidity of course, plenty of fruit and a sufficiently high alcohol level making it a wine that can be aged to mellow further.

The name Veinte Grados (20º) 2010 VdlT Laderas del Genil, their other wine, is a reference to the 20ºC drop in temperature between night and day time. Harry has taken the decision to opt out of the DO for this wine’s production. Years ago this might have been considered either brave or foolish as there was a time when DO approval was supposed to be the only the mark of quality. Cork Talk readers will know of course that this is no longer the case as there are many wines that are not DO approved but are often better than some which are!

Essentially, if a winemaker wants to have his wine listed under the DO he has to abide by their rules. These are many and can be

Top Wine celebrating the 20ºC difference between night and daytime temperatures!

tiresome. If a winemaker wants to make his wine in a way not approved by the DO he must have it listed by another name (smelling just as sweet!).

20º is made from three grape varieties – Tempranillo, Garnacha and Syrah, and it’s the Syrah that is the reason for opting out of the DO system. Veinte Grados is a 2010 vintage wine, but the 20% Syrah included in the blend is from the 2008 harvest which has subsequently been aged in small French oak barricas, adding to the complexity and structure of the finished product.

This super Priorat-esque wine, perhaps because of the similarities in soils and altitude between the hallowed Priorat vineyards and those above Granada, was made from vines that manage to grow at 1,200 metres above sea level, amongst the highest in  Spain!

There’s an abundance of dark fruit with damsons particularly noticeable but that’s not all. Look for some spice, from the Syrah along with a faint black olive taste too; there’s a whiff of bay leaf and some pleasing, slatey mineral notes with a blackberry fruit, lengthy finish. Again this wine will also be suitable for ageing.

For sales go to www.tierrahermosa.com and click Contact Us.

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