BODEGAS JORGE PIERNAS
If you missed Part One (Wines With Legs) you might like to read it here www.colinharknessonwine.com click Articles – it’s an interesting story!
Vineyards have their own personality – odd though that sounds. So do vines – even stranger? Let me explain: you may have seen the Oz Clarke/James May wine series of a few years back. Although I often found the director’s stage-managing of the programmes rather irritating (they dumbed-down James May trying to make him into an uncultured guy, when he clearly isn’t!) I did enjoy them, learning from them too.
Well, James ‘learned to his astonishment’ (yeah, right!) that there can be remarkable differences between two adjacent vineyards separated only by a hardly used road. Same vines, same age, same production methods etc, but producing very different wines. Each vineyard has its own personality.
The same can apply to vines. Exhibit A is the WHITE Tempranillo variety found growing happily in the same vineyard as all of its fellow red Tempranillo vines at the end of the 20th Century. Over decades it had mutated from red to white! Cuttings were taken, once it had been declared a wholly distinct variety from its red cousin, others were sought and now there are whole vineyards planted with Tempranillo White Grapes! (Watch this space for my take on wines made with this ‘new’ variety).
Also in Rioja, some years ago I was taken to a famous bodega where I learned the story behind one particular wine, in fact the flagship wine of an already acknowledged producer of excellent red Rioja wines. Some years previously the Head Winemaker, when doing the rounds of the vineyards, stopping and tasting the grapes from various vines, as part of the process by which the optimum harvest time is decided, found one vine whose grapes had a totally different taste profile to all those surrounding it.
He searched through all of the plots and discovered that there were others whose flavour was the same – wholly out of synch with their near neighbours. There were enough such distinctly different vines to make a special wine – an icon was born (at about 150€ per bottle, incidentally!).
I was amazed to learn from Antonio that a similar scenario is being played out in the vineyards of Bodegas Jorge Piernas! I asked Antonio why it was that certain vines (still leafless at that time) had a marker by them. Well, you know the answer now! There may be enough to make a special wine now, but there certainly will be in the future – the adjacent field has been bought and the offspring of the identified vines will be planted there. Again, watch this space – I have to try this wine, when it eventually becomes available!
Fast forward from the cold vineyards to the bodega, where the wine is made – but when you visit, don’t expect a rustic old finca, modernised for purpose. Bodegas Jorge Piernas is housed in one of the very modern warehouses on an industrial estate in nearby Mula! Romantic it ain’t! But it certainly serves its purpose, for it is here where I tasted their wines, and this in several different stages of development.
First up was a 2016 vintage Syrah tank sample, taken as I watched from a steel fermentation vessel, now being used to store the wine under perfect conditions, ready for its next stage in a short time. On the nose blackberries, initially, very fruity and soon joined by black cherries on the palate. A lovely wine to drink now – but, no, it’s not for sale, yet.
It will have its time in French Oak 500 litre barrels and then blended with Monastrell, which will have gone to a similar process. The mix will be 70% Monastrell and the rest Syrah. In the soils and climate of Bullas it’s a winning blend – when I was there recently I tasted several wines made with these two varieties, and like them all.
Next I tasted the aforementioned Monastrell, the 2016, which had been placed in the barrel, from which my sample was drawn, just three months before. Extremely fruity, again, with a little complexity following even a short time in barrica. I’m told that it will be in oak for a maximum of only 5 months. Dark cherries again and a touch spicy with a little minerality.
I next tried another barrel sample – the same harvest of Monastrell, but in a different French oak – and there are other different oaks too! This is because Jorge is trying to get the balance perfect for what he wants. Don’t be concerned about talk about the wood, whichever the balance decided upon, the wood will only ever be there to add some body and complexity. It will never be allowed to mask the pure fruit, which is the mark of this bodega.
This wine was different – it goes to show how oak barrels can be different. I’d say that wine aged in this oak would need a little more time to mellow and reach their optimum drinking time. Compared to the first barrel sample it was a little more tannic and a touch greener, not quite there yet. My guess therefore is that there will be a blend between not just the Monastrell and the Syrah, but also the Monastrells that are aged in the different barrels!
Finally, after several barrel samples, like the above, the flagship wine, Juan Piernas, in the Burgundy style bottle, priced at the moment at about 25€ (the first wine, the 2015 vintage, tasted after the above, and called Sinesquema, retails at about 15€). The 100% Monastrell grapes which came from the highest plot (800 metres) were fermented in steel then placed in French oak barrels, Jorge believes French oak is the best for Monastrell!
This wine is outstanding. It celebrates the perfect harmony of elegance and power. Lots of dark plums, some juicy damsons with black cherry in there too. An element of spice and a little earthiness. A wine labeled solely as ‘Red Wine From Spain’, can’t be this excellent – can it? (www.jorgepiernas.com)
NB There’s a multi-medalled wine from DO Yecla up for grabs on the Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Sunday 21st May! 20 years in the Spanish Wine Scene and I’ve not known a new wine to be entered for its first three competitions ever and win a medal in each! That’s 2 Golds and a Silver! Bodegas Casa Boquera Joven Monastrell will be tasted live on-air and there’ll be another bottle given away to the first listener to answer a simple question during the programme. Just text (00 34) 629 388 159. Show starts 18:00 – 20:00 hrs www.totalfm.es and Total FM 91.8