REFLECTING THE SOUL OF THE VINEYARD
Terroir – ‘The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.’
Terroir – ‘The characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.’
(Incidentally, whilst hesitating to imply that the renowned Mr. Oxford may have missed something here [I’m only from the North, after all!], I’d add ‘aroma’ to the second definition.)
Well, you can pick either, and indeed both, arriving, like the Oxford Dictionary definitions above, at a reasonable explanation of what this mystical, French word actually means.
Or you could simply buy a couple of bottles of wine from Bodegas Finca Antigua and taste what ‘terroir’ is all about!
My recent guest on the Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme (see below) was Señor Diego Martínez, the much traveled Sales Director of the winery in question, and an obvious natural for radio guesting! Having received two different wines by post a few weeks before, and having tasted them, claro, I was delighted to see that Diego had brought with him two more wines to taste live on-air.
Not only this, but he’d also brought with him a Magnum bottle of Reserva Red Wine from the officially declared ‘Excellent’ vintage 2010 – as a prize for the first listener to text the answer to a simple question during the show. (I often have a prize to give away on the show, makes it even more worth listening in!).
Over recent years I’ve tasted several of the wines from this young and vibrant bodega, which is part of the Familia Martinez. You won’t find them in supermarkets – they are a cut above the norm, re quality, so they are distributed only by dedicated wine shops, as well as a busy on-line business (http://www.shopfamiliamartinezbujanda.com/en/) and their corporate sales to the restaurant/hotel trade. When you do see them – you can’t miss them!
The clue, of course, is in the name – Finca Antigua alludes to an old farmhouse, and indeed, the state-of-the-modern-art structure is in the same area where once there was an old farmhouse. It’s no coincidence that an opening line on their website reads: ‘El llave de los sueños’ – the key to dreams! On the labels of all the wines there is an image of an ancient metal key, and it’s this key that was given to the Martínez Bujanda family when they decided to purchase the property at the beginning of the 21st Century.
It’s a nice touch – the combination of ancient tradition and modernity embodied in the image of the key, and in the wines too. Like many of Spain’s bodegas, as regular Cork Talk readers will know, they are being driven by winemakers who have a grounding in the family tradition of wine-making, supported by modern technology and methods. It works!
I tasted the Finca Antigua dry white wine in a quiet moment on the radio programme a couple of weeks before Diego’s show – though I wasn’t quiet about it for long! I wasn’t sure what to expect – Viura isn’t really my favourite Spanish white wine variety. However, I did note that the label told me it was ‘sobre lias’, on its lees.
It’s something to look out for when choosing your wines. If you’re not sure what this means, it can be described as keeping the sediment in the tank and regularly stirring them, so that from bright and clear, the wine inside becomes cloudy. It’s not what we want in a bottle of wine, less still in a glass, but when in tank (or in barrel) this is a beneficial strategy.
Before bottling, the sediment (the lees) are allowed to sink to the bottom, the clear wine is extracted and of course we have a perfectly bright and clear bottle and glass of white wine, though now with an extra dimension. Stirring the lees like this adds structure to the finished wine and a certain creamy texture. As I’ve said before, Viura needs a little help, and this does the trick. Super white wine!
Diego and I tasted the Syrah Crianza 2013 first. Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of Spanish Syrah. Whilst in its natural home, the Rhône valley, France, there have been years when there has been insufficient sunshine to fully ripen the grapes, this is never the case here in Spain. That said, we don’t want to lose some of the peppery spice that is a common tasting note for French Syrah, because the grapes become too ripe. Well, Finca Antigua has the answer – the Syrah vines have plenty of hours of sunshine, but at 900m above seal level. The best of both worlds resulting in a juicy, fresh wine, with a little spice, some mature tannin, an earthy quality and from the its ten months in oak some added character and depth too.
Finca Antigua Crianza Único 2011 is now drinking perfectly and I find myself anticipating the next vintage! Made with Cabernet, Syrah, Tempranillo and Merlot this wine, a single estate bottling, has been aged in a combination of French and American oak for 13 months. The fruit, that’s blackberry, damson and light and dark cherry, rises to the fore, but on the way your senses will be assailed (in the nicest possible way!) by a combination vanilla, slight coconut and coffee aroma, with a granite and wet stone or slate minerality as well as a very slight reference to disturbed leafy undergrowth.
Finally, though a difficult choice, my favourite was the delightful Moscatel Naturally Sweet Dessert wine. The grapes are harvested at the same time as the rest of the plots but are then placed on mats to dry in the sunshine, thereby reducing the water content of the juice inside. The sugar rich, wrinkled grapes look more like raisons as they are pressed for their remaining juice.
The golden coloured finished wine is something of a sensation and an ideal way to end a fine dinner – with dessert, or mature cheeses, or why not just on its own?!
NB the link above also allows you to navigate to their impressive Wine Tourism portfolio.
The next Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme on Total FM 91.8 and www.totalfmn.es is on Sunday 16th July, 18:00 – 20:00 hrs, when I’ll be chatting with Nicola Thornton, Co-founder and Export Director of Spanish Palate, Wine Négociant and Distributor.