BEAUTY AND THE BEAST @ BODEGAS VIÑA LUPARIA
If my wife, the lovely Claire, was Spanish; if she was a Miss and not now a Mrs; and if she were to enter the Miss Spain Competition, I’m certain she’d be successful! However, for such a competition, one out of four aint good enough!
I thought it best to preface this article with such heartfelt compliments lest there be a fall out following its publication. Think of it as insurance on a self-preservation theme!
You see, I’ve recently been tasting wine with non-other than Miss Spain (please see the photographic proof)! The young lady, whose name I didn’t catch, is obviously the eponymous ‘Beauty’. Had I auditioned, I’m sure I would have walked the part of ‘The Beast’, but in fact I’m not referring to myself above, but a ‘real’ beast – a wolf! And I’m not crying!
Quite the reverse – the wines coming from this new venture are not only drinking nicely now, that are also a work in progress.
If there was a prize for the best stand at Fenavin, Spain’s National Wine Fair, that of Bodegas Luparia would have certainly been a contender – probably the winner. Add to this the fact that Miss Spain (did I mention that I was tasting wine with Miss Spain?) was happily dispensing wine to the queue of international buyers, journalists, radio and TV presenters and it’s clear to see the attraction.
But what of the wines? Well, firstly, as you can imagine, the wine labels were eye-catching to say the least. Each bottle was displayed on a neo-Roman column (indeed one of the labels depicts Romulus and Remus) with the wine’s concept and story stenciled on the backdrop of a larger than life leaf, which could also be taken for a tree in the forest in which the wolves prowl.
Airén has had a bad press – largely deserved, in the past, at least. However, this low-profile, though hugely planted variety, is now enjoying a renaissance. In the hands of dedicated winemakers whose modern thinking, allied with traditional know-how and new technology, Airén can produce characterful wine.
‘The Mockery’ 2014 from Bodegas Viña Luparia is 100% Airén grown near Toledo at 800 metres above sea level. At 11·5% abv it’s a refreshingly relatively low alcohol wine that displays clean and fresh citrus acidity along with an alluring white flower perfume. A good start!
‘The Rebellion’ Sauvignon Blanc 2014 harvested from 20 yr old vines has tropical fruit aromas with understated gooseberry and asparagus notes, with a faint flavour and nose of grapefruit. In the bodega’s wine notes there’s a reference to the Inuit legend of the wolf Amarok, and whilst not yet legendary, this wine is getting there. Refreshing to have a subtle Sauvignon that is not as in-your-face as others!
‘The Lovers’ is made with Garnacha, Spain’s second most planted grape, and another that has been criticised in recent years – though this criticism should have been leveled at those who have encouraged the vine into over-production thus ‘diluting’ the qualities it possesses, rather than the variety itself.
This wine is so pretty in the bottle, and when poured there is a strong strawberry aroma, rather than the typical rosé nose of raspberry. The vineyards are located at an altitude of 900 metres above sea level (did you know that Spain boasts the highest vineyards in Europe?) and this fact, coupled with the night-time harvest, means that the wine retains its fresh acidity whilst the Spanish sunshine has assured its full ripening.
The notes talk of the wolf being hopelessly in love with the moon, hence its incessant howling whilst staring at the milky orb in the night sky. A romantic wine for the ladies, for sure – but this is a super mouthful for anyone!
It’s Little Red Riding Hood who’s depicted on the label of ‘The Innocence’, the first of their red wines. The connection here is the youth of the Tempranillo vines and that of the poor girl in red.
The wine is cherry red, with lots of soft red fruit on the nose. It’s light on the palate and as it warms in the mouth strawberry, raspberry and the lightest coloured cherries impress the taster. Easy drinking, fruit driven, short on the finish – it does what’s asked of it!
‘The Origin’ is based on the legend of the founding of Rome. We are stepping up here, in terms of mouthfeel, depth of flavour and complexity. Tempranillo again, this time from 50 yrs old vines, and a short, 4 month, crianza (ageing) in American oak.
Still juicy and fruit orientated the wine is structured with a light layering of complexity and depth of flavour. Drink it with food, light meats as well as steak, by all means, but also enjoy it on its own. Tray it in two years time too!
‘The Freedom’ adds a bit of spice to the Viña Luparia portfolio. Syrah, grown at altitude in Spain, can deliver black peppery notes, as it so often does in its native France, and with the added dimension of many hours of ripening sunshine, Spanish Syrah can offer rich depth too. There’s also Garnacha in the blend, each variety being fermented separately and then enjoying four months’ ageing in subtle French Oak (so the Syrah doesn’t become homesick?).
I tasted the 2014, which, whilst being an attractive drink now, will evolve further in the bottle for another three years. I’d like to taste this wine again in a few years to see how it has developed. It, like the winery itself, is a work in progress and is therefore one to watch out for!
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