Bodegas Joan de la Casa

AFTER ORANGE, COMES RED!

My recent discourse about the ‘Orange Wines’ of bodegas Joan de la Casa (www.joandelacasa.com/en/) provoked a number of comments and questions from readers (you can always e-mail me with yours – colin@colinharknessonwine.com). In the article I also alluded to his red wines.

I’ve often said that wine is all the better for it also having a story attached – and so it is in this case. This morning I’ve been chatting with a vineyard worker in Jalón valley about the apparently on-going Garnacha/Giró confusion/debate (though, mostly concerning the vine that takes centre stage on my current, bite-sized Blog ‘A Season in the Life of a Vine’ seen here: [www.colinharknessonwine.com click Blog) .

Let me explain: Giró is a black grape variety prevalent in the Jalón area, and in Alicante in general. However, there are those who say that it is just another name for Garnacha, the Spanish variety, called Grenache in France – a rose by any other name would smell as sweet! A trawl through Google, won’t particularly help here, and anyway, as a romantic by nature, I prefer the story that is attached to the Giró variety, which I believe, on balance, is in fact a wholly different grape.

I’m not sure when, but let’s say several hundred years ago, the King (I’m not sure which but . . . . ) whose domain included what we now know as Cataluña as well as Las Islas Baleares was concerned that the farms of the latter were not being properly attended because of a drop in the population. In order to address the situation, by way of inducement, he offered free land to people willing to move there and look after his estates as well as the new land that they would own. The incentive was taken up – with several taking vines with them.

Fast forward (I’m not sure how many years . . . ) and some of the ancestors of those who’d taken ‘the King’s shilling’ decided that they’d move back to mainland Spain, though further south, in order to requisition land that had belonged to the now banished Moors. Some arrived in the Jalón area, and, yes, they brought with them some vines to plant here!

Now, whether the Giró that they planted was a vine that was originally indigenous to the Balearic Islands, uprooted and brought to the mainland; or if it was a hybrid, perhaps developing naturally from Garnacha, or maybe with the help of human hands, I’m not sure (as you might guess from the above!) – but no matter, it’s a good story and certainly fits with the absolute conviction of Joan de la Casa, that Giró is not Garnacha!

In his atmospheric, rustic converted finca/bodega, just off the N332, going down the long hill from Benissa to Calpe, and home to antique wine making paraphernalia positioned alongside its more modern equivalent, we tasted his two red wines, after the aforementioned ‘Orange Wines’. Considering the nature of Orange/Amber wines, it wasn’t a huge contrast, as one could argue that Amber/Orange wines are whites that wannabe reds! (Why? Visit www.colinharknessonwine.com and click Articles)

Whilst Joan’s ‘Orange Wines’ are all made entirely with Moscatel, Giró figures highly in his reds, but not exclusively. Terra Fiter 2012 (the latter a Valenciano word for stones, therefore stone strewed soils) is made with 100% Giró, harvested from 60 – 80 yrs old vines. The juice macerates for 15 – 20 days and is then transferred to oxygen-free sealed deposits – few yeasts can survive without oxygen, the natural yeast found on Joan’s vines, can, so it’s a natural selection of yeast that turns the juice into wine!

This is a fruity wine, with fresh acidity, though five years old now, with balsamic notes and alluring blackberry fruit. Joan reckons it has three more good years, I’d say perhaps a year less – though certainly drinking well right now! 10€.

The 2008 Terra Fiter is a blend, Giró taking top spot with 60% of the mix, the rest being Tempranillo. This wine has had 18 months in oak, hence its ability to age. The wine has some blackberry notes again, aided and abetted by earthy undergrowth and ripe strawberry, with a little plum/damson. There is also an endearing touch of coconut coming from the oak. 12€

There are some places left for the wine pairing lunch at La Parrilla, Javea Old Town, Wednesday 16th May, starts 13:00 hrs – we are tasting quality: white, rosado and red wines, paired with different dishes, cooked, of course, by Pepe! If you can join us, please call me on 629 388 159 or e-mail colin@colinharknessonwine.com

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