DO BULLAS’ BURGUNDY!
I was most impressed when I first met Sebastian Boudon, who in 2013 was Head Winemaker at a winery inland from Alicante, making DO Alicante wines. Regular readers may recall my words about him in an article written in April of that year (I doubt it though, as I had to refresh my memory too!) :
“ [Sebastian Boudon], who, it’s clear to me, has a deep passion for quality wine and a philosophy born of tradition in both his native France and his adoptive Spain as well as modern methods learned and developed during training.”.
So, when I saw him proudly exhibiting the ‘Lavia’ portfolio of wines made by Molino y Lagares de Bullas at the exclusive DO Bullas wine fair, I was as delighted with the wine as I was intrigued by his presence! It was easily explained, and I’m not surprised – Sebastian had been head-hunted by this bodega which is on the fast-track to fame, bringing the whole DO with it!
If you go to www.bodegaslavia.com you’ll see the whole, impressive range, and when you realise that this bodega is in fact but one of a clutch of bodegas now operating under the umbrella company, MGWines Group. This group, the brainchild of Señor Luis Miñano San Valero, an Alicante businessman, is intent on producing wines of a Mediterranean character, which simultaneously also reflect the distinct terroirs of the various areas of wine production in which the bodegas concerned are located.
MGWines Group has bodegas in DOs: Alicante, Bullas, Bierzo; as well as the Vino de la Tierra de Castilla however, the management, whilst imparting this objective to the staff in each individual bodega, very sensibly leave them to their own devices. Thus, included in the package, is a certain autonomy where the wine-makers, bodegueros and other integral members of the team are able to simply get on with the job.
This is the first article in a series about the bodegas concerned, and of course, their wines.
The favoured grape variety of DO Bullas is Monastrell, one of the most grown varieties in Spain, and one so perfectly adapted to the soils and micro-climates of the DOs on, and inland from the Costas of South East Spain. It’s a variety that features regularly in this column, where you’ll read that it delivers darkly coloured, rich, plum and damson fruit flavoured wines that are verging on the hedonistic. Yet there is also elegance.
Now, the elegance in Lavia + 2009 is undisputed, it’s mouth-feel has a graceful weight about it. However, when the wine is first poured you’ll notice that those dark colours actually aren’t present. The lightness of the weight on the palate is reflected in the paleness of the wine. At first glance, and indeed, first sip, you may well question the wine’s provenance – this is from SE Spain, made with Monastrell? Well, I certainly did.
There is an element of fine Burgundy in the wine! I kid you not! But how come? Well, Sebastian explained that the vineyard from whence the grapes for this wine hail is aluvial with limestone in it’s make-up. If you ever wanted proof that different soils have different effects on wines, just take a look at, and a good sip of Lavia + – DO Bullas’ Burgundy-esque wine!
It’s floral on the nose, delicate with only hints of the fruit to follow. In the mouth it’s rounded, light, yet seemingly perversely full in subtle flavour. There’s more dark and red cherry than plum plus an alluring black chocolate note on the finish. There’s a well integrated French oak note coming from the 500 litre barricas in which the wine has been aged, as well as an almost hidden earthiness.
The sum of the parts is a wine that is drinking just right now, though for me, doesn’t have too long left at this ideal level. I can’t wait for subsequent vintages!
Lavia 2010 will not cause the brow to furrow whilst you try and work out the grape variety etc. It’s Monastrell, big, rich, plummy and yummy! This wine surely has to have been made with grapes whose vineyard has a different soil profile. At 14·5% abv it packs a punch, representative of the variety and the region, though still retaining an element of elegance.
There’s a little black pepper spice on the palate (coming from the small percentage of Syrah included in the blend), similar earthy notes, but this time with some endearing herbal notes, bay, thyme and perhaps some illusive rosemary. A wine to really enjoy – there’s depth, yes, but it’s not so complex that you have to concentrate whilst drinking it on its own, with meat, game, cheese . . . . It’s that sort of wine!
Lavia + Finca Paso Malo 2012 is a single vineyard wine made with 50 old Monastrell vines. It too has the paler Lavia + colour and is, I feel, a work in progress. There’s a richness to the wine, along with elegance and slightly more pronounced minerality, and although there is no Syrah in the blend there is nevertheless a pleasing spiciness, emanating, I think, from the open 500 litre barrels in which the wine was fermented, along with regular stirring, plus its18 months French oak ageing.
Rather than cultured, commercial yeast, this wine has been made with wild yeasts indigenous to the vineyard itself, which I believe makes an impact on the fisnished product. There’s a singularity about the wine – it’s distinctive already, but will develop further as it matures in bottle. At just three years of age, there will be further evolution and I’d like to try it again when it’s double the age!
So, a rather good starting point for the MGWines Group – with more to follow, soon!
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