HISTORIC SOMONTANO & A BODEGA
WITH MODERNITY AT ITS CORE
Forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but I do believe it’s worth saying again – I’ve never tasted a poor wine from DO Somontano! However, I’m unapologetic about making the above statement – again? If readers are looking for consistent quality, then DO Somontano is an ideal port of call. Not that the rolling, at times, mountainous, vineyards of this relatively young area of production are anywhere near the sea (DO status was only approved in 1985 [DO Rioja, for example was in the 20s]). Set in the foothills of the Pyrenees as well as climbing into the higher ground, DO Somontano averaging 350 – 700 metres above sea level, is far enough away from the Med for it to be minimally, if at all, influential.
In the 1970s some local growers decided that they’d like to capitalise on their long history of winemaking, started really in Roman times, believing that their wines were of sufficient quality for them to apply for DO status – although it took 11 years, it was granted, and DO Somontano never looked back. Lengthy studies of microclimates and soils, initially undertaken by the bodega we now know as Viñas de Vero, convinced, not only themselves, but others too, that high quality wines can be made in this area.
Enter, as recently as 2014(!), Bodegas Sommos, whose super-modern, architecturally beautiful building alone is a pointer to the winery’s philosophy. At the cutting edge (see the ‘sharp’ angles of the bodega!) of modern wine-making this bodega has been designed around current thinking, using tried and tested modern methods, the results of which are testimony to their success.
If I was to think of one word that suits all their production (including that of their sister bodega in DO Calatayud) it would be ‘elegance’.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the blockbustingly rich wines that we so often find in Spain. Those reds that fill your senses, almost as the cork is being extracted. The richness, often sheer opulence, of the meaty, big and bouncy reds designed to partner the equally powerful wild game and juicy casseroles so loved by the Spanish, and so appropriate in their specific locations.
However, I’m also a great lover of subtlety. Whilst, I’m not usually keen on overly delicate wines (their thinness can often be a result of over production and/or immature vines), I’m enamored with wines that have full taste and aroma profiles, but with an almost overriding, certainly integrated, elegance. The wines of Bodegas Sommos fit, perfectly!
The philosophy is spot on. The bodega building is very tall, an impressive part of its design, which allows for movement of the grapes and resulting juice by gravity rather than by intrusive pumps, which can damage the final product. All harvesting is performed at night when the temperatures are at their lowest, bunches are placed in stainless steel trailers with an air-tight stopper, and then transported post haste to the temperature controlled reception area.
Fermentation occurs either in huge French oak vats or concrete tanks before appropriate ageing (according to the style of wine required) in new French oak barrels.
It’s a large concern, the more so considering its sister bodega, so there are a number of lines. I was sent a good selection of wines from the large portfolio and tasted first the Glárima range, of which two whites were first up: the intriguing (you’ll see why in a moment!) Varietals Blanco 2015, and the Chardonnay/Gewurztraminer Roble 2015.
The former wine, the Varietals Blanco, is a blend of 40% each of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer with the addition of 20% Pinot Noir – told you it was intriguing, a red rose between two whites! Each variety comes from vines that are allowed to yield only one and a half kilos of grapes, and is fermented separately in stainless steel. After blending the wine is aged with its lees for 4 months in new French oak barricas, with regular stirring.
It has a glorious fruity nose with a faint pink rose petal fragrance completing the aroma profile. On the palate, a little lychee, some peach and apricot confirm its fruit presence whilst the finish is quite rich, yet elegant and dry. A super start for me!
Glárima Roble Chardonnay/Gewurztraminer is a wine big in flavour, and initially mouth-filling, though the aforementioned elegance gently asserts itself making this very flavoursome wine ideal to simply enjoy on its own, as well as partnering fish and shellfish, through to chicken and turkey. Gewurztraminer is one of the darlingg varieties of this DO, and here’s an example of why this is so!
Glárima Varietals Tinto 2014 is a blend of Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon (Somontano generally is big on international varieties, for which it does receive some criticism, at least here Sommos leads with homegrown Tempranillo!). This vineyard, with the different varietals growing together, though in separate blocks, is permitted just 1 kilo of grapes per vine. Popular in China, the wine has enjoyed 8 mnths in French oak, again with its lees, and has violet traces in its colour as well as its aroma, with good damson and dark cherry fruit.
The Merlot/Tempranillo in this range also has a little Cabernet for extra colour and ageing potential. It’s had less time in oak, with a view to highlighting the intensity of the fruit as well as allowing the terroir to make its contribution. Extra to the dark, forest berries fruit, I enjoyed a whiff of menthol too.
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