BOTAS DE BARRO
AND HOW WE SHOULD ALL BE PUTTING THE BOOT IN!
I know it must have been a terrible shock for Bodegas Fariña when, after months of deliberation and soul-searching, their Export Director tendered her resignation. Despite her youth, Nicola Thornton had been with the company for many years, and had been taken to the hearts of the Fariña family in DO Toro, almost to the point of being adopted into this proud family with such a wine-making history!
The emotional break for both parties must have been traumatic and for Bodegas Fariña this will also have been a potential business tragedy too! Since arriving at Bodegas Fariña Nicola has opened up 60 (yes, sixty!) new international markets for their wines, in both of the world’s hemispheres in countries as diverse as Brazil and Japan, to name just two!
The reason for the break – well, simply, after a job so well done, a desire to work for herself. Nicola wants to leave something for her children to carry on with after her, as yet long-off, retirement. There was of course, no falling out and I’m sure that she went with Fariña’s blessing, after they had no doubt implored her to stay, probably also offering to fill her so well travelled cases with gold, if she’d only stay!
Spanish Palate (www.spanishpalate.es) is Nicola’s new project (more on Spanish Palate in forthcoming Cork Talks!) and underneath this business umbrella is the exciting project which is the subject of this week’s Cork Talk. As the above title says, we should all be putting the eponymous ‘boot in’ – in our wine cellars and wine cabinets. A part of the Spanish Palate is the brilliantly named Botas de Barro (Muddy Boots) wine business, that is Nicola’s new baby!
I’ve had the pleasure recently of meeting Nicola and her wine making partner Alvaro Martin in Barcelona, where I was also one of the first to taste the whole range of their very impressive wine portfolio. It’s my guess that you will also be able to taste these wines soon – and I’d recommend you do!
It’s a simple concept – Spain has probably the largest number of hectares of old, low yielding vineyards in the world, resulting in an amazing array of stunning wines. Nicola asks the question – have we ever wondered how many old, muddy boots have worked these venerable vineyards over the decades and even centuries?
Nicola’s Botas de Barro portfolio of fine wines pays homage to the generations of farmers who have worked these vineyards carefully tending to the vines with a view to producing excellent wines, whilst also being aware of the legacy that will be passed on to the next generation. And so on! Thus, Boras de Barro is history past and present, as well as history in the making!
Firstly the pleasing thing about all these wines is that they are A. Fruit first wines; and B. uncomplicated, and dangerously easy to drink!
One of the favourite areas of production for white wine in Spain these days is DO Rueda, home to the indigenous Verdejo grape variety, whose tendency to oxidise too soon, spoiling the wines, has now been well and truly mastered – as regular readers know, by a combination of technology and technique – with a liberal sprinkling of investment too!
With some of the same aroma and flavour profiles of the much loved Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo also has a few of its own! It’s firstly an aromatic variety with herby, grassy notes and that gooseberry fruit of Sauvignon, but add some vegetal green asparagus with a touch of fennel too, and you are getting close.
Botas de Barro Verdejo has all of the above! The wines come from ‘pie franco’ vines, those and their descendants that somehow managed to resist the dreaded phyloxera pest that laid waste to most of Europe’s vineyards in the late 1800s and into the 20th century. Natural yeasts are used, so you smell and taste the pure grape, rather than that which specially cultivated yeasts bring to the fore.
On the finish there is a pleasing, slight bitterness which makes this wine a fine choice for food – check out salads, fish, seafood, all super partners.
Botas de Barro DOCa Rioja is made with 100% Tempranillo – this is the ongoing theme of the portfolio, all are mono-varietals. It’s 2014 and is what is these days termed a ‘roble’ wine – meaning that it has some oak ageing but isn’t a Crianza or a Reserva as the barrel ageing is less than is required for these two disciplines, because that’s the way the winemaker wants it.
The 8 months that the wine has enjoyed (and I use the word deliberately!) in American 225 litre barricas has added a little structure, some extra depth of flavour and a touch of complexity, without taking anything fro the up front red fruit delivery, with a little, faint, blueberry back-up!
I’ve tasted some excellent Jumilla wines recently. Monastrell is king here and the old, bush vines that have provided the fruit for Botas de Barro really have done an excellent job! Older vines equals fewer bunches, as Cork Talk regulars know, but the grapes that are formed are particularly rich.
This comes out in actually quite an opulent form in this ripe, darkly coloured juicy red. Once again the full fruit is backed up by some oak ageing adding depth and mouth-feel. There’s a long finish that ends with a slight reference to dark chocolate liqueurs, without the sweetness! Super!
Though not quite unique, Garnacha Tintorera is nevertheless one of the very few of the world’s grapes whose flesh is coloured (cut a black grape and a green grape in half and you’ll see that the contents are the same colour!). The Botas de Barro DO Almansa wine made with this variety is, as you would imagine, a lovely dark, almost opaque colour.
On the nose there is a touch of minerality with perhaps a faint whiff of herbs too, though it’s the fruit that you’ll notice when it hits your palate. The vines that produced this fruit are about 30 years of age, so moving into the old vine category again. It’s rich and fruity with a refreshing acidic lift on the finish, which h keeps it fresh as you reach for the glass, again!
Finally I tasted the DO Ribera del Duero entry into the Botas de Barro range. This wine comes from one of the oldest co-operatives in this, now famed, region and proves yet again that there is no problem buying wine made by co-operatives. The vines here range from 40 – 80 years old, some of which are also ‘pie franco’. It has the Botas fruit driven profile, of course, and this is aided and abetted by a certain structure, depth and complexity provided by the venerable old vines.
Now – I know you are probably wondering about the price. Well the price of the whole range is an excellent value for money 6·99€, and you’ll be delighted with your purchases! So – put the boot in!
NB The next www.totalfm.es Total FM 91·8 Fine Wine & Gourmet Dine Programme, sponsored by DO Yecla, is on Sunday 29th May, 18:30 – 20:00 hrs (an extra 30 minutes due to popularity!).