DENOMINACIÓN DE ORIGEN SOMONTANO
Personally, I’ve not tasted a below par wine from DO Somontano. So, when I was able to secure a place at the recent Masterclass, presented by the Consejo Regulador, Ruling Council, of the DO itself, I was, of course, delighted. I was keen to learn more as well as have my expectations confirmed. I wasn’t disappointed!
This was the second DO Masterclass of the Wine Professionals Sector tasting day organised by Verema (https://www.verema.com/), whose tasting session I also attended last year. I’m hoping to be there again next year and into the future too – they are excellent!
In direct contrast to the presentation by DO Almansa in the earlier session, DO Somontano’s was, typically, very professional. Although the DO isn’t that old (established 1984, where DO Rioja, for example, was founded in the 20s) they are nevertheless experienced old hands at promoting their wines and their member bodegas.
DO Somontano isn’t shy about the number of varieties they allow for their wines – fifteen in total, eight red wine grape varieties and seven for the whites. Whilst there is a fair showing of indigenous Spanish varieties included, championed perhaps by the almost uniquely grown Moristel, there is also a significant contribution from international varieties such as Cab Sauv and Gewurztraminer, the latter being particularly loved here.
The first wine up, though, was a Chardonnay, which I identified before seeing the label – noted here, not to brag about my ability in such matters, more to boast on Somontano’s behalf about their ability to recreate classic Chardonnay characteristics, when this variety is so far away from its natural home in Burgundy, France! Fresh with bright acidity though rounded too, with food friendly buttery notes as well as a slight banana skin nose. Bodegas Viñas del Vero 2018. Good start!
Gewurz was up next, from Bodegas Enate. A lovely wine with a mandarin/clementine spritz on the nose aiding and abetting the typical fresh lychee aroma of this German/Alsace variety. Plus, as an added bonus, there was slight bitter lemon (as in the drink) flavour on the finish. Oh how I wish that the Chinese restaurants in our area were aware of the pairing possibilities of this variety with their cuisine!
The above two varieties were in tandem in the next sample, but with the very interesting addition of Pinot Noir (18%, a black grape, of course, therefore a touch of the blanc de noir about this Bodegas Sommos wine). The varieties were fermented separately and when blended together they underwent a touch of French oak barrel ageing for good measure. Some complexity and depth of flavour with a Chardonnay nose and a little spicy Gewurz, plus presence on the palate from the Pinot.
There aren’t many 100% Moristel wines, it being used more to blend – perhaps the offering from Bodegas Pirineos gives us a clue as to why? Cherries and black pepper on the nose, there was a slightly burnt wholemeal toast aroma, pleasant, but unusual, given that there has been no oak contact? For me it was a little too acidic. So, maybe best to use it to add freshness to other ripe varieties, rather than use it as is?
The next wine was outstanding! Old vine Garnacha from Bodegas Obergo, a new winery to me. It’s the 2015 vintage which has clearly enjoyed its year in mostly French oak, with regular stirring of the lees. There is some menthol on the nose, with forest fruits coming through. It’s a deeply flavoured, textured wine with pleasing complexity, perhaps understandable, given the vineyard’s close proximity to those of Secastilla, an honoured wine from this DO.
The next wine is the only Gran Reserva wine in the DO. Made by Bodegas Sers, this Cabernet/Merlot/Syrah from the 2012 vintage has been kept for 24 months in medium toasted French barrricas, with a further 40 months in bottle. It’s a big 14·5% abv, though with a touch of subtlety as well. A great mouthful, very meat orientated food friendly too.
The final wine of this very impressive tasting was the 2011 Grillo, which had been aged in 100 French oak Barrels, following its fermentation in 4 hectolitre capacity French oak foudres, and making use of Syrah, Cab Sauv, Garnacha and Merlot. Almost black in the glass, this opaque wine retails at about 35€, but it’s worth it, for sure! You’ll find figs and liquorice on the nose and palate too, with earthy undergrowth notes and a long, thought provoking finish. Excellent wine! Super tasting all round!