BODEGAS MARCO REAL, GRUPO LA NAVARRA
AND THE ARGENTINEAN CONNECTION!
Scratch the surface of a bottle of the consistently good, entry level wine, Homenaje and it’s surprising what you’ll see behind the emblematic label of one of the Costas’ best loved house style wines!
Bodegas Marco Real’s founder, Antonio Catalan, who started the bodega initially to provide good wines for his hotel chain, NH Hotels, was happy to accept a major shareholding bid from, Juan Ignacio Velasco, owner of Navarra Distillieries – with a view to expanding the wine business. And How!
Bodegas Marco Real is now part of the La Navarra Group which also owns bodegas in DO Toro, DO Rueda and in Mendoza, Argentina. My third article about this iceberg of a ‘bodega’, is all about the super wines produced in the South American arm of the business.
With a view to warming up a chilly evening spent huddled around the log fire I opened Swinto Old Vine Malbec 2009 whose aroma almost burst from the bottle as the cork was pulled! The blackberry and black cherry aromas mingled perfectly with the log-fired atmosphere and I knew straight away that we were about to taste an exceptional wine!
The wine is made from centenarian Malbec vines, planted in 1910, at an altitude of just over 1,000 metres above sea level. Naturally such vines have a very low yield, but the grapes are super-rich, and because of the altitude, and therefore the dramatic change between day and night time temperatures, the resulting wine has perfect acidity and is deeply coloured.
New French, Allier, oak is used for malolactic fermentation and for a further fifteen months of ageing. It’s a multi-layered wine with the oak adding some integrated vanilla and black coffee notes to the rich tannin and opulent, dark fruit. On the palate it’s persistent with a slight dark chocolate liqueur finish. It has power and elegance in equal measure and is an excellent advert for Malbec!
Bodegas Belasco de Baquedano (part of the group) is responsible for crafting this super wine, along with others to follow. They aren’t readily available in Spain, unfortunately, but I’m told that they are in the UK – so next time you’re back . . . !
With the majestic Andes as a gloriously impressive backdrop the vineyards of Luján de Cuyo are perfectly placed at 1020 metres above sea level. And it’s these Malbec vines that provide the grapes for the intensely fragranced Moncagua 2011 with its abundance of juicy fruit. It’s pure Malbec without oak ageing and tells of what the variety has to offer as well as incorporating some of the terroir in which it’s grown.
From the same stable Llama Roble 2012 (with an image of the famous indigenous animal!) is a semi-crianza version of the above. Structured with a brilliant dark red colour the wine is designed to show off Malbec’s rich fruit but underpinned with a slight oak presence, which adds depth of flavour and some complexity. There’s also an earthy herbal element to this wine, with bay leaf and a slight black pepper note mixing harmoniously with the dark red blackberry and blueberry fruit.
Rosa, Bodegas Belasco de Baquedano’s rosado wine is also made with Malbec and has the colour, aroma and flavour of loganberries! It’s fresh, though quite full, very fruity (add raspberry and red currant to the mix!) with a dry finish. Excellent aperitif wine but with sufficient body to accompany light meat, fish and shellfish – would be perfect with paella!
Rosa Brut Nature is a super sparkler, made again with Malbec, but with a less intense rose colour. Cherry, a touch of citrus, and an inkling of pale fleshed plums are the fruity aromas that blend so well with typical patisserie notes common to sparkling wines. Perfectly dry and very refreshing.
The intensity, firstly of aroma and subsequently of flavour when I first sniffed and tasted Rosa Torrontés made be do a double-take. What is this wine? Well there’s not much 100% Torrontés white wine available in Spain, though it’s often used in blends in Galicia for example. But if it were capable of achieving such wonderful aromas and tastes as in this Argentinean example, I’m sure there would be more.
Wonderful apricot fragrance with peach and some distant mango this ever-so dry wine is intensely fruity and guaranteed to please as the promise on the nose is equalled on the palate, with a lasting fruit driven finish that had me reaching for the bottle to top up my paltry tasting sample! Excellent!
Finally, there’s a lot of UK wine media talk about Malbec at the moment, but I’ve not yet read anything about the dessert wine style of late harvest Malbec Ice Wine, as exemplified perfectly by Antracita 2007, whose minimalist back label, simply lets the wine do the talking!
Frozen grapes are harvested late in the cycle. After fermentation of the rich juice the wine is aged for two years in new French oak. The result is, well the best red dessert wine I’ve tasted! You’ll find honeyed figs and raisons with roasted nuts, toffee and deliciously sweet damsons – all with a fresh acidity provided by the altitude of the vineyard. Exquisite!