For the time being this is the final article of a series that I’ve been writing about wines from Spain’s majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range. Whilst it would be inaccurate to say that, like the cherry on the trifle, I’ve saved the best ’til the last, it nevertheless is true to say that the high standard that I have come to expect from this small but multinational enclave is at least as prevalent at Dominio Buenavista as it is at others whom I’ve mentioned.
Buenavista wines are exemplary, providing full flavour, power and yet elegance and subtlety and I’m quite sure that in the USA where there are burgeoning sales their wines are being lauded as much and perhaps more than they are here in their native Spain.
However you could say that whilst the provenance of the wines is in no doubt the nationalities of the owners and others associated with their crafting is, rather like the wines they produce, something of a fine blend!
I was first introduced to the wines of Dominio Buenavista following an e-mail I received from the States from Nola Palomar who had picked up, via the internet, the first article I had written about emerging bodegas and their wines from the Alpujerra area of the Province of Granada. Nola, an American, and her husband Juan, born and bred in the high altitude village where the vineyards are located, have also employed the services of a flying Australian wine consultant and continue to use those of a consultant Professor of Oenology from Madrid whoi works cloesely with Head Winemaker, Juan. A truly international effort!
It’s a caring operation – Dominio Buenavista farms organically (though they haven’t applied for the certificates), responsibly and with a keen eye on sustainability and the environment, ensuring that their carbon footprint is as insignificant as possible. All this and the above make for super, fruit driven, flavour laden wines with a pleasing range of complexity, from the easy to drink and economic to deeply layered, supple wines of subtlety and elegance.
I tasted two of their sparkling wines, a rosado and a white both of which shared typical patisserie aromas, with the rosado having some delightful floral, red rose petal fragrance as well as raspberry and loganberry, and on the palate too.
Their Brut is made with Chardonnay and has clearly enjoyed its one month ageing in French oak – there is just that slight vanilla adding a little depth to the flavour and a touch of weight on the palate. It’s a good aperitif of course, but try it also with smoked fish, some white meats and south east Asian cuisine!
The range of wines, including the sparklers, is sold under the Veleta label – one to look out for!
I’m grateful to Nola and Juan for sending me their white wine Veleta Viji 2011, made as it is with a new to me grape variety, though indigenous to the area, Vijiriega, with just 10% Chardonnay for added volume and flavour, and no doubt public appeal. I’m sure I’m not alone in admitting that I’d not heard of Virijiega. I’ll be looking out for it again though!
There’s a freshness about the wine, coming no doubt from the floral and citrus contribution of the main player in this blend that is wholly original, save for the minor contribution of the ubiquitous Chardonnay. It’s a pleasure to enjoy different aromas rather than the, albeit pleasing, but also common Sauvignon, Verdejo et al. For me there’s a hint of blanched almond, a passing reference to fennel and was that a whiff of green melon there too?
Vji has had a short time in French oak too which adds to its mouthfeel and length.
Veleta Tempranillo Joven 2011 is a fruit driven, juicy red wine, designed for those who just want to enjoy the wine without having to think too much about it, no doubt an added incentive for younger drinkers, and yet there is within it a clue as to what’s to come with the older wines.
It’s a fine expression of Spain’s darling variety Tempranillo with added floral notes, violet perhaps, some mountain herb nuances and a pleasing first hint of minerality. Its medium length will also endear it to more experienced wine drinkers and in my case it certainly made me excited to try the range of 2008 wines that were also supplied.
In fact the VdlT wine Veleta Tempranillo, the older brother of the above is from the 2007 vintage. The vineyards from whence this wine comes are 650 metres above sea level, not as nosebleed-inducing as some of the wines from this area, but plenty high enough for there to be extremely cold winters, and the usual (for wines from Alpujarra) dramatic changes in temperature between nigh and day during the growing season.
At 14% alc it certainly has presence in the mouth, but this is not at the cost of elegance. Grapes harvested at their optimum ripeness and then a year in oak give the wine a rich feel with damson and liquorice on the nose and the palate. It too has a touch of herbs on the nose, bay leaf, perhaps but a little spicy cinnamon note too. Mineral notes seem to float in and out of the wine’s profile and juicy fruit note stays with you after you’ve drained your glass.
Veleta is a largely French blend, the two Cabernets, with Tempranillo too. The Cabernet Sauvignon changes the fruit to a more blackcurrant taste but the minerality remains with perhaps some thyme or rosemary, vanilla from the oak and a touch of chocolate on the rich, slightly bitter finish.
This wine is fine as drink to have with friends but it’s also going to be super with some meat dishes, maybe game, but certainly casseroles.
Veleta Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is an example of just how good Cabernets can be when grown in full sun, but at altitude, and with a few years bottle ageing after its twelve months in oak. We know, perhaps too well in the UK, Cabernets from Chile that quite hot and sometimes sickly sweet in the mouth indicating a high level of alcohol and not enough acidity. This is the perfect antidote.
The altitude of the vineyards and the temperature change between night and day give the wine a lovely colour but also that crucial acidity. Tannins are mature adding to the overall experience and bringing a smooth depth to the wine. Blackberry and Blackcurrant with a little pepper and cinnamon and some dark chocolate on the finish, but with a lasting fruit note. There’s a very slight note of mint with some stony mineral aromas too.
The Veleta range is VdlT and can be labelled as table wine, dispelling once and for all(?) the myth that Vino de la Tierra/Table Wine must be inferior to DO wines, but of course Cork Talk Readers already know this!