DO MANCHUELA & VdlT de CASTILLA
I hang my head in abject shame! This article is soooo late! It’s a disgrace that it has taken me fully nine months to get around to writing about Bodegas Altolandon, having received a selection of their wines way back in March, 2014!
However, I hope they might be placated a little as one of the reasons for the delay is that, since tasting them, the empty bottles have been on display in my office – so visually pleasing are their labels! It’s true, an old died-in-the-wool pro like myself can still be seduced by a wine label, so it’s not surprise that labels sell wines.
Of course, it’s what’s actually in the bottle that will ensure a further purchase of the same wine, or not, as the case may be. Well, there’s no doubt that the wine in the Altolandon bottles is as attractive as the labels on the outside!
Tell me though, when was the last time you bought a bottle of wine from DO Manchuela? Hopefully it wasn’t that long ago, but I suspect it might have been. This area of production inland from Valencia, adjacent to DO Utiel-Requena on the La Mancha side, isn’t as fashionable as it should be, nor is it (therefore?) as as easily found in wine shops and supermarkets as befits its general quality.
Well, one of my New Year’s Resolutions (see last week’s Cork Talk, archived on www.costa-news.com click Cork Talk) is to continue to seek out quality wines and areas of production. I’m on a mission – Manchuela, will be recognised, and wholly on merit! And I’m starting with the portfolio of white and red wines from Bodegas Altolandón.
You may remember my article in April last year, (nah, I doubt it, since when have I been memorable?!) the third and final part of the ‘Great Bobal Taste Off’ series. This is what I wrote about the 93 pointer Altolandón 100% Bobal:
Bodegas Altolandon makes Rayulo, a 93 Peñin pointer, 100% Bobal. It’s colour is dark cherry, which is also on the nose and the palate, but there’s a good fruit element too, loganberry and maybe red currant as well. It has a refreshing acidity in the mouth, with good structure and power. Rich, full and yet elegant, to make it perfect for enjoying over dinner with some time to reflect on all that’s good with the world!
The wine has a sense of place about it – some autumn undergrowth mixes perfectly with the up-front, mostly dark red fruits. It’s eight months in French oak have added complexity and depth of flavour.
And there’s more: Altolandon, with the purple circles arranged in the form of a bunch of grapes adorning the label, is made with Syrah, Garnacha and Cabernet Franc. It’s as richly coloured as you would expect and the vineyard’s 1,100 metres above sea level makes a contribution to the brilliance of the wine in the glass.
The grapes are harvested by hand and placed, with care, in 12k baskets – no grapes squashed in transit here. Also, whilst it’s not revolutionary, it’s not commone either that the wine is fermented without the addition of cultured yeasts. Fermentation takes place simply with the wild yeasts that are found of the skins.
There’s a dark-fruit jam nose that tempts the taster. On the palate there is weight and roundness, coming from perfectly ripened grapes and there’s depth too, from quality grapes and also from the 14 months spent in French barrels. Put simply, it’s lovely wine!
L’Ame Malbec comes from relatively young vines, and yet they are clearly producing top quality grapes. This Malbec, a French variety and yet so prevalent in Argentina, can really show well when there’s plenty of sunshine around. Link this with the dramatic drop from daytime temperature to those recorded at night and you have the perfect start.
Hand harvesting and, like all Altolandon wines, fermented with wild yeasts, the final product is seductive. You’ll find violets on the nose, with dark forest fruits quickl coming though. The French oak has also made an impact with a touch of tobacco and coconut on the nose and a rich fullness in the mouth. It’s earthy and fruit driven on the finish and has to be one of the best Malbecs in Spain.
My favourite label is that of the Irrepetible, and I hope that, despite the name, the wine is repeatable! This wine is certified as organic and it just shows how well organic wine have developed over the year. This is a super wine, not just super – for an organic wine!
Blackberries, a touch of earthy minerality and Cassis can be found on the nose plus a touch of leather. There’s plenty of weight in the mouth but elegance too. Lovely, and the coolest label of the lot!
CF de Altolandon is an example of how Cabernet Franc (hence the CF) can survive very nicely, thank you, outside of its comfort zone in Bordeaux which has always been considered its natural home. The other Cabernet, as it is referred to sometimes, isn’t as commonly found in other countries as its more famous big brother, but there are some excellent examples in Spain. CF is one of them.
It’s full, rounded and rich with power and a long finish, but it also has elegance as well as complexity. It’s structured, with layers of pleasure to be found as you drink it over an evening with dinner, shared with treasured friends and family.
Dark forest fruits with red currants too and a slight smokiness. There’s that violet note again and it has a very slight chocolate liqueur finish. Hold it in the mouth and let it speak to you – super, exemplary DO Manchuela wine!
Contact Colin: firstname.lastname@example.org and you can join his nearly 700 followers on Twitter @colinonwine; and you can keep in touch with the world of Spanish Wine through his unique website www.colinharknessonwine.com
PS For first choice when it comes to the wine related events in which Colin is involved simply e-mail him and he’ll add you to his e-mail list, so you receive the information before it is advertised in the press and therefore you’ll have first option. Usually Colin’s wine tastings, bodega visits etc are full before going to press so this is the best way of becoming involved!