DRINKING WITH EIGHT VIRGINS
Whilst perfectly pleasant, the 8 Vírgenes, dry white wine from Bodegas La Zorra, wasn’t my favourite wine of the portfolio sent to me as long ago as last summer. But I couldn’t resist the title!
I received the wines via my friend Nicola, of Spanish Palate (www.spanishpalate.es), the expanding wine making and wine distributing company based in Toro. I’ve talked of Nicola and her team before, referencing the wines she and her business partner fashion themselves, as well as some of the wines that they distribute for other wineries here in Spain.
This bodega, La Zorra (meaning the Vixen), is one of the leading wineries in the DO Sierra de Salamanca (indeed the founding father of the DO), a Denominación de Origen that celebrates its 10 years anniversary in 2020. It’s a rather new DO and it’s banking on the variety Rufete, to help make its name.
My own view is that they’ll be successful in doing this, but perhaps by a rather different route than they’d at first thought? From my tasting, admittedly only from the produce of this one bodega, La Zorra, I think it may well be the Rufete Blanco that will be their best bet when seeking fame, and hopefully, fortune!
I may be a lone voice in the wilderness here. I certainly will be up in the Salamanca area, where Rufete Negro is so feted, but I felt that the red wines from the black grape weren’t as distinguished as the white that I tasted, which I thought outstanding!
That’s not to say that I didn’t like Bodegas La Zorra’s red Rufete, I did, though I preferred it when it was part of a blend, in fact with Spanish and International varieties. Perhaps, like a particular instrument in an orchestra when on its own, it really plays second fiddle to the orchestra as a whole?
La Novena Rufete Blanco, however really did give us a virtuoso performance! It’s a new variety to me, but one to which I’ll certainly be returning! Oddly enough it is also known locally by another name, Verdejo Serrano – confusing to those of us (in other words most readers of Cork Talk) who know Verdejo from DO Rueda. Rufete Bnco has a completely different set of aroma and flavour characteristics to the, perhaps, Sauvignon Blanc-esque, darling of DO Rueda!
The bunches are small, the grapes too, and tightly packed. Consequently there’s not much juice with which to play, but it’s rich, and this translates perfectly into the finished, structured wine. It has a fresh acidity, which keeps it lively on the palate, but there’s also a depth, a roundness with volume and presence, resulting from the older vines and also the fermenting in oak. A little papaya on the nose with pears and some pine forest too, and some blanched almond nutty character, as well as some herby notes.
The red wine Rufete monovarietal I liked most was the limited production Raro, whose nine moths in used French oak barrels have given it an extra dimension. It has a cherry-red colour, there’s a slight floral note on the nose and on the palate there are soft light red fruits, with perhaps cherry to the fore.
My favourite of the reds were the ones where Rufete is used in the blend. I’m a touch frustrated though, as I still can’t decide which, of the two I tasted, wins outright! La Vieja is a fine wine. Made with Rufete and happy to accept, for me, more than just a supporting role of Tempranillo and a little Granacha, with about 13 months in oak. It’s quite silky on the palate, with darker red fruits coming through, blackberry and dark cherry. Medium length finish, very satisfying!
It has to share the winner podium with the eponymous La Zorra, whose slightly less 11 months in French and American oak, give the wine a lighter mouth-feel, without diminishing its presence on the palate as well as after swallowing. A winning combination here of dark and lighter red fruits with a little spice thrown in from the barricas.
I’d also like to mention Bodegas La Zorra’s 100% Garnacha wines (known locally as Calabres – another new name to me!). La Moza and La Zorra Garnacha, are two more of the fine Garnacha wines coming out of Spain now – and old and sometimes abused variety, that is now being treated with respect, and responding to well.
I tasted also the Tempranillo/Rufete rosado, which I enjoyed with salmon one night and a mushroom based dish the next. Nice, easy drinking wine, which complemented each dish.
And finally, what of the Virgins, you might ask! Well, it’s a good refreshing white wine with good, not too harsh acidity, which we enjoyed as an aperitif over a couple of nights. It’s made with Rufete Blanco again, but also with Palomino and Moscatel. Other commentators, I see, have mentioned this wine’s compatibility with smoked fish dishes – so that’s what I’ll do when I next drink with eight virgins!
NB My next www.valleyfm.es radio prog is this coming Tuesday 4th Feb, when I’ll be talking Valentine’s Wines – as well as playing, Harry Chapin, Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond, Rupert Holmes, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel; Crista Burgh and Guy Cavell. From 5pm – 6pm Central European Tine – care to join me?