MUSTIGUILLO VIÑEDOS Y BODEGA
PAGO EL TERRERAZO
This winter 2013/2014 has been the mildest I can remember – indeed, using the word ‘winter’ seems risible! The odd ‘cold’ day that we’ve had on the Costas has seen temperatures fall perhaps to 7ºC, but they’ve been few and far between. Therefore the 3ºC cold that hit me when I left the car, whipped even lower by a biting wind, caused a sharp intake of breath, before I was led into the grand, heated, interview room of Mustiguillo Viñedos y Bodega.
An e-mail requesting a sample of their outstanding 100% Bobal red wine led to an invitation to visit the bodega to taste in situ and the get to the heart of this quite new (established 1990) bodega which has taken the wine world by storm. The Peñin Guide gives their top wine 96 out of 100 and the USA’s respected Robert Parker follows suit; and at 94 points their white wine is the highest scoring Spanish Mediterranean white!
My guide was founder Toni who took me around the impressive stone buildings which have been added to the country house original. It’s a large and ongoing project. White wines are deliberately produced in a separate building from the reds, and each area is kept spotlessly clean.
Large French oak Foudres of 35, 50 and 80 hectolitres capacity are used to ferment those grapes which pass muster following a rigorous selection from vineyards that are harvested only according to when the grapes are perfectly mature. Vineyards and parts of vineyards that have differing aspects to the sun are, quite sensibly, harvested manually, at different times. Harvesting their own 80 hectares can thus take a few weeks.
There are no pumps at Mustiguillo – all wine movement is done my gravity, with the ‘sombrero’, the cap of grape skins that forms above the juice, being regularly pushed down by hand for maximum extraction of colour, tannin and flavour. Temperature controlled fermentation takes typically 13 – 25 days.
The resulting, organic wines which have undergone this exhaustive process pay tribute to the philosophy of the owners. Their aim is to produce the best expression of the natural resources at their disposal. The grapes of course, but also the terrain and the climate – in short the terroir. It’s a resounding success!
I was enamoured by Finca Calvestra 2012, their plaudit winning white wine, made almost unbelievably from the hitherto largely characterless indigenous variety, Merseguera. The secret – well the 25+ years old vines (just wait until they attain a greater age – their wines will be spectacular!) struggle against harsh conditions on the highest altitude vineyards.
At 900 metres above sea level the difference between night and day time temperatures on the exposed site adds a bracing acidity to the wine whilst the sunshine ripens the grapes bringing out all the natural flavour that can be had from this variety. Following its barrel fermentation and a short ageing on its lees you’ll find white flowers, under-ripe pineapple, some citrus notes and an alluring distant Acacia honey aroma – though the wine is perfectly dry.
The enigmatically labelled Mestizaje 2012 is what could be called their ‘entry level’ wine – but what an entry. The wine has a different make-up every year, according, as it should be, to the harvest. There’s normally 65% – 85% Bobal, the captivating indigenous variety, blended with perhaps Garnacha, Syrah, Tempranillo, Cabernet and Merlot. There is no attempt to make a homogeneous Mestijaze – all will depend on how each variety has ripened at each harvest.
There’s good fruit, dark cherries, the Bobal calling card, but with blackberry and blackcurrant too – with some spice and maybe a dash of minerality. It’s 2012 and so still young but you don’t need to be a very experienced taster to tell that whilst it’s tasting well now, it will develop and improve over the next five years.
Some experience is needed, I would say, when tasting the next two wines – the two flagships of the bodega, firstly Finca Terrerazo and finally the exceedingly highly rated, Quincha Corral. Both are from the 2011 vintage and substantial wines such as these need some time to mellow into the wonderful examples that they will eventually become.
Masters of Wine (don’t worry, you don’t have to be one to appreciate these wines!!) are highly prized for their ability to taste ‘en primeur’, amongst other skills. This is where the season’s new Bordeaux wines which are still maturing, way before they’ll be bottled and sold, are tasted to determine just how good they will be when that time comes. It’s a great skill.
The Mustiguillo 2011 wines are nothing like that early in their development. Indeed the Finca Terrerazo has just been bottled and will soon be on the market, however both will develop dramatically over time. It has an abundance of dark cherry fruit coming from the 100% 40 years old Bobal vines, with an appealing black pepper spiciness. 20 months in French oak have subtly added depth and complexity with a little black chocolate bitterness and some tobacco. It’s quite a big wine with tannin and acidity to tame and yet it has a lovely initial soft mouthfeel and haunting elegance.
Quincha Corral has all the above, but more so! It’s powerful, yet subtle and elegant. It has rich fruit emanating from the Bobal vines which were planted in 1945 on the bodega’s most prized vineyard. Black cherry fruit, and bags of it, with fully integrated tobacco and coconut oak notes. It’s rich, full and rounded – concentrated and structured in a way that will see the wine unwind over the next five years to be drinking perfectly for a further five years and more.
Contact Colin: firstname.lastname@example.org and through www.colinharknessonwine.com and Twitter @colinonwine