MARTÚE GROUP WINES

The impressive portfolio of wines from the Martúe group

BODEGAS MARTÚE LA GUARDIA . . . PLUS!

During a time of lasting recession here in Spain (when on Earth will it end?!) it’s encouraging to know that there are still businesses that are not just doing well, but expanding too.

I’ve recently received several cases of wine (tough job, huh?) from what I thought was one bodega, but which in fact is the controller of several wineries, in Spain and abroad. More on this group soon!

Also I’ve noticed that other, already large, concerns are expanding their operations by making wine in other areas of Spain as well as in different countries. Indeed I read yesterday that one such huge business is happy with their expansion plans at the moment but is nevertheless seeing how the Chinese market develops with a view to perhaps starting winery there!

And when I wrote to Bodegas Martúe, following an article I’d read in Spain’s best wine magazine, PlanetAVino, asking for a sample of their wines recommended so highly in the magazine I learned that Martúe is also a controlling bodega that in fact operates another bodega in Spain plus one in nearby Portugal.

I was generously sent an example from each of their operations and was delighted by each individual wine: a white from DO Rueda, a red from Pago Campo de la Guardia and a further red from the Douro region of Portugal. In short, the wines are excellent!

I remember several years ago being in a wine merchants in Segovia chatting to the owner who was telling me that I simply had to taste his favourite white wine in the shop, Pie Franco Verdejo from DO Rueda.

I don’t remember the vintage – but I certainly remember the wine. It’s singularity put it ahead of all others from this super area of production, DO Rueda, where modern technology and methods (plus, of course, considerable investment) have fast-tracked this traditional, indigenous variety, Verdejo, onto the world wine scene. And how!

When last at Barcelona’s Alimentaria wine and food fair I noticed a pavilion entitled ‘Verdejos of the World’! Such a concept would never have been dreamed of 15 years ago. Now, however the whole of the wine world is well aware of the attributes of this super-aromatic, deeply flavoured and fresh dry white wine.

My questions now, having tasted the 2012 vintage of Pie Franco, Bodegas Blanco Nieva – is there a better Rueda 100% Verdejo than this deeply satisfying, elegant dry white wine? I doubt it!

Pie Franco is the Spanish term for the few vines which were resistant to the dreadful decimating onslaught of the vineyard pest Phyloxera. ‘Pest’ is too weak a word for this flying insect that virtually destroyed the vineyards of Europe in the late 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century.

There are original vines in Spain that not only survived such a deadly attack but which still produce grapes today, and their descendants too. This stunning white wine is made from such vines and the depth of flavour, the floral, fruit and herbal aromas pay tribute to their hardiness. Pie Franco, Bodegas Blanco Nieva – remember the name and snap it up when you see it!

Martúe 2009 Pago de la Guardia is the star wine of the Marúe range made under the auspice of Vinos de Pago, which has the same status a Denominación de Origen and is only given to bodegas that have unique micro-climates within their areas of production (in this case in the Toledo region) and which have a history of consistently producing top class wines.

The Martúe vineyards receive less rainfall than the surrounding area resulting in highly concentrated aromas and flavours. The Martúe 2009 was made with a heady blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Syrah, each of which was fermented separately. Seventy percent of the blend was aged for nine months in French oak, with the remaining 30% in American oak.

The aromas slowly escape the bottle as the cork is pulled – and develop whilst poring and when in the glass. There are hints of cocoa, cedar, toffee, blackberry, plum and blackcurrant, with mineral notes and some mountain herbs along with a touch of liquorice. In the mouth it is big in flavour and yet elegant, charming throughout.

The mid-palate enjoys a multi-layered wine of depth and subtlety as the taste sensors delve deeper, rather like the descent into a magical, treasured pothole. And the finish is long and powerful whilst retaining that grace and elegance. It’s a top, complex and wholly satisfying wine, for sure!

I’ve been to Portugal a few times now and I’m always impressed with their wines. When asked to help judge them at the International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) I was delighted to do so.

So when the Martúe Group’s third sample wine was the Reserva from their Seis Quintas winery made from grapes grown on the steeply stepped vineyards of the Douro DO in Portugal, I was very keen to try it. Fruit driven, the nose is enticing and on the palate the three traditional Port varieties, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz (the Portuguese name for Tempranillo) and Touriga Franca blend together perfectly for a super fruit trip.

The wine has had 14 months in French oak and was filtered very gently, perhaps, as it did with my bottle, leaving a slight sediment at the bottom of the bottle. There’s an earthy note on the nose indicating that this is a wine that speaks of its terroir. You’ll also find dark chocolate and the very faintest of coconut whiffs.

The palate is firstly juicy fruit, but this is a serious wine too as there are mineral notes integrated with mature dark fruit jams which come on strong mid-palate. There’s an endearing hint of bay leaf and maybe thyme and somehow, though I’m sure it must be my romantic imagination, you can almost hear the Atlantic wind rustling the vines’ autumnal leaves as it freshens the vineyards that slope down to the Douro river!

My advice is to seek out the wines from the Martúe group – www.martue.com – you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts!

Contact Colin: colin@colinharknessonwine.com and through the unique wine services web-site www.colinharknessonwine.com . Please note also that you can follow Colin on Twitter too – @colinonwine

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