ALBARIÑO+ @ PAZO de SEÑORÁNS
The small portfolio – just three wines – of Pazo de Señorans consistently earns over 90 points (out of 100) in whichever Spanish (and international) wine guide you may peruse. The most reliable of the Spanish guides, Guía Proensa 2018 awards 97 points their spectacular Pazo de Señoráns Selección de Añada; the comprehensive Guía Peñín 2017, 98 points, to this, their flagship offering! No wonder that I’ve been saying, ever since I tasted it several years ago, this is one of the finest, what, half dozen, white wines of Spain!
A once grand, 16th Century country seat, the property was acquired by the family, in whose hands it remains to this day. Over a period of time the building was returned to its former glory and is now a fine example of housing for the gentry of that epoch. In the 70’s considerable refurbishment occurred with a view to making fine quality wine with as little human intervention as possible.
If looking for the finest expression of the wonderful Albariño grape variety, it’s these wines that you need to buy!
Just 300,000 bottles are made each year, from vines owned by the family as well as those tended by thirteen other growers, with whom the winery has been working for decades. Meticulous records have been kept from the start, recording the scientific analysis of each of the 500 small plots, each vintage – a crucial part of the blending process.
Plots are harvested when they are ready – there’s no pandering to convenience here. There are small stainless steel fermentation tanks where the juice from these plots are individually fermented and then left oxygen-free at cold temperatures, ready to be blended with others. Clarification is by gravity in cool temperatures.
The secret is that these 100% Albariño wines rest with their fine lees for a minimum of 4 – 5 months, with the Selección de Añada resting for a full three years, with occasional stirring!
The tour, with our guide, the super-friendly, extremely knowledgeable, Javier, whose passion for Albariño is contagious, showed us through the beautiful rooms, the family chapel and the wonderful gardens, before taking us to the perfectly lit, intimate, tasting room, where we set about our joyous task!
Pazo de Señorans 2016 is the perfect example of all that can be offered by a young Albariño. At approximately 12€, it isn’t cheap, but it is so worth the money, you have to try it! A white stoned fruitiness is to the fore with fresh, exhilarating acidity. Thirst quenching, yes, but so much more! You’ll fine white flowers on the nose, more Jasmine than Rose, along with faint green herb notes.
Pazo de Señorans 2014 is essentially the same wine, but older. I hold my hand up and say, ‘Yes, I am the guy who recommends drinking most Spanish white wines when young.’ However, the emphasis is on the word ‘most’. Albariño is a shining example of a Spanish exception that proves the rule!
That said, the 2014, was a little less voluble than I’d hoped – this, I’m sure (reinforced by Javier’s vehemence!) is because it is at this moment at the sleepy, dormant stage through which many wines go, on their way to greatness. This is very much a consumer-led wine – the adega’s (Gallego for bodega) response to requests for a wine that sits between the fresh young style and the considerably (for a white wine) aged Selección de Añada). Round and soft, with a little creaminess and, for me, a quite pronounced yellow skinned plum aroma and flavour.
The 2009 Selección de Añada (yep, that’s nearly 9 years old!) is almost regal in its style. This wine is always given a minimum extra year developing in bottle after its 36 months on its lees, before release. It is a splendid white wine, at around 30€ it’s expensive – but so is a Rolls Royce! Custard fruit on the nose, supported by a creamy nuttiness, perhaps hazelnuts. On the palate it has body, presence, but not attitude – it is the personification of elegance.
One of its beauties, Javier told us, is that by varying the temperature at which it is served, it can partner each dish of a dinner party, from aperitif, through starter, fish course, meat, cheese and even dessert! What I’d give to test this theory! Seriously, this is fantastic wine!
Pazo de Señoran is also very proud of its two Aguadiente spirits – the one, water-coloured and 41º abv has an aroma of wood bark and subtle fruit with a long finish. The second is the yellow coloured, herb infused 37·5º abv with a panoply of herb and seed aromas, including camomile, coriander, star anis and bitter oranges – more to my taste than the above, though each sells out most years!
*Colin Harkness is a National and International Wine Judge. A member of the Circle of Wine Writers, Colin has been writing, and broadcasting, about Spanish wines for 21 years.