If I was asked to name a winery that best illustrates the diversity and dynamism of the Spanish wine scene in 2020, at this moment I’d probably opt for Bodega de Forlong



When visiting Cádiz, Andalucia, it’s best not to mention Sir Francis Drake! Whilst initiating a surprise attack on the Spanish Armada moored in the bay, itself apparently poised to set sail to attack England, in April 1587, our Frank decided to nick a few butts of the local wine, known today as Sherry. In fact 3,000 butts, with each containing about 500 litres of the fortified wine that was about to take Elizabethan England by storm!

Nowadays Spain and the UK have a far better relationship, with a great history of trading Sherry, rather than stealing it, and of course the Sherry producers around the Cádiz area still make an excellent product. So, in a region where Sherry is queen, readers may think it odd to start a winery there that makes, well, anything and everything but Sherry!

If I was asked to name a winery that best illustrates the diversity and dynamism of the Spanish wine scene in 2020, at this moment I’d probably opt for Bodega de Forlong! Tasting my way around the eleven whacky labelled samples on show at the Forlong stand at the recent Barcelona Wine Week was a voyage of sheer pleasure, rather better than those mentioned above!

This winery, operating out of nearby Puerto de Santa María, makes sparkling wine, white, rosado, red and orange wine – by a number of different and innovative methods. As such it is a microcosmic glimpse of what’s taking place in happening Spain right now. Fascinating – but how good are the wines?

The first wine I tasted was a fizz, made by the Ancestral Method, as the name suggests, the oldest method by which sparkling wine is made, pre-dating, in fact, Dom Pérignon’s sterling efforts. The Ancestral Method is wholly different in that there is no second fermentation. Grape juice is fermented as if making normal still wine, however, before the fermentation finishes, the wine is gently filtered to remove any impurities and then placed in bottle and sealed. This initial, as yet unfinished fermentation then continues in the bottle. The bubbles are of course trapped and Sparkling Wine is the result!

For me, wines made by the Ancestral Method have more in common with Prosecco than Cava and Champagne, in terms of their presence on the palate – I’m not referring here to the slightly sweeter style of Prosecco. Forlong Burbuja is made with the Palomino variety and is dry, with a touch of bitterness on the finish.

Bodega Forlong is also making Orange wine. Regular readers will know that so called Orange Wines are best referred to as Skin Contact wine, wines which are made from white wine varieties whose juice is left with the skins, as in red wine making. The resulting wines often have an orange colour, and some wonderful flavours and aromas!

Forlong have two, by differing methods. I liked the 100% Palomino skin contact wine which is also left in old Oloroso Sherry barrels for a year. It has lovely balance with some mandarin zest on the nose, and a good mouthfeel.

Even better, for me, was their Palomino which was placed in contact, not with their own skins but with those of the Pedrom Jimenez variety, for 25 days – a revelation! Full, complex with subtle nuances, big flavour and a slight bitterness making this wine perfect for pairing with a multitude of different dishes, certainly not only fish and seafood!

More traditional is their 100% Palomino dry white wine which has been fermented and aged in French oak on its lees for 12 months. Butter pastry on the nose with orchard fruit and blanched nuts on the palate.

Palomino reigns at Forlong – and the next wine I tasted also shows how innovative this winery can be, with super results. Here the Palomino is harvested and left in the sunshine for two day to dry out a little. They are then pressed and the juice is fermented in Sherry casks under the flor that develops naturally, as in Sherry production. It’s then left alone, without the addition of any alcohol (as happens in Sherry, it being a fortified wine) for over two years. On the plate the wine is Sherry-esque in flavour and style, though, different too!

It’s only March I know, but so far my favourite Rosado this year is Forlong’s! Made with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Tintilla de Rota (another new variety to me!). It has presence on the palate, as well as finesse. A long finish, excellent rosé wine!

Red wise, it was difficult to decide on my favourite, with five to choose from and little space left in this column! All the wines were made in such interesting ways and all had their attributes – wines to drink now and on their own, through to those which needed some more time, and those which are perfect with food!

My favourite red might have been Forlong Assemblage 2017 whose Merlot, Tintilla de Rota and Syrah blend had spent 6 months in Anfora and 12 in French oak, which is drinking very well right now, but also with time on its side.

Or it may have been their Forlong Tintilla, made with 100% Tintilla de Rota which was fermented and aged in Anfora for 6 months and then aged in French oak for a further year. This wine is a super dinner wine, to accompany light and hearty meaty dishes, as it combines elegance with power. There’s a lovely fragrance on the nose – floral, forest blackberry fruity and leafy with some vanilla and a little cedar wood. Twitter @colinonwine  Facebook Colin Harkness  YouTube Colin Harkness On Wine