DENOMINACIÓN DE ORIGEN CANGAS
One of the best things about the recent Barcelona Wine Week (BWW) that I attended recently, was the opportunity to visit the stands of many of the less famous wine producing areas of Spain. Often quite small, in comparison to the more well known Denominaciónes de Origen (DOs), and generally with a rather more limited production, their wines aren’t easily found. A shame – because they can often be home to some hidden gems!
I’ve been to many of the large/huge wine fairs here in Spain, and in time gone by, in the UK as well. You have to have a plan. It’s definitely best, in my view, to have an idea as to what you’d like to see – and taste. If not, the sheer scale of these events can be just too overawing! Part of my plan for the two half days and one full day in an unseasonably warm and sunny Barcelona was to taste wines that I hadn’t tasted before, from areas of which I had no experience, using grape varieties which were new to me.
DO Cangas ticked all those boxes, as well as some of the taste and aroma boxes that I was hoping to open! Although this beautiful part of Asturias has a long history of wine making for domestic use, the main drink from the surrounding area is, of course, Sidra – Cider, and wonderful stuff it is too.
However, certain forward thinkers realised that there was also a market for quality wines, made on a small, but commercial scale. DO Cangas was formerly inaugurated as recently as 2014 (though it had been working since 2000) has only 50 hectares of land under vine and just eight bodegas! It’s the smallest DO I’ve come across, but my experience suggests it packs a pleasant punch above its weight!
Permitted varieties for white wines are Albarín, Albillo and Moscatel – so nothing new there (provided you are a regular Cork Talk readers!). The reds though, well that’s a different matter – ever heard of Verdejo Negro, Albarin Negro and Carrasquín? Me neither, but these varieties, along with the better known Mencía, are the approved red wine grapes. I couldn’t wait to get started!
There were only two white wines represented on the day I visited. The first, from Bodegas Vitheras is made from all three of the above and was a hit for me! There was a clear apple skin aroma, not the perhaps overly acidic Granny Smith, but something a little softer. Really enticing and it followed through slightly onto the palate too. Medium to short finish, a really pleasant aperitif drink, that I’d definitely buy again.
Cien Montañas, from Bodegas Vidas was made with 100% Albarín, dabbling with a little oak resting on its lees. There was a slight nose of sulphur initially, though some exotic fruit – peach, arrived in the nick of time, along with a blanched almond quality too. I preferred the fist wine, and it started me wondering about oak in Cangas. Is it needed?
The 3rd wine, Valdemonje, was a Carrasquín 2016 monovarietal, indigenous to Cangas, that has had 12 months in French oak and made by Bodegas Monstasterio de Corias. Pale in colour, like a Garnacha or Pinot Noir, and pleasant – but I couldn’t help wondering what it would have tasted like without the oak,
The next red wine, from the same bodega is called Finca Loa Frailes Robles and has had 5 months in French oak. It’s a 2018 and the colour was still quite purple, attractive. Some acidity, dark forest fruit and a little black chocolate on the finish, with tannin a little too pushy.
The next wine wasn’t oaked and it was here that I thought again about the need, or not, to have oak aging in Cangas. Aroma de Ibias is made with Carrasquín, Albarín Negro and Verdejo Negro (I know that you are wondering – but I’m told it’s no relation!), by Señorio de Idias. It’s 14%, quite dark in the glass, which gave a clue as to this wines richness. Blackcurrant chocolate liqueur, invitingly fruity.
Bodegas Chicote makes Penderuyos, which means very steep in the local dialect, and refers to the vertiginous slopes of the vineyard! It’s made with the three above, but with the addition of Mencía. Again there’s no oak and it, too, is on the high alcohol side at 14.5 abv. It’s also rich and dark coloured. I really liked its dark chocolate, damson and blackcurrant fruit and its presence on the palate.
So – is oak not really required in Cangas? Well, I can’t say, as the next wine, Selección Especial, my final Cangas – for now – was from the same bodega, using the same varieties, but it’s had 14 months on French oak, and did I enjoy it! In truth the oak was perhaps a little overstated, but the rich fruit can handle it well. It’s a big wine, meaty itself, so a good partner to game, casseroles, steaks, venison et al.
I’ll definitely re-visit DO Cangas wines!
NB next Valley FM www.valleyfm.es programme is on Tuesday 3rd March – celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and Las Fallas, and will include an interview with British winemaker, Andrew Halliwell!