TOP WINES FROM COMPAÑA DE VIÑEDOS IBERIAN
AND THAT’S NO BULL!
The iconic symbol above is known to all visitors to, and residents of, Spain. I think it’s a great story. The Osborne family, famous firstly for the Brandy de Jerez as well as their Sherry erected them in the ’50s. Huge and bold they stood on hilltops all over Spain, proudly advertising the company.
Decades later the law changed and they were told to remove them, but they successfully challenged the ruling in court on the basis that they had become part of the landscape of Spain, a national symbol and in the words of the court they have “ . . asethetic or cultural significance . .”! Was there ever a better advertising coup?
Well maybe Cork Talk will match it?! The Osborne family’s venture into the wine business is clearly a great success too. Vinos Iberian, La Compaña de Viñedos Iberian, as readers of last week’s common, is making lovely wines in various parts of Spain and I’ve tasted several examples. This week it’s the turn of DOs: Bierzo, Toro, Ribera del Duero.
Yaso is from DO Toro, one of the waking giants of Spanish wine-making. I say ‘waking’ rather than ‘sleeping’, which is the more common phrase, because this beauty has already been kissed and is slowly arising! There are excellent traditional bodegas in DO Toro that have been making fine wines for ages, but the ‘kiss’ has come from some of the more famous names in Spanish viniculture, who have been buying land within the DO, and thus attracting the media and upping the ante re wine quality.
Yaso, named after the Greek Goddess of Healing, is made with Tinto de Toro (aka Tempranillo) from 40 yrs old vineyards. The soil is sandy, short of natural nutrients and therefore excellent for vines as they have to work hard for their supper – harsh, I know, but the grapes produced, and therefore, ultimately, the wines, will be the better for it.
Fresh black cherries mix with cherry jam aromas and flavours. There are violets on the, black pepper spice and minerality – but it’s the fruit that predominates, lovely juicy and with a mid-length finish.
DO Bierzo is another area that is attracting more and more attention these days and the ace up the sleeve is the indigenous Mencía grape variety. It’s like . . ., well no other variety and I often drink it, enjoying its originality.
Lomopardo is 100% Mencía and has been aged in one year old French oak barricas. The typical cherry notes on the nose along with some pencil lead (sounds odd I know, but seek and ye shall find) and mushroomy forest undergrowth. On the palate the cherries come through, a mixture of picota and ripe red cherry which stays with you after you swallow. There’s a little spice and minerality which is noticed both on first hit and on the finish. Super wine!
Ribera del Duero wines figure strongly on the Vinos Iberian list. Jaros is a blend of Tinto Fino (aka Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and just 3% Merlot. Its been matured for 15 months in new French oak, which has obviously mutually taming – the wood on the Cabernet and the blend on the wood! There’s no harshness here, no green tannin astringency; and there’s no overpowering oak. It’s a balanced wine in harmony and a real pleasure to drink.
There is depth of flavour, that’s brambly fruit with a hint of blackcurrant and a hint of menthol and on the nose you’ll find fruit to the fore with a background of minerality and subtle tobacco and coconut whiffs. Serious wine and very enjoyable.
Chafandín is from the same stable, Bodegas Viñas del Jaro. It’s an excellent concentrated wine with intense flavour and aroma. Made with 100% Tinto Fino from grapes from 40+ years old vines, the wine has its malolactic fermentation in 300 litre French oak barrels in which it then stays for between 15 – 20 months, depending on the year and according to the head winemaker’s wishes. Its slightly liquorice flavoured dark blackberry and plum fruit lasts for an age after swallowing and ends in a note of elegance.
Sed de Caná is of a limited production and has tio be considered a flagship of the bodega above. When we first sipped this wine all conversation stopped so that we could linger undisturbed in its elegance, depth of flavour, super aroma and yet marked subtlety, whilst admiring its complexity as we gently navigated its various layers.
After 6 months in French oak all the barrels are tasted, a few are deemed to be of the correct standard and taste/aroma profile to be elevated to the Sed de Caná level. Violet aromas, deeply flavoured dark red fruits with integrated oak a whiff of damp earth, a sniff of minerality, some nebulous mountain herbs and a touch of cinnamon spice and coconut on the lengthy finish. Wow!
Sembro, also from Ribera del Duero, has a beautiful bird on the label – a theme that follows with some of the VdlT wines to follow in next week’s article. It makes the wine stand out on the shelf, which is a help, of course, but will consumers go bird spotting again, after tasting the contents?
Answer – yes! Sembro is all about expressing, in the most vivacious way, the local Tinto Fino variety. Many people these days are telling me that they are buying more and more Ribera del Duero wines as they all seem to have in common a super fruit element that makes them instantly accessible and gloriously enjoyable.
Sembro is such a wine, though it’s not at all here today gone tomorrow, it’s not at all inconsequential, perhaps down to the six months it has had in French oak. But it’s the fruit that makes this wine sing. Lovely damsons on the nose, joined on the palate by stewed plum notes and maybe, to lighten the colour profile, just a flick of red cherry and red current. It has a lick of acidity making it fresh for simply enjoying on its own with a little depth from the wood.
The final part of the Vinos Iberian saga soon!
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