The geographical breadth and depth of wines made under the auspices of Vinos Iberian (Compaña de Viñedos Iberian) is astounding. Factor this into the variety of different indigenous and international grapes used, as well as the quality and sheer drink-ability of the resulting wines, and it’s easy to see why this growing company is so well appreciated!
This group makes wines in seven different specific areas of production, six Denominaciónes de Origen and one Vino de la Tierra. From West to East DOs: Rías Baixas, Bierzo, Toro, Rueda, Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedés; and further south in: VdlT Castilla, and DO Jerez! It’s a remarkable portfolio of bodegas and wines and, as you might guess, I was delighted to receive a sample from each area, with the exception (so far?) of Jerez!
You’ll have heard of the wine dynasty that is the Osborne family – probably from their synonymous association with the wonderful sherries of Jerez. Well there’s plenty more than just Sherry, in this particular locker!
The Osborne family have always been interested in the fine wines of Spain as well as in Sherry. The company now owns all the bodegas in this huge area, which goes under the umbrella name of Compaña de Viñedos Iberian SL and, following my tasting all of the sample I received, it’s further proof that big can be beautiful!
The company focuses on small wineries and those tied to specific estates. The nature of the soil, the altitude and the micro-climate of the individual vineyards that make up the group is of paramount importance so that the wines made reflect the grapes used as well as the ‘terroir’ from whence they came. Vinos Iberian wines are representative of place as well as grape varieties. It’s a winning philosophy.
Because of the numbers of wines tasted this will be a two-part article. Today I’ll be telling you about the Vinos Iberian wines from: DO Rías Baixas, DO Rueda and DOCa La Rioja.
As you know, Spain was once considered a country for fine red wine – but mostly, red wine alone. Whilst it’s true that Spain has always been respected for its red wines it’s just as true, nowadays, to say that its whites are now amongst the best available to white wine aficionados. Regular Cork Talk readers will be well aware of the huge strides forward that white wine production has taken here in Spain during the last fifteen years.
Of course, during the time when it was solely the reds that were lauded there were also the whites of DO Rías Baixas that attracted attention, certainly within the home market, but also on the international circuit. Albariño, the mainstay of DO Rías Baixas, probably remains the queen of Spanish white wine varieties. However it’s now a very close-run thing. For example one in every three bottles of wine sold in Spain now is a Verdejo from DO Rueda.
The Compaña de Viñedos Iberian would have been foolish to leave these areas out of their portfolio.
Rol de Larosa, DO Rías Baixas, from Bodegas Mar de Arbolada, is made with 100% Albariño grapes which come from old vines (40 – 80 yrs) and have enjoyed the added benefit of a little time in oak. The typical white flower fragrance (in this case I think a waft of Magnolia with the faintest trace of honeysuckle) is at first dominant but this mellows slightly for the entrance of some white peach and slightly under-ripe pineapple fruit aromas.
The fortnightly stirring of the lees leaves a creamy tactile sensation on the palate when the above aromas also manifest themselves in something of a taste sensation. The time in oak has depth of flavour, a little complexity and certainly contributes to the mid to long length finish. Super start!
Although generally you’d taste an oaked wine after an unoaked one, I took the gamble and tasted the unoaked Viña Oropendola Verdejo from DO Rueda after the above. It was a calculated gamble that paid off.
The oldest vines used for this wine exceed 100 yrs of age! There had to be sufficient richness to follow the slight oaking of the above wine. Plus, this wine had also enjoyed the battonage treatment, the stirring of the lees. I really liked this wine. It has the typical vegetal, grassy, fennel and gooseberry fruit aromas and flavour (I’m guessing, and hoping, indigenous yeasts?) but with an added slight cancerous minerality from their planting in stony vineyards not too far from the banks of the River Duero, whose mists shade the grapes a little from the early morning sunshine. We’re on a roll here!
My first Vinos Iberian red was from Rioja – in fact it was part of a brace from Bodegas Viñedos Camino de la Piedra. Piedra (stone) gives a nod towards the nature of these two Rioja wines – there’s an element of stony minerality in the wines derived from the gravely soils in which the vines are planted.
La Pinaleta has a lovely crested bird on the label. It’s a joven, young, wine which is all about the fruit, with a slight minerality to add a touch of mystery and complexity and a greater depth on the finish. It’s mostly made with Tempranillo, now officially the 3rd most planted variety on the planet, with some support from Garnacha, I believe the second most planted variety in Spain, and Mazuelo.
It’s a time honoured and proven winning formula for wines from Spain’s most famous area of production. You’ll find some light red fruits, strawberry and redcurrant, if you look behind the dark blackberry which is dominant. It’s fruity, smooth and tasty!
La Pinaleta Crianza 2011, has a less distinctive, to the point of making it invisible to the consumer searching for a wine he/she hasn’t tried before. But this is a shame (and easily rectified) as the wine is sufficiently distinguished to warrant better sales than perhaps are the case?
Its thirteen months in French oak, new and one year old, has given the same blend of grapes as makes up their young wine and extra depth, complexity, and somewhat surprisingly, given that it is two years older, an extra vitality. This is a wine that shouts aloud, Rioja and proud. (I should sell that phrase!). The fruit has mellowed along with the integrated oak, there is a touch of mushroom undergrowth this time, it’s earthy and brambly. But the fruit remains and will do for a couple maybe three more years.
Part Two next week!