Wine52 Takes on some Interesting Spanish Wines
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
I have tasted three of the wines from the latest Wine 52 case, from the land of Cevantes's novel Don Quixote, Castilla-La Mancha. A large area of central Spain with the beautiful town of Toledo as its capital.
There are some interesting local grape varietals grown there, of 400 different varietals, few of us have heard of. Airen, Verdejo, Godello and Albarino, being the most popular whites, and Tempranillo, Garnacha, Carignan and Bobal some of the reds. But, as if they didn't have enough, the Spanish have also planted more international grape varietals recently.
So it was with some fascination when I opened my box from Wine52, to find a bottle of Petit Verdot called Decanso. This varietal is a Bordeaux grape, which ripens late but can add depth of flavour, colour and a spicey complexity to a blend. It appears in Australia occasionally and California, so it was a surprise for me to find it from Castilla-La Mancha.
I can understand that it would ripen well in Spain. Not only was the varietal a surprise, but this wine is also a blend of three vintages. Something that used to happen widely through-out wine growing regions back in the 1960's and before, and still happens with non-vintage Champagne, but to find this blend selected by Wine52 was intriguing.
Of course blending differnt vintages can be a very sensible thing to do. Vintages vary, some might be very ripe, others less so, some soft and round and others tannic and hard. So to use the winemakers skill to blend, and compliment and balance one vintages's weaknesses with anothers strengths makes total sense.
The instructions from Wine52 say decant Decanso a half an hour before drinking. They are absolutely right, I decanted it an hour before and it still developed and improved throughout the evening. Indeed it was great the following morning!
For those who like big gutsy reds, this is for them. It is rich deep and full of black fruit character, but above all it has a bite of tannin and a spicy rustic character.
Perfect for grilled ot barbecued red meat. I liked this wine, rustic, honest and interesting.
Then there are two whites. The first with a wild and colourful label called HOLA, nicely made, refreshing a fruity. Not that complex, but a versatile bottle to keep in the fridge for a quick aperitif, or with salads or fish on a hot summer day. This wine is also vegan.
More interesting is the 100% Verdejo called Mejunje. Bright, fresh with lovely stone and blossom fruit aromas, but also complexity and crispness on the finish. A good wine, interesting and perfect with a nice piece of fish.
All these three wines come from three excellent co-ops in La Mancha, shipped in bulk and bottled in the UK by Greencroft near Durham. I am very keen on UK bottling for good value wines like this. UK merchants were always renowned for their bottling skills, up until the late 1960's, when the fashion and trend was for producers around the world to bottle themselves.
But now the environmental impact of shipping heavy glass around the world is ridiculous, and bulk wine shipment can reduce the CO2 footprint by a half. Add to that that technology and expertise in bottling here is now second to none, and the bottler of these three wines is one of the best.
Interestingly, the first two offers from Wine52 are from Portugal and Spain. The Iberian Penninsular are undoubtedly producing some of the most interesting and good value wines from anywhere.
I very much look forward to what Wine52 can do for next month's offer.