Bodega Marañones Picarana, Vinos de Madrid, Spain 2018 (£21, Woodwinters) Spain hasn’t always been the first port of call for lovers of elegance in wine. Traditionally you’d look to the country for oak, applied with varying degrees of finesse, or, more recently, for wines that were big, powerful and not shy with the alcohol. But, as a recent event in London aimed to show, Spanish wine has become so much more varied and, yes, elegant in the past decade or so. As the name of the event, Viñateros (which is the Spanish for vigneron or winegrower), meant to suggest, this is a development led by small producers, often working in out-of-the-way places and with long-neglected vineyards, such as those found in the Gredos mountains near Madrid. This part of Spain has become known for its fascinatingly pale, herby pinot noir-like garnacha red wines, but such richly satisfying, yet nervy and textured whites as Fernando Garcia’s Picarana are pretty special too.
Verónica Ortega Cobrana, Bierzo, Spain 2017 (£24.28, Vine Trail) For a taste of that wild, pale and interesting Gredos garnacha, names to look out for include Daniel Landi and his Commando G project and 4 Monos. But Gredos most certainly doesn’t have the monopoly on haunting reds. In the northwest of the country, the mencía variety is responsible for some wonderfully evocative wines. Among the most captivating wines at the Viñateros event was Veronica Ortega’s blend of mostly mencía with a handful of local white grape varieties from a very old (90-year-old) vineyard in the cool high up (750m) in Bierzo: so pretty in its violet-petal and red berry aromas, and so graceful with its feathery tannins and fresh Atlantic breeziness. There was elegance, too, from the margins of Spain’s most famous region, Rioja, not least in the fabulously silky, pure-fruited, quietly powerful Bodega Lanzaga 2014 (£19.35, Wine Buyers) from one of the original leading lights of modern Spanish wine, Telmo Rodríguez.
Batlliu de Sort Finca de Borda Blanc, Costers del Segre, Spain 2016 (£18.82, Les Caves) One of the pleasures of the new, cool Spanish wine is how individualistic the wines are – which is, perhaps, what happens when you have viñateros who are really committed to making wines that reflect where they come from. There’s a spicy, untamed quality to the wines (red and white) of Suertes del Marqués from the humid sub-tropical Orotava valley in Tenerife that is not quite like anything else I’ve tasted, for example; while Dominio do Bibei Lapola 2017 (£24.50, Vin Cognito) has me somewhat fancifully imagining the plunging rocky gorges of Ribeira Sacra in Galicia as I sip – It’s an intensely mineral, nervy, citrus pithy dry white made from the local godello, albariño and doña blanca. Then there is the mountain wine of Batlliu de Sort some 900m up in the Pyrenees in the Costers del Segre region of Catalonia, with its gorgeous cool-stream freshness.
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