Wine region / Country
Clos Lojen 2015 (2 bottles)
Ad Libitum Maturana Tinta 2013 (2 bottles)
La Zorra Raro 2014 (2 bottles)
Normal retail price: £52.99
Club Discount Price: £45.06
You save: £7.94 (14.97%)
In parallel, there's a new crop of producers very interested in the so-called historic or native varieties. These are grapes strongly linked to a defined territory and there are often only a few of such vines left, surviving thanks to the efforts of certain vine growers trying to keep alive the wine history and culture of their lands. In an age of globalisation and uniformity, in which everything tends to look too much alike, these grapes arrive in our glasses like a breath of fresh air. They're filled with aromas we don't easily recognise, yet find exceedingly stimulating and force us to sharpen our senses; they are the essence of the land which nurtured them from birth and where their roots have dug down deep for decades.
This month we're privileged to be bringing to your attention three of these marvellous grapes. We'll start with the Bobal's juiciness in the Clos Lojen 2015, we'll move on to the magnificent structure of the Ad Libitum Maturana Tinta 2013 and we'll pretend we're off to Burgundy with a glass of the Salamanca-grown Rufete provided by La Zorra Raro 2014. All set to go?
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Young red Crianza. Bodegas y Viñedos Ponce Manchuela, Spain Bobal
Bottle: £5.30 club members / £6.23 non-members
This grape, indigenous to the Spanish Levant and already making an appearance in 14th Century documents, produces wines in intense shades of violet, balanced and fresh, with an abundance of fruit, floral aromas and good ageing ability. Although many might consider it a minority variety, the truth is that it's Spain's second red variety, behind only the omnipresent Tempranillo. In recent years, a small group of producers has strongly favoured this grape, redeeming it from its rather productive nature and seeking to stylise its tannins in order to reveal a more elegant side.
Without a doubt, one of its greatest advocates is Juan Antonio Ponce, a young winemaker who for several years worked alongside the great Telmo Rodríguez, and who now, back among the family vines, has created a fantastic line of wines starring the Bobal. At Bodegas Ponce all wine-related procedures are carried out in true artisan fashion and following organic and biodynamic principles. The grapes originate from vines aged up to 80 years old, with some even un-grafted, and are vinified separately, each parcel individually, with the aim of showing the diverse facets of the same grape grown in different terroirs.
Clos Lojen is the company's original wine, a single varietal Bobal comprising grapes from vines aged around 30 years old, originating from seven different parcels and vinified separately. The grapes, not destalked, are pressed and fermented using wild yeasts. Afterwards, the wine ages for 7 months in previously used, 600-litre French oak barrels. It is bottled without filtering or clarifying. Once the bottle is uncorked and the wine served, we can appreciate its lovely cherry colour with violet hues on the rim and medium density. The nose emanates fresh aromas of cherries and blackberries, complemented by woodland hints, liquorice and the odd lactic note. At first it seems shy, but its juiciness soon hits the palate, filling it with luscious tannins and light spicy suggestions. There's elegance, a subtly bitter nuance, leaving in our minds the image of a modern wine that seemingly wants to refer us back to a time gone by.
Roast lamb / pork roasted in red wine / semi-cured cheeses / meat rice dishes / vegetable salads
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Red Crianza. Bodegas Juan Carlos Sancha Rioja, Spain Maturana Tinta
Bottle: £7.64 club members / £8.98 non-members
This grape with its small, compact berries has considerable colour and works marvellously well with oak. Ageing helps to polish its tannins and bestows volume and silkiness on the palate. It was perhaps its scant productivity which caused it to be neglected to the extent of becoming a marginal grape. There are now today several wineries which are striving to restore the variety, increasing its presence in their vineyards and making very remarkable wines from it.
Definitely among the most notable is Bodegas Juan Carlos Sancha. The winery, located in Baños de Río Tobía in the Rioja Alta, one of the denomination's coolest areas, has focused its efforts on making wines from the Garnacha Tinta, but also from minority varieties such as Tempranillo Blanco and the two Maturanas (white and red). Juan Carlos Sancha, a professor at the University of La Rioja, has himself taken part in the research project tasked with restoring indigenous varieties. The 5.5 hectares of vineyards surround the winery and Juan Carlos' own home. The very high density planting of the vines on poor soils at 600 metres above sea level, produces grapes of unsurpassable quality and great concentration. There is minimal intervention in the vineyard and always under organic guidelines, with respect for the environment featuring as an essential concept. In a winery using basic equipment, as many as six wines are made, with one of them being Ad Libitum Maturana Tinta.
The grapes for this wine initially came from 17 plants discovered in an old vineyard and which have increased in number by grafts. After selection, the must ferments and ages in new 500-litre Tronçais barrels, with stirring 16 times a day in order to keep the skins constantly wet and in contact with the must. After 11 months of resting in oak, the wine appears a deep Picota cherry colour and reveals a nose brimming with fine fruit, minerality, liquorice and the odd green pepper note typical of this variety. On the palate, it exhibits medium structure, good acidity and tannins well-shaped by the oak. In addition to the aromas discerned on the nose, we can pick up hints of cocoa, coffee and spices. A mature and flavoursome finish with a lingering aftertaste. We recommend decanting to enjoy it fully.
Roast lamb / cooked sausages / veal stew / rice with wild mushrooms / braised vegetables
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Young red Crianza. Vinos La Zorra Sierra de Salamanca, Spain Rufete
Bottle: £9.59 club members / £11.29 non-members
This grape, with its small compact clusters, is prone to disease due to its delicate skin. Yet at the same time, it's this fragility which enables it to deliver subtle wines full of delicacy, with aromas of woodland fruits and sweet tannins. It seems to have a distant genetic connection with the Pinot Noir, a grape with which it has certain similarities, such as spicy hints and a paler colour.
At Vinos La Zorra, Olga Martín and Agustín Maillo, both natives of this land with its long wine-producing tradition, make wines brimming with personality, employing the knowledge that has passed down through generations as well as the opportunities provided by new technology. At the Mogarraz winery they carry out production on a small scale, with an output of just over 50,000 bottles. Their land is divided into small parcels with plantations of bush vines on the three types of soil typically found in the region. The unusual name of Vinos La Zorra, as you may have already guessed, originates from the fable about the fox (zorra) and the grapes.
The wine presented here is the so-called Raro, a 100% Rufete. In its production, after a light cold pre-maceration, the must ferments using wild yeasts at a controlled temperature. After a malolactic fermentation, it spends around 100 days in second-year barrels. It appears a lovely purple-violet colour, with slight density and agile tears. Flowers and hints of red-berry fruits dominate on the nose, with lactic aromas (cream and yogurt) in the background. On the palate it's juicy and fresh, a real luscious delight. Its delicate feel and lively acidity are fused with balsamic traces of scrubland bushes. It has a very elegant finish, dominated by the spices and fruit yet dry. It would benefit from being served at a cool temperature and most especially, after a good aeration.
Young goat's ribs coated in breadcrumbs / ham on toasted bread / vegetable salads / pasta with bolognese sauce
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