Primeras Marcas and Verema Host a Tasting In Valencia

¨Primeras Marcas¨ and Verema Host a Tasting in Valencia.
10 May saw a tasting in the Hospes Palau De La Mar Hotel in Valencia organised jointly by Verema and ¨Primeras Marcas¨ the Barcelona based distributors with a catalogue to match the name. The tasting was primarily organised for professionals in the wine and restaurant trade and was much more ¨organised¨ than some I have reported on recently. The session was led by Paco Higon, one of the founders of Verema and their `resident´ blogger. Nine wines were on show, three each from three separate bodegas across Spain and with their own winemakers.
First of these was Ànima Negra Viticultors from Felanitx in the South East of Mallorca. This is one of those areas  which took off as a wine growing area when phylloxera struck the mainland and France in particular. At this point winemaking became a serious part of agricultural enterprise. The bodega was founded in 1994. It was a project between a number of friends and at first they could only obtain a few hectares of land, often of very poor soil, with local varieties growing such as Manto Negre, Fogonou, Prensal and above all Callet, varieties being grubbed up elsewhere and replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The aim has always been to produce individual wines with their own personality. The winemaker, Miquelangel Cerda, introduced the wines.
Second bodega was  Bodegas y Viñedos Pujanza from Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa. Another relatively new project, the bodega was founded in 1998. Led by Carlos San Pedro who commented on the wines and the philosophy some 40 hectares of vines in specific parcels ( Valdepoleo, San Roman y San Juan, El Gancho and El Valcabada ) are tended with great care to assist in the aim of making the best wines.
Third Bodega was Viña Sastre, founded in 1992 and based in La Horra, Burgos, part of the Ribero del Duero. Jesús Maria Sastre leads this family firm consisting of 42 hectares dedicated to biodynamic wine production.
Left to Right, Carlos San Pedro of Pujanza, Paco Higon from Verema, Miguel Angel Cerda from Ànima Negre and Jesus Sastre of Viña Sastre.
The tasting was organised broadly into three levels of wine which were tasted sequentially.
We began with the Ànima Negre, Àn 2, 2007 Vi de la Terra de Mallorca. This 65% Callet, 20% Manto Negre and Fogonou, all regional varieties with 15% Syrah. It is 14%ABV. After a maceration of 17-21 days this wine spends some 12 months in oak ( 70% French, 30% American ) and 35% new with the rest not being used for more than 3 wines. The Callet variety is described as ¨rustic,¨ and produces a wine likened by some to a good burgundy. To the eye a nice deep garnet even colour, clean with long legs. On the nose an unmistakeable warmth to the fruit, open, herbs fruits and morello cherry. In the mouth the wine is full, warm, with smooth tannins, minerals and a strong structure before a long finish. The wine underwent fermentation in  3k litre cubed wooden casks, with the malolactic fermentation in barrel. Then 17 months of crianza in French oak before 2 months in deposit and then bottling.
Second wine was the Pujanza 2005, DO Rioja, 100% Tempranillo, 14% ABV. From the Valdepoleo, San Román and San Juan parcels, Deep cherry red with violet edge, and short legs. On the nose a little closed but with hints of wood, herbs and spices and balsamic touches. In the mouth lean with smooth tannins, then opening, balanced long finish with a hint of fruit to come. The wine was fermented in steel tanks of 15k litres, and after fermentation remained in contact with skins. After the malolactic fermentation the wine rested in French oak barrels of five different varieties for 16 months. Thereafter it was bottled.
Last in this level of wine was the Sastre ACOS 2006 DO Ribero del Duero. !00% Tempranillo( Tinta del Pais)  and 15%ABV. To the eye deep cherry red with a deeper blue ( almost aubergine ) edge and long slow legs. On the nose more forward than the last wine. Nice warm fruit, red fruit hints of jam, concentrated and a touch minerally. In the mouth full, nicely balanced, long finish with herbs, minerals and smooth tannins and potential for ageing. From a production of just 6000 bottles the wine has spent 14 months in French oak.
Some of the attendees at the tasting.
The second tier of wines commenced with the Ànima Negre Àn Negre 2006 Vi de la Terra de Mallorca. This is 95% Callet, with 5% of Fogonou and Manto Negro 14%ABV. The grapes for this wine come from vines with an average age of 40-60 years. They are grown on soil with a high ferrous oxide content which give the vermillion colour. A similar process to the first wine takes place but with 25 days of maceration and then 17 months of crianza in new French oak followed by two months in deposit before bottling. Deep ruby red. On the nose red and black fruits, herbs, wood ( cigarette box) and tobacco. In the mouth elegant, soft full fruit, soft tannins with a sweet almost jammy finish.
Second up was the Pujanza Norte 2006 DO Rioja  85% Tempranillo, 15%ABV. The vines are exclusively from the 2.5 hectare El Gancho plot. The wine is made in French oak deposits of 7600 litres, the grapes are gently stripped from the stalk, go through a 5 day cold pre-fermentation then  30 days of maceration with the skins, before 18 months of crianza in Allier and Tronçais oak before resting in bottle before going on sale. Cherry red with purple edge with long slow legs. Complex fruity minerally nose with red fruits showing and balsamic tones. In the mouth well structured, powerful, initially cherry with boiled sweets then spices and a long finish with more ripe fruit flavours.
Third in this flight was the Regina Vides Sastre Ribero del Duero 2003 Tempranillo ( Tinta del Pais ) 14.5%ABV. It has come from vines with an average age of about 80 years and a production of 5,872 bottles. Deep cherry red with violet tones, on the nose it is more complex than the ACOS, with astonishing ripe fruits, coffee, spices, chocolate, toffee and herbs. In the mouth powerful, with a good body and structure, coffee herbs, cedar wood, and even a little leather with a long finish and a wine destined for keeping.
The wines we tasted.
In the third flight we started with the Ànima Negre Son Negre 2005 Vi de la Terra de Mallorca, 14% ABV and 95% Callet and 5% Manto Negro and Fogonou. This sells for around 60€ a bottle. It comes from three small plots of very poor soil, very minerally and quick draining. The wine is only released at the end of the crianza if it is an exceptional and particular wine. If so it receives a specially designed label, product of a collaboration between friend and artist Miquel Barceló. If not it goes into the Àn blend. Also from soils full of iron oxide the wine is cherry garnet in colour. After controlled fermentation in the oak cubed containers of 3k litres it then spends 17 months in crianza and 2 months in deposit before bottling. On the nose this had strong morello cherry  with spices, herbs and balsamic notes. In the mouth it was complex, balanced, full of flavour, creamy vanillas and the most rounded of their three wines.
The second wine was the Pujanza Cisma 2006 DO Rioja. 100% Tempranillo, from the Valcabada parcels of vines planted in 1925 amounting to just 0.8 of a hectare. This sells for around 200€ a bottle. Made the same way as the Pujanza Norte, This is going to be a very big wine. Intense deep red colour with a purple edge and colour coating the glass. Complex nose with mature red and black fruits, spices minerals and balsamic notes. In the mouth it opens up, concentrated and subtle, lots of full flavour with nice balance and structure, very elegant and a long finish. Definately a wine to keep!
Finally we tasted the Sastre Pesus 2004 DO Ribero del Duero from 80% Tempranillo and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This 15%ABV and sells for around 260€ a bottle. The production is just 1800 bottles annually and the price reflects the very low yield which can be less than a kilo of grapes per vine and their age of 80-100 years! Dark cherry with a garnet edge on the nose it displays mature fruit, toffee,  minerals, and a little mint. I also felt a touch of syrup. On the palate powerful, full of fresh fruit flavours, smooth tannins, black coffee and chocolate. This was open and elegant now but one to keep for many years as well!
This was a very interesting tasting with expressive and impressive wines from three quite different parts of Spain. The three flights were well matched and each step up brought with it new qualities. The final flight was of vinos de autor, wines which express the philosophy and style of the winemaker. None disappointed and it was a pleasure to take part in such a enjoyable event. The price of these wines reflects their scarcity, quality and the demand for them .Thank you to Paco Higon in particular for the opportunity to attend.
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