A Visit to Bodegas y Viñedos Barón d´Alba, Clos d´esgarracordes.


Wines from Clos d´esgarracordes.

   The recent visit to Castellon to the show of best wines from the province led to a number of invitations to visit vineyards and bodegas over the next few weeks and months. As this was an uncharted territory for me I thought I would get stuck in straight away and first visit was to see Sergio Garrido owner and one of the wine makers at the bodega in Les Useres.

On yet another bright and sunny February Saturday we arrived on the Pla d´Useres ( literally a flat plain) and between La Barona and Useres found the Chapel (or Hermitage) which marks the entrance to the property, a modern installation built in a rustic style with local stone but which hides a modern winery.

Sergio took us around the property, firstly to the chilling room where the harvested grapes are allowed to cool to prevent early fermentation. In the same building is the vast hall where the grapes are selected by hand , then de-stalked and passed by pump to deposit.

Chilling room, selection area and Crianza cellar.

  Currently the bodega consists of about 16 Hectares of vines of which 6 directly surround the property. The remainder are outside in plots elsewhere on the Pla d´Useres. They grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot, Monastrell, Garnacha, Pinot Noir  and Syrah in red and Macabeo, Gewurtztraminer, Viognier and Moscatel in white.

In the modern way the grapes are harvested into 8-10 kg boxes and transported straight to the chilling room.

Once processed the reds go to temperature controlled double skinned stainless steel deposits outside the bodega. The white, currently just Macabeo goes to Deposits inside the bodega.The other white varieties were only planted two years ago and are too young for production at the current time.

Once fermented the reds are passed to a 6kl wooden barrica for the malolactic fermentation. Then they are passed to one of the 140 wooden barrels for crianza.

One of the certified barricas, 90% French with 10% American oak.

  Sergio and his wife have only come to winemaking recently. The winery was only built and planted from 2001 with the first vintage 2006 Crianza being released in 2009.  They are looking to build up the winery and use the bodega for other purposes such as visits, weddings and communions etc.

It is set in a beautiful open area with the original house and its sympathetic modern extension, tasting suite etc all blending into the countryside perfectly but with great elegance. Above the bodega is an entertainment suite and the offices and below is the barrel park, ethereal yet modern with bottles of oxidised wine placed strategically in alcoves to reflect and refract the light.

In the bodega itself two huge murals dominate the walls. These were commissioned from a Bolivian friend and small scenes from within them are used on the labels for the basic entry-level wines, currently a white from Macabeo, a rosado from Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha, and a tinto barrica 2008 from Tempranillo, Merlot and Monastrell.

The Crianza seleciónEspecial 2006 carries the symbolic corkscrew on the label which is the Bodega´s symbol.

Most of the wine is currently sold locally either to restaurants or into specialist wine shops. As the bodega expands its range with the new varietals Sergio is hoping to break into the export market.

In the tasting suite!

  We had arranged to meet Domingo Miguel of Dorado wines together with Yolanda Andreu, his partner and a partner in Catas y Eventos Castellon who are trying to promote wines from the province and in particular wines from this bodega.

After the tour of the facilities we embarked on a tasting across the current range. To begin with this involved Sergio in collecting a couple of jugs of wine from the deposit as the 2010 has not yet been filtered or bottled!

The Blanco Seco Afrutado 2010 is pure Macabeo and made by Sergio and José Luis Sánchez his winemaker partner who we had met in Castellon two weeks earlier.

The grapes are picked at the optimum moment of maturity, by hand before the hand selection in the bodega and eventual low temperature, controlled fermentation.

Sergio Garrido with wine by the jug!

 

Pale yellow in colour,with green flashes the wine was clean if not bright, needing a filtering. On the nose it is elegant and quite full for Macabeo, with pineapple mango and kiwi as well as fresh fruit such as apple and grapefruit. In the mouth although dry the acidity is perfectly balanced with the fruit, it is smooth, round, fresh and alive! It has a long balanced fruity finish. This is a fuller style of Macabeo and would go well with arroces, shellfish dishes some cheeses and white meat and pasta dishes. It is 12% ABV.

Also fuller in style is the Rosado 2010. From 50% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and  Garnacha, the wine has a deeper Strawberry and Rose colour with long legs. It too needs filtering and bottling. Nonetheless on the nose after an initially closed period it opened out to give mature light red fruit. In the mouth it is also a fuller style of wine…..close your eyes and it could be a light red! In the mouth there is an initial touch of spritz giving the wine a little bite and the predominant flavour as the wine passes easily across the palate is lychee.

The Tinto Barrica 2008 13.5% ABV was harvested in september of that year from Tempranillo, Merlot and Monastrell. After malolactic fermentation it undergoes crianza ( of around six months ) until the wine makers consider it is the right time to bottle it. To the eye it is medium density ruby-red with long legs. On the nose there are minerals from the terroir, vanilla, chocolate and black fruit. In the mouth it has body, smooth tannins and a long fruity finish…an easy drinker.

Flagship wine from the bodega is currently the 2006 Tinto Crianza Selección Especial, The same varieties as before but with a touch of Syrah added.  This has had a 14 month crianza period.

Artwork from the Mural in the Bodega.

 A deep cherry red, mature with long legs. It is also 13.5% ABV, it has a jammy black fruit nose with plum and blackcurrant. There are also spices and balsamic notes from the crianza.

In the mouth it is round, smooth well structured and elegant, nicely balanced with a long finish.

It has already won international recognition with a bronze medal at the French International Wine challenge last year and scored 89 points in the Penin guide. It should be noted the three previous wines all scored 87 in the same guide giving this new bodega a confident and winning start!

The wines need to better known and I am sure they will be very soon, this is another  bodega  which is very much part of the Castellon revival, well worth a visit where a friendly welcome is assured.

 www.barondalba.com

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