Tag Archives: Sergio Garrido.

Bodegas Baron D´Alba – In search of the Perfect Soils.


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Back in December 2013 we visited the Les Useres ( Castellon) bodega owned by Sergio Garrido as part of an educational trip looking at new wines and  wines developing  in deposit and cask. This is an important part of our work in giving wine tastings because we are often asked technical questions about wine-making methods in the Valencian Community. The reality is there are many twists in wine making where enologists have their own personal ideas and practices to obtain the best results from the material the vine-grower provides them at harvest time.

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Of course any wine-maker will have commenced his work long before the harvest, ensuring the vines are not being stressed by asking them to produce too much. Pruning at the post flowering stage and removal of unwanted shoots ( poda en verde) is one of the first issues to be dealt with at the end of Spring. At Clos  D´esgarracordes the soils have always been important. Wine maker Mario Malafosse who has been there for four years working with Sergio Garrido, makes the soils his number one priority. On VÍ vid´s follow-up visit yesterday ( at which we were once again to taste the new and developing wines)  we started with a walk into the vineyards to look at the flowering taking place in the Cabernet Sauvignon variety.

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Cabernet Sauvignon, flowering.

From here we went on to look at the Merlot where `poda en verde´ was taking place, the two arms of the vines were being stripped of the excessive growth as were shoots coming from the base of the vines. This involves removing some of the putative bunches so that the vines do not produce more than around 1.5-2kg each of grapes.

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Buds on the Merlot.

Here, Mario has been experimenting with green manure to feed the roots of the vines and improve the soil. Soil  is a priority for both Sergio and Mario. The former has always wanted his wines to express the land      ( or  terroir) from which they come ( a mixture of sand and stone.) For Mario it has been his major study as an enologist.

Experimental area with wood chippings.

Experimental area with wood chippings.

Currently they are experimenting with different ground cover such as growing broad beans down the middle of the rows of vines. These fix a lot of nutrient into the soils, enriching them and subsequently benefiting the vines. They also protect the soils from the direct sunlight. But they have also experimented with sawdust and wood chippings packed around the base of the vines to act as a mulch and keep moisture in. Certainly the vines receiving this treatment had a much more humid soil.

Sergio Garrido demonstarting Pode en Verde.

Sergio Garrido demonstrating Poda en Verde.

Nor could you help but notice that the soil had a lot of spores growing in it, a sure sign that it was alive with nutrients. Not that any wood will do of course, pine for example does not work because of the resins it holds! We returned to the bodega and commenced our tastings from the deposits and barrels. Starting with the 2014 Rosado, still to be filtered but ready for bottling this is a blend of Monastrell, Garnacha and Syrah. Sergio and Mario are  trying to produce a rosado which gives a nod to the fashion for paler wines without losing the essence of Valencian Rosados. Although a paler salmon than in the past it  retains a brilliance in the glass. Moreover this is not a wine from free run juice , the press is used after a two-hour maceration to ensure that the characteristics of the soils come through from the skins. This will be a fresh , raspberry fruit wine with a natural sweetness balanced with a good acidity and a long dry mineral, even salty, finish. The best rosado we have tried from this bodega!

2014 Gewurztraminer.

2014 Gewurztraminer.

Second was  the 2014 Macabeo/Viognier blend which will make the new `Clos´wine. Both varieties have a short crianza in oak to enrich the wines, with battonage once a week.Second usage oak tends to impart less oak flavours into the wine , rather giving them a fuller body. This wine has it with lovely depth of fruit and balancing acidity. A wine to watch out for on release! The bodega´s Gewürztraminer has been much-lauded since its release last year and is a best seller at winefairs. This 2014 is the most expressive so far although sadly there will only be about 400 bottles because of last years drought. The 2014 is the most expressive yet, the fruitiest , richest and most spicy with a finish that never stops developing!

Sergio Garrido with VÍ vid.

Sergio Garrido with VÍ vid.

Moving to the reds, `Pelegri ´ is the bodega´s top wine in the `Collection´ series.In 2011 the wine was a French style Cabernet Sauvignon, full of green and black pepper and an excellent wine. But, Pelegri will be made from the variety which performs the best each year and in 2012 that was the Syrah. In 2013 it will be the Merlot.

Pelegri 2012, Syrah

Pelegri 2012, Syrah

We tasted both, the Syrah from deposit where, having been stabilised  it awaits bottling and the Merlot from barrel where it has spent its first year in wood. The Syrah is a bright chery colour, the wine painting the glass. On the nose it is very expressive with tobacco, chocolate, pepper, plum and fruits of the forest. In the mouth the tannins are smooth and the the wine powerful This will be a worthy successor to the Cabernet! The 2013 Merlot is a plum colour, youthful and still has more time in barrel to come. There is a lot of jammy fruit, black pepper, but at the moment it is quite tannic. Huge potential this wine. We look forward to tasting from barrel or  from deposit next year before bottling!

Marian, Juanjo and wine-maker Mario in the bodega.

Marian, Juanjo and wine-maker Mario in the bodega.

Finally we tried the  Monastrell 2013 which is fresh, fruity and aromatic with big hints of violet in a floral nose. Over lunch, which consisted of a local paella with rib of pork, rabbit and chicken with vegetables we continued our talks and discussed a range of issues.

We were given one final surprise! Sergio and Mario have been experimenting with a sparkling wine to add to the range. Castellon is outside DO Cava so although it will be made by the traditional method it will be an `espumoso´. We tried a bottle to finish off the meal and it showed great promise with a year,  so far, in bottle on the lees.

We are very pleased to have this bodega as an associate and to be able to promote their wines in future tastings. we look forward to a long continuing relationship with them, a bodega whose owner and winemaker have a clear idea of their style and want to ensure the future improvement of the vineyards and with it the wines!

Paella for Lunch!

Paella for Lunch!

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Tasting New Wines from Castellon…a Triple Bodega Visit.


Gallus Tinto at Ildum Vinarius

Gallus Tinto at Ildum Vinarius

Saturday last saw my last but one bodega visit for the year, a trip that was to take in three bodegas, all visited before  but specifically this time to taste the new wines.

Back in the middle of August I had been invited to the opening of Ildum Vinarius ( See Archives 18 August 2013- IldumVinarius…A Visit to Castellon´s Newest Bodega. ) Now the bodega has bottled its first wines and opened a shop on the premises.

Four wines are currently produced. A white and a red with the `Optimus´ lable and a tinto `Gallus´ as well as an espumoso, made in the traditional method ( like Cava ) but from the Bonicaire variety. We started with Optimus Blanc, 80% Macabeo, and 10% each of Moscatel and Chardonnay. 700 bottles of this 11.5% ABV wine were made. Pale yellow with golden flashes , clean and bright it shows medium legs. On the nose it is quite floral, with a little tropical fruit, peach and apricot but also a little wet wool which I suspect is the Chardonnay.

Optimus Blanc

Optimus Blanc

In the mouth the wine has good volume, is fresh, well-balanced with a long dry but fruity finish. A real surprise and 5€ at the bodega.

Second wine was the Gallus Tinto , 2012, with 10 months crianza in French oak. It is a blend of Tempranillo, 50%, with 40% Syrah and the balance being Cabernet Sauvignon. A rich plum colour with a violet edge and long slow legs it is 13% ABV. On the nose you immediately note the influence of the Syrah, nice spiky cherry fruit, and in the mouth it is fruity and  full, with a long satisfying finish. An easy drinker and at 4€ a very good value wine!

The third wine was the Optimus Tinto. Around 1000 bottles of this wine have been produced and like the Gallus is fined with eggs. At 13.5%ABV, it sells for 6.50€. To the eye it is a youthful purple colour, the glass coloured by the long slow legs. On the nose it is also youthful, fruity and fresh. In the mouth it needed a little time more to develop but the wine is full of lively fruit, cherry, and nice smooth tannins.

Espumoso from Bonicaire.

Espumoso from Bonicaire.

As well as selling bag in box wines, the bodega has its own sparkling wine, designed for fiestas!!! It is a rosado from the local Bonicaire variety. From 30-year-old vines it has 12% ABV. It is a very bright strawberry colour with good fine bubbles. We tasted both a bottle which was disgorged as we waited and another which had been pre-prepared and had licor d`expedición added. There was little difference, the latter being a bit more marked all round. The wine has a persistent mousse and on the nose you immediately note the fresh red fruit flavours. In the mouth the wine is creamy, has a lot of fruit and has a very easy pass across the palate and immediately wants you to taste it again! This would be good with food but it is a fun wine and at 5€ a bottle good value.

As owner Victor Belmunt was a way in the Czech republic, I am very grateful to his wife Estivel and his partner who made the tasting for us.

We moved on swiftly to El Mollet, in La Barona , which I last visited in October ( see Archives October 5 2013-  Just Another Day in Paradise….). Here Juan Carlos Pavia has now expanded his Roques Negres range, introducing both a white and a rosado.

Roques Negres

Roques Negres

The white is a pure Macabeo which we had tasted from deposit. Now, bottled just three weeks ago, the wine is on the market at around 6€ a bottle, and is 11%ABV. Pale lemon, clean and bright with golden and green flashes, the wine has a lot of green apple on the nose, fresh but has lost the banana scent. In truth it may well recover it when it has been in bottle a little longer but in the mouth the fruit is ripe, melon, with a lovely clean acidity which is evidence of the gravelly soils on which it is grown.

The rosado is to die for….and you may well be killed in the rush for the three hundred or so bottles which are left! 100% Garnacha and nearly 14% ABV we had also tasted this from deposit in October and now it is bottled it is a pale salmon pink, clean and quite brilliant in the glass with long legs. Garnacha can be difficult, in years when the alcohol is high there is no colour and vice-versa. Having given up trying to make a red Juan Carlos has tried his hand successfully at a rosado. On the nose it is floral and reeks of ripe  red currant fruit. In the mouth full, with excellent balance a fresh acidity, a long finish with hints of violets. Lovely!!!

Juan Carlos Pavia in the Vineyard.

Juan Carlos Pavia in the Vineyard.

On the way from La Barona to Les Useres and our next stop, we called in to see Juan Carlos´s  vineyards where pre-pruning had been taking place. The rich red stony soil which is at least free draining was very marked.

Our third stop was to a bodega I had not visited since 2011. ( See Archives, 14 February 2011  A Visit to Baron D´Alba, Clos d´esgarracordes) . I had met owner Sergio Garrido a week or so ago at the Nariz Oro tasting in Valencia where his Crianza was showing and has subsequently been picked as one of the wines for the final of the competition. He had told me that some of the vineyards newer varieties were now making wine and invited me to come and  taste them.

Following a quick tasting of the wines the bodega currently sells, we moved to a private terrace behind the bodega and old house to taste the samples.

Baron D´Alba.

Baron D´Alba.

First up was a Merlot with incredible colour from a 1000  litre oak deposit. The glass was brightly coloured by this purple bombshell, and the wine has long legs. On the nose it positively reeks of ripe fruit, plums and damsons, which are also very evident in the mouth. It is a very harmonious young wine.

Second, we tasted a young syrah, much deeper black in colour, also long-legged and colouring the glass.

On the nose there was really spiky black cherry  which in the mouth was full of jammy fruit. This is a wine, yet to go into wood which is full of potential.

Residue of the Merlot!

Residue of the Merlot!

The rosado which we tried next was cloudy, a blend of Garnacha, Monastrell and Cabernet Sauvignon sitting with the lees from a white wine to round it out. It is a pale salmon pink, with good legs but needs more time for the fruit to emerge. It has however a good acidity.

The Viognier 2013 from 5-year-old vines was also slightly hazy but is more evolved and almost clear. Pale lemon in colour and very cold as it is stabilizing under temperature control to clear the tartaric acid crystals. On the nose it was understandably closed, with only hints of the peachy and apricot fruit you might expect from the variety. In the mouth it was a little citric, one to watch I think.

The Gewürztraminer was very different! As far as I am aware this will be only the second bodega to produce a pure Gewürztraminer, this one is 12.2%ABV. Again there was some residual cloudiness but on the nose the wine was much more open, very spicy, floral and with nice ripe fruit. In the mouth it is very expressive  with good varietal characteristics and should be released in May 2014.

Late Harvest Macabeo.

Late Harvest Macabeo.

Finally we tried the bodegas white dulce, a late harvest golden Macabeo with 7 months in barrica and very glycerinous legs!  On the nose there is a hint of the oak but the predominant fruit is red apple and galia melon! In the mouth it is full-bodied, rich, ripe fruit, natural sweetness, and a wine which will be marketed for special occasions in 1/2 litre bottles. It will be available in time for the next edition of the  Best Wines from Castellon Show at the end of January 2014.

My thanks to Sergio for another opportunity to taste some new wines at an early stage of their development, an invaluable tasting! Secondly thanks to Marian Darás who took some of the pictures used in this post.

S.ergio Garrido

S.ergio Garrido

 

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