Food, wine, travel, music
The recent Wines from Spain Fair in Dublin was a good showing of value wines from a country which has seen its up and downs where both quality and price is concerned. Now back on track, there is plenty to test and taste.
José Moro gave a masterclass of his wines, and showed some wines which were true to their origins – feisty and lively, with plenty of fruit and great backbone to support it.
With the increase in sales of New World wines, it’s easy to forget that Spain is world’s third largest wine producer after France and Italy. The USA, Chile and Argentina produce less than half of Spain, and Australia for all its space, produces just a quarter of Spain’s output. But of course big doesn’t mean beautiful. However, like Italy and France, Spain has the good fortune to have many climates and with them an interesting palette of grapes and soil types to create its panoply.
In town last week was José Moro, president and third generation of the Moro winemaking family. I visited the Emilio Moro vineyards twelve years ago in the Ribero del Duero DO, the highest altitude DO in Spain with a typical Continental climate of hot dry summers with warm, long winters. Low plains, slopes and plateau areas, chalky, clay and stony soils make life varied and interesting for wine makers.
I learned from José Moro that Tinto Fino grapes are grown in looser bunches than Tempranillo resulting in better quality fruit. He has learned a lot more over the years from when he was a old enough to sit on a truck, getting his pants wet with grape juice. “The most important thing I have learned is to love the wine”, he says. “We try to leave the grapes alone, using no chemicals, and no irrigation which would alter the characteristics of the grapes. We use organic products with exhaustive controls.”
Native yeasts are important to the Moro credo. As they are much different to commercial yeasts, he believes they need to be protected. “We cloned our best yeast to give our wines character and personality.” They also work on the production of virus-free plants. “Innovation and nature should be compatible”, he says, and tells of work by the Emilio Moro Foundation’s “Wine Helps Water” initiative in Nicaragua and Peru. This all goes hand in hand with up to the minute appreciation of the benefits of communication through a new app for his wines.
My highlights were:
Emilio Moro 2011. This is matured in 50% French and US oak in one of best vintages of the decade. With lovely, elegant fruit on nose, in the mouth it has grippy tannins to support good fruit from 12 to 25 year old Tinto Fino vines. Well balanced and an ideal partner for meat dishes.
Cepa 21 is the name of the cellar in the Valladolid area where the Moro family plays around with new ideas. They call this a 21st century wine, cepa being the Spanish word for ‘strain,’ in this case ‘clone’ which is part of the aim of the company in developing clones exclusive to them delivering a unique flavour. The idea is to innovate and make this different even to the Emilio Moro range of wines from the company. GPS systems and sensors are used in the vineyard to track the development of the grapes, while virus and fungus-free plants are being produced to counter the problems common to most viticulturalists and winemakers.
High altitude of the vineyards (850 and 900m above sea level) gives the Tinto Fino grape a chance to ripen slowly and is key to the fine acidity, good length, good fruit. Chalk soils contribute to its elegance, clay soils to its structure and pebbles soils a little soft sweetness. With 14 months in oak the result of this 2009 vintage is fresh, lively fruit, culminating in a full and well rounded wine.
Other highlights from the Wines from Spain tasting:
Alegría 2005 DOCa Priorat from Bernard Magrez. Imported by Approach Trade and widely available. Grape varieties are Garnacha, Carinena, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. RRP €45.50.
Muga Reserva 2010 from DOCa Rioja imported by Coman’s Wholesale. Widely available. Grape varieties are Tempranillo, Garnacha. RRP €21.99.
Ova Tinto Graciano 2013 from Bodegas Fontana. Imported by Origin Wines, and available in independents. Pure Graciano grapes giving a meaty, well balanced and interesting wine for a tasty change. A find for the adventurous who likes to experiment with lesser known varietals. RRP €13.99.
Mesta Verdejo 2013 DO Uclés from Bodegas Fontana imported by Origin Wines. Pure Verdejo with lots of fresh, creamy light fruit. €11-12. From Independents such as Redmonds and Corkscrew.