At the round table on singular wines talk was rife about the only Rosé Petit Verdot to be found in the world; and likewise about the Rioja whites, “coupage” of the Rodan Valley wines in Girona and about Malvasia grown on the volcano ashes of Lanzarote’s Timanfaya
Singularity as opposed to globalization. This was the focus of the first round table to take place at FENAVIN 2007, the same on Singular Wines of Spain, coordinated by the Director of Efe-Agro, José Luis Murcia. Four different geographic areas, Picón in Castilla-La Mancha; San Vicente de Sonsierra in Rioja; El Grifo on the Island of Lanzarote and Girona all put the charm of their peculiarities on display.
José Luis Murcia opened the table by clearly stating, "there are a good number of reasons why a wine can be considered 'singular': because of the peculiarities of the region, the conditions of its 'terroir', the variety or varieties that are used, techniques that are applied in its elaboration, the way that aging and maturing takes place...".
Susana López, Enologist at the Pago del Vicario Winery (Picón, Ciudad Real), commented that "young people are eager for new things and new sensations, and every year they are in search of a different wine". At this Castilian-Manchego winery of Pago del Vicario they have obtained a Rosé Petit Verdot as a curiosity, representing the only Rosé mono-varietal with Petit Verdot in the world; apart from a 2006 White Tempranillo. Every year they try to obtain different wines and even different packaging, up to the point that they have more than half a dozen different packages.
"The idea is to value the 'terroir' and 'pago' and elaborate unapologetic wines with which to fight from Europe against the wines from the New World, which on a marketing level are more aggressive yet far less complex than European wines", López adds.
For those who want to be surprised
Laura Montero, of the Clos D´Agon de Calonge Winery (Girona), supports the singularity of her wines, working with French Rodan Valley varieties on Spanish soils. "Our consumer is in search of something different, and here, our peculiarity resides in elaborating a "coupage" with three Rodan Valley varieties, such as Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne, which come from areas where they are not combined, thus doing something that is truly novel on the Costa Brava". "There is a type of consumer that is in search of surprises, of rare wines, with their own personality, and that is exactly what we elaborate", she adds.
Montero elaborates 'Clos D'Agon Blanco', a difficult ensemble of these three peculiar white grapes of French origin, which result in excellent mono-varietals and on top of that they are authorized, in different proportions and conditions, to form part of French red wines of great prestige, which vouches for their nobility and enological value.
In search of balance
Abel Mendoza, owner of a winery that bears his own name in La Rioja, wagers on generic, unclassified, traditional wines, as well as on recuperating minority varieties such as Malvasía, Torrontés and Garnacha Blanca, or in other words, on making good white wines in La Rioja, where most are mainly betting on red wines. For Mendoza, "neither that which is traditional is bad, nor that which is modern is good, as in fact the secret resides in searching for balance and presenting the consumers with elegant and attractive wines".
Mendoza regales us with his experience as a 'rescuer' of autochthonous varieties from La Rioja. He has been experimenting with different minority castes for the last four harvests now - such as Garnacha Blanca or the Rioja Malvasía - the same representing a personal, fully artisan stake on rescuing these noble grapes from oblivion. The crop is always in the fashion of wine lees, although with vineyards at different heights and with different soils. Abel Mendoza assures, "I thoroughly enjoy this work, although we still have some years to go, four or five, before we have enough knowledge and before we actually reach our goal".
Harvesting in July on volcano ashes
Rosa Villar, from El Grifo Winery in Lanzarote, counts with the peculiarity of being able to harvest towards mid July, apart from a vegetative soil 365 days a year and crop growing on ash soils that are a result of the eruption of the Timanfaya Volcano in the 18th century. In such a manner the clusters of grapes rest on these ashes or 'lapilli', in pits or 'guerías', imparting a unique peculiarity on these Malvasia wines.
According to this Canarian Enologist's explanations, who makes wine in the most northern of the Canary islands, "we are talking about small amounts, because we produce about a million kilograms, half of what Lanzarote produces. Here there are 2300 hectares of vineyards, and plantation and harvesting system of which is really quite primary or manual, apart from the water problems we have".
At a latitude of 28º, pluviometry of 150 mm/year and constant lashing of the trade winds, vine growing in Lanzarote, and specifically Malvasia, may appear to be practically impossible. Yet the solution to these obstacles is logically a radical one: vegetative halting is induced by pruning; plantation density is 300 to 900 plants/Ha; the pits and volcanic rock walls protect the vines from the force of the wind… and any mechanical task is simply unapproachable. With conditions such as these, singularity of the wines from these lands is practically a mandatory requisite.