A TASTING ROUND OF SPANISH WINES: PITTACUM & QUINTA SARDONIA
In the previous article, I told you about the three whites I tasted from BODEGAS TERRAS GAUDA, 3 very nice RÍAS BAIXAS wines from the Spanish Celt Iberian Galicia. Now, I’d like to present you 3 red wines which were sent to me from Spain. Two of them are produced by VIÑEDOS Y BODEGAS PITTACUM (BIERZO) and the third one by QUINTA SARDONIA (CASTILLA Y LEÓN). Both wineries are linked to TERRAS GAUDAS.
The PITTACUM vineyards and winery are located in the Arganza municipality, part of the DO BIERZO appellation, in the northwestern part of (CASTILLA Y) LEÓN. The border with Galicia, Asturias and Portugal is very close… BIERZO is a mountainous region with several small valleys, quite comparable with the other side of the border, in Portugal. The region is blessed by a special microclimate, with enough sunlight but not too much warmth in the summer, sufficient precipitations (comparable to Galicia) and no strong frosts in the winter or spring. The soils are a mixture of colluvial sediments (from the erosion of the surrounding mountain slopes) in the lower lands, calcareous and metamorphic rocks (quartzite) on the slopes. The vineyards are located on softly inclined terraces near to the river or on semi-terraced steep slopes, between 450 and 1,000 meter above sea level. BIERZO produces some nice white wines from the GODELLO and Doña Blanca grapes, and great reds from the MENCÍA variety. PITTACUM’s red wines are all made from MENCÍA grapes, but not just plain grapes… The 100% MENCÍA grapes are estate owned and come from 50-80 years old vines for the 8 months BARRICA wine and more than 100 years old for the AUREA wine! In the vineyards, all is done to work environmental friendly and sustainable. After harvest at the perfect ripeness moment, the grapes are fully de-stemmed and the berries and must are sent to stainless steel tanks where they are gently crushed and ferment under strict temperature control in stainless steel tanks. The malolactic fermentation occurs naturally and the young wine is aged in oak barrels, then clarified with albumin (egg whites), carefully filtered and bottled. This is now… PITTACUM!
PITTACUM 8 MESES BARRICA DE ROBLE 2007, BIERZO
This wine has been aged for 8 months in French and American oak barrels. Great colour concentration, deep ruby red. Very ripe fruit in the nose, loads of fresh berries, juicy plums and some floral accents. The berries come out consequently on the palate, fresh, juicy, mouth filling, complex and concentrated, full but never heavy or boring, with a delicate spicy and sensually sweet finish (vanilla, toffee, chocolate…). This wine is born for grilled or roasted meat, from lamb, goat and beef to wild rabbit and even smaller feather wild like woodcock, snipes, partridges, pigeons etc. NB: for the vegetarians, grilled organic halloumi or spiced paneer cheese, even a tofu/tempeh/seitan steak or grilled Portobello mushrooms would do it as well!). Good wine with character and complexity ***
PITTACUM AUREA 14 MESES BARRICA DE ROBLE 2007, BIERZO
This wine gets between 14 and 20 months of ageing in oak barrels, depending on each vintage. Lovely color, deep and enticing. Fantastic nose, very expressive and complex, with personal associations to ripe plums and cherries, on a background of wild green aromatic herbs (garrigue, Mediterranean scrublands), pepper, elegant oak tones and a hint of vanilla… On the palate, first freshness and juiciness, then a full bodied but very harmonic structure, firm but ripe tannins, all ending in a warm (alcohol + ripe fruit), spicy and mineral finish. Wow, what a splendid wine! Forget here about the rabbit, go for lamb and big high-quality beef steaks… For the vegetarians, forget about the Portobello, tofu/tempeh/seitan steaks… go for grilled bio halloumi or spiced paneer cheese! Very good wine with character and complexity ****
Very little to be found at the moment I write about this ‘Quinta’… Linked with TERRAS GAUDA, that’s all I know. It seems to be located in the province of Valladolid, in CASTILLA Y LEÓN. The vineyards are planted on south facing slopes along the Douro River at an average of 760-840 meter below sea level. There are many types of soils, mainly calcareous. The blend for the specific wine I tasted (see below) was mainly consisting of tinto fino (= tempranillo), cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec… Indeed, a mouth full of grapes… The viticulture is ruled by biodynamics principles and natural rhythms. The strictly selected grapes are harvested and processed together. The fermentation is spontaneous, with natural wild ferments. After the maceration process and fermentation (alcoholic + malolactic), the wine is aged for 16 months in 50% new and 50% used French oak barrels. Before bottling the wine is clarified with albumin (egg whites) and lightly filtered. The wine is linked to Peter Sisseck, world famous from Pingus wines, and at the moment, I do not have a clue why this wine is also linked to TERRAS GAUDA. However, it has become a myth wine, with very high points in some American magazines… Let’s taste it…
QUINTA SARDONIA 2007, TIERRAS DE CASTILLA Y LEÓN
Very deep cherry red colour with some purple reflections. Very intense, complex aromatic nose, full of freshly harvested berries (black currants, cherries, plums… ), some aromatic herbs and spices (rosemary, liquorice, anise, pepper…) and a hint of spring blossoms. Quite powerful on the palate, still very young, with firm tannins and an enormous concentration. However, the balance is remarkable, with great freshness and juiciness. This is undoubtedly an outstanding wine which needs many more years to develop its intrinsic quality. The length is fabulously long but the pleasure is not yet optimal because of the still quite firm tannins and high alcohol percentage (15% by vol.). This wine would have needed a much longer aeration (one hour in a carafe was not enough). The serving temperature should be slightly lower because of the dominant alcohol, but not too low because of the strong tannins. Keep this wine at least five more years in your cellar and you will have a hell of a wine… At the moment, I wouldn’t have any matching wine-food combination to propose, except may be some wild boar, slowly roasted in one piece with skin and hair… (Grin). Very good wine / outstanding wine ****(*)
(No*: wimpy wine, * nice wine, recommended, ** good wine with character, *** good wine with character and complexity, **** very good wine, ***** outstanding wine)