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Andalucia latest focal point of Spain's new wave wines scene

Published:  06 October, 2017

Andalucia is best known for its sherries, but the region has now become the latest focal point of Spain’s burgeoning new wave wines scene.

A new generation of winemakers has emerged in Jerez, producing dry still, terroir wines, in recent years and now the trend has spread East to Cordoba, where wine producer quartet, Envinate, has in collaboration with Bodegas Alvear in Montilla-Moriles, just released a new range of flor-aged still wines.

“These are new styles of terroir wines, made from old vines,” said Alfonso Torrente, one of Envinate’s winemakers.

The 3 Miradas range comprises seven low-alcohol wines fermented for eight months under flor, in Tinaja-style concrete vats and briefly aged in sherry butts.

The wines were fermented to 11.5% abv and 12.5% abv rather than to 15% as required for fino sherries.

Bodegas Alvear said the 3 Miradas project marked the return of the use of parcels of old vines growing on Albariza limestone soil in the historical high quality classification of Qualidad Superior in the rolling hills of the Sierra de Montilla.

“The wines have been made from Pedro Ximenez grape variety, with small quantities of other local grape varieties including Montepila –we have made wines, both with and without skin contact,” said Torrente.

Envinate has produced some of Spain’s most sought after artisan wines in the Canary Islands, Extremadura, Galicia and Almansa near Alicante.

In its latest project, the winemaking approach to the 3 Miradas range has a viticulture focus, aimed at expressing the terroir of each parcel used for the making of the seven wines. Envinate has focused on the vineyard rather than the sherry ageing system used in the Bodegas Alvear winery.

Bodegas Alvear said it was in talks with UK distributor, Bibendum over the distribution of 3 Miradas.

Convivality-owned Bibendum supplies Bodegas Alvear’s Palacio Quemado wines made by Envinate in Extremadura. Bogegas Alvear’s export manager, Maria Alvear said Bibendum was likely to take on distribution of the wines, adding Bodegas Alvear had a second option in place, should Bibendum not decide to distribute the wines.

Envinate’s new project in Cordoba, follows the revival of unfortified flor-aged wines spearheaded by sherry producer Navazos-Niepoort almost a decade ago. These wines originally emerged from the taverns of Cadiz during the second half of the 18th century and were popular throughout the 19th century. In Britain, Les Caves de Pyrenes has become the latest distributor to take on new still dry white wines from Jerez.

“Most recently, we’ve taken on the wines of Bodegas Cota 45, a producer in Sanlucar de Barrameda. These wines are not fortified, but, beautiful delicate expressions of Palomino from different kinds of albariza soils, and fermented with minimal intervention,” said Doug Wregg, owner of the Les Cave de Pyrenes.

“The wines are: UBE Miraflores 2016, which is made from grapes from five different vineyards and different types of albariza – sort of a village style. It is lovely and delicate – 12% abv - a whisper of flor, but lovely refreshing apple-and-almond fruit; and UBE Carrascal 2015, a single vineyard expression of Palomino (all old clones). It is more intense with focused minerality. The wines are made pretty naturally with native yeast ferments, aged in old barrels (but not for long) and bottled with minimal sulphites,” said Wregg.

“I think it is the fact that they are using loads of original clones of Palomino matched to specific types of albariza that makes their wines unique,” he added.

Cota 45’s maverick winemaker, Ramiro Ibáñez, makes wines that go beyond the regulations of the Jerez’s regulatory wine board.

Ibáñez is part of the new generation of terroir wine producers in Jerez including Forlong, Callejuela, Primitivo Collantes, Armando Vinificate, Alba and Willy Pérez, who has recovered red grape variety gaditana tintilla. Ibáñez, was a founder member of Manifiesto 119, a group of local wine producers, created in 2015, who defend terroir wines and who experiment with winemaking techniques and have recovered old grape varieties which have not been permitted in the Jerez denomination of origin. The group was named after the 119 grape varieties (40 of them in Cádiz), catalogued in Andalucía in 1807, by the first Spanish ampelographer, Simón de Rojas Clemente.