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My wine of the week this week is Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco 2005

My wine of the week this week is Lopez de Heredia, Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco 2005

Winery : R. Lopez de Heredia

Where : Rioja Alta sub region of Rioja

Viña Tondonia is a beautiful vineyard of over 100 hectares, situated on the right bank of the river Ebro, where the most typical Rioja wines are grown. The winery is based in the small town of Haro close by.

The grapes : 100% Viura (Otherwise known as Macabeo)

Macabeo  There are few universal truths about how Macabeo tastes; the wines can be fresh, floral and aromatic when harvested sufficiently early and aged in stainless steel, but weighty, honeyed and nutty when aged in oak and harvested slightly later as with this wine.

Macabeo must (freshly pressed grape juice containing the skins, seeds and stems of the berries) is quite resistant to oxidation, due to its high levels of antioxidant resveratrol monomers (trans-piceid, cis-piceid, trans-resveratrol, and cis-resveratrol). This made it a traditionally popular option with winemakers in Rioja, where barrel aging is relatively common and inevitably involves a certain amount of oxygen exposure.

It is a fairly straightforward grape to cultivate, although it is susceptible to disease and in particular to downy mildew and grey rot.

How is this wine made :

The harvest is carried out by hand to avoid that the grapes breaking, rupturing or spontaneously fermenting prior to arriving at the winery. Fermentation takes place in small oak vats using native yeasts from the vines for 7 days. Fermentation takes place without the skins, to avoid excessive colouration.

Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco is aged for 6 years in 225litre capacity Bordeaux oak barrels, made at the winery in its own coopery.  While the wine is ageing, it is racked twice a year.  Following the ageing process, it is bottled without being filtered, but is clarified using fresh eggs.

Terminology :

Reserva white wines are aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak barrels

Rioja alta – Rioja Alta is one of three sub-regions of Spain’s celebrated Rioja wine region, along with Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja. It occupies the westernmost portion of the region, with the majority of its vineyards lying south of the Ebro River. Rioja Alta centers on the historic town of Haro, where a number of well-known wineries are located. The town also plays host to an annual wine festival in June

Soil type : The soil is made up of alluvial clay with a high limestone content

How does this wine taste to me : Almost of orange, deep honey, sophisticated and aged.  An incredible wine

The Label : Ultra distinctive, authentic, and shows the real depth of heritage and tradition behind this wine

So, my wine of the week this week is Terroir Sense Fronteres – Brisat 2017

So, my wine of the week this week is Terroir Sense Fronteres – Brisat 2017

So, my wine of the week this week is Terroir Sense Fronteres – Brisat 2017

Winery : Terroir Sense Fronteres

Where : Monsant

To understand DO Montsant one needs to be intimately familiar with its geography, as confusion comes easy here.  To be clear, both D.O. Montsant and D.O.Q. Priorat are located within the political region of Priorat (demarcated by the dotted line on the map). Additionally true, D.O. Montsant forms a perfect ¨C¨ around D.O.Q. Priorat (area in white), thereby making the two inseparable in conversation if we are understand the region in its totality. Serra de Montsant, a major mountain chain running from the NE through the NW of both wine appellations is also a source of confusion, as it is a major player in craft wines of both regions.

A very unique and differentiating characteristic of Montsant is its smorgasbord of soil types, altitudes and climates. Unlike DOQ Priorat, with its famous slate soils, DO Montsant primarily consists of lime clay soils throughout the region, with a spattering of sandy granite in the south and lime and granite in the north, along with odd batches of slate in between.

 

The grapes : 75% Grenache Blanc and 25% Macabeo,

Grenache Blanc (Garnacha Blanca in Spain) is the light-skinned mutation of Grenache Noir. It is native to northern Spain.  The light-golden, straw-colored juice of Grenache Blanc is increasingly produced as a varietal wine, though its use as a softener in a blend is still more common. It typically displays green-apple and stonefruit aromas and a fat texture. However it is considered to be very sensitive to terroir so can show considerable variation. Extra care is needed to avoid oxidation.

Macabeo (or Viura in Rioja) is a white wine grape used on either side of the Pyrenees, in the north and east of Spain and the southernmost reaches of France.   The wines can be fresh, floral and aromatic when harvested sufficiently early and aged in stainless steel, but weighty, honeyed and nutty when aged in oak and harvested slightly later.

Spain is unquestionably Macabeo’s homeland, most obviously the northern regions. It is the principal ingredient in white wines from Rioja, where the locals call it Viura.

How is this wine made : harvested from vines growing in clay and sandy soils in the valleys of the DO Montsant. In a typically Burgundian style, the grapes are fermented in whole clusters, without first being destemmed and using exclusively native yeasts that appear naturally on the fruit. They are then left to macerate on skins for two weeks, resulting in something similar to an orange wine, with plenty color, tannin and character.

The wine is aged in stainless steel vats for a period of 6 months. The lack of oak used in the aging process allows the distinctive Mediterranean characteristics of the Montsant terroir to shine through.

Terminology : Brisat – Grapes are fermented and macerated with the skins, the stems and the seeds. This old local technique results in what in Catalan is called a “brisat” white wine

Soil type : Clay and sandy soil

How does this wine taste to me : Almost orange! Well textured wine with notes of nuts, dried herbs and apricots.  Hints of oxidation, almost sherry like.

The Label : Classic straightforward and clear

The Rhone

The Rhone

On Sunday Evening my wife and I decided to go to a restaurant and enjoy a family favourite – steak and red wine!  After we looked at the menu, we decided to go with this bottle of Vacqueyras.  A southern rhone appellation – this has pretty much all the reputational credibility of the top four prestige cru’s (chateauneuf-du-pape, cornas, cote-rotie, and hermitage) except it isn’t, it comes from the next tier down or the other 12 cru’s.  The rhone is an exceptionally complex wine region in my opinion.  Here is why…

In the northern rhone alone we have 8 appellations

  • Cote-Rotie (reds of syrah and up to 20 viognier)
  • Condrieu – whites of Viognier only
  • Chateau-Grillet -whites of Viognier
  • Saint -Joseph – reds of Syrah and up to 10% Marsanne and Roussanne plus whites which can only be made from Marsanne or Roussanne
  • Crozes-Hermitage – reds of Syrah and up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne with whites made from Marsanne or Rousanne
  • Hermitage – as above
  • Cornas – Reds of Syrah only
  • Saint-Peray – sparkling and still whites of only Marsanne and Rousanne

In the southern rhone, it is as complex, and appellations are as follows

  • Cote du Vivarais
  • Cotes du rhone
  • Cotes du rhone villages
  • Chateauneuf du pape
  • Grignan Les Adhemar
  • Vacqueyras
  • Rasteau
  • Cairanne
  • Gigondas
  • Vinsobres
  • Beaumes de Venise
  • Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
  • Tavel

The Southern Rhones most famous wine Chateauneuf-du-pape is a blend containing 19 varieties of grape (10 red and 9 white), other AOC regions may even contain more.  The complexity of grapes grown, blends, and appellation rules are intense to say the least.

As part of my diploma studies, I am trying to focus in on the detail of particular wine regions.

The Rhone will be my first one.  Here is my first attempt at drawing a map of the southern rhone to help me remember the appellations and geography of the region.

The Wine Society

The Wine Society

So today we have joined The Wine Society.

 

This is really exciting and marks a new chapter in my exploration in wine.  Every month I want to find one or two gems through this web-site and expand our collection of wines.  The Wine Society seems different to the other “clubs” that you can join.  Slightly less commercial and very wine grower / enthusiast orientated.  The balance of reasonably priced wines to expensive seems very good and I like the fact that you can find different things here.  There is also lots of content to help you learn and develop your wine repertoir.

 

Sante as my wife would say!

 

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