Vinos de Madrid presented their first ever London event on 1st July 2009. It took place in the Century Club on Shaftesbury Avenue and was a great chance to try some wines from a region that was entirely new to me.
Firstly there was a mini wine fair tasting with wines from 9 of the 45 producers in the region. This was followed by an excellent tasting and presentation led by John Radford.
I found the wines to be generally of high quality and with some real flashes of elegance and refinement. Although wine has been made here for centuries, for the most part these were not traditional wines, but stylish, well crafted modern wines with abundant fruit and good balance. There was not a single over extracted, over oaked Parker points follower amongst them – although some acheive pretty high Parker points anyway!
It seems that the secret behind this elegance, apart from very good wine making is the altitude. Madrid is Europe’s highest capital and the vineyards sit at between 500-900 metres above sea level. In addition the summers are very hot and sunny at 41˚C, but the height protects them from the worst ravages of the heat, while the winters are very cold at around -8˚C, so giving the vines a good rest.
I could not detect a sense of Terroir in these wines, mainly I think as they are all so different from each other and made from different grape varieties and blends. So, the feeling I got was that it was collection of Pagos making interesting wine rather than a single Terroir. Perhaps that will change one day as they get established and grow into their vineyards – we shall see.
There is a large palette of permitted grape varieties:
Red: Tempranillo (Tinto de Madrid/Tinto Fino), Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
White: Malvar – only grown here, this makes light whites with some texture, Airén, Albillo, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatel de Grano Menudo and Torrontés – why doesn’t Spain make more of this excellent grape?
The standout wines for me were:
€2.20 ex cellars
This was my first ever 100% Malvar. It was good, fresh, slightly smoky and herbal, with a touch of creamy ripeness and clean, zippy acidity A very good everyday wine.
Their red wines were also excellent and great value for money.
€5.50 ex cellars
This bodega produces tiny amounts of a Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache blend and rather annoyingly will not say what the proportions are – they said it is a secret and rather worryingly compared themselves to Colonel Sanders!
However once I tried the wine I forgave them – it has a lovely balance of ripe, black fruit, and smoky, spicy oak (from 12 months in cask) that gives a fresh mouthfeel and a delicious savoury tinge to the finish.
€4.40 ex cellars
Probably my star wine – certainly as far as value for money is concerned.
20% Tempranillo, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Syrah and 10% Merlot – 9 months in oak.
Very complete, balanced and supple wine with bright, creamy fruit and delicate oak giving a lovely balance between sweet and savoury sensations. It’s juicy and long with smooth fine grain tannins.
€11.00 ex cellars
40% Syrah, 30% Tempranillo and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon – 12 months in French oak.
This organic wine was my absolute favourite, they only make 1000 cases, but it pains me that some of that goes to the US, but none comes here.
It is really lovely, balanced, poised and elegant with vivid fruit and a deliciously supple texture and freshness, but with an underlying power and delicate spiciness.
It was a great tasting and a welcome opportunity to try these exciting wines and I look forward to some of them becoming available in the UK. In the meantime the best place to enjoy them is the bars and restaurants of Madrid – see you there?
Here is a superb resource for enjoying a trip to Madrid with expert reviews of Madrid Hotels and independent travel guides
and here is all you need to know about Madrid’s nightlife.