Spain’s Wild Frontier


Fermoselle with the river gorge just visible to the right

I have visited Fermoselle in Arribes del Duero and it is a small, tranquil place right on the edge of Spain – go any further west and you will find yourself splashing in the Duero/Douro river and then in Portugal.


Map of Spain’s wine regions, DO Arribes is where the Duero/Douro River forms the border with Portugal – click for a larger view

I was astonished that this area can boast two wineries that are run by English women, even more strangely it seems that they are both here entirely by coincidence. Continue reading

Grandes Pagos de España

Strange as it may seem at first thought, and contrary to the general run of European wine traditions, very few Spanish wines are true estate wines.

In Rioja for instance the first proper estate was not created until the 1970s – with the arrival of the great Contino.

Elsewhere you have Vega-Sicilia of course, but it has been much more normal in Spain to blend the grapes from different vineyards together and to create a brand – more akin to the negociant concept than that of the domaine.

Of course that has changed a little over the years as the focus has turned more and more to quality rather than quantity. The winemaker generally has greater control over the quality of the fruit, what grows where and how it is treated, if the wine is an estate rather than a brand – or so the theory goes.

One man who passionately believes in the estate concept is Carlos Falcó Marqués de Griñón, whose Dominio de Valdepusa produces magnificent wines near Toldeo, in Spain. Carlos by his example and his passion has been able to help drive up the quality of Spanish wines in recent decades and is a prime mover in the development of the excellent wines coming out of Spain today – he really can be thought of as something of a Spanish Robert Mondavi. Continue reading

Godello gracious me…

On my recent trip to Spain, I was constantly on the look out for great white wines. Spanish whites have become so good, so interesting and at their best, so delicious that I enjoy trying them. Added to that, they suit the summer temperatures more than red wines and partner pretty much all Spanish food better, in my opinion anyway.

This summer I was fortunate enough to stumble across this wine from the wine region of Valdeorras that is just to the west of Castilla y León’s Bierzo region. It is actually in Galicia, the cool Atlantic influenced part of the country that is often known as ‘Green Spain’. Valdeorras is the most inland of the wine regions of Galicia and therefore has the least coastal influence allowing it to produce wines with great ripeness. It is a small region, boasting only a handful of producers, but quality can be very good indeed:

loubl08_det_1Louro do Bolo Godello Lias Finas 2008
Bodegas Rafael Palacios, D.O. Valdeorras

The colour is pale while the aroma is fresh, floral and zesty with wafts of green apples and wild herbs as well as a delicate leesy smokiness making it very appetising and attractive.

The palate is rounded, full flavoured and unusually concentrated which makes it deliciously drinkable with the richness balancing the acidity and giving a creamy mouth feel to the wine. The creamy spiciness as a result of the lees ageing and ripeness is quite thrilling while the finish is very long with clean citrus notes and complex savoury herbal characters.

This is a great white wine, perfect with a grilled swordfish steak or seabass.

As soon as I can I will review Rafael’s top white, his As Sortes Godello – so watch this space.