by Fabio Bartolomei
on Apr 21, 2014
Vinos Ambiz Table at the Real Wine Fair.
Winemaker Fabio Bartolomei from Spain’s Vinos Ambiz traveled to London to present his wines at the Real Wine Fair 2014. Here’s his experience:
I’m just back in Madrid after an intense 4 days in London, 2 days of which were taken up by the REAL Wine Fair itself, and 2 days of which were for me!
My main mission: to boldly seek out an importer for my wines in the UK.
Sunday was the day the fair was open to the public, and the forecast was that it would be busy. And it was! I have to say that I’ve never had to work so hard at a fair in all the years I’ve been exhibiting at wine fairs.
The time just flew from 10:00 to 18:00. I did nothing but speak and pour wine, and I had sore feet and a sore throat! Usually, at wine fairs, I prepare a sign that says “I`ll be back!” and I go off and taste as many wines as I can and chat about wine stuff! But this time… I didn’t even have time to prepare the sign!
I suspect that something viral or ‘word-of-mouth’ happened, as the first thing that many people said to me was “I’ve been recommended to come taste your wines by….”. It was awesome, thinking about it. It’s really the best and most sincere compliment that can be given to a wine producer. It has encouraged me no end, and has reconfirmed my belief that I should listen to myself, my heart and my intuition. I generally do, but there are moments when I’m assailed by doubts. The memory of that day will help to keep me on the right path. The path of low-intervention, terroir-expressing wines!
The next day, the Monday, was a trade day, and I was also quite busy, though not as much as the Sunday. And in fact I had a volunteer helper: Leila, a friend who I was out with the day before, and she asked me directly “Can I be you wine bitch tomorrow?” I was shocked and speechless for a few seconds! Because, not living in the UK, I’m not really sure these days what’s politically correct or socially acceptable to say or not anymore, but if she said it then I guess it must be OK!
Fabio Bartolomei and his wine b$#@$ Leila.
So, thanks to her, I was able to escape from my table a few times and taste some other wines, but not nearly as much as I would have liked to. Apart from restaurant and wine shop people, I also got some growers coming round to taste my wines, which is quite unusual for me (unless they knew me previously from some other occasion). I could tell they were growers because they were silent and didn’t ask any of the usual questions. They would just hold out their glasses, sniff, taste and look each other in the eye silently, and then go away!
So I don’t know what to think about that! But I think I’m going to take it as a compliment, because they must have had some kind of recommendation from someone, and they actually took the time to get away from their table. Unfortunately I don’t actually know what they thought of my wines, as they were so taciturn!
And then lastly, to round it all off, was the Georgian banquet, or Georgian supra, as it’s called. This is a wonderful way of having a dinner or banquet. Basically, instead of just one or two main courses, there was a constant flow of small dishes of different things.
But the main distinguishing element of a Georgian dinner, is the custom of giving toasts to all the guests. Every so often during the meal, you hear the ting, ting, ting of a knife on a glass and that’s the signal that the toastmaster is about to give a toast. I think this is a great custom, and we should adopt it here in Western Europe too. It has the effect of bringing all the guests at the different tables, together and of uniting everybody in a way. I found, at any rate.
Yet another distinguishing feature of Georgian banquets, is the singing. This time there is no ting ting ting on the glass, but every so often you hear the melancholic, minor key, sad, sad singing of two or more voices. You may or may not like it, but I’m a sucker for it, and it actually really did bring a tear to my eye. What with all that Georgian wine flowing too, and me being like the way I am! Of course I have no idea what the words in Georgian mean, but I’m imagining deep tragedies and laments, and yearnings; maybe from the Persian invasions of a few thousand years ago! I don’t know.
The next day, I was to fly back to Madrid – but in the afternoon. I decided a few years ago, that life was too short, not only to drink bad wine, but also to take early morning (or even morning) flights!
Which gave me time to go to the Doodle Bar, in the TestBed1 space/project/thing, which is in danger of being “redeveloped”. I hope my little contribution helps.
And then it really was time to go home. But wow, what a weekend, what a refreshing, illuminating, and encouraging few days. Just what body and soul needs, maybe just a few times a year
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Oct 8, 2013
New Bodega for Vinos Ambiz
From Fabio Bartolomei:
Grapes in, wines made, wines being made:
Albillo. This year, I made my first ever lot of Albillo. Seeing I’ve just moved into my new bodega in El Tiemblo, in the Gredos mountain range, I just had to make some Albillo. It seems that this is a variety that is in danger of extinction, as only a few winemakers use it. The problem is that it’s also used as a table grape, and is very expensive and difficult to find. I was only able to find a small lot of about 400 kg at the last minute. The wine I made is now practically dry, or perhaps still fermenting very slowly, as I can get a slight whiff of CO2 when I stick my nose into the tank. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I think it will be OK and will only get better after the cold of winter. The fermentation was fast and hot, as I wasn’t able to keep it cool, due to ‘circumstances’. Next year I will definitely do at least two different experiments. Live and learn. And enjoy!
Tempranillo from Carabaña. I harvested it a few weeks ago, last Sunday 22 September. Lovely bunches, totally healthy, not a single symptom of mildew or anything else. I was well pleased. I destemmed and crushed the bunches by hand, and the wine is still fermenting slowly on its skins. The last reading I took a few days ago showed a density of 1020, so almost finished. I’ve been punching the cap down once a day (and sometimes no times at all). That’s not a lot by present day standards, but I don’t really want to extract it to death. Nice and easy does it I think I’ll press it off over the next few days, before the weekend, maybe. There’s only enough to make one barrica (225 liters, or 300 bottles) of Crianza.
Chelva. This is a local white variety that grows mostly in Extremadura, but which is found around El Tiemblo too. It’s a variety that is looked down upon and frowned upon. It’s used for table grapes and has a very negative cultural and vinous reputation. But hey, so does Airén, and I’ve managed to make a pretty mean and interesting Airén over the past 10 years, which sells very well and generates positive feedback for me, so who’s to say I can’t do the same with Chelva? There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? So I’m doing several different experimental lots this year:
Chelva Experiment #1. Carbonic Maceration. On Wed 18th September I sealed up a 300 liter tank with selected whole bunches of Chelva. It’s still sealed as I write today. Soon, I’ll check it out and decide what to do.
Chelva Experiment #2. Frutteto style. Acting on the good advice of fellow winemaker Daniel Ramos (with whom I’m sharing the new bodega), I laid out about 500 kg of bunches upstairs on the 1st floor of the bodega, in order to dry them out a bit and increase the sugar concentration. They lay there for about two weeks and the other day I also crushed and pressed them, and they had indeed increased in sugar concentration. The reading I got showed 12.5% of probable alcohol; which seems rather a big increase, so I’m suspecting that one of the two reading may have been a bit off.
Chelva Experiment #3. Crushed and left soaking on the skins, ‘orange wine’ style. That’s about two weeks skin-contact time. This could well be one of the experiments that go wrong. The sugar content was very low and hence the probable alcohol level – only about 10.5%. This could well be lost to acetic acid. I did in fact have a close shave, as the other day when I opened the lid to check the cap, I got a huge whiff of vinegar. To be expected I suppose, with no added SO2, and such low level of alcohol. But all was not lost, it was only in the cap, as the wine I tasted from the tap at the bottom of the tank was OK. So I separated the cap, threw it out, and pressed the rest of rest of the skins.
After all that, I decided to blend the ‘frutteto’ and the ‘carbonic maceration’). The regular vinegary lot, I doused with metabisulfite (about 40 mg/l), and sealed the tank hermetically. I don’t know what will happen, maybe it’ll turn to vinegar after all, or maybe it will survive. I’ll check it every couple of days. Maybe I`ll blend it in turn with the other already blended lot of Chelva.
I was going to do more experiments with Chelva but I won’t be able to now. This is because the grapegrower I bought the grapes from is completely unreliable and I couldn’t get him to harvest on the dates I wanted. For some reason or another he unilaterally decided to harvest one day (19th September) and appeared at the door of the winery with almost 1000 kg of grapes. Now if I had been a hard-nosed business-first type of person I would have told him to get lost and sell his grapes to someone else, and that I didn’t want grapes with a probable alcohol level of 10.5%; but I don’t know why, I took his grapes!
Actually, I’m even more pissed off with that grower because there was another 1000 kg left in the vineyard, which I intended to harvest this weekend, but which now I can’t, because he’s gone back on his word and he’s decided to use it to make some wine himself! What a disaster! Basically I end up with 1000 kg of grapes that I didn’t want, and I don’t get the 1000 kg of the grapes I did want!
All I can say is that I won’t be buying any grapes off him next year. In fact, I’m even more pissed off, if possible, because I turned down another local Chelva grower who offered to sell me his grapes! Grrrrrrr.
- Garnacha from Sotillo de la Adrada. Last week, Sat 28th and Sun 29th September, I harvested three different plots of Garnacha. It was hairy. The weather here in Spain that weekend was weird. They were calling for rain, but not too much. To harvest or not to harvest? In the end I decided to harvest, because 2 of the plots were ripe and had to be harvested, and if we got wet, well, we got wet! In the end we were very lucky, because we only got rained on a little on Saturday morning, and not at all after that. So I took in about 2000 kg, all of which I’ve decided to ferment whole-bunch carbonic maceration. And there they lie, fermenting carbonically, as I write.
My own Airén, in Carabaña. I checked it out the other day and it’s showing just over 11% probable alcohol, which is not a lot really, cansidering the time of year. I’m going to leave it for another week to see how it goes. It was lloking really good, totally healthy, no signs of any rot or mildew or anything. Touch wood!
My own Malvar, in Villarejo. It was showing 12% probable le alcohol, so I’m going to leave it for another 10 days / two weeks too. In contrast to the Airén, the Malvar was rather uneven. There were lots of vines that had ripe or ripening bunches and at the same time bunches with tiny immature berries. Very irregular.
Tempranillo, El Tiemblo. A nice plot of organic Tempranillo (officially uncertified but grown by a trustworthy grower), which was at a probable 13% last week, but still unripe.
Garnacha, from El Tiemblo. Also uncertified organic. Only showing 12% last week, so probably another 2 weeks to go.
Maybe an extra surprise that I’m not expecting? I wouldn’t be surprised
Apart from all that
Now apart from all the above unknowns, I also have other complications or “challenges” to deal with over the next few days or weeks.
Firstly, adding up all the kilos of grapes that will be coming in, I don’t currently have enough storage capacity to process them all! This is incredible and/or ironic, but true, as I’m installed in bodega with a theoretical capcity of 1.2 million liters of wine, in the form of concrete tanks (of 16,000 liters each). The problem is that I can’t really use them, as I don’t have enough grapes/wine to fill even one of them, and it’s very risky to only partially use a tank (especially a concrete one). Because of the oxygen contact and possible contamination from the walls of the unused part. So basically I have to buy a few thousand liters of capacity in the form of bins, containers, tanks, whatever. And my only practical option is plastic, because of the price. I would prefer stainless steel, or clay pots, but the cost would be prohibitive for me. I’m almost tempted to do a crowd-sourcing thing, to finance the purchase of say, 4 or 5 1000 liter stainless steel tanks or clay amphorae, but I just couldn’t deal with that now. Maybe next year.
Secondly, I don’t own a van, so I either have to borrow one from a friend, or rent one. Or not, depending on whether the grapes are ripe or not!
Thirdly, I don’t own any cases for harvesting the grapes! I’ve always borrowed them. This is ridiculous really, and I ought to just go and buy some; there’re not even that expensive! So it depends on whether my friends/acquainances are using their cases or not.
- Fourthly, labour! Whether to hire a few professionals for the day, or to invite friends and family? That is the question.
by Fabio Bartolomei
on May 23, 2013
At last! Hooray! After ten (10) years of thinking about it, and writing about it, and talking about it, I’ve finally done it! I’ve planted about 150 vines in the empty spaces in the Carabaña vineyard, where a vine was missing for one reason or another.
I decided to plant Tempranillo, because the vineyard is a field blend of Tempranillo and Airén already, but there’s not much Tempranillo – only just enough to make one barrel of crianza. I toyed with the idea of planting Malvar, or Torrontés or some other interesting local variety, but in the end I thought that there would be no point, as the quantity of wine I could make with it would be too small. I’ll leave that idea for another project for the future.
But the most crucial decision here was not really the choice of variety, but the choice of rootstock. In this case, the most important criterion (more important than resistance to drought, or resistance to disease, or resistance to limestone) was the fact that this is not a new vineyard and that the existing vines (about 50 years old) are very well established; and so their root systems will be very deep and wide and will be competing strongly for the water and nutrients in the spaces where the new baby vines will be struggling to survive and grow. So the rootstock had to be a vigorous and hardy one. The one that was readily available and which was recommended to me was one called “Paulsen 1103″, which is not only vigorous, but also tolerant to drought and to limestone soils.
Well, that’s half the job done this year. There’s more to do next year! There are also about 100 vines in the vineyard where the grafted variety has died, for whatever reason, but where the rootstock is alive and kicking. These will have to be cut back and grafted.
They are so vigorous that in summer they turn into monsters like this one below:
And there are also about 20-30 vines that are dead and which will have to be pulled out.
I’m so glad I managed to do that task. It gets depressing when you think about doing something for so many years but never get round to doing it.
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Feb 18, 2013
There seems to be a lot nonsense being written about orange wines lately, including by writers/bloggers who should know better. I’m not going to name any names, because there’s no need to, ie if you’re reading this post then you’re a wine-geek and you’ll have read all the other recent posts on orange wine and you’ll know exactly who and what I’m talking about.
It seems to me that the fundamental error that many people are making is not realizing that orange wines are a catagory unto themselves, and should not really be compared to white wines, red wines or any other kind of wine. Like Sherry, for example. Sherry is technically a white wine, but who in their right mind would taste a sherry and compare it to a normal white wine? I believe the same applies to orange wines.
There also seems to be some confusion about the use of sulfites in orange wines. There’s obviously no connection whatsoever. Orange wines can be made with no sulfites, with a reasonable quantity of sulfites, or with lots of sulfites! It depends on the winemakers’ decision.
And there also seems to be some confusion with regard to natural/organic/biodynamic wines. Orange wines do not necessarily have to be natural, organic or biodynamic. There is in fact an industrial volume-producer in Spain who still churns out an orange wine for about €2/bottle.
Orange wines are not a newly discovered phenomenon. They’ve been made that way for thousands of years, especially in countries like Georgia and Armenia, but probably in ALL winemaking countries. Friuli, in Italy, for example. I know for a fact that they were made in Spain, until they went out of fashion; now there are only a few producers left. OK, so they’re all the rage at the moment, and everyone who wants to be relevant and interesting feels obliged to write about them! Oh well.
Orange wines are perfectly capable of expressing the terroir of where they were produced. Why on earth should they not be? It depends on the winemakers’ decisions, just like for any wine or type of wine.
I don’t see why certain writers think that ALL orange wines are expensive. Obviously some are, but others are quite normally priced. (my own, for example, retail in NY for about $20 in winestores and for about $40 in restaurants)
Orange wines don’t have to be made in clay amphoras. They can be made in any container whatsoever. I personally make the exact same orange wine in containers of three different materials (clay amphoras, stainless steel, and open-top oak casks) just to see if there’s any appreciable difference.
What I don’t understand is why people get so upset and feel they have mock and/or attempt to be funny and/or criticise without knowing what they’re talking about. I mean, surely it’s interesting for people to try a new type of wine? Why all this negativity and disparagement? Why not focus on the interesting, reasonably-priced, terroir-expressing orange wines out there, instead of on the expensive, funky, cloudy ones?
Orange wines don’t have to be cloudy. It depends on whether the winemaker fines it and/or filters it and/or lets it settle naturally by gravity!
Orange wines don’t have to be oxidized either. It depends on whether the winemaker decides to protect it from contact with oxygen or not.
I personally discovered orange wines about three years ago quite by accident, and I have to say that I love them, because they are so different from white wines and red wines. They are very versatile too: on the one hand they’re great for drinking on their own as an aperitivo before lunch, or for quaffing casually in a winebar, and on the other hand they go great with food too.
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Jan 24, 2013
This seems a good moment to post a progress report on all my wines and experiments from 2012, because it’s the deepest, darkest coldest point of the year here in central Spain, so the wines have already progressed and developed and evolved a bit, and they’re already showing an indication of how they’re going to proceed.
I’m writing this while touching wood because it would be just typical if I were to say that they’re all coming along fine, and then two days later something awful would happen!
But the fact is, that all the wines are doing just fine (more or less!):
1.Airén. This is a wine I make every year, and can be drunk very young. In fact, I started bottling it in December and have been distributing it locally here in Madrid already. At this stage in its life cycle it’s very fruity both in the nose and in the mouth. It’s nothing like any other 100% Airén you may find on sale (generally wishy-washy, insipid, and inoffensive), as this wine actually has a good body, and intense aromas and tastes. As time goes by, it loses it fruity, flowery characteristics, and becomes quite dry and sherry-like. By June/July it is in fact totally sherry-like. Some years, it’s sparkling for the first few months, but this year it’s not.
2.Tempranillo. This is another wine that I make every year. This year, due to the drought and to the rabbits, I only harvested enough grapes to make one (1) barrel of Crianza! At the time of writing (Jan 13) it’s still in the stainless steel fermentation tank, and I racked it once, a few days after pressing, back in October. I’ll move it into an old barrel as soon as I have time, maybe in February, where it will sit for about a year or so, depending on how old the barrel was, and on tastings.
3.Malvar No.1. I made one lot of Malvar (from 100-yr old vines from Villarejo) by straight carbonic maceration. Clusters destemmed and sealed in a stainless steel tank for 15 days. Then crushed and pressed, and left alone to finish fermentation. Tasting good, maybe to be released in March.
4.Malvar No.2. The second lot of Malvar (from the same vineyard) I made with about 30 days skin contact. This is the so-called “orange” wine. Tasting good. I don’t know whether to release or not, because I think it might even get better over time. Have to think. And taste.
5.Malvar. No.3. The third lot of Malvar (still from the same vineyard) I made in old clay amphoras (or ‘tinajas’ as they’re called in Spain) (or ‘qvevri’ as they’re called in Georgia). Back in September, I crushed the grapes and poured everything into the amphorae. I punched down the cap for a week or two, until it stopped rising, and haven’t touched them since then! I scoop out a sample every now and then from the top of the amphora, to check it. Beautiful! (touch wood). Tasting good. This lot I’m definitely going to let sit there for at least six months, maybe even longer, on all the skins and pips, which have already sunk to the bottom.
6.Malvar No.4. The same as the amphora above, but in an old open top oak barrel. I have no idea what to do with this lot! So I guess I’ll just leave it alone, keep tasting it, have tasters taste it, and decide some other time!
7.Garnacha No.1. This is a lot of Garnacha from the Sierra de Gredos (specifically from the village of Sotillo de la Adrada). I’m totally amazed by this wine, and I’m kicking myself for not taking proper notes, because I’d like to make more of it next year, but I fear I can’t remember exactly what/how/when I did what I did! This Garnacha is total drinkable now! I think it would be a loss if I were to try and age it or blend it or whatever. I need to have some more tasters taste it and get feedback from them, but my heart/intuition (and feedback received to date) tells me that this has to be a young wine and it has to be drunk now.
8.Garnachas Nos.2 and 3. These are other lots of Garnachas from Gredos, one from Sotillo de la Adrada, and one from Méntrida. These are all still evolving, and are not very nice to drink young at the moment, unlike Lot No.1. Again I need to have some tasters taste them, but I think these will be good for blending and/or aging. It’s early days though, and they’ll continue to evolve over spring.
9.Garnachas Nos.4 and 5. Same as above (Nos.2 & 3), but with a spontaneous ‘velo de flor’!
10.Rojilla experiment. I’ve only got 1 ‘arroba’ of this strange, uncommon, unknown grape variety. It’s in a glass demijohn and I haven’t tasted it since last October, so I’ve no idea how it’s turned out.
And that, I’m afraid to say, is that!
I was expecting to do a lot more in 2012, but the rabbits, the weather, and the Spanish bureaucrats prevented me from achieving my goals. But not to worry. This year I shall try again. Basically, I hope to find a bigger winery/shed/place in which to make more wines. That’s not much to ask for, is it?
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Nov 30, 2012
Back in April this year, I wrote a post about my back-label dilemma.
Basically, I was wondering exactly what (and how much) information to put on my next batch of back-labels, both from a practical and also from a legal point of view. And whether I should include what the wine does NOT contain and what was NOT done to it.
So, after much thinking over the last 7 months, here’s what I came up with for the back-label:
Well, as you can see, it’s a sort of compromise. I think the label itself provides quite a lot of general information, and it has a QR Code which leads to this page (here) where much, much more info is available for any potential customer who is thinking of buying the bottle.
Here’s a copy of it below, for your convenience, so you don’t even need to lift a finger to click through!
Mind you, I can’t get the formatting to show correctly here, so maybe it’s better if you do click through and see the page properly!!!
QR Code Page
Thank you for scanning my QR Code and coming here. If you don’t find the information you’re looking for on this very page, it will probably be on another page of this same website.
Failing that, you can contact me directly anytime, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or even by cell-phone (+34-687-050-010); but bear in mind that I live in Europe – so if you call me, please try not to wake me up in the middle of the night!
Below is the information that I would have liked to put on the back-label directly, but didn’t do so for several reasons: too much information to fit, probably not legal and maybe confusing or counter-productive to some people. But if you’re reading this, then you’re a wine-geek and so you won’t be confused!
I hope you enjoy my wine. That’s basically why I made it! I hope you liked the aromas and tastes, and I hope you found it interesting and complex and expressive of its terroir, and worth talking about.
The following information refers to the six (6) different wines imported into the USA in 2012 by José Pastor Selections:
1. Vinos Ambiz Airén 2011
2. Vinos Ambiz Malvar 2011 (Maceración Carbónica)
3. Vinos Ambiz Malvar 2011 (Orange)
4. Vinos Ambiz Malvar 2011 (Tinaja)
5. Vinos Ambiz Tempranillo Crianza 2010
6. Vinos Ambiz Titulciano 2010 (Temp, Graciano, Sirah)
These wines contain the following INGREDIENTS:
· Fermented grape juice
And they don’t contain the following additives:
· Industrial yeasts to give false and artificial tastes and aromas
· Industrial bacteria
· Industrial enzymes
· Colorants (like Mega Purple)
· Flavour enhancers
· Added acids
· Added sugar, added fruit juice, added fruit extract
· Added water
· Wood chips
· Artificial tannins
These wines underwent the following PROCESSING:
I did these things:
· Crushed the grapes
· Pressed the grapes
· Racked the wine from one tank to another
· Clarified the wine using gravity, time and the cold of winter
And I didn’t do these things to them:
· Spray pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc onto the grapes
· Heat the wine up
· Cool the wine down
· Filter it
· Add any substances for clarifying or fining the wine
· Use reverse osmosis
· Use spinning cones
· Use cryo-extraction
· Use sterile filtration
· Use any other unnecessary terroir-masking intervention
So what do you think?
Is there anything objectionable here? Illegal? False? Misleading? Is it helpful to consumers? Is it a good idea or a bad idea in general to do this?
I would really appreciate any sort of feedback.
And I haven’t actually sent the files to the printer’s yet, but they are ready to go, so I’m still in time to modify, if necessary!
And of course I can modify the QR landing page anytime.
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Oct 2, 2012
Here’s another harvest post or update of the state of my harvesting this year. This is a good time for me to write this because I’m between harvests, as it were
I’ve brought in all the red grapes that I’ll be bringing in this year, and the white grapes are not ready to be picked yet.
So, what have I got this year?
1. The usual Tempranillo from Carabaña that I’ve been harvesting for the last 9 years! The quantity this year was ridiculously tiny – even more ridiculously tiny than usual! On the one hand, because of the drought (it hasn’t rained properly for about a year) and on the other hand because of the rabbits, who have again eaten more than their fair share of grapes this year, just like they did last year.
So, basically there’s less than 300 litres of juice + skins fermenting at this very moment as I write, which means that there will hopefully just be enough to make 1 barrel (225 l) of Tempranillo Crianza including a few litres for top-ups during the year. I harvested early this year, because I was fed up with making the usual +14% alcohol tinto Crianza! Although there’s never been anything actually wrong with my previous Crianzas, they’ve never been anything exceptional either, imho, and in that of others! Hence the risk of experimenting this year. Maybe it’ll turn out better at 13% or 13.5%. Who knows? But I’ll never know if I don’t try it at least once!
2. Some Garnacha from Gredos. I’m going to be a bit secretive here and save the details for later Ha ha! I’ll just say that I’ve got four (4) separate lots of old vine Garnacha that is already fermenting separately. Some in open top old wooden barrels, and some in stainless steel. Two lots are from separate plots in Sotillo de la Adrada and two lots are from … somewhere else in the Gredos region! Ha ha!
That’s all there is tinto-wise. This is what there will be, blanco-wise:
1- The usual Airén from Carabaña that I’ve been harvesting for the last 10 years. The grapes are not ripe yet – they were at 11% a few days ago, and there are still quite a lot of green bunches visible. I’d like to harvest this at between 12% and 13%, and make the usual young white that I usually make every year. I’m really happy with the way it’s been turning out, and I think my clients are too. I’m on a little, personal Airén crusade here, I think, because I believe that really good wines can be made with Airén, especially if a better winemaker than me were to put his/her mind and hand to it!
Airén has such a negative cultural and vinous baggage to carry! Sigh! Oh woe, is life not hard enough already without having to shoulder all this negative baggage? Ha ha, only jesting! Deep down, I’m really a masochistic cynical bastard who thrives on hardship and albatrosses! Ha ha, jesting again! But seriously, I really do like Airén and really do believe that great wines can be made from it. So I shall make more of the same this year, plus of course I shall do a few experiments. Firstly, as I have all these old barrels available, I’ll do a bit of fermenting in them, in addition to the usual stainless steel. Secondly, I hope to come up with some other experiment to do when the time comes! Suggestions welcome! Here’s an interesting article about Airén by FringeWines:
2. Malvar from Villarejo. Again I’m going to do the same as last year with these grapes. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I was really pleased with last years’ wines and experiments. There were three lots of wines last year: Carbonic Maceration, Skin Contact (15 days) (‘orange’), and a straight 5-month skin contact ‘orange’ from an old amphora (tinaja in Spanish), all from the same Malvar from Villarejo. And I think my clients were happy with them too. So this year, I bought another amphora (see photo) so as to make another 300 bottles, in addition to the original 300!
And that’s it, I’m afraid (apart from the older wines from previous years that are still aging). Only about 4,000 bottles in total, I think. I had originally intended to make quite a lot more wine this year, but my best laid plans were rudely scattered to the winds by the great plough of life and circumstances, and will have to be rebuilt next year. C’est la vie!
So now, it’s the calm before the storm, ie just checking the white grapes in the vineyards, and checking on the red fermentations in the bodega.
Lastly, quite a few people have contacted me over the last few months with a view to visiting the vineyards and winery, but I haven’t been able to arrange these visits properly – due to my own inability to deal with emails and to arranging visits, etc. But I really do like receiving visits, so if you’re reading this, please just contact me again and insist harder! I’m not being exclusive or playing hard to get here, it’s just that I can’t cope with everything that I have to do all at once! So the ‘de facto’ or ‘fait accompli’ solution or whatever it’s called, is to tell me that you ‘have to’ visit on such-and-such a day, and then I’ll work all my other tasks and activities and urgent urgencies around the visit! Et violà! Problem solved!
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Jul 20, 2012
So, next morning I duly arrived late for my meeting (1 hour late) as tradition demands (!) but they (José Pastor, Chris Barnes and Mark Middlebrook) out-Spanished me by arriving 1½ hours late. Not to worry though, because I took the time to have an extra coffee and to fiddle with my new SmartPhone, which I still don’t know how to work properly.
Anyway, first stop: the new vineyard in Villarejo, which is easy to get to from Madrid as it’s very close to the A-3 Madrid-Valencia highway, at Exit 48 km.
Here we are, in the vineyard, taking photos and taking in the terroir.
The vines are all Malvar – a white variety that would seem to be native to the Madrid region. It’s completely unheard of anywhere else, and it’s very difficult to fine any kind of wine made with this variety.
The vines are quite old – but not as old as they look. I’ll have to check with the owner but I think they’re only about 40 years old. It’s just that they are very vigorous vines. The soil is surprisingly fertile (not at all like the soil in the Carabaña vineyard, only 11 km down the road) and I suspect that there’s water not too far down below the surface.
Last year (2011) we made three different types of wine with these Malvar grapes:
- Malvar, by carbonic maceration
- Malvar, by carbonic maceration and 15 days skin contact in stainless steel
- Malvar, by regular fermentation and 5 month skin contact in a clay amphora (‘tinaja’)
Our next stop was the winery )’bodega’ in Morata de Tajuña, about 15 km down the road, where we proceeded to taste everything I had!
The next stop was for lunch in LA Tinaja restaurant in the centre of Morata de Tajuña. This is a great restaurant and I go there quite often. The daily set menu is €8 and the food and cooking are excellent. They also have an à-la-carte menu and the wine-list is good too.
The waiters remembered JP, CB and MM from the last time we were all there last year! I didn’t think that we had behaved that badly!
It was a very productive lunch as we worked out exactly which wines JPS wanted to take and how many bottles of each, and which I duly jotted down on the tablecloth.
Next stop: Madrid, and after saying our goodbyes, I went to meet my architect and … went back to Villarejo!!! We went to meet the owner of a building where I hope to install the winery before the harvest this year. It’s not a pretty building, but it’s functional! It’s in the middle of an industrial estate surrounded by industrial workshops and warehouses.
I need an architect because the bureaucracy is so complex and ridiculously opaque and time-consuming that it’s easier (and probably cheaper, in the long-run) to pay an expert to deal with it! The most important issues seem to be the electricity and the water supplies. If these two areas don’t have the relevant paperwork in order then you can safely forget about the building itself – it would take months, if not years, and thousand, if not tens of thousands of Euros, to get it sorted. Apart from that, the application forms for a license and the supporting documentation to be handed in, are absolutely extra-ordinary and only a qualified specialist would be able to do it! Such is life in the inheritor states of the Western Roman Empire! I hear that it’s even worse in the East though!
After that, I went home and went to bed!