Saturday, 16 May 2009

"A sad little letter...from Ronda, drinking a lot of wine..."

quote from a letter by Samuel Beckett to Thomas McGreevy with reference to Maurice Sinclair dated 18.2.35 (The letters of Samuel Beckett 1929 - 1940). 'Ronda is a city built on a high plateau in the Andalucia region of Spain'according to the note in the same volume.

Apart from Sherry and the sweet white wine of Malaga, Andalucia has not been prominent in the production of table wines and what was produced before phylloxera has not recovered until now. Visitors to the Costa del Sol may now see Sierras de Malaga and Cadiz appellations creeping on to restaurant wine lists but these wines are difficult to find in supermarkets and impossible in the Andalucian products shop at Malaga airport.

Returning to Ronda, it is here that the most interesting and even for Spain, possibly the most enterprising wines are being made. At 750 metres and with modern technology, cutting-edge wines are being produced from a range of grapes which is breathtakingly eclectic: Rome, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Lemberger (Blaufraenkisch), Trollinger (Schiava/Vernatsch/Black Hamburg) and Zweigelt as well as the usual Spanish and international varieties just to mention the reds.

These wines are also difficult to find. There is a virtual shop called Los Vinos de Ronda ( who represent over 20 local wineries but wines have to be delivered from there and cannot be collected, so shipping charges apply if a local delivery address is not available. The wines themselves are not cheap. We made the following blind selection;

1 x F. Schatz Acinipio (Lemberger) E. 24

1 x F. Schatz Coupage (Trollinger/Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon and others) E. 17.50

1 x F. Schatz Rosado (Muskattrollinger) E. 19.90

1 x Dona Felisa Chinchilla 07 (Tempranillo - Joven) E. 9.81

2 x Los Bujeos Joven (Meritage) E. 6

2 x Vinos Blancos de Ronda Joven La Veja (unknown) E. 12.90

1 x Siete Vin = 7 vin Ecological (Blaufraenkisch/Zweigelt)E.19.90

1 x La sangre de Ronda 2006 (Petit Verdot) E. 20

2 x Cortije de las Monjas Principe Alfonso (Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon Merlt/Syrah) E. 14.60

So without being able to arrange a delivery and not wishing to pay shipping charges on top of these prices for an experiment of this kind we called Friedrich (Frederico) Schatz to find out where we could buy his and other Ronda wines in the Marbella - Malaga area.
Herr Schatz (Cf. 'Der Rosenkavalier' act 1) was very helpful in both English and Swabian German, declaring his origins in the excellent wine Land of Baden-Wuerttemberg. So we finally tracked some bottles down at Casa Pablo and La Cartuja in Marbella. So far we have tasted only Schatz's Acinipio (Lemberger) which was the equivalent of a good Kekfrankos from Villany or decent Austrian Blaufraenkish with nothing to suggest its terroir or country of origin and a rather more individual Chardonnay
whose salient characteristic was its amazing softness - unexpected in a white wine.

We also bought the Schatz Coupage and a Pinot Noir from Cortijo los Aguilares. Vamos a ver...

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