Saturday, 1 November 2014

ABT (anything but Tempranillo)

A fascinating piece by Jancis Robinson a couple of weeks ago went a long way to explain why Spain is 'Tempranillo crazy'. Reasons include the ease of growing this grape, its now iconic position as the national variety (although this was not the case until comparatively recent times) and so forth. Even though Tempranillo is now grown all over the world, Spain still counts for 95% of it. Figures might be a bit skewed by the fact that plantings in drought-prone areas see the vines spaced further apart and because figures are calculated on the area planted, this would suggest a greater number of vines than may be the case but you get the picture.

The Spanish can't get enough of it or so it would seem; a desire shared by Germans for Riesling and Argentinians for Malbec. It will not come as a surprise to know that we at Slotovino think this is a pity, especially when interesting indigenous varieties near to extinction don't get a chance.

We have dug deep on previous visits to Spain to find these neglected gems and have been rewarded by some great finds such as (Whites) Albarin, Diego Seco, Dona Blanca, Doradilla, Eva de los Santos, Hondarrabi Beltza, Loueiro, Mantua, Merseguera, Subirat Parent (aka Malvasia Riojana), Tempranillo Blanco, Treixaduro, Verdil, Vermell, Xarel-lo.

And in Red, Brancellao, Caillet, Caino Tinto, Espadeiro, Forcallat, Juan Garcia, Lledoner Pelut, Moravia Agria, Prieto Picudo, Rojal, Royal, Sumoll, Tinta Rome, Trepat and Vigiriega.

Recent visits have led us to three merchants new to us and new tout court. The most recently opened is also the closest to hand for us: the Carnceria Gallega in Nueva Andalucia:

a beautifully-appointed butcher and wine and olive oil shop

Perhaps Galician Butchers are famous throughout Spain like Norcinerie in Italy but even so it seems unusual to open such an establishment in the diametrically opposite corner of the country and then specialize in the wines of Galicia too. Not being great meat eaters for the time beaing we concentrated on these and the olive oils on show and were delighted with the quality and variety especially of the Galician reds - not something you often find.

After some disputation we arrived at this highly recommended item - a blend of Brancellao, Caino Longo, Caino Redondo Souson and Ferron! 

 the father and son team took us through the repertoire with increasing enthusiasm. Papa said he was going back to Galicia for Christmas and would bring anything we wanted on his return! Adrian, the son claimed only to have been involved in wine for 4 years but was already extremely knowledgeable.

 He recommended a E.4.50 white called AS No. 1, a blend of about 4 Galician varieties including Loureiro and Treixadura if memory serves together with perhaps Torrontes and maybe Albarino - sorry, we're making this up really as we didn't make a note of Adrian's list at the time and amazingly, neither this wine nor its maker Coferma of Ourense has any internet footprint that we can find.

Interesting was this blend containing Torrontes - the Spanish one. Torrontes is better known as an Argentinian speciality and it is assumed that it came from Spain but it seems to have mutated on the way.

Adrian's Dad wouldn't let us leave before opening a bottle of Mencia from the Ribeira Sacra. We protested that we knew Mencia very well indeed and didn't need to taste it again but he would not be swayed and he was right: this Mencia was unlike any other in its almost unbelievable softness. We bought the bottle immediately on catching sight of the Abv: 12.5%. Now that's a corrective to the way things Mencia have been going...

In Malaga, we found 'El Templo del Vino'.

Lovely name, lovely shop. Here we encountered initial reticence to look for unusual grape varieties but there was no need: there were plenty of examples.

A Tinto Velasco

a Vigiriega

and a Listan Blanco
Also in Malaga, a very traditional Bodega tucked away just around the corner from a large square sporting a big 'Corte Ingles' store was 'Los Dominios de Baco'.

Here we found a Trepat, no mean feat in this corner of Spain;

and a Tintilla de Rota/Garnache blend;

Back home, while fiddling around on the Laithwaites site in the hope of finding something other than a cut price fruit bomb, we came across this:

a Rioja from a grape called Vididello. Vididello we ask you! Don't dismiss Laithwaites; the company that brought us a 100% St. Macaire (the almost extinct Bordeaux grape which is still hanging on by the fingertips in Australia) and Margan's 2004 Hunter Valley Semillon under £15 a bottle, surely the bargain of the century? Don't rush to order it. Slotovino bought the last bottle.

We've said it before. Spain gives up her secrets less willingly than Italy but secrets there are. A friend invited us to share a bottle of Parraleta only this morning.

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