30 April, 2015

Wines of Bodegas Sierra Salinas

Bodega Sierra Salinas is a modern sustainable facility located near the small town of Villena in the Spanish denominacion de origen of Alicante.  They strive to use modern methods with respect for tradition.  Working  to find local varieties that succeed and presenting these grapes with authenticity,  honors the personalities of the old vines.

Old vines , in this case 46  - 70 years old,  have very small annual growth and require nurturing and attention, which they get from the Bodegas Sierra Salinas team. Best of all, they are delicious!

The plantings are:
77% Monastrell
20% Alicante Bouschet  aka Garnacha Tintorero
10% Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Petit Verdot

In the photo to the right, you can see, where soil is darker, an area where Monastrell thrives and has been for more than 70 years.


Alicante Bouschet buds
30-60 cm below surface is limestone.  Bodegas Sierra Salinas found that tasty Alicante Bouschet also grows in this area.  This tenacious grape's  roots are able to find water by going through the limestone as the tip of the root produces an enzyme that can dissolve limestone

Each vine has only one or two roots that can go deep enough to find moisture, which is very important in dry years.  The last few years have been so dry, that the winery installed drip irrigation.  Sustainability is important, but survival is even more so.

Monastrell vines thrive, if you can use such a word for the vines' low maintenance lifestyle.  They bear fruit in rock strewn dust basically.  The stones reflect the heat in the summer and retain the heat in winter.  In the afternoon, wind dries the moisture and protects against mildew and botrytis.  The soil is 20% clay and is susceptible to phylloxera which arrived in 1907. Since then, vineyards use grafted vines, which are also are more consistent

After all the struggles to grow the grapes, the winery team takes many precautions to vinify gently to get the best flavor in the finished wines.  The production facility is so clean and contained, you don't smell wine.  In the barrel room, it was so interesting to have the single melody of oak aroma.  Every detail is perfected to produce wines of exceptional quality

Easy for me to say as I got to taste through them!  Here are some notes:

Puerto Salinas White, 2013 30% Roman muscat  or Muscat of Alexandria adds lively floral character to 70%Chardonnay.  Pale yellow in color with hint of green.  Aromas of lime, white peach and vinous notes.Touch of vanilla in flavor.  Nice acidity pleasant green shaded finish.White wine here is small item to finish out their line

MO Salinas Monastrell 2012
85% Monastrell – 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – 10% Garnacha Tintorera Monastrell contributes a lovely blackberry aroma with little baking spice underneath. Nice rich flavors leads with vinous quality followed by  more berry

Puerto Salinas 2010
Monastrell 70% - 10% Cabernet Sauvignon - 15% Garnacha Tintorera - 5% Petit Verdot.  Aromas of Blackberry with cured meat notes.  Elegant tannins and herbal note on the finish

Puerto Salinas 2013 has notes of graphite and back beat of violets wonderful elegant tannins with luscious acidity

Mira Salinas, 2010
Monastrell 60% - 10% Cabernet Sauvignon - 20% Garnacha Tintorera - 10% Petit Verdot Lovely maple in aroma with meaty note and violets. Expect this to age well  Another nice detail,  they use premium corks Smooth mouth feel with grippy tannins that vanish to nice vinous acidity

Sierra Salinas at 1237 meters
Salinas 1237 2009 named for the meter height of the namesake mountain. Aromas of cinnamon strawberry eucalyptus and baking spice.  Satiny mouth feel. Pleasant tannins with a slight grip. Lovely vinous acidity with float of cinnamon to the finish. Fermented in open top barrels and undergoing malolactic aging 21 months in same barrel. Old vine monastrell 70 years. Small production of of this wonderful wine at 2000 bottles.

Dulce - Late harvest Monastrell. Luscious concentrated blackberry flavor with just enough acidity to make it fun to drink

It was a sweet ending to a fun visit to this lovely spot where the grape's struggle is our reward.  Balanced lovely wines and a wonderful team whose attention to detail drives quality in everything they do.

Many thank to MGW Group and Kraynick And Associates for hosting me!  Now if only I can badger Wines.com or K&L to get these dainties back in stock!

28 April, 2015

Sketches of Spain - The #oleWinos Visit Alicante, Bullas and Bierzo

If our trip had a soundtrack it would be Miles Davis' s "Sketches of Spain"   (<--click here for a sample)  I love that album's haunting mix of Spanish traditional music, lyrically classic music and jazz.

The three regions we visited were as different as those musical genres, but my trip was held together by the unifying management of the MGW Group.  They focus on smaller wineries, which produce beautiful and elegant estate wines in Spain  We were able to meet many of the members of the winery teams whose skill and passion produce delicious wines of quality in the three unique locations we visited.

Though our cab driver in Madrid was shocked we weren't  going to visit Rioja (he was so incensed I thought he was going to kidnap us with the meter running and deposit us there), I myself was thrilled to visit different Denominaciones de Origen and to try wines I can't get here in California from the regions of Alicante, Bullas and Bierzo.

Here's a map of where we drank deeply of the road less traveled by, and let me tell you, it made all the difference:
Where we went in Spain:

Our home base was Alicante, a lively place with a front row view of the Mediterranean.  We walked the streets and cheered for the Real Madrid soccer team in charming spots ringed with jamon Iberico, while drinking delicious Monastrell based wines. There was shopping, art, tapas, people watching and more. It was also a wonderful place to relax.  I can vouch for the comfort and convenience of the city and especially of the hotel Abba Zentrum, where we were hosted.  
The first DO we visited was Alicante.  I love Monastrell, no matter what you call it and it has 19 names I know of  ( A link to an old post with a list...) I was more familiar with the nearby DO of Jumilla, so was prepared to be enchanted by Alicante.  It's one thing to read about limestone soil, head trained bushes and old vines,  It's entirely more exciting to see, touch and almost fall into those things in your pursuit of a taste of place.  Jumilla is known for blending monastrell with other grapes and at the winery we visited, Bodegas Sierra Salinas, it is combined with the tenacious Alicante Bouchet for a dark, luscious wine I could not get enough of while I was in Spain.

Next we travelled to the region of Bullas, where we visited Bodegas Lavia.  The region itself looks inauspicious.  Grapes must cling to the humidity as much as precipitation in the land located between Murcia and Andalusia.  When rain does come, it bears dust from North Africa.  At Bodegas Lavia, Syrah is blended with Monastrell in a flavorful but sheer style, that surprises and delights.

And then on to Bierzo, which was one of the most beautiful wine regions I have seen.  We traipsed through the stone-walled city of Ponferrada and then explored the dramatic vineyards whose slate and red clay soil is cultivated with care to bring flavors of the land into bottles of unique and delicious Mencia varietals.   Bodegas Estefania coaxes this variety into a wonderful, and ageable wine.Tilenus is the brand name.

Along the way we met many talented individuals who strive to bring the best of their best to their wines.  The #OleWinos were a group of travellers I was lucky to be a part of.  Bloggers and friends, I learned so much from my Vinopanions.  We were hosted by the MGW Group who run the four wineries.  Many thanks to our generous and inspiring hosts who work every day to bring delicious wines with a taste of place to the market.  And to the Blogger Wrangler, Michael Matilla, who under the auspices of Kraynick and Assoc  made our trip so special.

It all seems like a dream now.  One punctuated by great wine, collegial fun and an exploration into how wines in three Spanish Denominaciones de Origen or DO's for short, are made.
Over the next few posts, I will fill in the details on our adventures, so the sketches of Spain become a portrait-- of delicious wine!

#OleWinos: (left to right) Brixchick Liza DrXeno LusciousLushThea DallasWineChick and James the Wine Guy