Monday, January 20, 2020

A Superb Set of Organic Wines from Bodegas y Vinedos Pinuaga

A Superb Set of Wines from Bodegas y Vinedos Pinuaga 
In 1960, the first generation of Pinuaga winemakers established the winery in the village of Corral de Almaguer, province of Toledo.  They planted special old clones of Tempranillo  called Cencibel with smaller grains, silky skin and longer ripening cycles.

Today, the second and third generation of the Pinuaga family, Valentin and Esther, maintain the old vines with much care and pride, following a minimal intervention philosophy, using natural and artisanal winemaking processes and recovering indigenous clones.The quality of the wines is driven by the characteristic of the soils, age of vines, grape variety and organic farming practices; all of these parameters are present in every wine, making them singular and unique.

Altitude is a key factor here, as it is in much of Spain. According to the World Atlas of Wine, “a good 90% of all Spanish vineyards lie at altitudes higher than any major French wine region” and this, especially in Castilla y Leon, helps maintain acidity enough to keep the wines relatively fresh. The altitude benefit means “growers can depend on cool nights to ‘fix’ colour and flavour in the grapes ripened during the torrid summer days”.  

The Pinuaga vineyard area is really windy. The winemakers appreciate its benefits: “The vineyards are well aerated so it's a very healthy terroir. There is a lot of changes between the day and night temperatures too, which are very good for the ripening of the fruits.”

Pinuaga is situated close to the city of Toledo in central Spain, this is a huge wine making region with more land under vine than the whole of Australia. The wines are now being imported to Ireland by Mary Pawle and, as is consistently the case with Mary, are keenly priced.

Bodegas Pinuaga are very clear in their motives for using organic methods and they explain it well here - you may have to use the translate button! You'll notice they use cork in all their bottles. Why? "The use of cork helps maintain cork oak trees, which amongst many other things retain Co2. We have just received our first certificate with the details on our contribution in tons of retention of Co2." Their use of cork stoppers in the 12 months ended 31st December 2018 yielded a certified saving of 14.17 tonnes of Co2.

Bodegas Pinuaga Tinto (Tempranillo) “Nature” Vino de la Tierra de Castilla 2016, 13.5%, €16.60, Mary Pawle.

Dark red, more or less burgundy, is the colour. Red berries feature in aromas, blackcurrant and plum also in the mix. Much the same vibrant fruit features on the palate, some spice too, well-integrated tannins. Smooth and easy-drinking but with quite a noticeable backbone to it, right through to the lingering finish. One of the best Tempranillos I’ve come across and so Very Highly Recommended.

The fruit is hand-harvested by night, aged in stainless steel for almost a year and then “a slight oak ageing in used barriques for 3 months”. The producers are very happy with this organic wine: “It is a very versatile wine that you can pair or simply drink on its own." It is indeed, very quaffable and suggested pairings are:  Rice, pasta and all sorts of tapas. Casseroles also suggested.

Bodegas Pinuaga Bianco, Vino de la Tierra Castilla 2018, 12.5%, €13.20 Mary Pawle

This is produced from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes that are hand harvested mid August, fermented in small steel tanks and kept on lees for a minimum of 2 months. 

Light gold, hint of green. Apples, gooseberries, leaf notes, in the aromas. More towards citrus on the palate, something of a tingle as well. Good nettle-y acidity though. And a long dry finish, fruit and a little spice there to the end. It’s easy drinking and the producers suggest this crisp and lively wine as a suitable companion for salads, pastas or tapas or, because it is so refreshing, excellent too to drink on its own. Very Highly Recommended.

Sauvignon Blanc is known as a cool climate grape (the Loire and Marlborough for example) and the Toledo terroir that Pinuaga farms has a couple of things going for it in that regard. First the altitude is close to 800 meters above sea-level and, second, the area is quite windy. 

In addition, there is quite a difference between the day and night temperatures, very good for the ripening of the fruits. Decanter indicates that a large diurnal range can help grapes to ripen in a more balanced way. “Warmer daytime temperatures help to foster sugar development, but cool nights can help to preserve aromas, freshness and acidity.” 

Read more from Decanter here

Bodegas Pinuaga Tinto, Vino de la Tierra Castilla 2018, 13%, €13.20, 

This lively young wine is a blend of Garnacha & Tempranillo (Cencibel) grapes, from a single vineyard of 5Ha of Grenache and  3 Ha of old Tempranillo bush vines. Hand harvested in early September. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks.

Mid to dark ruby, bright. Fresh and fruity on the nose, nothing too intense. Young and expressive, crisp and lively plus a decent finish as well. Your lips will tell you the tannins are still a factor. Nice touch of smoothness though in the mouthfeel. Very approachable and should have no problem pairing with the suggested salads, tapas, pintos and bbq (serve at 12 degrees). Good idea to have a few of these in the cellar or in your usual cool dark spot! Highly Recommended.

Bodegas Pinuaga Tinto “La Senda” Vino de la Tierra de Castilla  2017, 13.5%, €14.80 

Mid to dark ruby. A Burgundy nose is suggested but a warm and fairly intense one. There’s the rich dark fruit of the Merlot, the red fruit flavours of the Tempranillo, a touch of spice and acidity too and the whole reaches a delightful harmony from the sip to well after the swallow.  This unoaked blend has an impressive depth of flavour, a wine with back-bone, yet is an easy-drinking style, a casual wine on its own or with casual food such as Tapas, pizzas and pastas.  The suggested serving temperature is 16 degrees and the pairing suggestion that grabbed my attention was grilled rosemary scented lamb chops. Very Highly Recommended.

It is organic and the blend,aged over lees during 5 – 6 months in small stainless steel tanks”, is 80% Merlot and 20% Tempranillo. No surprise that Merlot makes an appearance here as Bordeaux had a long history and influence in the north of Spain. Pinuaga is a Basque surname that means 'place in the pines’. La Senda means a path. Looks like a pair of sandals on the label!

Bodegas Pinuaga Tinto “Colección” Vino de la Tierra de Castilla  2016, 14.5%, €21.00 Mary Pawle

"This is a very special wine for us as it is the first wine we made at Pinuaga and hence why we call it Colección; Many of our customers recognize the label as the original Pinuaga wine. Grape Variety: 100% Tempranillo (Indigenous clone of Cencibel)."

Mid ruby’s the colour of this deep and intense organic wine. Aromas, red fruits to the fore, are a little on the shy side. It comes into its own on the palate, full of rich red fruit flavours, a touch of spice, smooth and rounded, tannins well integrated. Rich concentrated and elegant, it is certainly rather special and is Very Highly Recommended.

It is 100% Tempranillo from a single plot, aged for approximately 9 months in oak and that contributes to its overall character. 

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