From Castillo Y Leon, a beautiful Tempranillo and an outstanding expression of Sauvignon Blanc
Finca Menade Sauvignon Blanc (Vino de la Tierra Castillo Y Leon) 2021
Open the cork on this one and you immediately smell gooseberry. It is from Spain, it is organic, gluten free, and vegan friendly and yes, it is Sauvignon Blanc. France and New Zealand are the top Sauvignon blanc growers but Rueda in Spain grows a fair bit and grows it well if this Menade is anything to go by.
The colour is a pale straw. You’ll also note some more exotic fruits such as grapefruit, mango and passionfruit in both the aromas and on the palate, some “local” flavours too like apricot and peach. The grape is noted for its high acidity and low sweetness and that is the case here.
Importers Le Caveau say this is a “Marlborough style that doesn't travel half as far” and that assertion is reinforced by the acidity and fruit. This youthful and modern expression of the grape is well balanced, with a hint of lime in a long lingering finish. A delight to engage with and Very Highly Recommended.
Brothers and sister Marco, Richard and Alejandra Sanz run this certified organic estate in Rueda, South of Valladolid. The estate, where Sauvignon blanc has found a home since its 1994 introduction, has 160 ha in production (including 30 ha of pre-phylloxera vines).
The soil-type consists of sandy clay and is covered with pebbles in most part. Hand-harvesting, natural yeasts and low yields are some of the techniques used to produce the trade-mark Menade style of pure and expressive wines. I enjoyed a bottle of their superb Verdejo in 2021 and you may read the short review here.
As with Menade Verdejo, each parcel – for these vary widely depending on the soil type and orientation of the vines – is picked and vinified separately, fermentation is on the basis of the grapes’ natural, wild yeasts, and the wine is left briefly on its fine lees. Just one example of the attention to detail. Hand-harvesting, carbonic snow (instead of sulphur), loveable trees, natural yeasts and low yields are among the techniques used to produce pure and expressive wines.
Sauvignon Blanc, according to Wine Folly, pairs wonderfully with “herb-driven sauces, salty cheeses, light meats and… Asian Food.”
* This wine is labelled Vino de la Tierra (VdT) and this is the same classification often indicated by IGP (Indicatión Geográfica Protegida.
Alfredo Maestro Almate (Vino de la Tierra Castillo Y Leon) 2020,
Dark red, close to purple, is the colour of this Tempranillo, not from Rioja but from Ribera del Duero. Red and darker fruits head up the aromatics and you’ll find some vanilla hints there too. More of the same in the mouth as the mid-bodied smooth and creamy wine flows across. Tannins are gentle and sweet and indeed, the whole experience is rather gentle. Well structured, well balanced and Very Highly Recommended.
And that is a satisfactory outcome for both the customer and the producer Alfredo whose goal is to make "easy wines with character imprinted with the earth and the vintage, authentic stories transmitted differently each year and not modified by the hand of the man in the cellar.”
I’ve enjoyed a few different vintages over recent years including the 2016 and, more recently, the 2018: “Another well-made wine from the man "known as the magician of the Duero, a prominent exponent of the natural wine movement in Spain.” This is Alfredo’s flagship wine and Spanish Wine Lover rates it “as outstanding within its type and style”. There is indeed something of a consensus about this excellent well-priced wine and you may confidently add it to your shopping list!
Le Caveau:Viña Almate is the name of the first vineyard that Alfredo planted and gives the name to his bodega and to Alfredo’s entry-level Duero wine. This cuvee is made from fruit sourced from various plots of Tinto Fino (local name for Tempranillo), of varying vine ages, located in Valtiendas at 1,000 m. elevation, as well as Peñafiel, at 700 meters.
Tempranillo is Spain’s top variety, made famous by the wines of Rioja. It is grown widely in Spain including in Ribera del Duero and Toro. It is grown in quite a few countries, including Portugal, but not in any significant quantity.
Le Caveau indicates it pairs well with pair with grilled and roasted meats. Wine Folly more or less agrees saying older bolder Temps match with steak, gourmet burgers and rack of lamb. “Fresher styles match well with baked pasta and other tomato based dishes.”