Occasionally VÍ Vid are invited to visit Bodegas outside the Valencian Community and last week on Tuesday 26 March such an opportunity came up to join a small group of press colleagues on a visit to La Mancha.
We had been invited to visit Bodega Dehesa La Luna near La Roda (Albacete), a new project on 3000 hectares of virgin land in the Campo de Montiel. The vast majority of the land is given over to the flora and fauna indigenous to the area and can count on a wealth of wildlife on the land encircling the new vineyards.
Here one can observe birds of prey including Imperial and Royal eagles, Peregine falcons, Goshawks, Kites, Great bustards, and many other birds including wild duck and skylarks plus wild rabbits and hares. During our tour of this reserve we also saw partridge and a wild cat bobbing across the track ahead of us.
Some 800+ hectares are given over to agricultural projects such as Olives, Cereals Almonds, Pistachios and Honey, all of them organic and the family Group also includes Extrem, the Extremadura based company producing the excellent Jamons and Lomos of Bellota fed Iberian pigs and Chorizos and Salcichons.
The harvesting of the cereals and other farm products is very respectful to the life cycle and nesting needs of the birds for example.
The vineyards are similarly managed with no chemicals used and the cuttings from the pruning are used as a natural form of composting which helps protect the soils from the sun and wind.
Just 63 hectares are dedicated to vineyard production, again fully organic and certified since February of last year.
The vineyards were first planted in 1998 but significant new planting took place last year as well.
The Vineyards have a mix of varieties including Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Graciano and Aglianico (an Italian variety being evaluated which is rustic and acidic and best known for the Basilicata DOCG ‘Aglianico de Vulture’ wines) in red and Viura, Garnacha Blanco, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier in whites.
Perhaps most interesting are the vineyard practices as they are applied in support for the vines. We are all familiar with a drive through La Mancha, where extremely neat plots of vines often low in height and ‘en vaso’ populate the open landscape. Newer vines are often supported ‘en espaldera’.
At Dehesa La Luna all varieties of support are being trialled, well, seven different styles. Firstly the vines are all restricted to a single branch on which six buds are allowed to develop. These are exactly one meter apart, the branch stopped pruned to where the next trunk rises so no space is wasted.
The different styles of support are ‘sprawl’,’ semi-sprawl’, ‘vertical’, ‘vertical shaft’, ‘espaldera’, ‘vaso’ and ‘Geneva Double Curtain.’ Each has its own manner of controlling the height and orientation of the overhanging and extensive growth which are good for absorbing solar energy and to protect the vine and the developing grapes from the excess of sun and are key in current studies into climate change and its effects.
As the vines are currently dormant, ( the vineyards are some 900 metres above sea-level there is no growth at this time of year and the vines have barely started their weeping, signifying the sap is starting to rise) it is difficult to show the ways in which the growth can be controlled differently. Essentially there is a simple double-click mechanism which raises or lowers and fixes the wires at a different height to allow sunlight in or keep it out by lowering the branches back over the grapes.
In the Bodega José Luis Asenso the technical director vinifies the wines separately allowing for blending the varieties and by varying the amounts to try to maintain a consistent style of each wine each every year. Again no chemicals are used in the process.
The Bodega is typically spotless and modern with its stainless steel temperature controlled deposits and oak cones and the barrel room enjoys glass walls so that visitors can observe from the reception, dining and tasting room. A system of micro-humidifying takes place to keep the air moist and control the temperature of the ageing.
Starting with the Garnacha Blanca 2017 (5%Viognier) we tasted a number of the bodegas wines. Pale gold, clean and bright this has a luscious aromatic nose with tropical notes, a distinct note of hydrocarbons (like a good Riesling) and a lot of white stone fruit such as apricot, peach and lychee. In the mouth the citrus notes and acidity are excellent, balanced by apricot, peach and pepper and is deep and round.
The Rosado 2018 from the same range is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is pale salmon in colour and is clean and bright. on the nose there is red fruit but it is still a little closed.The entry is good, nice ripe red fruit, with good acidity, and salinity in a long dry finish.
The 2016 Origenes red is a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, approximately 1/3rd of each. Deep black cherry in colour the Cabernet predominates on the nose, vegetal but very fine. In the mouth good, ripe fruit and round tannins. All this range is designed to be easy drinking .
The Gran Luna 2015 has Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and Graciano in a blend. A very deep black cherry colour, this has a very deep fruity nose, black currants, black fruit and Rowentree’s fruit gums. In the mouth it has nice acidity on entry, go0d depth, soft tannins. A truly lovely wine to drink with the Italian variety and Graciano adding a fresh touch.
The Tempranillo 2015 is a more medium to deep bodied cherry red. With expressive black fruit on the nose, in the mouth there is a touch of alcohol with good round tannins.
This was accompanied by an aperitif of Ibericos from the Extrem range and then a Gazpacho Manchego with partridge, rabbit and hare, followed by a salad of partridge escabeche and for dessert, Torrijas.
VÍ Vid would like to thank Pedro Mocholi and Francisco Ruiz De La Torre Esporrin for the invitation and hospitality. These wines will be added to our cellar!