Friday, January 9, 2009
As Spain’s winemaking revolution continues to flourish, one of the next hot spots promises to be Jumilla, 150 miles southeast of Madrid. Along with Quinta do Noval’s Nacional vineyard and Bollinger’s Vignes Françaises, Jumilla was one of the few places in Europe spared during the Phylloxera epidemic of the late 1800’s. Virtually everywhere else on the continent, vineyards were devastated and, to this day, can only be planted when grafted onto American rootstock.
Jumilla’s Secret. For Jumilla, the key to its vineyards’ survival was their sandy soil—which is anathema to the Phylloxera insect. As a glorious consequence, Jumilla not only has some of the oldest vines in the world, but also the largest number of ungrafted vines. Most of these vines are Mourvèdre—or Monastrell as it is locally known—one of the most prized varieties of Mediterranean Europe. And Jumilla’s summers boast hot days and cool nights, perfect for ripening grapes, while maintaining acidity.
Today, Jumilla is awakening to its vast potential, and a winemaking revolution has followed—led by growers like Olivares’ Paco Selva. He owns 65+ hectares of ungrafted old vineyards in the northern part of the appellation, in La Hoya de Santa Ana. It is the coolest sub-zone of Jumilla, with sandy, lime-rich soils that yield intensely aromatic wines, while protecting the ungrafted vines from Phylloxera.
Harvesting Late. Prior to 1998, the Selva family’s business was in bulk wine, but each year they made an ambrosial dessert wine (“Dulce”) for their own consumption. To produce this nectar, they left a few acres of vines to hang late into the Fall. Even in normal vintages, these vines achieved spectacular ripeness. But, in favored years, morning fogs caused botrytis to form, concentrating and intensifying the sugars, while giving the juice a honeyed richness. This wine was never sold. However, on a 1998 visit to the estate, Spain’s top sommelier was given a glass of this astonishing elixir to taste. He was bowled over by it and urged Paco to release the Dulce commercially. It was an immediate sensation in Spain, with top restaurants and shops rushing to feature it. Inspired by the Dulce’s success, Paco turned his attention to producing sumptuous red table wines from his priceless old vines. His first release came in 2000: Altos de la Hoya. Made exclusively from old, ungrafted vineyards, it is a phenomenal value. As its experience with these new wines grows, and with a wealth of old vineyards to draw from, there is no limit to Olivares’ potential.
Mourvedre / Monastrell - A native of Spain (where it is known as Monastrell) this grape is the second leading red grape variety after Grenache in Spain. It is also popular in southern France and growing in California. This grape grows well in warmer regions, and is often high in alcohol and tannins making it a good blending grape.
DO Jumilla, Spain - The Designation of Origin of Jumilla is located in an arid mountain valley 50 miles in land from the Mediterranean Sea in Southeast Spain. Jumilla is known for its native grape varietal, Monastrell, which produces some of the world’s most robust and full-flavored wines.
Dulce Monastrell - Fruit Source: From an 11-hectare parcel ungrafted vines planted between 1872 and present.
Hand harvested. Yields: <17 hL/hA
Blend: 100% Monastrell Mourvèdre) from the vineyard’s oldest vines
Aging: Bottled June after the harvest.
Production: 3000 cases.
From the Wine Advocate
“Bodegas Olivares’s two value-priced Jumillas are noted on the Best Buy chart at the end of this report. They should not be missed. The 2004 Dulce Monastrell is sourced from the estate’s oldest Monastrell vines. The fermentation of the wine is stopped by the addition of 2 egrees of alcohol resulting in a finished wine of 16%.
Thick and sweet, it is reminiscent of blackberry jam. The wine has lots of flavor and a lengthy finish. It is a very good value in sweet wine. Score: 92.
- Jay Miller, February 2008.
THE COMPANY - They are a team of two, (Dave & Becky) that thrive in the mission of creating every piece of CORE from the inside out., involved in every aspect of the family run business. The decision to create their own wine was a natural step…one step further into the wine industry. Their combined experience of 18 years in the world of wine often made them look around and ask themselves…”why not?” In some form or another they had experience in areas of viticulture, grape growing, winemaking, soils, pest management, marketing, sales, public relations, retail, tasting room and they have definitely cracked open their share of wine bottles.
THE BEGINNING “Unlike many of his peers, David's career in the industry didn't start in the cellar or the lab - his introduction was exclusively through the vineyard. In the mid-90's David took his agricultural experience in the salad bowl of California's Central Valley and shifted focus to the vineyards of Santa Barbara County. David started his work in Santa Barbara as a sustainable agriculture consultant at Cambria and then at Kendall-Jackson (David's commitment to earth-friendly practices extends far beyond his vineyard work, as he even commutes to the winery on his bike most of the time). After a few years in Santa Barbara County, David branched out with his own consulting practice and also worked with one of the most highly regarded viticulturist in the area - Jeff Newton of Coastal Vineyard Care. A few years of vineyard work under his belt, David began to turn his attention into the cellar and spent a two harvests working at Central Coast Wine Services - ground zero for Santa Barbara's growing niche of high-end artisan winemakers (David now shares space at CCWS with the likes of Red Car, Hitching Post, Arcadian, just to name a few). With a good foundation in the vineyard and expanding expertise in the winery, David and his wife Becky launched Core Wine Company in 2000 with the goal of making exciting blends modeled after the wines of southern France and Spain. They introduced their first CORE label in 2001. Their focus is working with Mourvedre and Grenache, making blends that feature these varietals and White Rhone Blends. Currently, they farm a 17.5 acre vineyard (Alta Mesa Vineyard - Santa Barbara County) on a long-term lease where the Late Harvest Grenache is planted.
THE VINEYARD Alta Mesa Vineyard is located in eastern Santa Barbara County in the Cuyama Valley, the vineyard sits perched above Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard (formerly Barnwood Vineyards) at 3200 feet in elevation. Directly southwest of the vineyard is a close look of Cuyama Peak at 5300 feet in elevation, a feature of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and part of the Los Padres National Forest. “As the crow flies, Alta Mesa is approximately 30 miles over the hills from Santa Barbara.” Along with the Mourvedre planted in the vineyard, there is 9.5 acres of Grenache (Tablas clone A on 1103P & 101-14 rootstock). The soils consist of decomposed granite and clay loam with large rocks of schist, quartzite, basalt, and gneiss. There is a massive swing of daily temperatures that is very beneficial to the growing of these grapes, most often a 40 -50° difference between day and night. Daytime high temperatures are lowered by the arrival of cooling breezes from the north at approximately 2:00 in the afternoon. Depending on the time of year, Dave spends anywhere from 12-30 hours a week in the vineyard. With the exception of events like spraying, pruning and harvest, he’s able to do most of the vineyard work himself. While the vineyard is not certified organic, it is managed with organic guidelines in mind. Mildew sprays are minimal and involve the application of both sulfur and potassium bicarbonate. There is no fertilization used on the vines and the weeds have been controlled by mowing, cover crops and hand hoeing. There are four soil moisture monitors in the vineyard and seven temperature sensors. These devices play a vital role in the judicious use of water on the vines. Precise water management is important for warm climates in the thickening of grape skins, helping prevent dehydration during hot weather.
2004 Candy Core
100% Late Harvest Grenache with 10% stem inclusion from the Santa Barbara Highland. Yield of 3 tons per acre.
Aged 18 months in the barrel and 8 months in the bottle. Picked at 37 brix, 17.2% alcohol and less than 1% residual sugar. Goes great with cheese, chocolate and red fruit. 144 cases produced.
Core Winery - 2717 Aviation Way, Santa Maria, CA 93455
Truchard 2005 Roussanne Botrytis
Near perfect conditions throughout the spring of 2005 resulted in excellent berry set and a very large crop. Mild summer temperatures gradually ripened the fruit, allowing for extremely long “hang time”. The 2005 vintage produced elegant wines; with intense aromas, rich flavors, and bright acidity.
This exotic dessert wine was made from Roussanne that was left to hang on the vine until mid November. Ideal conditions of high humidity and moderate temperatures allowed for the growth of botrytis cinera, an unusual mold that can grow on the grape clusters. Botrytis causes the fruit to dehydrate and become extremely sweet, it also produces unique aromas and flavors. It is rare and highly prized when making a “late harvest” wine; for this reason Botrytis is often referred to as the “noble rot”.
All of the fruit was whole cluster pressed. The fermentation was carried out in French oak barrels (25%) new, using a special Sauterne yeast. The fermentation was halted when the proper balance of sugar and alcohol was achieved. The wine was aged in barrels for 10 months and bottled in August 2006.
Truchard Winemaker Profile:
Sal de Ianni worked his first harvest in 1994 at Hess Collection Winery. He spent 6 months in the cellar, and then returned to school. During the 1995 vintage, he worked at Cuvaison Winery, in both the cellar and the lab. After six months, he went back to Davis to finish my thesis: “Investigating Methods of Detecting Urea in Wine.” In the summer of 1996, he received his MS in Enology and returned to Cuvaison for the upcoming harvest, as the enologist. Immediately after harvest he was offered the opportunity work in Margaret River, Western Australia. He would be the “temporary” winemaker at a small ultra-premium winery – Pierro Margaret River Vineyards. He left for Australia in January 1997 and returned to Cuvaison in August, just in time for the 1997 harvest there in California.
After his winemaking experience in Australia, He felt that it was hard to go back to being an enologist; so he began searching for a winemaking position in the Napa Valley. He answered a help-wanted ad the local paper which read “small, family-owned winery looking for a hands-on winemaker.” He joined Tony and Jo Ann Truchard at Truchard Vineyards in January 1998 and is still there ten years later.
A floral nose of dried apricots, mango, and honeysuckle. The mouth is bright and viscous - with the flavors of ripe pear, nectarine, and wild flower honey. Firm acidity provides a clean, crisp finish of citrus and peach. 200 cases produced.