About this WINE
Bodegas Juan de la Barreda
Every so often a wine buyer has a double-take when he or she tastes a wine from an unpromising area, from a producer he has never heard of, his expectations low, his interest, frankly somewhat modest, and then, bang, it immediately becomes clear that he is in the presence of something a little bit special. These moments are, alas, relatively rare, therefore all the more cherished when they occur. Our intrepid Spanish buyer certainly did not have great expectations from the quixotic bad lands of the Central Meseta, but he was wrong!
Located an hour or so to the South East of Madrid, Torre de Barreda is situated on the hot flat and in all honesty somewhat unpromising planes of Castille. Father and son, both rather confusingly called Juan de la Barreda, have however fashioned a wonderful wine, from old vine Tempranillo, known as Cencibel down here.
The grapes are grown traditionally ‘en vasco’ then vinified even more traditionally in ‘tinaja’ epoxy resin-lined terracotta vessels. The result has, unsurprisingly, bags of personality and individuality, but rather more surprisingly elegance and a rather sophisticated structure.
Castilla La Mancha - Castilla y Leon
The autonomous province of Castilla-La Mancha covers a large chunk of central Spain and is bordered by Castilla y León, Madrid, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, and Extremadura! Known mostly as the setting for Cervantes legendary novel Don Quixote, Castilla-La Mancha is the powerhouse of the Spanish wine industry. It produces almost half of Spains vinous output from a range of grape varieties: crisp, clean, easy-drinking whites are made from Albillo, Viura, Parellada, Torrontes, Moscatel, Merseguera, Pardilla, Macabeo (Viura), the local Malvar and the prolific Airén; while pleasant, fruity reds (mostly) and rosados are produced from Tempranillo (locally known as Cencibel), Garnacha Tinta, the local Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Monastrell.
Castilla-La Mancha incorporates a number of DO appellations with varied winemaking traditions and even more varied degrees of quality. They are led by heavyweights La Mancha and Valdepeñas, followed by the lesser-known Almansa, Ribera del Jucar, Mentrida and Manchuela. Since the 1990s, the wine industry here has been revolutionised. It has enjoyed a recent rush of investment, led by the legendary Alejandro Fernández and followed by the Jerez/Sherry behemoths Osborne and González Byass. The result has been a transformation from a source of poor quality, sometimes virtually undrinkable, wines to one where modern-styled, easy-drinking, excellent value-for-money wines are the order of the day.
Castilla-La Mancha is also home to Dominio de Valdepusa and Finca Elez which form two of Spains private wine regions. Vinos de Pago (Denominación de Pago) was a category introduced in 2003 and bestows DO status upon outstanding individual estates, even if they are located outside an existing DO area. Each one is allowed its own rules and regulations.
A high quality red wine grape that is grown all over Spain except in the hot South - it is known as Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in La Mancha and Valdepenas and Ull de Llebre in Catalonia. Its spiritual home is in Rioja and Navarra where it constitutes around 70% of most red blends.
Tempranillo-based wines tend to have a spicy, herbal, tobacco-like character accompanied by ripe strawberry and red cherry fruits. It produces fresh, vibrantly fruit driven "jovenes" meant for drinking young. However Tempranillo really comes into its own when oak aged, as with the top Riojas where its flavours seem to harmonise perfectly with both French and American oak, producing rich, powerful and concentrated wines which can be extraordinarily long-lived.
In Ribera del Duero it generally sees less oak - the exception being Vega Sicilia where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and then aged for an astonishing 7 years in oak and is unquestionably one of the world`s greatest wines.