A Guest Blog by nom de plume ‘1818′
(Editor’s note: 1818 and his lovely wife are wine lovers extraordinaires. They have participated on numerous Wine Lovers Tours and will be on our Galicia tour in April)
Thanks to a tip from Vin I found out award winning Spanish wine maker Raúl Pérez was having a seminar not too far away. Hosted by his importer, Skurnik wines, at the lovely
Pluckemin Inn in the heart of New Jersey’s horse country.
Raúl makes many different wines, but not a lot of wine. He has his own vineyards, buys grapes and, also, consults. His philosophy is minimal intervention of the grapes, practices organic viticulture and uses indigenous yeast. Most of his wines are fermented in large wooden barrels, foudres.
We started in Rias Baixas, which Vin will be visiting this April on a tour of northern Spain. His 2017 Albariño ‘A Cruz das Animas’ from his Atalier by Raúl Pérez is grown in a vineyard 100 meters from the ocean. Old granite posts in the ~100 year old vineyard are used to support the pergola system the grapes grow on. This allows the wind to dry the grapes and prevent mildew. He harvests later than most to naturally reduce the levels of malic acid. The wine is crisp, pleasantly acidic and delightful.
We also had his ‘Sketch’ Albariño 2016 from his Bodegas y Vinedos Raúl Pérez. It’s from a tiny plot even closer to the ocean. You can almost taste the salt spray. This wine is an even more elegant on the palate.
Then we went to the Ribeira Sacra, also in Galicia. We had his 2016 ‘A Boca do Demo’ Tinto from his Castro Candaz. This is primarily Mencia grapes grown on ancient Roman terraces and is whole cluster fermentation in Chestnut foudres. A tasty, medium bodied wine.
Lastly, we went to his main base, Bierzo, just across the Galician border into the province of Léon. We tried his 2016 ‘Ultreia Godello’ from Bodegas y Vinedos Raúl Pérez. His only wine to partially ferment in stainless steel. Rich and golden with good mouthfeel. Bierzo’s reds are primarily Mencia, with some Bastardo, Alicante Bouschet and, even, some white varieties.
That’s because Bierzo purportedly has the highest concentration of vines over 80 years old anywhere in the world. No one remembers what’s planted where. The Romans brought grapes to this region. Subsequently, various grape vine cuttings were brought by religious pilgrims from their local region and planted at stops along the way of the camino de Santiago.
Raúl is also starting to identify the best plots and develop a system for the region similar to Burgundy, regional, local, single vineyard. His 2017 ‘Ultreia St. Jacques’ is sourced from various plots and is his largest bottling, by far, at 120,000 bottles. This was his most tannic wine, but still with tasty fruit.
We had 2 wines from his La Vizcaina de Vinos line. The 2016 ‘El Rapolao’ was full bodied and age worthy. His 2016 ‘La Poulosa’ was a bit smoother and ready right now. Both are great wines. Lastly, we had the ‘Ultreia de Valtuille’ 2015 from his Bodegas y Vinedos Raúl Pérez.
He uses very old barrels that are not fully filled. This allows a ‘flor’ to develop. An excellent, full bodied wine with just the faintest hint of a Sherry-like quality.
The wines of Raúl Pérez are idiosyncratic, but wonderful expressions of their terroir. I recommend you look for his wines and follow Vin’s posts from Galicia this spring.