I was in Extremadura region of Spain last week. I was invited to attend the trade exhibition FIAL 2018 in Don Benito. My trip was organised by the regional government of Extremadura. There were 30+ importers of wine and gourmet food from some twenty countries. I met fifteen wine producers during some short meetings. In this article, I will tell more about wines of Extremadura.
I know that here in the UK, we do not have many wines from Extremadura, although this is the second largest area of wine production and also the second biggest region of Spain. Before I went to Spain, I thought if I have tasted wines from this region before. I could not remember anything. Although when I was in Merida, the capital of Extremadura, I recognised a label of a producer which I met in Prowein a couple years ago. I was certainly very excited to find more about the wines of this region.
Extremadura is in the west of the Spain, bordering Portugal. People say this is the poorest region of Spain. There are only about one million habitants. The region has some 80000 ha of vineyard area, mainly producing bulk wines for distillation. There is only one DO here, Ribera del Guadiana of a total sixty-nine in Spain. Graciano, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah are grown here with some indigenous grapes for whites, such as Pardina, Cayetana, Alarije and Borba. It would be a very exciting discovery to see how the known ones are different to other regions and all new unknown ones tasted.
During two days. I had short meetings with fifteen producers, tasting their wines. I was in search for something unusual, something gives good value for the price, and as with the rest of our wine portfolio at Sonvino, something that is produced only in small quantities, artisanal and perhaps produced organically and with minimum intervention. With meetings half way through, I was not so much impressed with the wines I tried. Most of them lacked a pronounced nose but tasted rather good on the palate. The Tempranillo here has much less body and has a distinct profile. I also did not appreciate the packing of many wines. Even though other regions of Spain have always impressed me with their label designs, I could not match that here in Extremadura. Though later on my meetings became much more interesting. I was finally meeting some extraordinary good wines with all the things I was looking for. Wines with character and individuality. The wines of Cerro la Barca were presented by Laura, the newly joined Export Manager. This Bodega was founded in 2003 in Don Benito, they only have 25 ha of vineyard. They practise organic viticulture and use minimal intervention in the winery. I was very much struck by their A+B white wine. They call this wine “Forgotten Blend”. It is made with Alarije and Borba grapes. The wine has a brilliant pronounced nose with tropical fruits, stone fruits, orange blossom aromas. On the palate it is very well balanced with high acidity and fruit flavours. It has a great length finish with those perfumed flavours lingering for minutes. I thought I could drink this wine on its own or have it with Asian food or Mediterranean seafood. The second white wine made with indigenous grape was Cayetana. Bodega Payva produces this amazing white only in small quantity. Their white is pronounced nose and palate with citrus and stone fruits and a full body. This a great value gastronomy wine.
Of the reds I tried, I was most impressed with the Tempranillo from Cerro la Barca and Graciano from Payva. Both of these wines are unique reflecting the terroir and the amazing wine making. They are both dry and comes with interesting tasting profile. They would accompany greatly to the tapas. Surely, with the Jamon Iberico. This dry cured ham is a trademark from this region.
Spain is a gem with amazing wines produced in many regions of the country. Extremadura has a great potential with many producers are now making wines with character. This will develop in the coming years. We at Sonvino are very excited to start negotiating and bringing some beautiful wines of Extremadura to the UK wine lovers.