Quite candidly I have been somewhat slow on looking into what’s currently happening with the wines of Spain. This past few months, however, has certainly changed my view on that subject, especially after tasting the wines from Raúl Pérez Perreira, a true game changer out of the Bierzo DO in the northwest sector of Spain. He is one of those winemakers who come along once in a generation and is leading a quiet revolution redefining what Spanish wines can be. We love the authenticity, transparency and deft balance to his wines. NO “fruit bombs here.” We respect his devout reverence to capturing old vine, indigenous grape varieties in their sweet spot. We love how he is questioning all aspects of growing & making his wines. Yes, each wine really is an adventure.
It has taken quite a long time to get some of the Raúl Pérez wines here to the islands. As they slowly roll in, we are anxious to taste each of the offerings, so we can better understand the genius behind the myth. On this night, we will actually be sampling 4 of his, but only writing about
2017 Raul Perez Bierzo “Ultreia St Jacques”—Mainly Mencia (vines planted in 1900 & 1940) from different soils in Valtuille and Villadecanes. Partial whole clusters and aged in OLD oak vats for one year. We love this wine’s wonderful transparency, texture & balance. Its savoriness & all kinds of earth, spice & nuances done with a masterful, yet unpretentious touch. Plus, the price is so terrific for what you get in the bottle. I recommended this to a guest the other night with VINO’s Braised Spanish Octopus which served with a smoked ham hock stew. Marvelous.
2016 La Vizcaina de Vino Bierzo Tinto “La Poulosa”—Produced from Mencia & Trousseau vines planted in 1940, clay-sand-river stones–east facing at 1700 feet elevation. 80% whole cluster. One year in 225 liter French oak. This bottling ramps up the volume a notch–more savory notes, more mojo & more framing, while still wonderfully transparent, textural & very well balanced.
2017 Antoine Graillot & Raul Pérez, Bierzo “Encinas”–this is a joint venture between two winemaking icons, each from a different region–Antoine Graillot from Crozes Hermitage in France’s Rhone Valley & Raúl Pérez Perreira from Bierzo, Spain. 3 sites in NW Bierzo in Rapolao vineyard in Valtuille de Abajo . Mainly old vine Mencia–done in cement fermenters, whole clusters, & then aged for 10 months in oak foudre.
2016 Bodegas Y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, Ultreia Godello–a very stony, masculine white wine with lots of swag, mojo & structure. 100% indigenous Godello grape variety–grown in 3 sites in the village of Valtuille de Abajo of Castilla y Leon 90% northfacing (cool)—20 to 42 year old vines in clay, sand & alluvial stones. Fermented & aged in 300L & 2500: foudres.
2017 La Vizcaina de Vinos Bierzo “La Del Vivo”—Yet another standout, this one is a blend of Godello and Dona Blanco planted in 1940 (clay) and 1926 (sand) respectfully. 80% of the juice is pressed, decanted and then fermented in 500 liter and 700 liter barrels. The other 20% is on the skins in clay amphora. BOTH, unmoved for one year. This wine also has a rancio character to it too.
2016 Bodegas Y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, Ultreia La Claudina Blanco–a VERY different interpretation/style of what Godello can be. The vines were planted in 1995 in sandy soils. Wild yeast fermented & aged in 1500L foudre. A flor film is allowed & encouraged, which gives Sherry-like aromas combined with the stoniness & savoriness of the Godello in these soils. Definitely “otherworldly“.
2013 Bodegas Y Viñedos Raúl Pérez, Albarin Rara Avis White–Here is yet another “otherworldly” take on white wine. This one is produced from the Alvarin grape—cousin to Albarino, but different. 70 year old vines, fermented in wood with NO temperature control. 18 months in Fr oak foudre. The wine is dry, masculine, resoundingly stony with vehement vinosity, solid structure, very unique aromatics & a long finish. This is certainly something very unique & quite candidly, I don’t quite yet know what to fully make of this wine, but still would say it is definitely worth checking out nonetheless.
2018 Atalier by Raul Perez Albarino “A Cruz das Animas”—A project in partnership with Rodi Mendez, which truly shows us all what Spanish Albarino can be! Grown in Val do Salnes, one of the most revered subzones of Rias Baxias—its sandy soils and very coastal climate, one kilometer from the sea. The grapes come from three vineyards, planted pre-phylloxera—meaning 150 to 160 year old vines, then fermented and aged in large, OLD oak foudres. I loved this wine’s uplifting minerality, innate sense of salinity, its wonderful texture & balance. While I have tasted quite a slew of Albarino previously, I can wholeheartedly say, BUT, nothing like this! Wowza!