In April I spent a week traveling across Spain, visiting a number of wineries and sampling vastly different wines as I made my way from Galicia on the Atlantic coast to Tarragona and Barcelona on the Mediterranean.
All the boutique wineries I visited are part of the Ferrer Family Wines group, imported to the U.S. by Freixenet USA. Freixenet is known mostly for its cava, but the company has acquired wineries across Spain, offering consumers a full range of flavors and varietals.
The Atlantic Coast
Bodegas Vionta, located in the Rias Baixas Denomination of Origin (D.O.), produces mostly white wines made from Albariño grapes. Located directly on the coast in an area protected by barrier islands, the climate is mild and rainy, unlike most of Spain. Vionta, the winery’s estate wine, is the only offering available in the U.S. market.
Riverside on the Duero
Valdubón is located in Milagro, part of the Ribera del Duero D.O. (Rueda is further west along the Duero River). Winemaker Javier Aladro has been at Valdubón since 2004, five years after it was acquired by Freixenet.
Bodegas Valdubón uses mostly Temprañillo vines. The grapes are smaller than in nearby Rioja, the soil is drier and the altitude of 800m provides a 15-20 degree Celsius difference between daytime and nighttime highs. More than 50% of the hectares of vines managed by the winery are estate-grown.
The brand’s wines include Valdubón Temprañillo, Roble, Crianza, Reserva, X (10) and Honoris de Valdubón (aged in new casks for 24 months).
Going Back in Time
Bodegas Solar Viejo is located in the medieval town of Laguardia in Álava (part of the Rioja Alavesa sub-area). Solar Viejo produces three million bottles per year, less than 1% of the wine produced in Rioja, and 95% of its vines are Temprañillo. Its Vaza brand of wines are available in the U.S. market.
Working for the Future
At Morlanda, in the Priorat region, winemakers Maria Jose Bajon and Judit Llop are working with the University of Tarragona to study probiotics and organic farming to protect vines from pests and diseases. They’re using controlled experiments with different parts of the vineyard to test the impact of different methods on soil quality, fermentation and other factors that impact wine taste and quality. Most of the vines there are Garnacha, primarily 25 to 40 years old.
Full Disclosure: Freixenet USA covered the expenses related to this trip, including lodging and transportation.