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More Delights From Bierzo

We have uncovered more delights from this exceptional and exciting region from north east Spain and this time from one of the leaders of the wine revolution there – Raúl Pérez himself. If there is one man who is the torch bearer for the quality of red wine coming from Bierzo then it is Senor Pérez. The man himself is as unmistakable as the wines he produces – he wouldn’t look out of place in a picture of the Edwardian England cricket team – but his instinctive understanding of his vineyards and innovative winemaking skills has led to him being voted the world’s best winemaker in some publications. He is certainly a free spirit and he projects this attitude in to the wines he makes, following nature and letting her lead the way. His acute understanding of the individual soils, climate and ripening times that dictate the style of each of his single vineyard wines is arguably unmatched and there is little intervention by him in the winery too – a little extra whole bunch fermentation here and a touch of oak there. Whole bunch fermentation is practice used for Pinot Noir in Burgundy and can give extra tannin structure to the wine along with texture and aroma. The Raúl Pérez single vineyard wines ( La Vizcaína de Vinos) are much sought after and strictly allocated but I have secured a (very) small parcel of back vintages of three of them.

2016 La Poulosa, La Vizcaína de Vinos, Raúl Pérez, DO Bierzo @ £22.50 per bottle

A blend of mainly Mencia with a little Bastardo (I could probably phrase that better) and Garnacha Tintorera from a plot that dates back to 1940. It’s at an altitude of 550 metres and the soil is formed of clay and pebbles. 80% of the grapes are whole bunches  and the wine is aged in used French oak for one year. It is bottled with no fining or filtering. If you are looking for something to drink now then look no further than this. La Poulosa is the most approachable of the La Vizcaína vineyards and there’s plenty to enjoy here. It’s very ripe and open from the off with delicious ripe red fruit like wild strawberry, raspberry along with black cherry. The wine is incredibly harmonious and silky with little hints of spice on the finish which is incredibly long. I decided not to decant this but let it breath in a Burgundy Zalto but as it became even more delicious on the last glass I will certainly decant future bottles.

2017 Las Gundiñas, La Vizcaína de Vinos, Raúl Pérez @ £22.50 per bottle

A similar blend as La Poulosa but with a little Doña Blanca added to the mix. This vineyard is over 100 years old and the soil is clay and chalk. It is fermented using all whole bunches and aged in 225 litre French oak barrels for one year and bottled without fining or filtration. Here we have more dark fruit expression and a slightly more muscular style. There’s plenty of ripeness and also an earthiness to it along with lush tannins. The Wine Advocate called this a ‘mini Bonnes Mares’ which is high praise indeed comparing it to the prestigious Côte de Nuits Grand Cru. This probably needs another 6 months to a year in bottle and will seriously repay those patient enough to wait.

2017 El Rapolao, La Vizcaína de Vinos, Raúl Pérez @ £22.50 per bottle

This is the Raúl Pérez wine that scored higher than any other from 2017, receiving 95 points from the Wine Advocate. It’s again Mencia, Bastardo and Garnacha Tintorera and half of this vineyard dates back to 1920 with the rest planted in 1980. The soil is clay in the older part with the newer part having more organic components. This uses whole bunch fermentation in large open vats and then aged in large and small oak barrels. Out of the three single vineyard wines this is the fullest and most complex. There’s a lovely mixture of red and dark fruits with plenty of spice, structure and tannin. There’s plenty going on here with super concentration and length – it’s more forward than Las Gundiñas but will certainly improve with a little extra time in bottle.

All tasting notes are by Jonny Wren, owner of Songbird Wines.

The single vineyard reds are really exceptional value which is why allocations are tight. What makes them so sought after is that they drink so well in their youth.

Availability of these wines is very limited so please email orders@songbirdwine.co.uk to check stock status.

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