A swirl of the glass, I smell the wine and I get that preliminary ‘animal’ smell which indicates that this is a natural wine. Within minutes, the smell mellows down to reveal a stunning 100% Tempranillo.
We had no idea at this stage that this was a natural wine though I could suspect from the smell. But this is one of those wines which really challenges your perception of what a natural wine should be. While natural wines may get away with being ‘unstable’ this was neither unstable nor does it have any sign of oxidisation even though it has been open for more than three hours and has been double decanted.
Last week, I tasted three wines made by Spanish winemaker Goyo Garcia Viadero at a wine-tasting of Ribero del Deuro wines at a wine club I am member of.
Present for the wine tasting, Goyo, the Spanish winemaker, told us that for 50 years he had been working in vineyards. “I’ve worked all my life in vineyards for others. I was a bit of a ‘mercenary’ but I had this idea of the wine I wanted to make.”
Mercenary may be a heavy word and may have been lost in translation but tasting his wines you get to see what he really means. He does not produce commercial wines, his vines are at least 80 years old though he has no idea how old they are and his focus is to make a wine that goes back to the past and let the vineyard fully express itself. He works with traditionally head-pruned vines, harvests as early as possible for acidity and co-ferments red with white grapes as things were done in the past.
In 2003, Goyo went to Ribera del Duero with the intention of making a wine he would be proud of. “I bought three parcels with vines that were very old. I wanted the three parcels to have different soils so that I could make different wines.”
He has never mixed the grapes that come from the three parcels. And he makes three unique wines. “They are not Ribera wines but Goya wines. I think this is what the Ribera wines of the 30 or 40 years ago looked like,” he said.
He does not add anything in the cellar. “There are no sulphites or tartaric acid added to the wines,”
Goyo produces 2,500 bottles per parcel and he works together with his wife throughout the year to make his wines.
“During harvest we need to get assistance because we pick up all the grapes by hand between 7am and 10am.”
He is of the view that the most important thing in wine is the acidity. “Balance is important but so is acidity. In Spain what is essential is not the weather or whether the season was hot or cold because it is always warm. What is important is whether there was humidity or not in summer.”
The wines of Goyo Garcia Viadero we tasted were the following:
Vinas De Arcilla 2011: A 100% Tempranillo this wine was started off with barn-like smells on the nose but improved considerably with time. It comes from a very old vineyard where clay predominates and the altitude of the vineyard is 810 metres. On the mouth the acidity and the fruits balanced to make a perfectly harmonious wine with great structure. It was aged in old oak barrels for 30 months. “My oak barrels are more than 10 years old,” Goyo says.
Valdeolmos 2011: This wine is made with 90% Tempranillo and 10% Albillo (a white grape). The grapes are co-fermented. The vines are on stony, sandy, limestone soils. This was very aromatic with very nice aromas and a great mixture of dark and red fruits.
Finca El Peruco 2011: This wine is made with 85% Tempranillo and 15% Albillo. This vineyard is at an altitude of over 900 metres in one of the highest spots in the Ribera del Duero. It is on chalky and calcareous soil. Complex on the nose, this wine was extremely interesting and had a very long finish.