Saturday, November 23, 2019

On the cutting edge of Spanish wines: Quinta da Muradella's Muradella Blanco (DO Monterrei)

Panelists in a seminar titled Wines on the Cutting Edge -- one of the events that comprised Wines from Spain's Great Match Miami (November 5, 2019) -- proposed eight wines they viewed as fitting that description (as it relates to Spanish wines). The panel tasted and discussed four whites and four reds and I will report on each in individual posts. I covered Tajinaste's Blanco in a previous post and cover Quinta da Muradella's Muradella Blanco herein.

Panelists from left to right: Allegra Angela, Sommelier and
Beverage Director, Mandarin Oriental; Daniel Toral, Sommelier,
Florida Wine Company; Mia Van de Water MS, Eleven Madison
Park; and Michael Schacter, Editor of Spanish and South American
Wines, Wine Enthusiast (Panel Leader)

DO Monterrei
Quinta da Muradella is located in Galicia's DO Monterrei, which takes its name from the medieval castle which dominates the area.

Monterrei Castle

The DO falls within the Douro River Valley (as most of its vines are planted in the valleys along the Tamega River, itself a tributary of the Douro) and has two sub-zones (Slopes of Monterrei and Monterrei Valley) and three growing districts (Pazo de Monterrei, Oimbra, and Tamaguelos).

The climate is continental, warm and dry during the summer and very cold in the winter. The mountain ranges proximate to the DO, combined with its distance, limits the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean. The rain-shadow effect -- caused by the mountains -- limits annual rainfall to 23 inches, less than 1/4th the 93 inches experienced by Rais Baixas, a DO that is closer to the ocean.  During the ripening period, the area experiences 20-degree diurnal temperature variation.

Elevations in the DO range between 300 and 900 m.

There are three major soil types in the DO:
  1. Slate and Schist
  2. Granitic and sandy -- low pH soils resulting from the erosion of granitic rock
  3. Sedimentary.
Soil composition will vary depending on altitude.

Aromatic white varieties (Godello, Treixadura, Dona Blanco, Albarino) comprise 67% of all plantings.

Quinta da Muradella
Jose Luis Matteo, the owner and winemaker at the estate, has been described by Julia Harding MW (writing in as a "skillful and intuitive winemaker." For his part, Jose Luis pursues "wines with fresher notes, mixed wines that reflect the balance of the vineyard and have ... good acidity." It should be noted that that is a challenging endeavor, given the Monterrei climate.

Jose Luis began making wine in 1991 to sell to patrons in his father's shop. Today he owns 14 ha and rents and borrows an additional 10 ha. A total of 36 small plots are spread across various elevations, aspects and soil types. Vineyards are managed as biodynamic but are certified organic, with head-pruned vines planted at 8000/ha.

Muradella Blanco
The Muradella is 100% Treixadura, a Galicia native that is naturally low in acidity and develops high sugar levels. It is generally used as a blending grape to mitigate the racy acidity of the the other whites actively utilized in the region. Its flavor profile includes citrus, apple, pear, and stone fruits.

The vines for this particular wine are 21 years old and reside on quartz soils. The fruit is placed -- 50% whole cluster, 50% whole berry -- into stainless steel tanks where they macerate for 48 hours. The first half of the fermentation (indigenous yeasts) is conducted in the stainless steel tanks after which the material is transferred into 3-year-old, 600 L barrels for completion of fermentation. The wine remains in barrel for 8 to 10 months before decantation into stainless steel tanks for another 12 months of residence. The wine is not filtered prior to bottling.

The 2015 Muradella Blanco had a textured nose: oyster shells, waxy minerality, and fennel. Savory on the palate with herbs and spices in abundance. Seashell flavor. Acidity not as bright as I would have liked. Chalky mineral finish.

The panelists felt that this wine would go well with shellfish. And they priced it at around $80.

This is a cutting-edge wine because of the treatment of this relatively obscure varietal by the "deft, light-handed winemaking of a skillful and intuitive winemaker."

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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