Flying winemaker and Master of Wine Norrel Robertson -known in Spain as “the Flying Scotsman”- settled in Calatayud in 2003 to manage his winemaking commitments both in Spain and southern France. He was so enthralled by the wealth and diversity of Garnacha in Spain, especially in the northeastern Aragón region –where soil, altitude and sun exposure combine in a myriad ways– that he ended up with his very own Garnacha project.
He works mainly with concrete and is progresively reducing oak treatment in his wines. Destemming, gentle extractions usually through bâtonnage (“We want flavour and colour but no harsh tannins”), and working with the lees are other techniques he favours.
He currently produces around 250.000 bottles per year in Calatayud. His entry-level wine, La Multa (6 €) is made from Garnacha bush vines planted at 700-900 metres high in the Ribota river valley. Manga del Brujo (10 €) is a blend of barrel-aged Syrah with concrete-aged Garnacha which shows structure and weight in mid-palate. Es lo que hay (15 €, around 15,000 bottles) is an aromatic (wild herbs, camomile), spicy and fleshy wine made from old Garnacha vines grown on red and grey slate soils with traces of quartzite in the villages of Alarba and Acered, south of Calatayud. Coming from the same sites, El Puño (20 €) is only made in the best vintages and is a singularly juicy and unique wine with a characteristic chicory coffee note and good ageing potential. Dos dedos de frente (21 €) is Rhône-inspired -Syrah with a small Viognier addition.
There is a new range of single-vineyard wines named as is customary in this producer with traditional Spanish expressions. Manda Huevos (“huevos” means eggs in Spanish) is also a nod to the egg-shaped polyethylene tanks where wines are aged. There are two bottlings with this name, which means “it takes courage”: a white made from 40- to 45-year-old Macabeo vines (around €18 in Spain, 3,000 bottles) and a red Garnacha from two vineyards planted in 1908 and 1970 (€18, 6,000 bottles). Los Narros, sourced from a plot at 900m of altitude, is in the pipeline and it will also be aged in polyethylene tanks. All these wines will not be released under the Calatayud appellation, neither will En sus Trece (around 10,000 bottles, €20), a blend of different Garnacha plots grown on schist soils whose first vintage will be 2013.
Outside Calatayud, Robertson makes white wines in several regions. The Cup & Rings Albariño (Rías Baixas) and The Cup & Rings Godello (Monterrei) are sourced from Galicia; in Rueda he makes La Multa Verdejo. In terms of reds, he chose Bullas (southeastern Spain) to make 3.000 Años and Valencia, where he will soon release a new old vine Monastrell and Garnacha Tintorera.