Located just behind Mirasierra, the family restaurant in Mogarraz in the heart of Sierra de Francia in Castilla y León, La Zorra (literally “The Fox”) has notably contributed to the recovery of the winemaking tradition in the area as well as the indigenous red grape Rufete.
In La Zorra’s website, owner Agustín Maíllo recalls his childhood memories and writes about the days when he used to help in his grandfather’s cellar. Starting with the 2010 vintage Agustín found inspiration in "The Fox and the Grapes”, a fable written by Félix María de Samaniego, to name his project. Given his extensive experience in the hospitality industry he was determined to find a “name which was short and easy to remember”. At first, he planned to make wine just for the restaurant, but current production stands at 50,000 bottles.
They grow 20 hectares of vines across various villages in the region. Seven of them are their own and are located in the vicinity of Mogarraz. Bunches are destemmed and fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks except for their barrel fermented white. In the future they want to start using foudres. Over the past years they have reduced extraction considerably to bring out Rufete’s floral, delicate features. Their portfolio of wines includes Rufete single-varietal reds and blends with Tempranillo or Garnacha, which is locally known as Calabrés. The wines can be found in the US through importer De Maison Selections.
The range starts with the fruit-driven, fresh La Zorra (€12.5, 16,000 bottles), a blend of Rufete and Tempranillo that is aged for eight months in barrels. La Vieja Zorra (€19, 8,000 bottles) displays more structure; it includes some Garnacha (Calabrés) in the blend and is aged for up to 13 months. Raro (€12.5, 7,000 bottles) is the name of their single-varietal Rufete; sourced from sandy, granitic soils, its scented character, lively acidity and minerality set it apart from the blends. The new La Moza Rufete (€20), due to be released in September 2016, comes from schist soils and is a very fine example of Rufete with round, well-integrated tannins and plenty of juiciness. The Garnacha single-varietal La Moza Calabrés is sold exclusively in the US.
In the 2013 vintage La Zorra started producing a barrel-fermented white blending White Rufete*, Palomino and Muscat. The name 8 Vírgenes Serranas (Eight Mountain Virgins) comes from an ancient ballad —Sierra de Salamanca is home to one of Europe’s largest concentration of shrines devoted to Virgin Mary.
*While it is not a Rufete mutation, producers favour this name above Verdejo Serrano as it was traditionally called in the region even if it has nothing to do with Rueda’s famous grape.