The three went on sale on September 12. Behind the scenes is Telmo Rodríguez, who three years ago successfully made his debut in this market with Yjar, a red Rioja, and has encouraged other producers to showcase some of Spain's most distinctive terroirs through this fine wine marketplace with over 300 wine merchants and access to 10,000 distributors in more than 170 countries.
He firmly believes in joining forces. "Following the Matador Manifesto and the Wine Growing Encounter, something important has changed in Spain, as we wine growers have started to help each other. I've met people who are willing to bring new wines to La Place and tell new stories. That is why it is such a great experience to present four incredible wines that can explain a country in terms of talent and great vineyards," Rodríguez points out.
The result, according to Rodríguez, was very good, with 80% of the allocations sold on the 12th. And this considering that sales are slowing down against the backdrop of the economic crisis. "We are now entering a difficult period in which we must consolidate and be consistent in the coming vintages in order to gain the confidence of buyers and increase prices," he added.
The three new wines were released alongside Yjar, and through the same group of négociants.
Made at La Granja Ntra. Sra. de Remelluri, Yjar comes from a 3.8 hectare vineyard planted to Tempranillo, Garnacha, Rojal and Graciano, fermented as a field blend. There is a high concentration of carbonates in the soil and the plot has a very specific water supply pattern. The first vintage, 2017, was released at La Place in 2021. The current 2019 consolidates the style of a fragrant, delicate rioja that does not lack structure. It shows excellent aromatic intensity both on the nose and on the palate, where the wine opens smoothly to reveal refined, beautifully wrapped tannins and a long, evocative finish with notes of pink pepper, ripe strawberries and hints of menthol. There is always a touch of freshness in the background, which helps to create an unmistakable expression. This must be Rioja's most charming wine.
Price on release: €150
The perfect headline should be "Jerez at La Place de Bordeaux", but it wouldn't be accurate because unfortified whites below 15% abv are not currently allowed in the DO Jerez-Xérèz-Sherry (work is underway to find a way to include these vinos de pasto, as they were known in the past, and it's only a matter of time before a resolution is announced).
Paradoxically, we can think of no better ambassador for the region. This vino de pasto has the right balance of fruit, soil, flor (veil of yeasts) and even a hint of toasted skins from a brief exposure of the grapes to the sun (the asoleo).
Willy Pérez and Ramiro Ibáñez, arguably the most dynamic winemakers in the Sherry Triangle, are the duo behind the wine, and their joint project, De La Riva, is emerging as a great resource for exploring the history and diversity of the region's fine wines. The style they decided to create for La Place is "a wine with the identity of Jerez, capturing the spirit of the region and moving away from globalized wines." Something subtle and elegant, but with many layers: the full mid-palate you would expect from Macharnudo's distinctive character, the chalky sensation, the saline notes that come from just one year of biological ageing. The challenge was to focus on a global, relatively classic wine consumer," they explained.
The grapes for San Cayetano come from 3.5 hectares of the eponymous plot, which is part of the Macharnudo vineyard and features the characteristic albariza de barajuelas soils. Thanks to its location on a broad north-facing slope, it can provide what Willy and Ramiro call "the paler side of Macharnudo," while retaining the character and identity of a region as classic as Jerez. There are obvious differences from the standard Macharnudo Vino de Pasto in the De La Riva range, which comes from the El Notario vineyard, is aged for a second year under flor and has a more sapid and concentrated feel, almost like a Fino.
Jane Anson, the Bordeaux expert who follows the new releases closely, has written that this is "one of the most exciting wines at La Place this September.” Indeed, the fact that it is a white, and one with a strong personality, has helped it stand out. In addition to its depth and volume, and its saline and chalky notes, it has a fresh, citrusy acidity. But perhaps its most impressive feature is its remarkable finish, as it continues to deliver plenty of flavour for a good number of seconds after swallowing.
Willy and Ramiro are particularly proud that a vino de pasto has been recognized as a great white, because here [in Jerez] it is often seen as Sherry's little sibling. "A great vineyard can produce a great white wine all by itself."
Price on release: 75 €
Given that Galicia is strongly associated with white wines, the release of a red wine at La Place must have seemed quite exotic. Fernando González Riveiro, owner and alma mater of Algueira, was delighted to accept Telmo Rodríguez's challenge to showcase at La Place a historic wine region known for its mountain vineyards with multiple exposures and elevations, its own grape varieties and distinctive soils.
"We embraced modernity: a cuvée blending six grape varieties that reflects my commitment to viticulture and the recovery of old vineyards," explains González Riveiro. He considers himself to be in a golden period, as he is beginning to see the results of all his hard work. His plots are reaching maturity and, after his experiences with varietal wines, he has enough grapes to start making blends. This comes with the added challenge of working with varieties with varying ripening cycles, most of which do not lend themselves to co-fermentation and require long, challenging harvests.
The blend, made with the help of Telmo Rodríguez and his partner at Cía de Vinos, Pablo Eguzkiza, consists of 66% Mencía, 20% Brancellao, 6% Souson, 4% Caíño and 4% Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet). Except for the co-fermentation of Mencía with Tintorera, the varieties were fermented separately. In fact, they are grown in different areas of Doade and Abeleda, on both sides of the river Sil. Algueira has always favoured slate over granite, and this wine benefits from a wide range of soils, including gneiss, slate with quartz, with high iron content or mixed with clay. The grapes were foot-trodden with a partial use of whole bunches. The wine was aged for 24 months in French oak barrels and a 2,000-litre foudre.
The wine develops beautifully in the glass, with plenty of herbal nuances and sour cherries against a slightly wild, dark background. There are more cherries with chocolate on the palate, but the herbal side remains, adding a remarkable freshness. Refined texture, with small grainy tannins and evocative wet soil aromas on the finish. Beautiful expression and character.
Price on release: 75 €
This is the second wine released by Telmo Rodríguez at La Place, but this time it comes from Cía Vinos, the winery he founded with Pablo Eguzkiza. The major news regarding their Ribera del Duero estate is the arrival of Jean-Guillame Prats as a shareholder. An old friend of Rodríguez, he is a very well known figure in Bordeaux, having managed Cos d'Estournel, LVMH’s Estates & Wines or Domaines Barons de Rothschild-Lafite. For the last two years, he has been working as a consultant and manager of his family's wineries in the region.
Matallana is one of the projects developed by Cía. de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez whose style has taken longer to establish. More than 15 years have passed from its creation in 1998 to evolve into a blend of soils in the 2014 vintage. The vineyards are located in five villages that form an imaginary axis from north to south across the Duero River: Sotillo de la Ribera, Roa, Fuentecén, Fuentemolinos and Pardilla.
They own 22 hectares of vineyards, seven of which are old vines. The new plantings follow the old style: field blends of goblet-trained vines from local plant material. Accordingly, Tempranillo is mixed with Navarro (Garnacha), Valenciana (Robal), Rojal or white Albillo. The mixture of soils includes sand with fine gravel, boulders, red clay with quartz or white soils reminiscent of albarizas.
Production barely reaches 20,000 bottles because they discard many batches to focus on the highest quality. The 2020 Matallana is not a typical Ribera. It is less restrained, with plenty of fruit and a remarkable aromatic depth that prolongs the finish considerably. It reveals blue fruits (blackberry, blueberry) over a background of floral notes and brandied chocolate. On the palate, it stands out for its breadth, depth and texture, with firm but nicely wrapped tannins.
Price on release: 75 €
Other Spanish releases this month include the 2020 vintage of Real de Asúa Carromaza (Cvne, Rioja) and Tapias de Marqués de Riscal (Rioja) and the 2018 vintage of Vivaltus (Ribera del Duero). The first two wines debuted at La Place last year, while Vivaltus has been present since 2021.
There are a total of six Spanish wines in the September sale, which traditionally focuses on international wines and non-Bordeaux French labels. The Spanish presence remains modest, in line with Chile but behind Argentina and far from the more than 30 brands coming from Italy this month. The red Alma from Bodega Contador (Rioja), which made its debut at La Place this year, was released in March.