An encounter with Telmo Rodriguez

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If you would ask me who were the leading ambassadors of the new Spanish wine industry, I could answer these three: Peter Sissek, Alvaro Palacios and Telmo Rodriguez. In each of their respective regions, they were captains of industry. With Pingus, Peter Sisseck demonstrated that you could capture the essence of a terroir with old exceptional vines. Similarly, Alvaro Palacios resurrected the Priorat and Bierzo with Garnacha and Mencia respectively.

Our final character is Telmo Rodriguez. Telmo is one of the best  winemakers of Spain.  In a similar manner  to Alvaro Palacios, he travelled and mastered his skills  for many years before returning home to Rioja, where he took  to the next level  a wine that was already outstanding, Remelluri.  In addition he has  supervised diverse négociant projects throughout Spain. One of his most acclaimed projects is in Valdeorras, Galicia.

Ladeiras do Xil is the name of this exciting venture. Since 2002, he has been working miraculously 23 ha of steep mountain vineyards in the Santa Cruz village in the province of Ourense.

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I was recently invited to a Telmo Rodriguez masterclass by its Canadian Importer, Trialto. The purpose was to discuss the Ladeiras do Xil project. Frankly, it was a fantastic enriching experience for myself since I am more familiar with his Remelluri and Matallana proyect.

It is always a pleasure to taste the wines of Telmo Rodriguez. He is like a horse whisperer for the wine terroir. A modern interpreter of the past with an avant-garde vision of the future. I always get goosebumps when I heard him speak. I was also very pleased to know that he is a big fan of Rhone wines. We have that in common. You can actually feel the Northern Rhone influence in his wines.

Tasting Notes:

Gaba do Xil Godello 2017 $21.60  SAQ # 11896113

From the Valdeorras wine growing area, specifically the sites of  A Pedreira, A Torgueira, O Barreiro, Valerio, Valdemas. Monovarietal Godello at high altitude ( 400-500 m). Red, clay and slate soils.

This exciting Godello exhibits a very aromatic nose redolent of ripe peach fruit with hints of  fresh-cut grass with a  smoky and flint point. On the palate, it is creamy with a firm acidity.

Branco de Santa Cruz 2015 ( Not available in the Quebec market)

A field blend of Godello, Treixadura and Dona Branca from the Ladeiras do Bibei in Valdeorras. Different sites around the Santa Cruz town. Granite soils with very low yields.

A fantastic nose that remind me of the wine Silex by Didier Dagueneau. Beautiful nuances of silex, slate and wet rock character. With aeration, aromas of white tea and nectarine develops as well. Elegant and well-balanced, it could age for a few years.

Reds

As Caborcas 2015 $77.25  ( 4 cases coming soon in the Quebec Market)

2.5 hectares of vineyards in the in the town of Santa Cruz. Granite floors, poor and shallow, located in endless terraces on steep terrain that is on the banks of the Bibei River. A field blend of Mencía, Merenzao, Sousón, Godello,  and Garnacha. Aging in small oak barrels, stainless steel and foudres. 

Smoky with fieldberry and savoury notes of cured meat, star anise and black olive tapenade.  On the mouth, very elegant with a lot of depth and concentration Firm acidity. Polished midpalate with satiny tannins. Blind tasted, I would probably guess that this is a Crozes Hermitage. Very exciting wine.

O Diviso 2015. $77.25 ( 2 cases coming soon in the Quebec Market)

According to Telmo, this wine is probably the most authentic expression of Valdeorras in the Bilbei hills. A field blend of  Mencía, Brancellao, Sousón, Garnacha and other red and white varieties. Fermentation in small wooden barrels and a soft aging in foudres.

Complex nose with a lot of depth. Aromas redolent of seaweed, licorice and cardamom. On the palate, fruit driven yet with deep pepper notes.  Very elegant with soft tannins and a fluid finale. This wine reminds of me an electric St-Joseph

Falcoeira ” A Capilla” 2015 $77.25  ( 4 cases to come in the Quebec Market)

From the Falcoeira site in Santa Cruz, a field blend of Mencía, Brancellao, Sousón, Garnacha and other varieties. Made with indigenous yeast and aged in a mix of foudres and wood barriques.

My favorite red from the trio. Dark and decadent with complex notes of smoke, petrol and other animal notes with a vivid note of black pepper. Meaty tannins and a magnificent  structure. A very long balsamic finale. Definitely, the Hermitage of Galicia!!. 

 

 

Telmo Rodriguez: Making wines with soul

At some point or another if you are an amateur of Spanish wine, you have heard the name Telmo Rodriguez. A man ahead of his time, with many facets-from businessman to surfer.  He is the knight of shining armour of Spanish autoctonous varieties. Through his company,  Compañía de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez he has created some of Spain’s most emblematic and original wines.
Telmo has quite an international background. After studying enology in Bordeaux, he did stints at Cos d’Estournel and Petit Village. After that he continued in the Rhone Valley his journey working with Chave and Trevallon.  It was in the Rhone that he discovered terroir driven wines.During his academic formation he made friends with Pablo Eguzkika which became his partner in his current wine company.

Telmo started his wine venture in 1994. The beginnings were quite difficult. At the moment, the Spanish wine industry was wore interested in producing quantity rather than quality. In addition, at that time there was crazy fashion was to pull old indigenous grape varieties and replace them with international french ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon. With humble means, Telmo started his proyect by looking back at the heritage of Spanish wine. His company became the defenders of the old and authentic vines.

Currently his company has proyects across many appellations in Spain. They include Alicante, Cigalas, Malaga, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Rueda, Toro and Valdeorras.  Some of his well known wines include Dehesa Gago, Basa, Gaba do Xil, Viña 105, Gago, Gazur, Almuvedre.

Lucky for us, Telmo will be in Montreal on September 8th to present some of his wines  the Galerie du Gouverneur. The event will be hosted by the SAQ Signature. The price is $195 per person and includes a gastronomic supper made by Sebastien Muniz, celebrated chef of Montreal  Spanish restaurant Meson and Tapeo. The wine list include:

Mountain Blanco 2013, Sierras de Málaga
El Transistor 2014, Rueda
Pegaso Pizarra 2010, Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla y León
Matallana 2005, Ribera del Duero
Altos Lanzaga 2011, Rioja
Granja Remelluri Gran Reserva 2009, Rioja
Molino Real 2009, Málaga

For those fortunate to attend, it will be a chance to taste three of Spain’s cult wines. These are Matallana, Altos Lanzaga and Molino Real.


Matallana is the flagship wine of the portfolio of Telmo Rodriguez. A 100% tinto fino from old and new vines from  Ribera del Duero vineyards in Sotillo, Roa, Fuentecen; Fuentemolinos, Pardilla  and Fuentelisendo. This is an incredible sensual yet powerful wine aged 15-18 months in french oak. See my post on souvenirs from an old tasting salon for the tasting notes of the 2000 vintage.

Altos de Lanzaga is another exceptional cuvee from the region of Rioja. This wine is born from four plots of old head peruned vines in the village of Lanciego at 500-600 meters altitude, which are worked biodynamically. The wine ferments in 3,000 kilo oak vats with wild yeasts for 20 days and matures in 1,500 and 225 liter oak barrels for 18 months. 

An avant garde Rioja as it best. The nose is full of glorious dark plums and heady blackberry jam with stewed prunes.  On the mouth, it is silky, chunky with a fine tannins structure. Flavors bring to mind more blackberry and cassis aromas with a Madagascar vanilla finish. Drink until 2025


Molino Real is  a very concentrated moscatel wine. This is the fruit of bush vines near Malaga. It has spent 20 months in new french barriques. The fruit is such of an amazing quality that you can barely feel the wood except for a savoury spicy thin coating. This is a cult Spanish wine with strict allocations across the world and ranks among the finest wines of Spain. 
If you are in Montreal, dont miss this chance to meet Telmo and taste some of his wines. For sure, you wont be dissapointed.

Until next me and you have heard it in El meson del Vino.

Gaba do Xil Mencia 2013

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As time passes, I am learning to appreciate more the flavors and nuances of Mencia. When Mencia is grown in granite and schist terraces from appellations like Valdeorras, it can develop pure black fruit notes verging towards a peppery and violet bouquet. It brings to mind a Syrah from the Northern Rhone such as Cornas or Cote Rotie.

Telmo Rodriguez is a well known Spanish winemaker. He is famous for making wine in some of Spain’s best terroirs.  They include: Pago la Jara in Toro,  Matallana in Ribera del Duero and Altos de Lanzaga in Rioja. These are some of the icons in the Spanish wine scene.

His latest  project is in  Valdeorras, even though it was the first region he visited in the early 1990s. After travelling  several local towns, he formed a strong impression, especially after the encounter with a grower who still pruned his vines using an tool from the Middle Ages. Telmo believes that the meeting with the grower motivated him to work in the region.

The vineyard where he started is called La Falcoeira, in the town of Santa Cruz. It is an ancient vineyard, coplanted with a mixture of varieties, but Telmo Rodriguez has focused its on two native varieties, Godello and Mencia.  Dotted with chestnut trees mixed with rockrose, the old granitic terraces barely have minimum space to squeeze in the odd row of vines, following the waves of the mountain that lead into the River Sil.

Gaba do Xil Mencia 2013. SAQ # 11861771. $19.00

Aromas of dark fruits with olives, herbs and confit violets. Brings to mind a cote rotie rather than a mencia. On the mouth, full body, with a good fruit extraction. Fresh and velvety in the mouth. Love its cured meat and barnyard aromas. Long with a caressing finish. Food Idea: Bison hamburgers with swiss cheese and mushrooms-onions.  93/10

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Gaba do Xil Godello 2014. SAQ # 11896113. $19.55

Aromas of Japanese pear with green apple and citric fruits. On the mouth, medium body. Refreshing and round, almost a creamy texture. Flavors bring to mind nuances of white balsamic condiment and ground fennel seeds. Nice mineral moutfeel.  Harmonious finale. Food idea: Linguine with clams. 95\100