When I speak of Andalucia, Spain, what does your imagination conjure up? For me, my mind immediately pictures searing dry heat that can only be escaped under the vast awnings of family run bars; fried fish and olives served with a tall cool glass of fino sherry; tattered papers clumsily adhered to glass windows beckoning passersby to the next grand horse competition; outside markets filled with fresh herbs, seafood and local produce; and of course, flamenco. What my mind doesn’t conjure up is table wine!
But alas, there is a local grape unknown to the majority of the world, and it’s creating some rather incredible and thought-provoking wines. Called Tintilla de Rota, this indigenous grape is grown in a variety of soils in the Jerez production zone; and more specifically, in the town of Rota. Having accidentally stumbled across this variety a few months ago, we asked the owners of Huerta de Albala to kindly send us a sample of their wine Barbazul, which happens to be made with the Tintilla de Rota grape.
According to Louis Boutinot of Huerta de Albala,
Traditionally Tintilla has been used for the elaboration of Mistela,which is basically a fortified wine with various additives. The grape’s use as an unfortified wine is rare. It’s naturally low yield meant that quantity conscious Jerez farmers preferred to plant higher yielding varieties to produce table wine. However it’s potential and uniqueness has always been recognized and was noticed by the quality driven Vicente Taberner (owner of Huerta de Albalá). Most large bodegas in Jerez such as Osborne, González Byass, Domecq have the grape planted, what they do with it is another matter.
As for the origin; it shares the same DNA as Graciano of Rioja fame. Which of the varietals came first is debatable. One major difference between these two varietals is the yield, which is far lower with Tintilla. We yield around 2.5kg from our young vines, but as you will see from the attached document the yields can reduce to 0.5 kg depending on vine age and vineyard site. The fundamental characteristics it gives too a wine is vibrant colour, medium acidity, low p.h. and the high content of Terpenes which can result in great aromatics. This grape makes great joven wine which when added to other longer lasting varietals can make unique wines that will develop for 4-5 years.
The Barbazul 2007 shows stewed dark red fruit intertwined with bold anise, blackberry and dark spice aromas. In the mouth, the wine is light and fresh with great raspberry touches, medium to light acidity and silky fine tannins. We love this wine for its unique character, and the simple fact it exists. And though this grape is grown and elaborated by other wineries, few are pushing it to its full capacity like Huerta de Albala.
Although I’ve seen a few dozen Spanish tasting notes on the Barbazul, and a handful of English ones, I realize that very few of you out there have had the privilege of trying it. That said, if you have, we’d love to know your thoughts. And if you haven’t, would you be interested in getting your hands on this rather obscure varietal?
Huerta de Albala
Crta CA 6105, Km 4
Apartado de correos 320
11630 Arcos de la Frontera
Tel. (+34) 647 746 048
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