In 1994, gastronomy in Spain consisted of paella and sangria; One food and one drink known the world over as ‘Spanish’. In that same year, Telmo Rodriguez began traveling across the country in search of workable vineyards to create a more dynamic Spanish wine landscape, one that better exuded the characteristics of the land.
Celebrating his 25th year of making wine, Telmo now grows 43 different varietals planted over some 80 hectares of land on 355 different plots. His portfolio is rooted in tradition yet also pushes boundaries with modern vibrancy.
SPANISH PATRIOTISM: PERSONIFIED
Last month, Telmo visited Western Canada to showcase his wines and proudly wave the Spanish flag. During his tasting in Calgary, he boisterously pronounced his country’s superiority over France. “Hermitage is a joke,” he chuckled when comparing a photo of the visually stunning 1,000+ kilometres of coastal Galician terroir.
Yet, no amount of patriotism can diminish the hurdles faced by winemakers over the years. The Spanish wine landscape has an image problem because of its price point. When compared against France for instance, the cost of land is far less which is a major factor when it comes to the price of wine. In some scenarios, the land is much harder to cultivate and the terrain much more difficult to navigate. But the market doesn’t justify an increase in prices, so to a certain extent, the Spanish wine industry remains humble and hard-working. This was also evident nearly 2 years ago when I explored Rioja during the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
On the flip side of that coin – even if he could – Telmo doesn’t want to charge insane amounts for a bottle of wine. Nor does he want to spend that himself. If anyone has $1,000 to spend, he’d much rather see a family go on holiday then buy a bottle of wine.
THE SPANISH QUIPS CONTINUED
Before we began our wine tasting journey through Spain, we were treated to another charming quote of Telmo’s. This time, one that embodies his opinion on the natural wine trend. “Natural wine is like raising kids and telling them they don’t have to go to school. It’s like saying ‘do what you want, but don’t screw it up’.” I was a bit taken aback. I loved that this international renowned trail blazing wine renegade was so blunt about the difficulties of making wine. Let alone natural wine. I loved and appreciated his honesty.
LET’S POUR – SHALL WE?
GABO DO XIL GODELLO 2018, DO Valdeorras (sorry, no picture of this one)
A phenomenal aromatic start to the tasting. Ripe fruit flavours of melon and pear with a balanced green leafiness in the background. Light bodied and refreshing with broad acidity.
BASA BLANCO 2017, DO Rueda
A light, citrus forward white made from 90% Verdejo and 10% Viura. Lively acidity, green apple aromas and flavours with a slightly salty/saline finish.
ALMUVEDRE 2017, DO Alicante
100% Monastrell – 100% worth every affordable penny (about $15 in Alberta). Jammy red fruit with some spice and black licorice that round out the blackberry pie profile.
GABO DO XIL MENCIA 2016, DO Valdeorras
A stony and mineral undertone to the nearly-ripe raspberry and currant flavours. Light bodied with a hint of spice and green olive, perfect with a slight chill in the summer.
CORRIENTE 2015, DOCa Rioja
Easy drinking, red and black berry aromas and flavours backed by a myriad of local dried herbs. High acidity with a welcomed tannin structure that makes it easy to pair with anything you wish.
GAGO 2015, DO Toro
Everyone is going gaga for Gago. This Tempranillo is dark fruits galore with a rounded mouthfeel and chewy structure. Perfectly integrated oak makes this a solid choice for any day of the week.
PEGASO GRANITO 2011, VT Castilla y León
100% Garnacha grown in granite soils. Bright, lifted, lively acidity and moderate tannin. The flavour composition screams berry fruit salad and hits every corner of the mouth.
PEGASO PIZARRA 2011, VT Castilla y León
100% Garnacha grown in slate soils. A ripe profile of sweet cherry and cranberry preserves with a touch of spice and pepper. A lush and full bodied mouthfeel with a lingering warmth.
A SINCERE THANK YOU
…to Lifford Wine & Spirits for the invitation as well as Metrovino for hosting the tasting. But most of all, thanks to Telmo for travelling all the way to Canada to share a glimpse into his vast portfolio. It exemplifies his passion and provides a peak into the Spanish wine landscape that we can all but dream about.