Finca El Molar
To reach this delightful vineyard and winery, run by Rus Jimenez, is reminiscent of a journey to Finisterre (the end of the earth) although, in fact, we are in the south-central part of Manchuela. The dirt road shakes the bones as it traverses the rocky terrain which induces a sense of excitement which is elevated further when I finally arrive in the pouring rain. Yes, it's summer in southern Spain and, for the second day, there are very heavy showers!
The estate has 30 hectares of vineyards, all organic, planted with an assortment of varieties including Macabeo, Bobal, Graciano and the little seen, indigenous, Moravia Agria. This red variety has large berries with high acidity, and usually produces wines of modest alcohol.
The vines are on calcareous soil at an altitude between 2,132 and 2,460 feet, giving the wines astounding and outstanding minerality (this article is not the place to discuss the minerality/salinity controversy). Regenerative viticulture is to the fore. The estate also grows organic olives and pistachios.
Winemaking is careful, thoughtful and generally with low intervention. For red wines the crushed grapes usually undergo a cold soak at 4°C (39.2°F) to extract colour and aromas, but not hard tannins. Fermentation takes place with natural yeasts and, following draining of the free run wine, a basket press used to extract the remaining juice. Maturation takes pace in French and American oak barrels for up to 12 months.
All the Finca El Molar wines tasted were really good, but three warrant a special mention. The 2021 Macabeo is an orange wine (10 days skin contact) that is rich and full, but delightfully refreshing - no bitterness at all! The 2020 Selección is made with equal quantities of Merlot, Syrah, Bobal and Graciano. This is a seamless wine that gains complexity in the glass and is oh so drinkable, with such gentle tannins. However, the star wine for me is the Pet-Nat. Made from Moravia Agria, this delightfully vibrant sparkling rosé, in the brut style, shows a melange of soft red fruits and a hint of blackberries. There is just a little autolysis, and this is something that Rus will be developing in future vintages. Of course, the wine is naturally slightly cloudy having not been riddled and disgorged. I think this is the most exciting Pet Nat from Spain that I have yet tasted!