The wine of the week: Las Moradas de San Martín Albillo Real Eco 2021

"There are as many wonders in a glass of wine as at the bottom of the sea.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
28 May 2023 Sunday 05:12
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The wine of the week: Las Moradas de San Martín Albillo Real Eco 2021

"There are as many wonders in a glass of wine as at the bottom of the sea." This phrase from the story Las Horas Muertas, by the writer Óscar Sipán, presides over the Albillo Real ECO 2021 label of Las Moradas de San Martín.

From this Madrid winery they understand that "literature and wine go hand in hand to convey the essence of our wines like no other". And they have also done so through writers such as Lorenzo Silva, Marta Rivera, Ramón Acín, Ángeles Caso, Luz Gabás, Luis Zueco or Andrés Trapiello.

In fact, Las Moradas, which gives its name to this wine, is the title of the last book (1577) written by the Carmelite nun Santa Teresa de Jesús. In addition, the wine from this area, which was very famous, is cited by the most important writers in the Spanish Golden Age.

There was no writer or nobleman who did not prostrate himself in the 16th century before these wines. From this winery in San Martín de Valdeiglesias (at the western end of the Community of Madrid) it is announced as a wine from organic farming and suitable for vegans that stands out for its production without interventionism. It is a white made with a historical pure variety that, from Las Moradas de San Martín, they assure that it has a lot of value “because of its uniqueness”.

It is made with Albillo Real, an autochthonous variety, in mountain vineyards, on granite soils. It is a wine project located in the Pago de los Castillejos, where the Community of Madrid meets the north of Toledo and the south of Ávila, in the outskirts of the Sierra de Gredos.

The climate and the special soils of this area allow them to produce "wines with a lot of personality and quality". Its vineyards are brushed by the northwesterly winds. Las Moradas de San Martín is located within the ZEPA 56 area (Special Protection Area for Birds), a landscape setting of great environmental value thanks to its native flora and fauna.

From this winery of the DO Vinos de Madrid they assure that it is "a true natural lung, with a very clean atmosphere that is respected and maintained, carrying out preventive treatments with natural products". In the winery, for example, the water is only used for cleaning and, later, it is reused to irrigate new plantations.

"At Las Moradas we always strive to recover the varieties of this area and to be very authentic," says Isabel Galindo Espí, the winery's technical director. Albillo Real ECO 2021 is made with Albillo Real grapes from the El Pañuelo, Juez, Pasaderas and Andrinoso plots. They are vineyards planted at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level in the 1930s and 1940s. They practice purely organic and biodynamic viticulture "with respect for the variety and its environment".

In addition, the harvest of this variety is semi-nocturnal, subsequently selecting each bunch. A double harvest is carried out per plot. First, the bunches that are most exposed and golden by the sun are harvested, and a week later those that are most protected by the plant itself. And upon arrival at the winery, the grapes go through a selection table.

The Albillo Real is a very early variety. Its cultivation is called "early" for this reason. “It is a magnificent variety, which we almost lost, and which we are working to recover, since it produces very different wines. It envelops your mouth and is very gastronomic, and there are very few white varieties with this profile: slightly oxidative, with slight touches of bitterness or saltiness", points out Isabel Galindo, who was one of the pioneers two decades ago of what has been given to known as 'the new Gredos'. It is a grape with an elegant guard.

The latest edition of this white is the result of an excellent vintage both in quality and production. It is a 100% organic wine and suitable for vegans, which is obtained from several elaborations to achieve the greatest possible complexity and which this year, as a novelty, has included an early harvest batch that was sunny for its production.

"In the 2021 vintage, as a new incorporation, we have worked with an early harvest (of around 5%) with more acidity and less alcohol content, which we put in the sun until its alcoholic degree was equal to that of the rest," explains the winemaker. Elizabeth Galindo. And she adds that, "although we lost approximately 40% of its weight, we achieved greater concentration and a different aromatic intensity, which has allowed us to produce a very complex royal albillo with a clear personal touch."

The 2021 harvest began in Las Moradas in San Martín precisely with the Albillo Real variety from Madrid. 2021 was characterized by a mild winter, until the Philomena storm in January, when a historic snowfall fell and temperatures dropped significantly in the first weeks of the year. Later, in spring, there were frosts in the lower areas, in the valley, but they did not affect their plots.

Spring weather lasted until mid-July, with cooler June and early July and more storms than normal. For its part, the normal heat and high temperatures of the second half of July advanced the maturation of the albillo. Thus, the heat waves suffered at the end of July and the beginning of August brought forward the harvest date by one week above average, beginning on August 9 with the grapes in the sun and the rest on August 13.

The vinification of the Albillo Real ECO is carried out with the least possible intervention, "to extract the best of the variety" they say from this winery in San Martín de Valdeiglesias. They vinify by plots. Some are traditional elaborations and others by hyperoxidation. They carry out the pressing of whole bunches and the vatting until the alcoholic fermentation begins naturally, with the native yeasts of the grapes. After fermentation, it was aged for 8 months in used 500-litre French oak barrels, with bâtonnages every full moon, the last one in December. 22% of the wine was made without added sulphites. Finally, the wine was cleaned by means of the natural cold of winter and racking. It was neither clarified nor filtered. In addition, in this latest vintage the weight of the bottle has been reduced, as part of the winery's firm commitment to sustainability. Also its label, made with recyclable materials, is responsible.

From the winery they say that this 2021 is "an author's wine, careful and artistic". Sample number 5,981 of a total of 19,324 75 cl bottles tasted. Straw yellow in color with golden reflections. Not very aromatic, but with body. It stands out with notes of ripe fruit (apple and peach) and blood orange peel. With a glyceric and silky tactile sensation, and good acidity.

Aging in wood is very well integrated. With a slightly bitter finish (raw almond) and mineral (flint and a saline tip). It is long, with a good balance and with 13.5º of alcohol. Isabel Galindo points out that it is very gastronomic. The winery affirms that this wood-aged white is "perfect" to pair with exotic dishes such as Japanese or Peruvian, and that it harmonizes very well with oily fish, as well as cheeses or white meats. Winemaker Isabel Galindo likes to accompany it with a red tuna tataki or sushi. It is recommended to serve it between 8 and 12°C.

The 2020 vintage of this Albillo Real ECO was chosen as the 'Best White Wine with Barrel' by the Spanish Association of Wine Journalists and Writers (AEPEV), in the XIV Edition of the Best Wines and Spirits of Spain. It is a contest that had more than a thousand brands proposed in its first phase, of which a total of 150 wines and vermouths, and 45 spirits in the 15 chapters to which they opted, went to the final. This is the second recognition that this wine has received from the AEPEV (the 2019 vintage was also awarded) and the only one that has gone to a wine from the DO Vinos de Madrid.

Las Moradas de San Martín, founded in 1999, is a winery that produces some 60,000 bottles per vintage. Its maximum capacity is 80,000 bottles per year. The United States, Finland and the Netherlands are its main international markets, although they are growing a lot in Mexico and also in South Korea. It belongs to the Enate Group, which also includes the DO Somontano Laus and Enate wineries. The barrels they use are French and Hungarian oak, with different capacities (225, 300 and 500 liters). Every year they are renewed by 20%. They also have foudres with a capacity of 1,450 liters that they use for coupages and refinement of the wines. They have endeavored to recover the cultivation that existed in the area in the 12th century, betting on the native varieties Garnacha Tinta, with hundred-year-old vineyards, and Albillo Real.

The winery, located less than an hour from Madrid, has opened up to wine tourism. They offer everything from tastings accompanied by an appetizer of Iberian ham and cheese to pruning workshops or visits to the winery and the Monastery of Pelayos de la Presa, from the 12th century.