ENATE Helping Put Somontano On The Map
by Andrew Chalk
Among the many excellent wine regions of northern Spain, Somontano has travelled under the radar hitherto. I can’t remember seeing one on a Dallas wine list and they don’t exactly get end cap prominence in retail space. Although given D.O. status just two years after nearby Ribera del Duero, the area has not obtained anything close to the international familiarity, let alone renown, of the latter.
The winery ENATE is trying to change that with its line of international and Spanish varietals competitively priced and competitively made. Head winemaker Jesus Artagona held a virtual tasting last week and introduced five of their top sellers. Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon rosado, Tempranillo, and Tempranillo Crianza.
The estate is 1250 acres in the 10,000 acre D.O.P. Somontano area. The Pyrannees, 20 miles from the estate, dominate the northern perimeter of the area, providing shelter from northern winds and creating its continental climate.
Approved red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Merlot, Moristel, Parraleta, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Tempranillo. Approved whites are Alcañón, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Macabeo, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Chardonnay, 2019, Block 234.
Fermented at low temp. (14-15 C). To keep aromas (fennel, and other green vegetable). No barrel ageing. Full malolactic fermentation.
Appearance: Mid gold. Green apple, golden apples, pineapple,
Will age 2-3 years. Balsamic notes increase.
Palate: Pineapple, mango, citrus.
Good body, lively acid,
Grown at 50m. Other vineyards 300m. Gewürztraminer. does not like calcareous soils. Colorosis (iron deficit). Likes altitude. 500-600mm rain.
Nose: Citrus, banana, rose petal,
Palate: Good weight on the palate. Citrus, lime,
Rosado, 2019, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Skin contact 6-8 hours.
Appearance: Light cherry;
Palate: Vibrant acidity.
Appearance: Translucent ruby/purple;
Nose: Fruit forward. Light fruit. No oak. Raspberry.
Palate: Grippy tannins.
Crianza, 2015, Tempranillo-Cabernet Sauvignon
9 months in 2/3 French and 1/3 American. 15-20% new. Kept up to 6 years. Medium toast except CS (heavy toast staves);
2/3 CS- 1/3 Temp.
Appearance: Opaque ruby
Nose: Cedar. Forest floor. Thyme. Leather. Toast.
Palate: Leather, pyrazines. Good finish.
The Crianza won my prize. It invites comparison with neighboring Rioja. I spent a week in Rioja’s commercial town of Logroño at this time last year and table stakes for evening wine there is a crianza level (oak-aged) tempranillo. This wine could slip right into the mix, which tells you a lot about its character.