Pla de Gates Blanc comes from Mas Mares vineyards located in the Cap de Creus National Park where Anna Espelt has restored the natural biodiversity of her families land. Hand harvested fruit, natural yeast fermentation aging for 6 months in cement eggs.
Blend: 80% Grenache Blanc, 20% Grenache Gris
Anna Espelt started out working on her family’s estate, Espelt Viticultors in 2005 which is located in the DO Empordà. Having studied habitat restoration and organic farming, Anna has always sought to bring her values in line with the farming practices at her family’s large estate of 200 hectares. While managing her family’s operations, she has also been pursuing something more personal – a project focused on 25 hectares of vineyards collectively called Mas Marés located within the Cap de Creus Nature Reserve of Spain. While hiking around this area, she not only recognized the potential to revitalize some ailing vineyard sites, but she discovered evidence of human interaction with this ancient landscape dating back to the early bronze age. At once, Anna knew this place was special, not only for the wine that it could produce but for the very fact that humans had been interacting with this place for millennia.
When asked to describe her work in Cap Creus, Anna states that it is a land of granite, wind, blue skies, and the smell of wild herbs and sea spray. While it may seem odd that she doesn’t mention vineyards in this description, it is largely because vines have been an integral part of this landscape shaped in equal parts by nature and human hands. In the US, our National Parks strive to minimize the impact of civilization, whereas, in this part of Catalunya, there is no escaping it. What might seem like a relic of a glacier is, in fact, a standing stone erected by human hands over 4000 years ago for some long-forgotten purpose. With Anna’s dedication to organic and regenerative farming, these vineyards can once again be brought into balance with the surrounding flora and fauna. Through her work, Anna is paying tribute to the thousands of years of interaction between her ancestors and the land they’ve inhabited.
White grapes are used in two famous types of Spanish wine, Sherry and Cava, but we will limit this discussion to still whites. Let’s begin with perhaps the best known and most highly regarded internationally, Albariño . Produced in the region of Rías Baixas, just above Portugal in northwestern Spain, Albariño typically sees no or little oak and is medium to medium-plus in body. Aroma and flavor notes often include citrus and peach, often with subtle floral notes and a suggestion of sea spray, giving the wine a zesty feel. Often bottled as a single varietal, Albariño is sometimes blended with other indigenous grapes like Loureira and Treixadura. Try one of these Spanish whites from Forjas del Salnes.
Let’s look at a few other Spanish white wines. Godello also hails from northwestern Spain and presents a profile of grapefruit, minerality and a slight smoky quality. Enjoy a bottle from Bodegas Avancia. The region of Rueda, northwest of Madrid, is home to Verdejo , which makes refreshing, un-oaked white wines whose herbal vibrancy recalls Sauvignon Blanc . Protos makes a tasty version. Up north in the Basque region, we find the wine called Txakoli (sometimes called Txakolina). Pronounced “sha-ko-LEE,” it’s made from a local grape called Hondurrabi Zuri and is light, fresh, citrusy, dry … and with razor sharp acidity that makes it a fantastic partner with local seafood and tapas. Ameztoi Gertariako is a good Spanish white wine producer to check out.
The Penedѐs region, best known for the oceans of delicious Cava it sends to the world, also produces still Spanish whites, sometimes from international varieties like Chardonnay , and often from the same grapes used for Cava. These include Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo. Avaline produces a fine example of Penedes white. Finally, we visit the Rioja region. While it is historically and internationally famous for its reds, Rioja also produces fine Spanish white wines. These are usually based on Viura (the local name for Macabeo) and make good everyday sippers, although some aged versions can be stunningly complex. A good place to start is the white Rioja from Bodegas Muga.
As you can see, Spanish white wines offer a vast opportunity for exploration!