Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Raul Perez, a Spanish Winemaking Legend, makes 'Cult Wines', including Sketch by Philip S. Kampe



 

Raul Perez, (43) is a Spanish Winemaking Legend by Philip S. Kampe

Imagine being taken captive by aliens You are in another galaxy somewhere in space
You are thirsty. A wine glass appears with a bright gold colored liquid. You drink it and have no clue as to what you are drinking.

It could be wine or it could be a taste you have never had before. The glass has the word Godello on it. And the name Ultreia La Claudina 2010 appears on the outside of a bottle that is floating in space.

The taste lingers on your palate--and you want more, but, you really don't know what you are drinking.

Well, that is how I felt when I sampled several white wines from the Raul Perez collection. I sampled 41 wines (red and white) in all and was overly intrigued by all of the wines, especially the whites.

I have written bits and pieces about the wines of Raul Perez in the past. I am quoted for saying the reds are 'Over the Top' and the whites are from 'Outer Space'.

Raul’s wine history is simple. He worked on his family vineyard in Bierzo (northwest Spain), Bodegas Castro Ventosa, in Bierzo until he was 31, then moved out, so he could  develop his winemaking skills.

Raul’s philosophy of winemaking pushes boundaries. He is driven and his wines prove it. When you meet Raul, you can see it in his eyes. Raul says in broken English, “Perfection with risks” is my theme.

Meeting Raul Perez was like meeting one of the Beatles.

His wine is his music and his songs are unique.

Raul employs winemaking methods that are out of the ordinary. He submerges
his wine underwater. Yes, you read that correctly. For 60 days the bottles are suspended in a wire cage 60 feet below the waters surface. The wines age underwater. After the wine is raised out of the water, it is stored in concrete egg-shaped barrels that use gravity on the lees to age wines.

Raul is known for using grapes from old vineyard plots. Aging wine underwater acts like a time capsule. The estuary maintains temperature and the currents gently rock the bottles.

These unorthodox methods of aging wine create amazing results. Raul’s wines are special.

My favorites include:

2011 Raul Perez Muti Albarino $35 (Rias Baixas)
Half of the wine is aged for 12 month in oak. The vines are over one hundred years old. The aging creates intense mineral characteristics, which makes you believe you are drinking a different variety of grape. The masterful wine is clean, vibrant and acidic with depth and a lingering finish.

2011 Raul Perez ‘Sketch’Albarino $72 (Rias Baixas)
Made with 40 year old vines that grow one football field from the Atlantic Ocean. The grapes are harvested two weeks later than other vineyards in the area. After the wine is made, it is aged sixty feet underwater at an estuary. The lack of oxygen and low temperatures coupled with pressure at sixty feet below sea level create a wine like none other. Intense  minerality, stone fruit and citrus yield to the wines finesse and strength.

2010 Ultreia La Claudina Godello (Bierzo)
Golden in color with an amber tint, this unique, mineral driven, complex wine shocked my palate. The result was that the wine resembled an alcoholic, aged fruit cake dripping with hanger steak juices. There is nothing like this defining wine, which puts Raul Perez on the map. I suggest that you decant this wine for several hours before drinking. What I discovered was extreme minerality with palate driven herbs, spices and tropical fruit.

All of the wines are made in small batches, and many are classified as the most unusual wines in the world.

 His unusual winemaking methods have created a cult following, thus making Raul Perez a wine guru and a national treasure of Spain, much like Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal.


                                                                       Raul Perez
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