2018 NerinTerra, Clos del Afaitador, Solanes del Molar, Priorat, Spain
A glorious wine produced from the hand harvested grapes from a single estate - the Clos del Afaitador. The freshness of the Garnacha and the elegance of Carinena characterize this beautiful wine.
60% Carinena/35% Garnacha/5% other varieties.
Jean Belondrade hadn't been planning to make red wine. Belondrade enjoys a worldwide reputation for its whites from the Rueda region. However, Gonzalo Cores, an old friend of Jean's father, invited the Belondrades to go and view a vineyard on sale - at the other end of northern Spain, in the isolated inland hills of Priorat.
They found an abandoned vineyard, where the vines (planted in the 1980s) had not been pruned for years. But the location, the orientation and the amphitheatre shape of the vineyard were perfectly suited to viticulture. As Jean describes that visit, 'it was a strange feeling between desolation and excitement'. They soon discovered that this vineyard harboured an astonishing diversity of soils. The base of the slope lies on a dry, clay-rich river bed, and is planted with old-vine Carinyena (aka Carignan). The mid-slope sits on limestone soil and is planted with Garnatxa (Garnacha, aka Grenache). The upper slope is also planted with Garnatxa, but on the licorella (slate and quartz) soils iconic in Priorat. The potential of the site for very high-quality wine was too compelling to resist, so they went for it.
It took four years of arduous work to recondition the vineyard, but it was worth it: the first vintage of Belondrade's NerinTerra from those old Priorat vines is now here! Old vines rooted in poor soils make for pretty low yields, but give a very high quality crop. The diversity of those soils makes for a lot of complexity in the wine. Priorat is known for the strength of its wines, but what is remarkable about NerinTerra is the elegant, cool complexity with which it expresses the natural dark plum and floral aromatics; it has a silky texture and a long finish. On the basis of sheer class alone, it is a natural fit in the Belondrade portfolio.