Another of the wines on my wishlist at the Cuatrogatos Wine Fest this weekend is in the almost unmarked bottle on the right above: a white wine from Uva Rey planted and grown by the great, criminally unheralded, Primitivo Collantes.
A lot of good things are happening down in Andalucia these days and whatever good things are happening Primi isn’t far away from the action. His vineyard, called Finca Matalian, is situated in Chiclana de la Frontera at the Southernmost end of the region, just 7km from the sea but 100m above sea level and lashed by strong Atlantic landward and seaward breezes. It must I first came across his wines as a result of Volume I of the Pitijopo: the Chiclana pitijopo was my favourite on the night, and stood out for its range of fruit and mineral flavours. I was so impressed that I set out to track down the wines from Finca Matalian, from the Arroyuelo Fino en Rama to the Fossi Amontillado, Viña Matalian and then Socaire, the unfortified but fino-barrel-tempered white wine that has quickly attained cult status (the wine that brought you “Socairismo“).
But he hasn’t stopped there, or with the top class Cuartillos moscatel (or the sweet version of Viña Matalian which I must admit I have not tried yet). On the contrary, the guy is probably the leading producer of Uva Rey wines in Chiclana. Uva Rey (aka Mantuo Pilas) is one of the 119 varieties (autoctonous or otherwise) that made up the pre-phylloxeric vineyards of the region and that the signatories of the so-called Manifesto 119 are seeking to recognize and recover.
This is not the first Uva Rey I have tasted (the pre-phylloxeric palo cortado “Encrucijado” wines have had a decent dose) but it is the first 100% Uva Rey and it was one I was curious to try. Primitivo had told us at a tasting in Madrid a while back about how resistent the grapes were (and specifically that two days of sun drying didn’t seem to have any visible effect whatsoever).
And it didn’t disappoint. This is the first harvest, the 2014, fermented in demijon and straight in the bottle (no wood, no innox) where it had been the three years since. I cleverly failed to take a picture of the wine in the glass or note down what it looked like – which probably means that it wasn’t very distinctive looking, but it certainly had a distinctive nose : tyre rubber reminiscent of a riesling, with citrus and esparto grass underneath. On the palate it had a more abrupt start than you expect from a palomino – maybe a touch more acidic and a lot of body and structure, with flavours that were again between citrus and dry grasses.
Exciting stuff: the body it has hints at a lot of potential, and this is only the first vintage.