The Valdepenas DO represents more than just a history separate from La Mancha which surrounds it. It also represents a wine style of its own which differs from La Mancha although in this modern era there now seems to be more similarities than differences. Both regions have dramatically modernized.
Originally in 1932 when the Denominacion de Origen system of wine/vineyard classification was set up and Valdepenas was admitted into that inaugural classification, Valdepenas was known for young fruity wines. Valdepenas means "valley of rocks". The soil is stony and clayey with some sandy loam but also with a substrate layer of chalky limestone which serves to retain moisture during the hot and semi-arid summers. The wine was, in fact, historically made in large earthenware bowls sunken into the ground and into the limestone depths to maintain a cooler temperature than surface levels. This winemaking method may be an early prototype for what modern winemakers do to affect fruity style wines today.
The historic wines of Valdepenas were white, red, and rose and purposefully blended. The reds (Clarete) were lightened with white wine and the rose was a blend of red and white juices. When the Phylloxera epidemic struck in the nineteenth century and native vines had to be grafted onto disease-resistant American rootstocks, Airen became the new white grape of the region and Cencibel (Tempranillo), the red. This was done because the vines were durable weatherwise and grafted better than others. The wine styles that resulted were kept in line with pre-phylloxera styles.
Robert Parker has described Anciano wines as "silky textured with savory flavors and no hard edges". All of Anciano's vineyards feature 30+ year old vines at 2300ft elevation with modern facilities, the sum total of which would produce wines of superior quality and being Spanish, affordably priced. Anciano 5 Year is $10.99/btl!
Please join us for Friday's tasting.