miércoles, 13 de febrero de 2013

Bodegas Puelles (Abalos - La Rioja)


Written by: Jesús Barquín / Luis Gutiérrez / Víctor de la Serna. (The Finest Wines of Rioja and Northwest Spain)

This estate has been in the grape-growing Puelles family since 1844. when it was purchased from the town council. But it was not until the current generation, Jesús (known in the family as Chucho) and his brother Félix, that it dived into making, bottling, and selling its own wines, having established a modern winery on the property, an old water mill from the 17th century.

The family also made the transition towards wine tourism by opening a hotel right next to the winery. The Hospedería del vino has six rooms and facilities such as a spa, a swimming pool, vino therapy massages, and of course tastings and visits to the vineyards and cellars.

The family follows organic cultivation methods in the vineyard. Some of its wines are certified as such because they believe the wine is really made in the vineyard. The vinevards are all on the estate, in Abalos, a winery-rich village in Rioja Alta (387 inhabitants and 15 wineries), at the foot of the Sierra de Toloño mountains, where soils are predominantly yellow clay-limestone, rich in chalk, which makes for elegant and supple wines. The vineyards are located at between 490 and 610m (1,600-2,oooft) above sea level, under the shelter of the Sierra de Cantabria and its Atlantic influx.

The familv believes in terroir and thinks great wines are a reflection of their origin. The methods followed in the winery are therefore very respectful of the grapes and oriented towards quality production. The destemming is very gentle, as is the fermentation in 20,000-litre stainless-steel tanks, which are naturally cooled by the mill stream running by. The famik uses both American and French oak barrels in a similar proportion. This is a very consistent winery.


The installations have been designed to ensure maximum quality throughout the process: gentle destemming, 20,000 –litre fermenting vats for better control and natural cooling by the mill stream running by. Pressing is via an air-pressure pneumatic bag system.

Ageing takes place in 225-litre “Bordeaux” casks, half in French oak and half in American oak, in an underground are in which the conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.) are ideal for the living wine’s best qualities to evolve. Here, engulfed in darkness and immersed in the deepest slumber, it slowly ages, watched over by its expert minders.


Bodegas Puelles produces no fewer than eight different wines. Under the Puelles label there is a blanco, an unoaked tinto joven, a tinto that has aged
for five months in barrel, as well as the standard crianza and reserva.

- Puelles Gran Reserva: The idea is that, in the Gran Reserva, the combination of fruit and oak result in elegance. They use 94% Tempranillo for this range, hand-harvested in October and fermented for 18-20 days. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in stainless steel, and the wine is then aged for 27 months in French and American barrels in equal parts, during which time it is racked a total of three times. The wine is clarified with egg whites and filtered before bottling. The 1996 shows an orange rim and plenty of ripe red fruit in the nose, as well as flowers, honey, balsamic notes, and some leather. Its elegant body and refreshing acidity make it very easy—and pleasurable—to drink.

- El Molino de Puelles: This is a single-vineyard wine, from El Molino ("The Mill"), a 4.5ha (11-acre) plot within the estate where the winery is located. It is certified organic. In this case, the wine is aged for 15 months in new oak, 70% of which is French, and is bottled unfiltered. It shows more black fruit than red on both nose and palate. The most highly recommended vintages are 2004 and 2002.

- Zenus: This is the bodega’s top wine, where the aim is balance and elegance, showing the characteristics of Abalos. They source the best grapes from specific plots (San Prudencio and La Cañada) of 40-year-old vines. Malolactic is carried out in barrel and aging in 80% French oak for 18 months. Not surprisingly, the Zenus from 2001 remains a great wine, and as the oak is progressively integrating, the wine is becoming better and better.

Bodegas Puelles
Area under vine: 17.5ha (43 acres)
Average production: 250,000 bottles Camino de los Molinos s/n,
26339 Abalos, La Rioja Tel: +34 941 334 415 Fax: +34 941 334 132 www.bodegaspuelles.com

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