#OleWinos: Alicante Love at Bodegas Sierra Salinas

April 29, 2015 at 7:53 pm

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As mentioned in my intro post, I recently took another trip across the globe to my favorite foreign country of Spain.  This time I had the great fortune to be hosted by MGWines Group (WL, FB, Tw) in order to tour their luxury #wine properties located across their country. The trip was quite handily organized by Kraynick Consulting. Our first full day was set in the coastal city and wine Denominacion de Origen (DO) of Alicante (WL, FB, Tw, IG, YT).  Here were found the unique estate and affordable wine gems from Bodegas Sierra Salinas (WL, FB).

Sebastian Buton, winemaker for Bodegas Sierra Salinas (MGWines Group).

Sebastien Boudon, winemaker for Bodegas Sierra Salinas (L) & Sergio Sachnovsky-Raevsky (R).

Our outstanding host throughout the week, Eduardo Ruiz (Export Manager for MGWines Group, but you readers might remember him from Navarra), drove us out to Bodegas Sierra Salinas during the windswept and rainy Alicante morning.  There we met the company Director Sergio Sachnovsky-Raevsky and the winemaker for the estate, Sebastien Boudon. Boudon immediately exudes a very kind and quietly passionate demeanor, with his shaved head, serious expressions and thinner build.  He actually comes from a long line of winemakers in his home area of Bordeaux (another favorite of mine).  It was there that he learned the high art of expressing the terroir, the regional essence, for any wine that he had the fortune to make. Later when we sat down to taste his wines, we could see that he has, indeed, accomplished this feat.  He was so impressed by his temporary 2 year stay in this part of Alicante, that he has now never left, 13 years strong.

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The “White House” of Bodegas Sierra Salinas, below its namesake mountains in Alicante DO.

The Sierra Salinas estate is located in the driest part of the Alicante DO, in its southern portion known as Vinalopó or along the “wine river” where wine was first grown by the Romans. It lies below the Sierra Salinas Mountains in Villena.  It has a drier, more continental climate than the northern, coastal hugging part of the DO, known as La Marina. The soil is part of an ancient riverbed and has virtually no organic matter, nor clay, with widely varying river rock deposits depending on vineyard location.  Indeed, we walked in one hugely silty vineyard filled with ancient head-trained monastrell vines (40-70 years old), then walked a football field 200yds east to a super rocky vineyard on the other side of the winery.  Talk about micro-terroir…!  Boudon was supervising the installation of the estates first drip irrigation, the first for the estate and rare in this DO, to the gnarly old silty vineyard vines so that they could survive another very dry year.  Ironically, they had received a whole year’s worth of rain (150-300mm) in just that week! The estate was also fully certified organic this very year.

Open-topped, mechanical lid steel fermentation tank at Sierra Salinas.

Open-topped, mechanical lid steel fermentation tank at Sierra Salinas.

Earlier I mentioned the unique winery that Sierra Salinas enjoys, and it was evident from the moment we left the vineyards and stepped into the structure that it truly was an architectural wonder.  Sergio offered that the winery “was really more like a ship” in that it was designed to be exceedingly space efficient, yet have all its parts easily accessible by the staff.  The winery is fully gravity flow, so much so that neither racking nor the fermentation tanks require any pumping.  It stands as the most gravity-efficient winery I’ve ever seen in person.  At harvest, fruit is triple selected: poor/unripe fruit is dropped in the field, hand-selected two separate ways in the winery. Fermentation tanks have mechanical punchdowns for consistency and adjustable lids for minimal head space to keep all the fruit, must, and fermenting juice fully fresh and clean. It is quite the minimalist, vineyard-centric winemaker’s dream, in fact.

As we stepped in the modern, white, fully stocked private tasting room overlooking the rows of ancient gnarly vines outside, the synergy of old and new at Sierra Salinas was intensely apparent.  There’s a cliche in modern winemaking these days, that the best wines are made in the vineyard and not in the cellar. MGWines Group and Boudon are true believers of this, more axiom, and it is clear by the purchases the group has made over the last few years.

Viejo y nuevo in Alicante at Bodegas Sierra Salinas (MGWines Group).

While Sierra Salinas has a truly remarkable winery, it is the vineyards and the vines that are the true settings and diamonds at this estate. Boudon has taken those precious old vines, planted new ones and is creating true vinous expressions of those vineyards. In fact, the most interesting thing about these wines for me was the vintage expression in each one.  While many wineries try to make an overly “house-style” set of wines that almost eliminates vintage differences, Boudon appears to embrace the uniqueness that each vintage hands to him each harvest. When he explained each vintage to us during our tasting, I could taste the results of each climactic event that occurred that year. These wines show great complexity and outstanding value, a rare combination in the wine world.

MGWines Group

MGWines Group

You can find all of our #OleWinos content on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The photos are posted at the #Vinopanion Facebook page and the wines reviews at WineLog. You can read the MGWines Group blog post about our trip at their site, as well.

Look for the next post from this trip covering my return to #Bullas.  ¡Salud!

Wines tasted during our #OleWinos visit to Bodegas Sierra Salinas (WL, FB):

Puerto Salinas Alicante Blanc0 2013

QPRWK - WKBadgesPuerto Salinas Alicante Tinto 2010

Color: Bright ruby core here, with ruby edges.

Nose: Deep and ripe cherry here, with a kind of a flinty and earthy streak running through it.

Palate: Very savory and good intro here, almost salty, then cool and smooth deep cherry fruit comes in, fine coating tannin, into savory black fruited juicer finish with integrating toast. Good: QPRWK.

KeeperWK - WKBadgesPuerto Salinas Alicante Tint0 2011

Mira Salinas Alicante 2010

Color: Dark garnet core, dark garnet edges.

Nose: Dark plummy fruit here, with toast, dark chocolate and hazelnut and a bit of flint.

Palate: Good dark red and black plum fruit here as well, savory flinty earth, coating fine tannin, saline finish into toasted and earthy finish with good acid. Good and needs a few years of age: KeeperWK.

KeeperWK - WKBadgesSalinas Alicante 1237 2009

Color: Dark ruby core, with ruby edges.

Nose: Big dark toast here, still a long ways to integrate. Big deep and rich black and red fruit medley, earth underneath.

Palate: Very full and smooth mouthfeel here with great acidity to brighten that weight. Finest tannin, menthol and black berry fruit here, deep toast and earth, with air continues to open up and deepen in complexity. Quite good, needs time: KeeperWK.

Mo Alicante Monastrell 2012

Mira Salinas Alicante 2011

 

Ward Kadel - @drXeNo is the founder of Vinopanion wine blog, the West Coast Ambassador & Staff Blogger for WineLog.net and Le Wine Buff for Bordeaux.com (CIVB). He will try any and all wines and tends to write about the parts of his life that include wine...like virtually all of it! He and his wife grew up in Napa and Sonoma and they still live in the Napa Valley. View Ward's WineLog and check out the wines he's recommended with his WKBadges. Follow him on Twitter and Like Vinopanion on Facebook. Contact him: "Ward at WineLog.net". Ward happily accepts samples but does not guarantee a review, positive or negative.

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