Have you ever had a wine made by Jesus?
Chances are you may well have done as it's actually not an common name in Spain; many years ago a friend used to pick up the phone and ask for Jesus, then chat to his Spanish colleague whom he then correctly addressed as "hay-SOOS".
This wine has an even more extraordinary story to tell; the grape variety, Moristel, is grown only in Spain's Somontano region in Aragon at the foot of the Pyrenees and is rarely bottled as a varietal wine, making this is one of very few bottlings of 100% Moristel to be found anywhere in the world - just 5,000 bottles produced, from vines averaging 20 years of age.
The Moristel grape was on the brink of extinction before Somontano was granted DO status in 1984. Bodegas Pirineos is responsible for 700 hectares, nearly a quarter of the Somontano DO, of which just 40 hectares is planted to Moristel.
Grape characteristics are red fruits, strawberries and raspberries, to tea, honeysuckle, and aromatic hops. Moristel offers good acidity and relatively high alcohol. It’s a little wild and rustic at first, so give it half an hour to breath for the fruit to really shine through.
The wine is named ‘Principio’ meaning ‘origin’ or ‘source’ denoting a return to one’s roots by working with the local cultivar. Moristel Principio is the very essence of its environment. The grapes ripen in the blazing Spanish sunshine, cooled by the mountain winds, and nourished by the mineral rich sandy loam soils.
Despite these conditions, Moristel can be difficult to grow successfully. It requires a committed, but low-intervention approach, both in the vineyard and the winery.
The wine is fermented with natural yeast and left unwooded, unfined and unfiltered, with minimal sulphur.
Jesus Astrain, the winemaker at Bodega Pirineos, puts the success of this wine down to working the vineyards according to their potential and selecting the ideal grapes, citing the potency of the fruit and its acidity, with carefully selected natural yeasts reinforcing the concept of terroir and the typicity of the area on this unique variety.
Bodegas Pirineos Moristel Principio, 2019 (£11 - £12, Les Caves de Pyrene)
funky-pungent aromas; refreshing and vibrant with cranberry, sour cherry and soft red-berry fruits, red plum, pomegranate with ginger and rhubarb; black pepper, ginger and liquorice, vanilla, soft tannins / nutmeg clove and cedar; sappy, minty & herbal. Vibrant, expressive and distinctive.
Improves with some air; drink young and slightly chilled.
Match its refreshing vibrancy to meaty dishes, especially slow cooked lamb stews, Moroccan tagines or meaty fish, including salmon, tuna, or swordfish.
Also available at:
- Eden Fine Wines (W, Yorkshire)
- Legs Wine (E9)
- The Good Wine Shop (TW11)
- The Good Wine Shop (W4)
- Gnarly Vines (E17)
- Clapton Craft (SE23)
- Clapton Craft (E17)
- Clapton Craft Online Forest Wines (E17)
- R S Wines (Bristol)
- Wolf Wine (Bath)
- Fourteen Drops Online
- Burgess and Hall (E11)
- Yardarm (E10)