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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Bodegas Comenge




The moment I first saw the web site for Bodegas Comenge I knew I definitely wanted to visit there during my time in Ribeira Del Duero. Situated in the province of Valladolid between the sloping terrains of Curiel de Duero and Pesquera de duero, the winery and vineyards encompass a total area of thirty-four hectares (eighty-four acres).

I arrived in Curiel in early April and even though it was a few weeks into spring, the weather was still quite chilly and the vines were all dormant without any leaves. The best time to visit northern wine country in Spain is most likely late August or early September when there are actual grapes on the vines.

When we showed up to Comenge for our 12:30 tour they weren't quite ready to begin and wanted to wait a bit to see if anyone else would turn up. We were told to feel free to walk around the property in the meantime until they were ready to start. I took photos of the vineyards and the town as well as Castillo de Curiel and pretty much everything else in sight.

In front of the winery buildings is a little pond which is home to three white ducks and one very territorial grey goose. When my companion walked over to the pond to get a closer look the goose had come over and made a huge fuss. I started taking pictures and went around toward another side of the pond to get close enough (close being a relative term here) to take some video footage and ended up being chased and attacked by that crazy goose.


video

Fortunately our guide, Leonor, came out soon after to start the tour of the winery. We began beside one of the vineyards where she explained that Bodegas Comenge currently grows thirty-two hectares of Tempranillo grapes and two hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon which ultimately become their Crianza and Reserva.

Our next stop was in the tank area where the must (grape juice) is first fermented in stainless steel for thirty days and then moved to concrete to better control the temperature of the wine as it develops. From the concrete vats it then goes into oak barrels (French and American) for aging.

Of course there are many things that can ultimately affect what a wine will taste like once it is in the glass but one of the things I learned at Comenge was that the type of yeast used during fermentation (there are a number of possible kinds) is one of the key determining factors. (During this trip I also learned that the word roble means oak.)

From the fermentation area we moved on to the (very cold) room where all of the barrels are kept. I can still smell the faint odor of wood and wine every time I look at my photographs of the barrels. Here Leonor explained that after the initial aging period the wine will be returned to the concrete tanks and reblended before being returned to the barrel once again so that when put into bottles the wine will all taste the same.

After leaving the barrel cellar we moved on to the area where the wine is actually put into bottles. This was our last stop on the tour of the actual production area of the winery. From here we went into another dimly-lit cellar which houses the wine after it has been bottled. In this area we saw rows and rows of large wire-rack cubes stacked from floor to ceiling filled with thousands of bottles awaiting the moment when they would start their destination to someone's table where they would finally be opened and enjoyed.

Bodegas Comenge bottles two red wines and one white. The grapes for both of the red wines are grown on the estates in Ribeira Del Duero while the grapes for the white are grown on a separate property in Rueda because legal restrictions do not allow for the growing of Verdejo in Ribeira.

We concluded our tour in the winery's gift shop . From here we had to go back outside in order to get to another area that would lead us to the tasting room which was located upstairs in a sort of annex at the far end of the building.

The beautifully modern tasting room overlooks the vineyards on either side and has sliding doors which lead onto a small balcony.
Beyond the room are two other areas that serve for dining. I had expected to dine in the winery's restaurant but it did not appear to be open.

For our tasting session Leonor set out a dish of salami, one with shoe string potato sticks and another with a sort of tubular mini bread stick and the wines of course.

The first wine was the Comenge 2009 Verdejo (Rueda). I found it to be "green" on the nose with that vegetal character I usually do not like in a white wine. (I would soon learn why many people identify this aroma as grapefruit) However, I found it to be very pleasant on the palate with nice fruit and none of that green bell pepper essence I had been expecting based on the nose. It was mild with a creamy feel and subtle acidity.

The next wine we tried was the Crianza (100% Tempranillo). It had a nice, rich, toasty nose. I found it to be fruit forward with a long finish that really lingers. It seemed just a slight bit astringent, but not in an unpleasant way. There was some slight bitterness in back with notes of leather, spices and tobacco with very subtle tannins.

The third wine was the Don Miguel Reserva which even though it is labeled as all Tempranillo has about 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon. This one had a great sweetish nose that hinted of vanilla. There was a subtle sense of something sweet on the palate (maybe the vanilla I thought I could smell?) and something aromatic (possibly fennel?) It was a lot heavier bodied than the Crianza and I felt I should have been having some kind of food with it.

All too soon my visit to Bodegas Comenge came to an end.

4 comments:

  1. This is a nice blog as well. Somebody needs to cook that goose LOL!

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    1. Thanks Givonna! Hopefully I can get myself organized soon to start updating again.

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  2. Hi, I am Alvaro Comenge, Sales Director of the winery. Thanks for visiting! I hope you enjoyed.

    The goose was taken car of by a local fox...

    Next time you visit, make sure you contact me.

    Cheers

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    1. Hi, thanks for the visit and comments. I hope I will have the opportunity to return to Spain very soon.

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