Focus 50: Trip 13, Pago de Carraovejas (Spain)
To mark Enotria&Coe’s 50th anniversary this year, we’re shining a light on 50 outstanding producers who have been instrumental to our company history. As part of our celebrations, members of the E&C team took a trip to Spain. Here, Demand Planner Stefanie Metcalf shares her highlights.
Pago de Carraovejas sits within the Ribera del Duero, near the town of Peñafiel. It is a beautiful landscape, flat in the middle with gentle rolling hills, dominated by the impressive Peñafiel Castle positioned high up in the distance.
Although the project began relatively recently in wine terms, in 1987, with only 9 hectares, their ambition and drive to be a reference point for the Ribera del Duero appellation is palpable. Export manager David Montes was our guide for the day. During our tour, most noticeable was the focus on quality and attention to detail at every stage of their winemaking. The focus here is on three main grape varieties: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The smaller Tinto Fino, the type of Tempranillo adapted to the area, provides more intensity and concentration of flavour. Again, freshness and acidity come from the variation in temperature during the day and the night.
David explained why they are open about buying grapes from around the Ribera: the scale of the area is so big that they do not want to miss out on other possible terroirs. In this way they can select only the best quality grapes in the area: this is what contributes to the success and personality of their wines.
Continuing with the same meticulous approach through the winemaking process, their tanks are used only once during each harvest. There is strict analysis of the batches of corks that are purchased, and their barrels are selected after multiple rounds of testing. Choosing the best extra fine grained oak barrels, once filled, these are only stored on one level and are never stacked. Their different wines are aged for between twelve and twenty-four months and the tastings carried out during this time will determine which wine to produce. For example, the last vintage of their Cuesta de las Liebres wine is 2015. Made from 100% Tinto Fino from a single vineyard, this wine is only released when they have exceptional harvests.
David takes us through a tasting of four whites and four reds. Our favourite was the white Ossian 2019. Made from Verdejo grapes grown further south in Segovia in pre-phylloxera vineyards, it has a lusciously viscous quality with toasty notes from slow ageing on the lees.
Our Pago de Carraovejas dining experience started with a tour of their restaurant cellar. An impressive collection, boasting over 7,500 references from more than 20 countries. Walking in through the spiral entrance, we were all fascinated by the exciting contents of the shelves: top wines from top producers in many vintages old and new. Entering the Ambivium restaurant, the collection of glasses in the centre of the room was a hint to how the afternoon would progress. We started our culinary journey walking through two chef kitchen chambers, sampling oysters with an accompanying cocktail and lamb skewers paired with vermouth. Once seated we were guided through twelve courses by senior sommelier Marco Brocani, all plates matched with accompanying wines, occasionally deviating with a sake or another interesting cocktail.
Through the theatre of the whole meal, the textures and tastes and the glasses left as a centrepiece on the table, the wine was still allowed to take centre stage. And the cherry on the top? Finishing the experience with a relaxing drink and petit fours on the balcony, sun shining, taking in the incredible view.