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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
21 Nov 2006

Apologies yet again that this wine is not widely available (cringe, cringe) but it is really, really interesting. (If you want widely available wines , see my recommendation-packed article on champagnes this Saturday, together with the fascinating results of a blind tasting of luxury cuvées which I'll publish on Friday.)


Okay, we all value grape varieties planted in their own milieu above all others, but who would have thought that the Bordeaux grape variety Petit Verdot was alive and very well in Almansa, a virtually unknown [sorry, Victor, I mean of course virtually unknwn in Hampstead] wine region (the Guia Peñín 2006 devotes exactly three out of its 1,000+ pages to it)? Almansa (pause to consult my 5th edn of the World Atlas of Wine) is halfway between La Mancha and the Mediterranean cost and immediately north of Jumilla. Jumilla is admittedly making waves, so why not Almansa?


This wine comes from a limestone-based vineyard 750 m above sea level, which presumably explains its vivacity. It has a very deep colour and is both super-smooth and refreshing. It's not desperately subtle but it has lots of fruit and character and its five months in French oak is well considered. There is no swamping of its naturally spicy fruit in oak here. And presumably the trouble the Bordelais traditionally had ripening this late-ripening grape variety fully is surmountable this far south.


Research on is unusually unforthcoming. I can find this wine only at the new import company set up by a refugee from the Safeway supermarket wine buying department in the UK. He's offering a Syrah, a Chardonnay and two different red blends from the same producer at around the same price. The 1707 Petit Verdo 2005 is £7.85 a bottle.


I asked Victor de la Serna about the extent to which Petit Verdot is planted in Spain and this is his answer, as encyclopaedic as usual: "I doubt we've reached 100 hectares under vines yet, but that's enough for a number of wines, of course. Possibly the best of them, Abadía Retuerta PV, comes from a mere 2-ha plot... We've got PV in Jumilla (Casa de la Ermita), and in La Mancha there's even a PV Rosé at Pago del Vicario! (Sounds pretty ridiculous to me, and the wine ain't any great shakes... Why would you plant PV to make rosé? I guess it comes out of sheer necessity - from bleeding tanks of red PV.) German Friedrich Schatz makes a pretty good one at Ronda, and of course there's Carlos Griñón's in Toledo. Miguel Angel de Gregorio, from Finca Allende, has PV at his new estate in his home region, southern La Mancha: Finca Coronado."


Talking of this new Finca Coronado, it was one of the wines I had the pleasure of tasting in Madrid last week at TodoVino's annual showing of 46 of Spain's very finest wines. See the tasting notes section for notes on and a high proportion of enthusiasm for them.


Oh, and 1707 - best not go into the detail of why this particular year was chosen,