VeroVino: A Taste of Spain and Portugal

Our wine travels continue to the Iberian Peninsula today with a tasting of three wines sent to us by VeroVino as tasting samples. Sheila Donohue has curated a collection of wines made by small producers following organic practices in the vineyard and low-intervention winemaking in the cellar. Many of the wines she sells are new to the US market. These wines are available to consumers on her VeroVino website and to distributors and restaurants as well.

La Bodega de las Estrellas: Spain

The Winery of the Stars, is the translation of the name La Bodega de las Estrellas. The family-owned winery has a history of winemaking in Castilla-La Mancha near Valdepeñas reaching back 200 years. Dionisio and Karina de Nova, the fourth generation of their family to tend the vines and make wine, use only estate-grown grapes. They are certified organic (the first to be certified in the region according to VeroVino) and use biodynamic practices in the vineyard.

Winemaking employs natural yeast fermentations in amphorae. No sulfites are added to the wines and the wines are bottled without filtration (only natural settling is used.) The goal is to make wines that naturally reflect where they’re grown.

2020 La Bodega de las Estrellas Ego Vinum Orange Airén y Macabeo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain photo
2020 La Bodega de las Estrellas Ego Vinum Orange Airén y Macabeo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spain

2020 La Bodega de las Estrellas Ego Vinum Orange Airén y Macabeo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla, Spainslightly cloudy salmon-orange with generous aromas of iron, earth and yellow apples. Flavors are a complex blend of iron, stone fruit, earth and dried tangerine with nice acidity. Tannins add texture and interest. The wine has a very long finish. 12.5% abv. $22.99

If you enjoy skin-contact white wines you will enjoy this version made using Macabeo (Viura) and Airén. This natural wine is clean with no off-putting flavors and would be a good introduction to orange wines if you have not tried them. They’re wonderful food wines because of their sometimes umami flavors and tannins.

In addition to this orange wine, VeroVino also had a blend of Verdejo and Macabeo (now sold out) and has a red wine (a blend of Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon) that is aged in oak barrels, $24.99.

Herdade dos Grous and Quinta de Valbom: Portugal 

In addition to sharing a country of origin, both Herdade dos Grous and Quinta de Valbom are owned by the Pohl family. Both wineries are located in well-known Portuguese wine regions, Alentejo and Douro, respectively. In addition they share a winemaker, Luis Duarte, who has earned many winemaking awards. Mafalda Vasques shares winemaking responsibilities with Luis Duarte.

Herdade dos Grous, which translates to Winery of the Cranes, was the first certified by WASP (Wines of Alentejo Sustainability Program) according to VeroVino. WASP is the first region-wide sustainability program established in Portugal. 

Alentejo is a very large, warm wine region in southern Portugal, inland from Lisbon near the Spanish border. This region is known for its red wines, which are almost exclusively blends. White wines make up only about 25% of total wine production.

2019 Herdade do Grous Vinho Branco, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal photo
2019 Herdade dos Grous Vinho Branco, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal

2019 Herdade dos Grous Vinho Branco, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugalmedium yellow with generous aromas of white flowers and citrus zest. Flavors include citrus, white flowers and spice. Juicy acidity keeps the complex flavors lively and the wine finishes with citrus pith. 13% abv. $19.99

In true Portuguese fashion, this wine is a blend of varieties: Antão Vaz, Arinto and Gouveio. It is juicy and delicious. Even though most wines in Alentejo are red wines, don’t overlook the whites, they are delicious too.

2013 Quinta de Valbom Douro DOC, Portugal photo
2013 Quinta de Valbom Douro DOC, Portugal

2013 Quinta de Valbom Douro DOC, Portugaldense ruby with generous aromas of ripe plums, cedar and tobacco. Layered flavors of ripe plums and blackberries with cedar and tobacco are supported by drying, gauzy tannins. The finish is very long with flavor and texture. 14% abv. $26.99

You might more closely associate the Douro region with fortified Port wines, but the dry red wines of the region are on the rise. Once again, these red wines are blends (generally a field blend of varieties like Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela, and Touriga Nacional), and harvested by hand due to the steep hillsides in the vineyards. In the case of Quinta de Valbom the grapes are foot-trodden, the traditional method of crushing grapes in the region, before fermentation and aging in oak.

This wine is remarkably fresh for a wine that is ten years old. The flavors are still bright and complex. Fruit flavors are ripe without being over ripe or too alcoholic. This is lovely sipping and has me craving a grilled ribeye steak.

Each these wines represent something unexpected for their region and they’re all an excellent value, continuing the theme from our prior tasting of Vero wines. If you’re a curious wine drinker, these are the kinds of wines you will likely appreciate.

Next up, a selection of Vero-curated wines from Northern Italy.