It’s not easy being a small, independent winemaker. It’s especially difficult being a small, independent winemaker, and a single mother, and an Englishwoman living in rural Spain, trying to scrape a living from a land of extremes, where already this season Charlotte Allen has seen frost and hail and drought. To add insult to injury, arsonists recently destroyed her largest property of old vines. Needless to say, she is struggling to hold it all together in this disastrous vintage.
Charlotte (known locally as “Carlota”) wouldn’t have it any other way. When she first beheld the western Spanish landscape of Las Arribes del Duero, on the border with Portugal, she was “overwhelmed by the savage beauty of the region: the deep gorges cut by the Duero, the steep terraces covered with ancient vines and even older olive trees, the way man had adapted himself to the landscape rather than bending it under his will.” It was then she decided to give up on the dream of setting up her own domaine in France and acquired about 29 acres and a tiny old cellar in Arribes. This was ten years ago.
Since then, Carlota has been able to adapt and coax some beautiful wines out of her old vines growing from granite soils. She employs organic and biodynamic methods in the vineyards and the wines are fermented using indigenous yeasts. Production is tiny with less than 300 cases of each wine made. The two Pirita wines are named for the mineral pyrite (fool’s gold) found throughout the vineyard soils.
Stop by on Saturday to sample Carlota’s wines. The more we sell, the quicker Carlota can raise funds to replant her vineyards and make it through this devastating vintage.
All prices are based on purchase of six or more of the featured bottles.
$18 Almaroja “Pirita” White (Arribes, 2015)
A blend of Malvasía, Godello, Palomino Fino, Puesta en Cruz, Albillo and Moscatel from vines aged 40 to 100 years-old. Pirita Blanco is aromatically complex and fills a glass with scents of almond, apricot, minerals and flowers. Stone fruits continue through a sip wrapped around a spine of fresh acidity.
$26 Almaroja “Pirita” Red (Arribes, 2011)
The base variety for the 2011 vintage is 65% Juan García, a low-growing bush vine native to the region that produces medium-bodied, brilliantly colored, and highly aromatic wines. The remainder of the blend is comprised of the local Rufete and Bruñal grapes and a touch of Tempranillo. If you are in the mood for a glorious red wine and cheese pairing try a bottle of Pirita with Zamorano, the famous aged sheep’s milk cheese of the Zamora province where Carlota makes her wines.