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A Personal Letter from Winemaker Charlotte Allen Introducing Her New and Refreshing Red from Western Spain

“Cielos y Besos” (Arribes 2016)
Special Price: $108/6-pack (~$18/bottle)

Our good friend Charlotte Allen is a winemaker and Englishwoman living in the remote Spanish village of Fermoselle in Las Arribes del Duero, near the border of Portugal. You may already be familiar with her white and red wines. To launch the arrival of cuvée Cielos y Besos we asked her to send us the story of the wine in her own words:


When I moved to Spain in 2007 and started making my own wine, I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do, which was to make just one barrel-aged red wine. This first wine was baptized Pirita Crianza. For a couple of years that was enough, but slowly I felt the need to challenge my skills, so along came a white, also under the Pirita label, and then a top cuvée, Charlotte Allen. For a few years I was happy with just these three wines, but by the time 2015 came along, the old wanderlust was back.

Cielos y Besos was born on a long car journey to the mountains. With my son sleeping in the back seat, I started to think about a particular tank of wine I had which was bright, fresh and fruity and just said “Drink me”. I had never before thought of making a “joven”, that is to say a red wine with no barrel ageing, but as the miles sped by and the mountains approached, it seemed like an increasingly good idea. So good in fact, that by the time we arrived at the ski station, the decision had been made.

The name was inspired by one of my favourite songs, Tiempo y Silencio, by the Cape Verde singer Cesaria Evora. I had always thought that the title of song (Time and Silence) would be a wonderful name for a wine. There is however a much bigger bodega in Extremadura which makes a wine called “Habla del Silencio” and I knew that a court case would probably leave me with nothing more than lawyer’s fees and egg on my face, so gave up on the idea. But the song just kept going around in my head. “Tiempo y silencio, gritos y cantos, cielos y besos, voz y quebranto…”. The name seemed somehow joyful to me, much like the feeling the wine inspired.

It is a blend made up predominantly of organically-farmed old vine Juan García, a variety native to the Arribes del Duero and the most widely planted red grape in the area. The wines of this variety are characterized by wild berry fruit, fine tannins and good acidity. The remainder is an eclectic mix of tempranillo, rufete, bastardillo chico, bastardillo serrano and garnacha (to name but a few) with a few kilos of white grapes thrown in for good measure.

The grapes were fermented in concrete tanks at a relatively low temperature of 25 degrees (77 degrees fahrenheit). The wine spent around around three weeks on the skins, with a daily pumping over. It was further aged in these same tanks for around eight months and was bottled without fining or filtration and with no added sulphur. I recommend drinking it very slightly chilled.

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Posted on 2019.05.02 in Arribes, Saturday Sips, Spain DO


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