Sierra de Salamanca near the Portuguese border boasts an appealing uniqueness starting with its red grape Rufete.
It has been described as Spain's version of Pinot Noir, however others will argue that Mencia from Ribeira Sacra or Garnacha from Gredos also fits the bill because of their lightness, delicate floral notes and mineral characters.
The region is actually known as Sierra de Francia, probably because Raymond of Burgundy, husband of Doña Urraca and son in law of King Alfonso VI, received the order to repopulate the area in order to repel the Muslim advance in the late 11th century. Surnames like Bernal or Gascón have remained in the area until today.
Sierra de Salamanca is a small region with barely over 400ha under vine is championing the rufete grape, a grape of Portuguese origin (known as tinta pinheira) that makes light bodied wines with supple tannins and elegant berry fruit.
Rufete is a relatively short-cycle grape. Harvesting usually starts between 8th-10th September —it is often picked before Tempranillo. Bunches are tight with small, thin-skinned berries that give light-coloured wines. Other features are its noticeable acidity and the floral (petals), spicy rather that fruity aromas. “While violet notes are prone to appear on hot years, petals are associated to fresh vintages”, explains César Ruiz, who makes a Rufete wine called Tragaldabas and Molinillo.
Granted P.D.O. status in only 2010, there are only a handful of small producers, one of which are Mandrágora Vinos de Pueblo, a group of friends (César, Nacho, Rebeca and Silvia) who released their first wine under the label in 2012. Molinillo is the first village wine from Mandrágora, the fruit comes from the remote village of Molinillo, vineyards are grown on the unique black corneal slate soils of the area. The 2015 is only the second vintage of this outstanding wine. The nose has aromatic herbs wrapped up in dark fruit and charcoal, the palate is an expressive blend of dark berries, earthiness, minerality and balsamic notes. Only 1000 bottles produced.
Be that as it may, Rufete fits in with the trend towards less structured, easy to drink wines, and even though there is Pinot Noir in Spain, there's not enough to satisfy the thirsty, so this is our pick to lead the charge.
Exclusively imported by Barrica Wines