A delicious, dry Chardonnay from the foothills of the Pyrenees.
- Producer: Luis Oliván
- Region: DO Somontano
- Vintage: 2022
- ABV: 13.5%
- Grape: Chardonnay
A beautifully fresh, dry Chardonnay with excellent acidity and a little extra texture and body thanks to the time spent ageing in contact with the fine lees.
White fish, Shellfish, Poultry, Pasta dishes, Vegetable dishes
More about Bespén Blanco
Who makes it
Luis Oliván began his wine career on the commercial side, working for wineries in his home province of Huesca in the foothills of the Pyrenees and then further south in Aragon in the 1990s. He then crossed the country to Bierzo in north-east Spain where his focus was on Godello and Mencía, before moving down to the Gredos mountains west of Madrid where he worked alongside renowned Garnacha expert Isabel Galindo at the Las Moradas de San Martín.
With all that wine pedigree behind him, in 2018 Luis changed tack and started his own winemaking project. The focus from the outset was to look for vines in historic areas; areas that in Italy would be called classico - sites or parcels where records showed that vines had been planted from at least pre-phylloxera times, as that longevity is a reliable guide that the site is right for vine cultivation.
Luis describes himself as a “terrain hunter”, seeking out small vineyard parcels ripe for cultivation. The first parcel he chose was Las Pilas in Bespén (Huesca), an area with a wine history dating back to the 12th century. Since then he has expanded his range to include another red made in the village of Ainzón, just to the north in DO Campo de Borja, a traditional “claret” (a traditional Spanish rosé made with red and white grapes), Malvar from Madrid and the Bespén range of wines which he makes in Bodegas Lasierra, a family-run winery which has been farming vineyards in the area around Bespén for more than 200 years.
One of the wine world’s most well-known grape varieties, Chardonnay enjoyed a huge burst in popularity particularly in the last two decades of the twentieth century and the number of hectares planted globally grew enormously. Its popularity has waned a bit in recent years as fashions have changed, with a renewed interest in lesser-known native varieties and consumers clamouring for "ABC" or "Anything But Chardonnay"! Even so, Chardonnay remains one of the world’s most planted white wine grapes, with more than 200,000 hectares of Chardonnay vines planted globally. It’s popular with growers in both Old and New Worlds, with 50,000 hectares in France, 43,000 Ha in the US and 21,000 Ha in Australia. In Spain, there are about 11,000 Ha planted, mainly in Castilla-La Mancha, Catalunya, Aragon and Navarra.
One of the things about Chardonnay that winemakers and wine consumers have always loved is its versatility. People sometimes talk about Chardonnay as a ¨blank canvas¨ - by that, they mean it’s very chameleonic; an adaptable variety that can soak up the influence of the climate where it is planted or the techniques of the winemaker like few others. That’s why you can find it planted in so many wine-producing countries around the world – over 41 of them at the last count – with a range of styles that vary from place to place.
Chardonnay is an early ripening grape, with moderate acidity and alcohol, which adapts well to different climates. In terms of flavour, in cooler climates depending on how it is made it’s usually associated with melon, apple or grapefruit flavours, while the warmer you get it can take on more tropical fruit notes of peach, mango, pineapple or lime. Barrel-aging Chardonnay emphasizes the buttery notes in the wine and tends to bring out more intense fruit flavours like orange peel or apricot. Sometimes winemakers will also stir the lees, or dead yeast cells, during the ageing process to enhance texture and bring out the nuttier notes in the wine.
Where it's made
The village of Bespén where Bespén Blanco is made is on the western side of DO Somontano. Founded in 1984, it’s one of Spain’s newer DOs and sits in the foothills of the central Pyrenees in the region of Aragón. Like many winegrowing regions in Spain, it “benefitted” from the ravages of phylloxera in the nineteenth century as winemakers from Bordeaux moved south and began producing wine in Somontano from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay grapes.
How it's made
After a night-time harvest to make the most of the cooler temperatures, the grapes are taken to the winery where they are destemmed and crushed to break the skins and get the juice flowing. The grapes then undergo a five-hour cold maceration before the must is racked off and fermented for ten days at 16ºC. Once fermented, the wine spends 3 months on its lees in stainless steel tanks before bottling.