A delicately floral white blend with a mineral finish from one of Spain’s top biodynamic producers
Straw yellow in colour with golden streaks. The wine gives off aromas of pear coupled with citrus notes of grapefruit skin, and a tropical fruit background of pineapple and nectarine. It’s subtly floral with a hint of cut grass and fresh in the mouth but with a little weight and texture from its time on the lees. Medium finish packed with fruit, saline notes and a pleasing bitterness which boosts the freshness.
More about Ónra Blanc
Who makes it
Pillar Salillas, wine maker at Lagravera
The Lagravera winery was founded in 2006 by the Arnó family. Builders by trade, they decided to repurpose the gravel quarry they had used for many years for their building business and the bodega was born. While the winery itself is in the town of Alcarrás about 25km north of Lleida, the vineyards are spread across in various locations both within and outside the official Denominación de Origen Coster del Segre. The whole winery is biodynamic, which means the vineyards and winery work in harmony with nature and natural cycles. Bee populations are nurtured to ensure pollination, sheep are used to keep the grasses in the vineyard under control, and cow dung is the perfect source of natural fertilizer.
Winery head and chief winemaker Pilar Salillas also stresses the importance of the Serra Llarga, a hilly stretch north of Lleida which heralds the proximity of the Pyrenees to the north. The range’s characteristic white soil is bursting with calcium-rich gypsum which, in a region which is otherwise pretty dry and continental, brings welcome freshness and sapidity to the wines.
This is an area with a long winemaking tradition, where families have been making wine for their own consumption for decades. As a result, it’s an area rich in old vines: the winery’s El Vinyet vineyard, for example, was planted in 1889 and is bursting with a whole host of native grape varieties – 24 to be precise, in an area of just over one hectare.
Like lots of grapes there’s a bit of debate about where Garnacha Blanca comes from genetically speaking, though the consensus seems to be that is it some sort of mutation of the red Garnacha grape. Like its red equivalent, it tends to take on the character of the terroir where it’s cultivated and it’s especially popular near the Mediterranean, especially Terra Alta in southern Catalunya, and other areas of north-east Spain.
In terms of flavours, wines made with Garnacha Blanca tend to have lots of white fruit and Mediterranean herb flavours. They can have an appealing minerality and, over time, take on stone fruit & petrol notes. And if it’s been oak aged you’ll often find lovely baked apple and bready flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s most popular white varieties with its origins in Bordeaux where it was crossed with Cabernet Franc in the eighteenth century and produced Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been a staple in the Loire valley too for centuries where it forms the backbone of famous appellations like Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre, and it’s very popular too in the New World, particularly countries like New Zealand where it is the most cultivated grape variety.
Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh, aromatic variety with highly distinctive, instantly recognizable aromas, variously described as grassy, herbaceous, cassis leaf or tomcat! Profile varies depending on where it is grown. The cooler growing conditions of the Loire, for example, produce fresher wines reminiscent of freshly cut grass, nettles, gooseberries or asparagus, while in the southern hemisphere in places like Marlborough in New Zealand, the wines take on more tropical notes of grapefruit, mango or passion fruit.
Where it's made
Denominación de Origen Costers del Segre is one of ten DOs in Catalunya (not including the all-encompassing DO Catalunya whose wines can be made with grapes from all over the region). It covers just under 5,000 hectares of vineyard near the city of Lerida, or Lleida as it’s called in Catalan. Costers del Segre literally translates as ¨banks of the Segre¨ which is one of the many tributaries which feed into the Ebro river.
Although it was officially established as a DO in the 1980s, the region won its place on the Spanish wine map thanks to the Raventós family, owners of Cava giant Codorníu, who established the Raimat winery and estate in the area in the early 1900s. The winery remains a major player today, and its vineyards account for about 30% of all the area under vine in the DO.
In geographical terms, Costers del Segre is the most inland of all Catalunya’s DOs, sitting about 100km north-west of Tarragona and the Mediterranean. It's divided up into 6 sub-zones which form an arc to the east of the city of Lleida, with vineyards planted at about 700 metres above sea level in the higher, pre-Pyrennean areas like Artesa de Segre and Pallars, down to 250 metres above sea level in the Segrià sub-zone on the flatter, lower-lying plain around Lleida. The rolling landscape sits primarily on limestone soils with brown topsoil.
How it's made
The grapes come from an 11 hectare estate divided into 14 different, biodynamically farmed vineyard plots. The fruit is harvested manually from mid September onwards into October, and kept chilled at a steady 6ºC. The grapes are carefully destemmed and gently crushed before pressing. The must then undergoes spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts at low temperature to extract as much natural flavour and minerality as possible and boost aromatic complexity. The wine then spends 4 months sitting on its fine lees in stainless steel tanks before bottling.