A wonderful, high altitude red brimming with scents of the Mediterranean
An exceptional wine made with 100% Bobal grapes, Rayuelo is brimming with Mediterranean scents like pine needles, herbs, and menthol, and full of red fruit, plum, and blackcurrant flavours, balanced with good acidity to produce a truly elegant and refined wine.
Poultry, Game, Pasta Dishes, Rice Dishes, Cheese
More about Rayuelo
Who makes it
Altolandon is based just outside the village of Landete in the province of Cuenca in the east of Spain. The Mediterranean is only about 100km away, but here at over 1,000m up on the plateau and with the Sierra de Mira mountains looming in the distance, the beach feels a world away.
The winery work with a wide variety of grape varieties, including some you wouldn’t expect to find out here like Godello and Albariño. But for us, the prize variety is the native Bobal – a grape traditionally was used in bulk wines, but which is increasingly being used for single-varietal wines.
Owner and head winemaker Rosalía Molina is very focused on the wider environmental impact of what she does. She takes a minimum intervention approach in the vineyard and the winery, and all wines are certified organic. Nature lends a hand too - at such a high altitude and sitting on an exposed plain, the Altolandon vineyards get plenty of wind, which keeps the plants aerated, staves off fungal disease and means the team don’t need any chemical pesticides to keep the vines healthy.
In addition to Rayuelo being an organic wine (as well as being vegan-friendly), the Altolandon team also keep intervention in the winery to a minimum and neither fine nor filter the wine (steps at the end of the winemaking process to leave the wine clear and transparent). This means the wine is slightly more opaque than usual, but that’s perfectly normal.
About the grapes
Rayuelo is made from old Bobal vines planted between 70 and 100 years ago. A thick-skinned variety, resistant to drought and capable of adding a nice rich colour to red wines, Bobal was primarily used as a blending ingredient for bulk wine but its popularity in single varietal wines is well and truly on the rise.
Bobal produces wines with lots of fruit flavours like raspberry and cherry, but you might also pick up some floral elements like violets, or perhaps sometimes even a touch of chocolate.
Altitude plays an important part in the use of Bobal at Altolandon. At 1,100 metres above sea level, these are some of Spain’s highest vineyards, and the temperature difference between day and night ensures the Bobal grapes have time to relax and ripen at a steady pace, locking in acidity and enhancing the flavours and aromas that winemakers at lower altitudes and in warmer climates can often struggle to maintain.
Where it's made
About 100 km inland from the Mediterranean, Manchuela has been a winemaking region for centuries. Its 12,500 hectares of vineyards span the two provinces of Cuenca and Albacete and are sliced in half from north to south by the Jucar and Cabriel rivers. The area is a plateau, between 600 and 1,000 metres above sea level.
Most of the DO’s wineries are at the southern end where long hours of sunshine and low and predictable rainfall are factors that help make winegrowers' lives easier. To the north, the altitude rises, and cooler winds help keep vines healthy. That in turn helps keep down the need for chemical pesticides, hence the number of organic wines you can find in the DO.
How it's made
Following a manual harvest and short maceration, the must undergoes a spontaneous fermentation at 18ºC in 6,000 litre stainless steel tanks in order to preserve all the aromas of the grape. Once fermentation is complete, the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in 300 litre French oak barrels and is aged in the same barrels for a further 8 months before bottling.
Really smooth organic wine. First impression is that it looks very cloudy in the glass, but this is the nature of the wine. Very light on tannins so very smooth on the pallette. Loved it.
I enjoyed the Rayuelo because of it's herb and quite earthy notes, and medium to long finish. Unlike some wines of this abv, I didn't notice the strength too much, so that side of the wine made it very moreish. It was very quaffable with a pork casserole. Thank you for your post telling me all about this wine. I like this information to give me the whole picture....much appreciated.