SpainÂ’s wine industry is a real success story and one of the main reasons behind this is the growing number of small family run bodegas (wineries) in less well known areas producing quality wines at reasonable prices. One such bodega is Dolores Morenas situated in the DO of Ribera Del Guadiana in Extramadura.
The bodega was founded in 1930 and is currently run by Dolores Morenas herself, ably assisted by her two sons, Miguel and JosĂ©. Under her supervision a range of different grape varieties both local (Eva, Garnacha Tintorera, Tempranillo) and Â‘foreignÂ’ (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muscat) are cultivated on the bodegaÂ’s 60 hectares.
The bodega has a very clearly held belief that good wine comes from good grapes. In order to achieve this a great deal of effort goes into vineyard management, into reducing vine yields to produce the best grapes and into hand selecting grapes after harvesting. The whole growing and picking process has grape quality at its centre.
This vital vineyard process is then supported by modern winemaking techniques in fermentation and aging. It does not require much wine knowledge to understand that good grapes together with careful winemaking will produce very good wines.
The bodegaÂ’s main white wine is called Zagalon and is made from a local grape called Eva de los Santos. The wine is a lovely fresh, fruity young wine with well-integrated acidity and a long aftertaste. Dolores Morenas also produces a number of Tempranillo based red wines, my favourite being Melithon which is 70% Tempranillo and 30% Garnacha. This crianza, aged in oak for nine months, is a typical Â‘Rioja-style blendÂ’ but not at Rioja prices.
Another factor which contributes to the bodegaÂ’s success is its willingness to innovate and produce new wines using a range of grape varieties. For example, in 2005 a delicious Rosado made from Merlot joined the Zagalon range as did Finca EL Musinal a single vineyard wine made from Garnacha Tintorera, one of the very few red grapes that have red flesh. Those who like the big, fruity New World wines will love this one.
It is small wonder that this bodega exports more than 50% of its production to countries all over the world including France, a country not known for its appreciation of non-French wines. The bodega was recently described in JosĂ© PeĂ±inÂ’s magazine Sibaritis as a Â‘superbodegaÂ’ because of its dedication to quality and innovation.
When I asked Isabel Cuevas, the export manager about this she seemed modestly puzzled and slightly embarrassed.
So there it is; Dolores Morenas a bodega producing wines to delight the senses and please the pocket made by hardworking, innovative and modest people - with a woman in charge.
Cheers! Salud! Prost! SkĂĄl! Proost! SantĂ©! Slainte! Kippis!