Sara makes the cheese and her husband, Patxi, makes the wine. Clearly a match made in culinary heaven.
This young couple, with their children Mario and Aitana, live on the La Setera bodega and dairy near the Portuguese border between Zamora and Salamanca. The wine area is known as Arribes Del Duero and is soon to be granted DO status.
The bodega makes white, ros√© and red wines and is quoted in the prestigious Wine Report 2006 as one of the most exciting finds in Spain. In addition, La Setera is highly rated by John Radford who writes for Decanter Wine magazine.
The couple started the bodega because ¬Ďwe like to drink good wine¬í and were encouraged by Telmo Rodriguez, one of Spain¬ís foremost winemakers.
Vineyards have been in the area since Roman times (always a good sign) and the vineyards are between 50 and 100 years old (another good sign) the minimum amount of necessary chemicals are used and viticulture is of a high standard.
The small harvest yield is subjected to a rigorous hand selection which guarantees that nothing but the best grapes go into the wine.
This very artisanal approach is continued throughout the vinification process ensuring that there is as little man-made interference in the process as possible. The crianzas are gently oaked in French oak casks for 6 to 7 months. Production is very limited- 3,000 bottles of red joven and 4,000 bottles of crianza.
What makes the red wine particularly special is the grape variety which is called Juan Garcia. The grape, which sounds more like a Spanish footballer, is autochthonous (great word which means ¬Ďnative¬í) to that particular part of Spain. The grape produces wines that have a bright ruby colour and are fruity with a finesse and length that makes one wonder why the grape variety is not more widely grown. Not surprisingly, the wine is an excellent partner to Sara¬ís hard goats¬í cheese.
One of the pleasures of living in or visiting a wine producing country is that it is possible to try different wines made with grape varieties that are native to a country and yet are little known within it and unheard of abroad. Drinking wine would quickly become a chore if all wine tasted the same! Unfortunately this is an increasing trend in the global wine market. Of course trying different wines can lead to disappointment but that is usually far outweighed by the pleasure of discovering a wine, such as La Setera, that is not only an eye opener but delicious as well.
As a special offer to readers of Web Express Guide the first five readers to order a mixed case of La Setera red from Alegria Wines will receive a free round of Sara¬ís cheese, just perfect for a wine and cheese party!
Cheers! Salud! Prost! Sk√•l! Proost! Sant√©! Slainte! Kippis!