2018 El Escoces Volante Es Lo Que Hay Garnacha Vinas Viejas

Year: 2018
Appellation: Calatayud
Country: Spain
Wine Advocate: 93
Vinous Media: 91
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 15.0%
Price :
$18.95

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"The red 2018 Es Lo Que Hay, comes from a vintage Norrel Robertson describes as "one of the standout years in our 17 years producing Garnacha." This is mostly Garnacha, with just 5% other grapes, as it comes exclusively from two old vineyards in the village of Villarroya de la Sierra, and such vineyards always have a small proportion of other grapes, mostly Moristel with a little Miguel de Arco and some Provechón (Bobal). All the varieties fermented together destemmed after a five-day cold soak with the natural yeasts and then matured in Flextank egg for 15 months. This is softer, with more clay and limestone influence rather than the slate soils from the vineyards used in the past for the cuvée. This has more depth and complexity, perhaps from the other grape varieties that complement the Garnacha, and probably has a little more acidity and tannin. It has tension, minerality and good acidity, probably from the Moristel, which tends to ripen a little later than the Garnacha. Tasty. Again, not a shy wine at 15% alcohol but nicely balanced. 3,966 bottles were filled in March 2020.

I tasted via videoconference with Norrel Robertson, the flying Scotsman ("el Escocés volante"), during the Covid-19 lockdown, and he presented a majority of 2018s, a fantastic vintage in many parts of Spain, including Aragón and more specifically Calatayud, the main place where he works. After the catastrophic 2017 when he lost 75% of the crop to frost, comes a year of freshness and fragrant, delicate and juicy wines when there's a shift to using more of their own grapes from the village of Villarroya de la Sierra, a cooler, higher altitude place with red clay and limestone soils rather than the slate found in other parts of the appellation. Some are sold without Calatayud appellation because they are fermented outside the appellation's limits (one of the nonsenses of the rules of the appellations of origin in Spain), and of course, he also works in Galicia, Murcia and Valencia. He produces a grand total of 300,000 bottles per year. Many wines are produced in Flextank (plastic) eggs; he only has a couple of concrete eggs, used for Es Lo Que Hay and En Sus Trece. The wines are exuberant and showy, round and lush, not shy.

2020 started with the purchase of a 4.7-hectare site on the outskirts of the village of Cervera de La Cañada, where he plans to consolidate production of his own 26 hectares of vineyards under the same roof. Other than preserving some old vineyards, he has also planted some new ones for the future, and he is planning to plant more in the coming years. Among the old vineyards is a new jewel in the crown, a 1.2-hectare stony plot planted in the 1930s with red Garnacha (Fina) and some other local varieties; it was first fermented separately in 2019." (WA)

"Vivid ruby-red. Expressive cherry, boysenberry, licorice and white pepper aromas take on a floral nuance as the wine opens up. Densely packed and lively in the mouth, offering concentrated red and blue fruit flavors sweetened by a subtle vanilla nuance. Smooth tannins frame a long, floral-accented finish that leaves behind a suggestion of baking spices." (VM)

Winery Notes:
"ES LO QUE HAY" It´s what there is / It is what it is / That´s how it goes. A common Spanish expression but one I like to reserve for the few old high altitude Garnacha vineyards that survive in Aragon . What you taste in the bottle is a true expression of what there is in the vineyard. It's as simple as that.

High altitude ancient vineyards at 1000 to 1100 metres above sea level with apizarra slate and quartzite soils. Completely dry grown and unirrigated this is an inhospitable continental climate with extreme changes of temperature were mountain herbs, almonds, cherry trees and Garnacha form a breathtaking patchwork. Low annual rainfall of 200-300mm and the remarkable soils produce fine and elegant Garnacha which is punctuated by intense black fruit flavors with complex mineral, smoke and garrigue notes.

Color:
Impenetrable purple

Bouquet:
Pronounced aromas of crushed violets and zarzaparrilla (also called Rough Bindweed or Common Smilax). Intense yet refined with lifted, perfumed fruit and wild mountain herbs.

Taste:
Full bodied, with rounded tannins, crisp acidity and a long mineral finish.