DOC Ribera del Duero
We first came across the French winemaker Bertrand Sourdais in 2005, where, as a young man in his first full-time position, he was building a reputation for his single-vineyard cuvées at Dominio de Atauta in Ribera del Duero. His devotion to the expression of individual terroirs attracted much attention and produced some of the most striking examples of old-vine Tempranillo at a time when that region was really beginning to hit the headlines, with many new names such as Pingus and Aalto challenging the singular authority of Vega Sicilia.
The difference was that he was working in the province of Soria, further east and higher up than any other top-rated Ribera del Duero producer, squeezed between the Iberian and Central mountain ranges. The extra freshness that he got from this harsher climate was just what he was looking for, it satisfied his quest for precision and definition and the results spoke for themselves: one of his early creations, the 2002 Llanos de Almendra, caused a stir when Michel Bettane selected it blind as his top wine in a Paris tasting with the Guía Peñín, alongside the 1994 Único – and just beating Château Latour 2000!
Bertrand is the man at the heart of Antídoto, fifth-generation winemaking stock from Chinon in the Loire. He studied oenology in Bordeaux where he developed a fascination for blending, although not necessarily grape varieties: he now prefers to blend the same types of grapes, be it Cabernet Franc in the Loire or Tempranillo in Spain, grown on different soils.
After gaining top level experience at Mouton-Rothschild, Santa Rita and with Alvaro Palacios, he landed that first post at Atauta where he stayed until 2010. When the estate was bought up by a large Spanish group he decided to do move on, but he didn’t go very far. He selected some old-vine parcels in the same village and set about making wine on his own terms. He has become known as “El Vigneron”, a title which recognises his perfect integration into Spanish the community and his total involvement both in the vineyard and the winery, tasks often divided in Spanish bodegas. This allows him to oversee every stage in the process, ensuring the wine is the purest expression of the Tempranillo grape on his different soils. This film (in Spanish) gives you an idea of his working ethos.
Antídoto is 100% Tempranillo. It is the antidote, says Bertrand, to the mass of Parker-point-seeking highly-extracted Ribera del Duero wines which he believes over-extract, over-macerate and over-oak, losing the finesse of the grape and the soil. The vines are tended as if they were his children, the wine is vinified with minimal intervention, there is no new oak (none!) and the ageing is as gentle as possible. It is a wine for drinking, not for collecting or cellaring too long, and it is a wine of great joy and pleasure.
|Antídoto, Ribera del Duero, 2014|