2018 Laura Lorenzo – Daterra Viticultores, Camino de la Frontera, Vino Tinto, Los Arribes del Duero, Spain.
The unique and outstandingly expressive Camino de la Frontera, made from incredibly rare local varietals including Juan Garcia, Tinta Madrid and Rufete from a high elevation vineyard in Fermoselle is crazy delicious with deep layers of blueberry, pomegranate, açaí and earthy currant fruits, but with racy acidity, a nice umami crunchiness, spicy notes and mineral elements in a wonderfully soulful and balanced wine. To explain this exotic field blend red wine from Arribes del Duero, you’d have to imagine some amazingly different wines blended together, I am seeing elements of classic Northern Rhones, along with characteristics you find in the red wines of the Alto Adige, as well as something like the Frappato and Nero d’Avola blends in Southern Sicily in the Vittoria region! Laura Lorenzo is one of the most heroic and iconic winemakers in Spain these days and her Daterra Viticultores label is one of the most intriguing in the wine world with a star studded lineup of natural style wines from some insanely difficult to farm sites in the remote wilds between the Ribeira Sacra, mainly in the Val do Bibei and the Valdeorras zone, along with some parcels just farther a field, all in steep and backbreaking terroirs set on this area’s granite, slate and sandy soils. Lorenzo first burst onto the wine scene through her work at Dominio do Bibei, one of the first of the new generation Ribeira Sacra producers, this is when I first experienced her wines and I became an instant fan, these Mencia bottlings were fantastic and captivating wines and kept me following this very interesting winemaker and personality, when she started her own winery with the 2014 vintage. Laura, who worked with South Africa’s legendary Eben Sadie and at Argentina’s Achaval Ferrer, both of which can be seen in the influence of her wines, hand crafts wines of raw authenticity and inner beauty, with this dark purple/garnet and ruby edged 2018 Camino de la Frontera, from a difficult cool and wet vintage, being a favorite of mine of her current releases.

The vivid and floral (violet) toned Camino de la Frontera Tinto comes from an ancient parcel with vines that are well over a hundred years old at 650 meters above sea level, it is a northwest-facing vineyard set on mostly granite in the Parque Natural de Los Arribes del Duero, in the Zamora zone. As noted by her importer Jose Pastor Selections, this field blend, planted to mostly Juan Garcia, Tinta Madrid (aka Tempranillo), and Rufete also has a tiny amount of other indigenous varieties, with Bobal, Mencía and some Bastardo also, to name a few, all of which give this wine its own flavor profile and complexity. This exciting and excellent wine, even after the mentioned cool, wet & humid summer, turned out to be a wine of surprising depth and is rustically rewarding. The grapes, which are all organic, were hand-harvested then traditionally foot-trodden using about 50% whole-cluster and 50% de-stemmed in this year, with as per normal with Laura’s natural wines, was wild yeast fermented. Lorenzo, who believes in transparency and wines that deliver textural pleasure, used a combination of large French oak and a 1000L chestnut wood foudre to ferment in and then this Camino de la Frontera Tinto was raised in the same vessels for 11 months. As expected in wines like this there was no manipulation during the winemaking process here and Laura’s wines see only a small dose of SO2 with all of her wines being unfined and unfiltered to preserve purity as well as showcase the individual terroirs and every distinct nuance to be found in the finished wines. This is compelling stuff and perfectly delivers everything I love about these Daterra Viticultores wines, which are sultry, earthy seductive and celebrate a sense of wildness that captures the essence of this region and the Galician cool Atlantic climate and rugged charms. Laura Lorenzo, who is a must follow producer for natural wine fans and Spanish wine enthusiasts, stands over six feet tall, towers above most of the natives and who once had dreadlocks, makes quite an impression as do her exceptional wines, don’t miss them, especially this one.
($30 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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