When winemaker and Englishwoman Charlotte Allen first beheld the western Spanish landscape of Las Arribes del Duero, on the border with Portugal, she was “overwhelmed by the savage beauty of the region: the deep gorges cut by the Duero, the steep terraces covered with ancient vines and even older olive trees, the way man had adapted himself to the landscape rather than bending it under his will.” Soon after she acquired about 15 acres, a cellar, and the byname “Carlota”.
The journey up to that point saw her harvesting grapes and working in the cellar with Noël Pinguet at Domaine Huet in Vouvray, more harvests in South Africa and Italy, back to South Africa, and then to the Southern Rhône where she would study viticulture. Her dream of setting up her own domaine in France took a sharp turn after a trip to Spain where Didier Belondrade convinced her that an undiscovered area about two hours west of their meeting in Rueda was where she ought to be setting her sights. She now calls Arribes home.
Despite the challenges of an Englishwoman living in a remote Spanish village, Carlota has been able to adapt, and coax some beautiful wines out of her old vines growing from granite soils. She employs organic and biodynamic methods in the vineyards and the wines are fermented using indigenous yeasts. Production is tiny with less than 300 cases of each wine made. The two Pirita wines are named for the for the mineral pyrite (fool’s gold) found throughout the vineyard soils.
Pirita Red (Arribes, 2011)
22-56 new 750mL Spain 2011 Spain Pirita Red Wine Vintage Shop