Location: Spain, Castilla y Leon
Grape(s): White- Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc
Soil(s): Mixture of sand, gravel and small pudding stones
Just outside of the magical city of Valladolid, the once former capitol of Castillian Spain lies the white wine region of Rueda. Home to Spain’s most popular white wines, this region has a reputation for producing fairly uninteresting, not complex white wines. Most of the time that is true, but we found the exception to the rule.
Belondrade y Lurton is a project started in 1994 by Didier Belondrade and his wife, and is currently the only wine that is one every Spanish two and three michelin starred restaurant’s wine list. This is a great source of pride for our friend Jean Belondrade whom we met at his family’s winery. Jean is the export manager and the only other member of his family that entered the wine business.
His father started the winery to mimic his favorite wines of Pessac-Leognan (white Bordeaux), a style his ex-wife Briggite is quite familiar with. She is a Lurton, a family name that is synonymous with Bordelaise wine making. Her uncle Andre is one of the most lauded wine makers of the region. The wines are sourced from single vineyards, and aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels. They have an intense grapefruit, lime and vanilla flavor and are incredible for Sauvignon Blanc enthusiasts.
The winery at La Seca itself is a work of art. Designed by the architect Vicent Dufos du Rau, it stands in stark contrast to the vast flat plateau that is Rueda.
The wines are sourced from specific single plots scattered around the region. It was remarkable to witness the difference in the health and upkeep of Belondrade’s vines as compared to their neighbors. Instead of overgrown, unpruned vines, the rows were meticulously arranged and pruned to keep the natural vigor of the Verdejo grape in check.
Jean also explained that it was difficult at first to market the wines from a region with the reputation of low cost value driven offerings at the price points necessary to pay for the oak barrels and the extra vineyard management. It took a while, but eventually the wines developed a cult following and are considered to be some of the best whites coming out of Spain today. While the family does own a bit of Tempranillo plantings, they only utilize the grapes to make a rose named after one of Jean’s sisters, Clarisse.
After our tour, we enjoyed a spectacular dinner at the tiny (8 tables) Michelin starred restaurant, El Trigo
Reeds Wine List: