We first sold the 2010 Domaines Lupier’s El Terroir and La Dama which were each absolutely spectacular expressions of 100% old vine Garnacha from the upper Navarra region in northern Spain. I remember traveling through this arid region just to the north of Pamplona (“running of the bulls”) and just south of the Pyrenees range. Really better known for its inexpensive, good value blush wines. And until Enrique Basarte and Elisa Úcar began discovering and rescuing miniscule, remnant plots of old vine Garnacha in 2006, that’s exactly where these grapes ended up. SACRILEGE! Studying and mapping the various diversity of soil types (chalky-clay and limestone) and using organic and biodynamic viticulture practices to nurse these dry farmed old bush vines back to health reminded me of the Priorat pioneers of the mid-1980s.
“After many years’ experience in the wine sector and convinced that the making of a great wine takes place in the vineyard, Elisa Ucar and Enrique Basarte searched around and examined the terroirs in various areas until they found what they were looking for: abandoned black garnacha old vines in mountain altitude in North Spain, with predominant limestone soils, different orientations –In all, 27 treasures, some of planted since 1903, that they bought with lots of effort and they take care of them day by day organically certified and biodynamic.”
Let’s fast forward now to the 2018 vintage where the legendary winemaker Raul Perez has finished the final blending the wines after acquiring the 17 hectares of old vine garnacha from Ucar and Basarte.**
Extending over a number of different parcels varying in altitude from about 400m ASL to 750m over a basic substrate of clay-limestone, the estate boasts what are thought to be the oldest vines in the ground in the village of San Martín de Unx. While not certified, the 100% head-pruned and dry-farmed bush vines are farmed organically, producing beautifully ripe and healthy but balanced and crunchy fruit.
There are two cuvées produced, one being the delicious El Terroir estate blend, and then this ‘La Dama’, a showstopping single-parcel bottling from the highest altitudes of the estate. Both wines are fermented in a combination of tank and open-top barrel with some stem inclusion, and see elevage in a range of larger French barrels from 400 to 1500 liters, with about 10% of the cooperage new per year.
**These 2018s were made by Enrique and Elisa, but were held in tank since early 2020 awaiting final blending, which was done by Raúl Pérez late last year.)
100% Garnacha • sourced from a prime 120-year-old limestone-rich 2-hectare single parcel called Lupier at the highest reaches of the estate • fermented spontaneously in a combination of tank and open-top barrel will some whole bunches • raised in larger French oak ranging from 400-1500L, about 90% of it used
Wine Advocate – 97 points “… The wine is stunning, elegant and aromatic, with depth, complexity and grip. It’s incredibly young and expressive and doesn’t show its age at all; it has a refined nose and is quite fruit-driven and floral, with very integrated oak (like never before), supple flavors and very fine tannins. It has good ripeness and contained alcohol (13.8%) and good freshness and acidity…” (LG)