Zestos Blanco is perhaps one of the most complex white-wines produced in Spain. It is also a tremendous value. If you have a demanding palate and love the bright acid of Sauvignon blanc and the body of chardonnay, the Malvar grape will greatly reward your taste. Zestos means basket in Spanish. Not too many years ago, baskets like the ones depicted on the label were use to transport grapes from the vineyard to the wineries. Zestos Blanco is produced from organically grown Malvar vines that were planted in 1974. It displays peach, nectarine and orange scents, it finishes smooth and broad, with good cling. The rare grape by the name of Malvar is indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula, and it is the principal white variety of the Madrid wine region. It is also known as Lairen. In 2008 Spain had a total of 266 ha (657 acres) of land under vine. Madrid has recently become the center of one of the most interesting and innovative wine regions on the Iberian Peninsula. For example, 90% of Vinos de Madrid DO wines are made from organically grown grapes. The outskirts of this storied royal city are filled with old vines situated in high elevation vineyards that have been planted in ideal soils. Madrid is a sort of “great unknown” that is now just freshly discovered. Most people are unaware that Madrid makes wine and because Vinos de Madrid is not yet “on the radar” of the consumer, it is a great source of incredible values today.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? This wine presents the best of both worlds: the Malvar grape combines the acidity of Sauvignon Blanc with the body of an unoaked Chardonnay. 90% of Vinos de Madrid DO wines are made from organically grown grapes. The vineyards are old vine, dry farmed, tended organically and are head pruned in the traditional manner. If you like litchi fruit, try Zestos Blanco!
RATING HISTORY: 2014 90Vinous; 2012 88IWC
GRAPE: 100% Malvar. Vines planted in 1950. Tended in clay and limestone soil at 645 m (2,116 ft) elevation
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This full-bodied, fresh, crisp white will turn your head with its assertive stone fruit, white peach and fresh apricot aromas and fresh, easy drinking character. This dry white has a small note of alluring sweetness. Zestos Blanco will pair excellently with wrapped sandwiches, sushi, chicken kabobs, chicken burritos and just about any fresh shellfish or seafood you can think of, especially swordfish, sea bass and monkfish. This is also a perfect white to enjoy with hors d'oeuvres or by itself.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: The must is macerated for 12 hours and fermented at a cold temperature of 50F for 20 days. Fermentation occurs half in stainless steel tanks and half in cement. Fermentation in cement allows for the softest process of micro-oxygenation. For aging, the wine sees no oak; rather it is aged in stainless steel tanks. To retain the Malvar grape's crisp, fresh aromas and clean stone fruit flavors on the palate, stainless steel is a neutral vessel that doesn't introduce any additional aromas or flavors.
PRODUCTION: 1,500 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in Zone 7, southeast of Madrid in the town of Arganda del Rey, within the Arganda subregion, at 645 m ( 2,116 ft) elevation. The poor clay and limestone soils with sandy subsoil yield concentrated, small grapes with balanced sugar and acidity. For climate, the average temperature from April-October is 66.7F with 20.1 inches of yearly rainfall in Arganda. The southern Continental climate has hot days and cool nights, crucial to the slower, balanced ripening of the grapes.
TASTING NOTES: Fragrant bouquet. Fleshy, focused and dry on the palate, offering incisive orange pith and green apple flavors and a repeating gingery quality. Closes taut, stony and long, with a suave floral nuance lingering. It offers impressive clarity and vivacity for the price.
All photos: Friederike Paetzold