Last week we were lucky enough to be joined by Cristina Callejo, of Bodegas Félix Callejo in Spain’s Ribera del Duero, who flew in for just one night to host a stunning tasting of her family’s wines.
We’ve been importing Callejo for a number of years now and have always been impressed by their quality, but this was the first time we’ve held a tasting dedicated solely to their superb wines. We don’t often get to have representatives from our international wineries come over to guide us through their wines, so this was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up! It was fascinating to try the entire range together and hear Cristina share her in-depth knowledge of Callejo’s wines.
One of the revelations of the tasting was the 2011 Flores de Callejo. This is Callejo’s entry-level Tempranillo, aged 6 months in oak and we were amazed by its quality. Dense purple, with a beautiful floral nose and a lush, ripe impression, it’s seriously good value.
The 2009 Callejo was similarly ripe and densely coloured, but with slightly more tannin and acidity adding structure.
One of the stars of the tasting, the 2009 Majuelos de Callejo was refined and silky with absolutely beautiful balance and a complex, perfumed nose. ‘Majuelo’ is an old word for small vineyard.
The 2006 Gran Callejo was also complex and refined with a softness and delicacy to it from its extended aging making it an absolute pleasure to drink now.
We took a break from 100% Tempranillo wines to try the 2009 Finca Valderoble, a Tempranillo, Merlot and Syrah blend from a single vineyard, Ribera del Duero’s highest. The site was originally intended to become a small airstrip until Jose Felix Callejo realised the extreme climate and limestone soil had great potential for quality wines and planted it to vine in 2004. The wine is certified organic and is moving towards becoming bio-dynamic. Cristina pointed out that in fact, all of the Callejo wines are produced under organic farming, but the long and somewhat arduous task of official organic certification has only been undertaken on this small site. This wine is also unique in that it is fermented in unlined concrete vats, allowing for softening micro-oxygenation during fermentation. Due to a bureaucratic quirk, this also means the wine is not allowed to be labelled Ribera del Duero so is instead sold under the Castilla Y Leon designation, depsite being within walking distance of the Callejo winery. An interesting wine, dense and opaque with a very complex, savoury nose and deep, dark berry flavours.
We finished off with a trio of vintages of Félix Callejo, the 2009, 2006 and 2005. These big wines were seriously impressive with serious cellaring potential too. The 2005 was still powerful and young, while the 2009 was an absolute baby.