Quinta da Muradella
VISIT IMPORTER'S WEBSITE
Country of Origin: Spain
Location: Monterrei, Galicia
People: Jose Luis Mateo & Raul Perez, Owners & Winemakers
Viticulture: Certified Organic
In a world where terms like cult, boutique and natural have become marketing speak, Quinta de Muradella is the real deal. José Luis Mateo started Quinta da Muradella in 1991, naming his garage winery after a Celtic fort from the 3rd Century BC located near the town of Verín. Working with consulting enologist Raúl Pérez, José’s objective and philosophy for QDM is to showcase the great indigenous grapes that were popular during the 1800s, and thus recover and save lost varieties facing extinction. In a certain way, this winery is like a liquid book of history.
José Luis Mateo produces delicious, terroir-expressive wines from 34 unique parcels throughout the Monterrei DO. All of the parcels are certified organic by CRAEGA (Cjo. Regulador de Agricultura Ecológica de Galicia). The parcels contain a cornucopia of indigenous grape vines. All new plantings are propagated from selection massale material from Jose's oldest vines. In the cellar, all ferments are wild from indigenous yeast, and the wines are neither fined nor filtered.
About Monterrei DO: Monterrei is a valley split from north to south by the Tamega River, which joins the Douro River on the south over the Portuguese border. There are 3 subzones in Monterrei: Tamaguelos, Oimbra and Pazos de Monterrei. The soils from the Pazo de Monterrei and Tamaguelos vineyards are slate and clay, which contribute minerality and volume. Soils from the Oimbra vineyards are composed of gravel and sand and are expressed as powerful aromas with a complexity and depth of flavors in the wine. The Monterrei climate is Atlantic (cold and wet) with a continental influence (in general, extremely hot and dry summers with cold, dry winters). Monterrei is one of the DO regions within Galicia that is furthest from the Atlantic Ocean and its yearly rainfall is below average compared to other regions in Galicia. These inland continental conditions result in a drier, warmer climate than western Galician regions. Average yearly rainfall for Monterrei is 23 inches and closer to the water in Rias Baixas the average is 93 inches.
“Although it is fascinating to taste wines from these relatively obscure varieties, what shines here is ‘the soul of Monterrei’ and the deft, light-handed winemaking of a skillful and intuitive winemaker.”
Wine Advocate 10/2013
"Quinta da Muradella was created in 1993 by Jose Luis Mateo with 15 hectares of owned vineyards in different zones of the Monterrei appellation, some on the valley floor, some on the slopes and some others in the mountain zones where some vineyards reach 100 years of age. He works 20 different plots. All his vineyards are organically certified. He makes a total of 40,000 bottles per year, and experiments with different grapes, different zones, fermenting and aging vessels (wood, stainless steel, concrete) trying to understand the region and the grapes and what works best. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand the process he uses to make some of the wines, and you’ll see that he moves the wines from inox to barrel, from cement to whatever, in what seems to be quite a complicated operation. Some things work and some don’t. He makes varietal wines to examine the different grapes and their potential, he tries different blends, and his ultimate idea is to identify the ideal blend of ancient varieties, the ones that were planted in the region before phylloxera, not only to make the wine, but to plant those varieties already mixed in the vineyard.
His collection of wines is completely different from the rest of the wines produced in the appellation. If you ever visit Verin, which has a beautiful old town center and an impressive castle, you should make sure you visit the Mateo family’s bar, A Canteira (the name comes from their father who was a canteiro, a stone mason), where they serve their own house wine, both white and red, made by Jose Luis. It is the best house wine I’ve ever tried in a restaurant. The locals just don’t know how lucky they are. About the person himself, Jose Luis Mateo is extremely humble, a quality I find in the best people across different professions – very generous with his time and everything else. He’s passionate about what he’s doing, and he considers his work a long-term project to bring value and quality to the wines of his region, 'hoping that someone will take over and continue the things that I’m doing,' he said. When I asked him what he’d change if he could start again he was very clear. 'I’d focus on the mountain vineyards,' he told me. I asked what if it had to be somewhere else in Galicia? 'To me the place would be Ribeiro.' And now for something completely different! Jose Luis has been making a range of varietal red wines that he was reluctant to show, since quantities are sometimes tiny, but I found some of them too good not to talk about them; some are also non-DO wines declassified to the Vino de Mesa category."
Spanish Wine Lover: Quinta da Muradella: the Quiet Search for Wine Purity