Veronica Ortega Cal 2018


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“One of the very few Bierzo wines from limestone soils and the only white I know of is the amazing 2018 VO Cal. It’s from a year when ripening was slow, so the grapes ripened thoroughly and the acidity is more integrated. This is still 12.5% alcohol and has seven grams of acidity with a pH of 3.1—a white of moderate alcohol and vibrant freshness, plus the freshness and sapid sensation of the limestone (“cal” is the Spanish word for lime). This matured 50% in barrique and 50% in amphorae/tinaja for one year. This is perhaps not as radical as 2017; this is the first vintage when the wine went through malolactic fermentation, so the profile is a little different, a little more approachable, but with the austere profile and the salinity of the limestone. This perhaps has more depth and more weight and is probably going to age for a longer time. The nose has the textbook chamomile aromas and palate keeps the citrus and saline character. It’s vibrant, layered and complex. It’s clean and evolves slowly in the glass, so it should develop slowly in the bottle too. 3,413 bottles were filled in December 2019. Drink: 2020-2027. 95+ points

Verónica Ortega has found some more new vineyards in Cobrana and has a new light red, Kinki, and she continues working organically in the vineyards, producing characterful wines that reflect the places, grapes and vintages. Her white is the best in the appellation. All plots ferment with full clusters in open-top oak vats or plastic bins, but the larger volume red Quite ferments destemmed in stainless steel. The wines mature in amphorae, different sized barrels and oak vats. Veronica produced 45,000 bottles in 2018. 2016 needed time, 2017 was very challenging with up to three different flowerings in some places (there was no frost in Cal or Cobrana), and 2018 is like a more-complete version of 2016. 2018 was an unusual year. The vines were recovering from the frost of 2017, and the grapes ripened very slowly. Harvest was also late and slow, and Verónica described it as a Galician profile. Analytically, there is not a lot of acidity, but the wines are fresh; she calls 2018 “the most Atlantic of recent vintages.” 2019 was drier and a little warmer/riper than 2018, but quite similar anyway, with wines with a little more structure and acidity.”

Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate (06/20)