Having nipped up just in time on the last day of this long weekend — always a heady mix of the secular Day of the Constitution on the 6th of December and the religious Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th — I can confirm that it now stands proudly in the middle of the bodega’s vineyards, containing rows of gleaming brand new casks full of wine, which in turn has been obtained with the lightest pressing after the grapes have been frozen to obtain the gentlest breaking of the skins and cells.
Bodegas Hispano-Suizas gets its name from the fact that the three partners are two Spaniards, Pablo Ossorio and Rafael Navarro, and a Swiss, Marc Grin. It is also fair to say that the evocation of the luxury car marque sits well with their grand project to make sophisticated, cosmopolitan wines. They are not unabashed at taking on the French at their own game.
They offer two Cavas, the biscuity, Champagne-style (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) Tantum Ergo 2007 (I have a feeling that the 2006 was 100% Chardonnay, but these things move on at speed), while the Tantum Ergo rosado is Pinot Noir through and through. It is very much a salmon-coloured rosé Champagne rather than the bright pink Cavas you tend to see. Nevertheless, it does combine Mediterranean effervescence with French elegance, being bigger and brasher than its paler sister.
We moved on to Rafael Navarro’s pride and joy, Impromptu, the highest-rated Sauvignon Blanc in Spain in the 2010 Guía Peñín with 93 points. This is a rich, dense, golden, unctuous white wine. To my mind it again blended an almost New World oomph (nose, colour, presence) with French style in terms of lingering flavour and balance.
The two reds are the Bassus Pinot Noir 2007 and the Bassus Premium 2007 (Bobal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and a small quantity of an unnamed fifth grape – Petit Verdot possibly?). The Pinot Noir is again a proper example of the grape, with its notably lighter colour than with most red wines from around here, but with that distinctive murky, velvet Pinot allure given a touch of Mediterranean vigour.
The Bassus Premium continues that balance of complexity with a certain approachable rigour. All in all, the wines are a tribute to the skillsof the three founders — Rafael in the vineyard, Pablo as a winemaker and Marc as overall packager and presenter of the project. Their Open Days straddling the anniversary of Spain’s Constitution and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception may not have been intended to convey practical effectiveness and progress blended with spiritual harmony and purity, but the dates seem well chosen.
There was talk of Ferrari visiting later in December, so it is good to see Hispano-Suizas keeping the luxury car connection and bringing Utiel-Requena wine to the top tables of Spain and Europe. I wonder if the Ferrari executives will christen the understatedly elegant private guest rooms that are being made ready on the second floor of what was the old house. I envy whoever does get to sleep here in the bosom of the vineyard with the bottles and casks whispering sweet nothings below.