This is our first experience of a bodega which has taken a totally different approach, committing to organic growing and production practices 16 years ago. Not only was this a commitment to the organic practices but it was also a commercial decision that means Bodegas Robles has become a true pioneer in this regard. We found it very interesting to hear that Francisco’s father at first was sceptical about the organic approach being adopted but it’s fair to say that he is now fully on board.
The bodega itself dates back to 1927 when Antonio José and Pilar Robles founded Bodegas Robles in Montilla. They instilled their ethos to the bodegas and wines ultimately to respect traditions and the environment.
Originally in the centre of Montilla, Bodegas Robles relocated to their current site in 1975.
Tradition certainly is apparent with Robles, which is now in the safe but forward thinking hands of Francisco, who is a third generation winemaker at the bodega, his sister Pilar, his cousin Vicente Martínez Robles the winery foreman and oenologist Rocío Márquez.
2 million litres of organic wines are produced per year. All grapes are grown in a perfectly balanced environment with no chemicals or pesticides used. It sounds idyllic but it does not happen without careful planning, research and hard work.
Our tour started outside in the vineyards where Franscisco proudly spoke of and indicated some of the flowers and trees that are indigenously grown with others being deliberately located to surround the border of the vineyard. Growth of plants during the non grape growing season is encouraged due to what they give back to the soil. Robles have vineyards in various locations at differing altitudes in the Sierra de Montilla.
Plants and flowers, which include short root and nitrogen-fixing indigenous wild species such as cloverleaf, poppies and legumes, along with trees, are strategically planted or allowed to grow to attract the correct mix of insects, bees and birds. Drawing the pests away from the vines by managing their numbers through predation is key to the organic approach.
Robles have been working with the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Soil Science and Oenology of the University of Cordoba since 2001 to maximize the organic production with carefully managed vineyards and the surrounding environment.
We moved on then to the pressing and production area then it was onto the bodega itself for the wine tasting and what a selection.
- Piedra Luenga White Verdejo at 12% ABV which we found to be very fresh and fruity.
- Piedra Luenga Fino at 15%. A young Fino with only 2 years of biological aging under flor. Despite it’s youth, this is very elegant and smooth.
- Pedro Luego Amontillado at 16% ABV with an average age of 4 years. A very fresh light and fruity wine.
- Pedro Luega Oloroso at 16% with 6 years of oxidative aging. We found little wood or alcohol on the nose but it is dry, fresh and delicatly seet on the palate.
- Pedro Ximénez Selección de Robles 1927 Oro. This has 380 grams of sugar per litre with a nose tobacco and lemon. This was selected as the fourth best wine in the world in 2015, according to the World Association of Journalists and Writers of Wines and Spirits (WAWWJ).
Francisco generously gave us a bottle of this to take away with us that we will review in more detail soon.
Finally were were honoured to try a new project wine, a mix of 50% Verdejo and 50% young Pedro Ximenez. Interestingly this was slightly gaseoso or fizzy on the palate shows great potential. Looking forward to tasting and reviewing this wine when it is released commercially.
Thanks again to Inma from Bacus Travel for accompanying us during our visit and especially to Francisco for taking time to host us. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and look forward to hopefully returning in September.