In Spain, a Bodega is the name given to the building where wine is made and stored. Many of our Spanish wines bear the names of their Bodega – Bodegas Luis Cañas and Bodegas Urbina spring to mind. Not so our wines from the Dominio de Punctum Estate high up on the central plain in Spain, around 100 miles South-East of Madrid, in the Province of Cuenca.
“Punctum” is the name of the vineyards, founded by the Fernandez family in 1905, and still owned by their descendants today. The family philosophy is that you cannot make good wines unless you have good grapes and hence the emphasis – and the name – should be based around the vineyard; hence Punctum Biodynamic Family Vineyards.
In fact, for the first 100 years, the family did not make wine. Like many farmers they grew grapes to sell to other bodegas. This all changed in the late 1990s when the 3 young, but ambitious, Fernandez siblings – Jesus, Ruth and Cristina – decided to transform their vineyards into organic grape production and develop a state-of-the-art Bodega which was completed in 2005; their first harvest was 2009.
The Fernandez family are a closely-knit, dynamic team, with Jesus as the CEO, bringing his MBA and previous business experience to the overall management. Sister Ruth graduated in Viticulture and Oenology and, not surprisingly, is the wine-maker and Production Director, while Cristina’s degree in Economics prepared her for her role as Finance Director.
After graduation, both Ruth and Cristina gained experience with other wine producers in other countries; they became convinced that to produce the best grapes they would need to move to organic and biodynamic practices. The Fernandez family decided to develop their estate into Punctum Biodynamic Family Vineyards.
Jesus was keen to show us around their vineyards first and explain their philosophy for sustainably produced grapes without chemical interventions. In 2005 they were awarded their organic status and 6 years later they became certified as a Biodynamic producer.
We are often asked “What is the difference between organic and biodynamic”. First you have to farm organically. This means no pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilisers on the soils and very limited permitted levels of Sulphites in the bottling of the wine. This is the first stage of sustainable wine production.
Biodynamic farming and production is a further step where the vineyard is considered as a self-sufficient eco-system which improves the environment for the longer term. Every process in the vineyards and in the winery from pruning, planting, fertilising, harvesting and in the making of wines is undertaken in line with the phases of the moon.
Probably the most well-known of these actions is the burying of cow horns, filled with natural fertilisers, in the vineyard! There is growing scientific evidence that this is hugely beneficial to soil life.
The vineyards are at 800 metres and the dry, sunny Mediterranean climate is certainly “organic friendly” with minimal pests and diseases found in damper climates. At times the heat in the summer can be extreme but with around 18 degree drop in temperature at night, the vines can rest and take up nutrients from the clay-based soil which is rich in limestone (as in Burgundy, Champagne and many other great wine regions).
The Punctum Estate grows a wide range of grapes – the indigenous Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, Bobal and Viura, plus the more well-known international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Viognier.
We are impressed with the purity of fruit and consistent quality of these wines, which we believe offer distinctive, flavourful wines that have attractive aromas, vibrant tastes and, importantly, offer fantastic value.
We stock 5 of their wines. New to us this year is a Loire-style Sauvignon Blanc which provides an interesting comparison to our two annual favourites, the deliciously peach and fresh Viognier and a stunning blush, dry Rosado made from the native Garnacha and Bobal, but in the style of Provence.
The 2 reds are an appealing, juicy Tempranillo with blackberry and cherry fruit, well-judged vanilla oak from its 6 months in barrel, and a more serious, intriguing blend of the increasingly popular Graciano with the well-known Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep, dark cherry and blackcurrant fruit, hints of almonds and spice plus vanilla and smoothness from its 12 months in American oak barrels.
You can find these wines individually in The Wine Shop, or discover them all in a special Dominio de Punctum Case offer.