The wines of the Sherry región are unique in many respects, one of which – and a very important one – is the triumvirate of grapes from which it is made. The Palomino, the Moscatel and the Pedro Ximénez provide the magic of a Denomination of Origin which is capable of offering ten types of wine of extraordinary quality. However within the geographical limits of the Sherry región other grapes can be found which are suitable for other types of wine. This is the case with the Tintilla de Rota, indigenous to the coastal town of Rota to which the 2018 Fiestas de la Vendimia were dedicated.
This grape, which is red as its name implies, is native to the province of Cádiz and is included in the list of approved varieties for Vinos de la Tierra de Cádiz. Its bunches and berries are comparatively small, it ripens late, it is not particularly robust and is sensitive to drought. Its acidity is moderate and it has a high content of sugars; its yield is low and it was at serious risk of disappearing until its production was stepped up in the mid XX century, an almost unimaginable fate for a wine which achieved such distinction on the XVIII and XIX centuries.
Despite being indigenous to the área, it is not approved in the Denominación de Origen Sherry as it is not one of the three authorised grapes mentioned above.
Bodegas Lustau and Gonzalez Byass commit to Tintilla de Rota
Some of the bodegas in the area like Lustau, González Byass and Bodegas Ferris, not to mention the only surviving bodega in Rota itself, Bodegas Sanatorio “El Gato”, make different wines using this grape which is indigenous to the province.
Lustau makes its “Tintilla de Rota Lustau Single Cask” of which only 204 bottles were produced in 2017 but receiving the highest Robert Parker score of all the bodega´s wines: 94. After the harvest the grapes are laid out in the sun so as to concéntrate their sugar content. Then once fermentation has started, they stop it by adding wine alcohol which gives the wine a suitable strength while retaining the natural sugars. Next the wine is aged in a seasoned 36 arroba (600 litre) butt.
This wine is from the 2001 vintage and has aged statically in the butt with the bung sealed with wax. During this period no fewer than 20 arrobas have been lost to evaporation giving the wine incredible concentration. The result is a wine of an intense, deep ebony colour with yellow tinged tears which run very slowly down the glass reflecting the wine´s viscosity and density. On the nose it has aromas of the back room of a chemist´s shop, iodine and licorice with some toasted notes like coffee. Its impact on the palate is amazingly bitter-sweet with licorice and coffee flavours leaving a long dry finish.
Meanwhile, the Tintilla made by González Byass is one of a range of red wines they produce in the province of Cádiz at their Finca Moncloa. It is made in the traditional way; leaving the grapes out in the sun for a few days till they reach the required degree of sweetness. They are then lightly crushed and macerated during fermentation before pressing. After a few months of settling in stainless steel tanks, the wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels before bottling.
Interestingly, González Byass first made Tintilla de Rota as long ago as 1841, and due to its fine quality it attracted the attention of the royal family who appointed the firm as its official supplier in the times of Isabel II. The wine has an intense cherry colour with purple hues and aromas of plums, cacao and fine oak. It is elegant, smooth and persistent on the palate making it the ideal dessert wine.