Charlotte Allen of Bodega Almaroja is an English expat living in the village of Fermoselle, the "Wild West" of Spain, where she's known as Carlota the Francesa. She makes her wines from 75+ year old organic vineyards, co-fermenting these field blends, which contain up to 16 different red and white varietals that few have heard of. Her average yield is 10 hectoliters per hectare (about a half ton per acre--very little).
In the vineyard, Charlotte tends the vines herself, except during the harvest, when she employs pickers. Everything is organic, and she adheres to some biodynamic practices and calendars (aiming to work on the weaker parcels on the appropriate days of the calendar, and the stronger parcels on the days surrounding, also using certain biodynamic preparations, for example). Treatments for disease, when needed, are taken care of with botanical blends (such as sage and nettle). Ploughing is done by mule or tractor, depending on the accessibility of the vineyard.
Almaroja "Pirita" Blanco 2018
Labeled as 100% Malvasia (the local name for the unique clone of Doña Blanca in the area), the wine is predominantly this clone of Doña Blanca and a blend of Puesta en Cruz, Albilo, Godello, Moscatel a Grano Menudo, and an unidentified white variety from 50-150 year old vines.
Winemaking: Four days skin contact while grapes are cold. 6 months Stainless steel on fine lees. Spontaneous fermentation, low SO2, gentle fining, unfiltered.
Production: 3,500 bottles
Almaroja “Cielos y Besos” 2018
Primarily Juan Garcia, the local specialty of the Arribes, and Tempranillo from Charlotte’s “young” vines (50 years old). Harvested in mid-September.
Winemaking: Hand harvested, spontaneous fermentation, 3-week maceration in stainless steel, one punch per day. Stainless aged. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Production: 3,500 bottles
Almaroja “Pirita” Crianza 2013
Primarily Juan Garcia, the local specialty of the Arribes, with Rufete, Bruñal, and many others, a couple unidentified from 50-150 year old vines.
Winemaking: Aged 9 months in neutral 300L French oak barrels. Spontaneous fermentation, low SO2, unfined, unfiltered.
Production: 3,000 bottles
Almaroja “Mateo” Mencía 2017
90% Mencia from Villacampo (one of the most northerly villages in the Arribes DO) and 10% Bruñal (aka Alfrocheiro) from La Fregeneda (one of the most southerly).
Winemaking: Hand harvested. The two grapes were fermented separately and blended prior to aging. Spontaneous fermentation, 3-4 week maceration. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Production: Only 700 bottles!
Almaroja “Charlotte Allen” 2015
125-year-old vines. 25% Juan Garcia, 25% Rufete 25% Tempranillo, and 25% Bruñal from what was Charlotte's favorite vineyard, Campo Redondo. The vineyard was unfortunately burned by an arsonist during a village festival the following year. 2015 was the final vintage from this vineyard.
Winemaking: Hand harvested. Spontaneous fermentation, 4-week maceration. Aged in 30% new French oak, 30% used French oak, and 30% Acacia barrels for 15 months. Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Production: Only 1,200 bottles!