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).
Almaroja "Pirita" Blanco 2020
Though labeled 100% Malvasia (the local name for the unique clone of Doña Blanca in the area), the wine is predominantly this clone of Doña Blanca, a local grape called Puesta en Cruz, Albilo, Godello, Moscatel a Grano Menudo, and Palomino Fino from 50-115-year-old vines.
Winemaking: Four days skin contact while grapes are cold. 12 months stainless steel on fine lees. Spontaneous fermentation, low total SO2 (32ppm), gentle fining with vegetable protein (from peas), lightly filtered.
Production: 300 cases
Almaroja “Cielos y Besos” 2020
60% Juan Garcia, the local specialty of the Arribes, with 30% Tempranillo, and 10% Rufete 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. Low total SO2 (33 ppm). Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Production: 330 cases
Almaroja “Pirita” Crianza 2018
40% Juan Garcia, the local specialty of the Arribes, with 35% Bruñal, Rufete, Tempranillo blend, 5% white and 20% from local field varieties. From 50-115 year old vines.
Winemaking: Early ripening reds (Bruñal, Rufete, Tempranillo) are harvested 2 weeks before the Juan García and are fermented together. The other reds are fermented by parcel and later blended. Maceration is ~3 weeks, with a daily punch down/pump over. Wine goes into barrel in the Spring after malo and stays there for approximately 12 months. Spontaneous fermentation, low SO2 (25 ppm). Bottled unfined and unfiltered.
Production: 250 cases
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: 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: 1,200 bottles