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Details for Cucú (Cantaba La Rana), Verdejo

Castilla y León
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AppellationVdlT Castilla y León
Barco del Corneta
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Castilla y León

The autonomous region of Castilla y León occupies much of north central Spain and is home to a number of important Spanish winemaking regions.  This is the northern part of Spain’s central plateau and is essentially a high plain surrounded by mountains with the Duero river running east to west through it.  It has a harsh continental climate, with baking hot summers and bitterly cold winters when most of the limited rain falls.  Altitude and clear skies mean nights are cool even in summer.  Much of the land is too poor and arid even for vines; the wine regions are mostly strung out along the river.
The largest and most famous is Ribera del Duero, home to some of Spain’s most revered reds made largely or entirely from Tempranillo.  Tempranillo also dominates further downstream in Toro, near the Portuguese border, although there is a little Garnacha here as well.  Between the two lies Rueda which, along with Rías Baixas, is Spain’s leading white white region.  Its refreshing whites are made mostly from the local grape Verdejo, supported by Viura and Sauvignon Blanc.
North of the region’s capital Valladolid, Cigales has traditionally specialised in rosado (rosé), although some exciting Tempranillo-based reds are now being made.  In the far northwest on the border with Galicia, where the climate is less extreme, fast-rising Bierzo produces fragrant and characterful reds from the Mencía grape.
In the far south, on the border with Castilla La Mancha and Madrid, the Sierra de Gredos range combines granite soils with high altitude, and has been building a reputation for unusually elegant old-vine red Garnacha and white Albillo.  It’s being hailed as “the new Priorat”, even though it doesn’t yet have its own DO.

Barco del Corneta

Barco del Corneta is the project of Beatriz Herranz, who both tends the vines and makes the wines, aided by her mother Maria Antonia and a small team of vineyard workers.  Beatriz studied Agriculture and Winemaking and then went to work reviving an old Garnacha vineyard in Gredos to produce a well-regarded wine called La Fábula.
In 2008 she returned to her home village of La Seca, near Valladolid, and planted Verdejo on five and a half hectares of land that had once been her grandfather’s vineyard.  From these she produced the first vintage of the estate’s eponymous Barco del Corneta white in 2010.  It’s named after a nearby grove of pine trees that used to be her family’s meeting point for harvest-time fiestas, though that doesn’t quite explain how the grove acquired its peculiar name, which translates roughly as “trumpet boat”.
The vines were cultivated organically from the start, with hand-harvesting and natural yeast fermentations, in marked contrast to the industrial methods of production common in the Rueda region.  To emphasise that difference, she bottles all her wines as VdlT Castilla y León even though the Verdejo whites would qualify for the DO Rueda.
In the 2013 vintage she added an entry-level Verdejo called Cucú, sourced partly from her own vineyard 718 metres up at La Seca but mainly from an even higher and cooler organic vineyard she found near Aldeanueva in Rueda’s southeast corner.
A third Verdejo followed the following year.  Casio comes from a 0.8 hectare patch of 150-year-old ungrafted vines on sandy soil at Alcazarén, about 15 km east of La Seca.  It’s one of a trio of whites named after characters from Dante’s Divine Comedy, along with Judas (made from Viura) and Bruto (Palomino), all from ungrafted old vines.
The estate’s sole red, Prapetisco, is another vineyard recovery project.  It’s made from 80-year-old Juan Garcia vines that Beatriz found in Arribes del Duero, close to the Portuguese border.

about this wine About this wine

Cucú is Barco del Corneta’s entry-level and largest-volume wine, although the 23,000 bottles produced in 2015 is still fairly small-scale for Rueda.  To meet demand, winemaker and owner Beatriz Herranz expanded production to 50,000 bottles the following year.
Some of the grapes come from Beatriz’s family vineyard at La Seca which also produces her original wine, the eponymous Barco del Corneta.  But most come from another organic grower with a higher, cooler and rather larger plot at Aldeanueva del Codonal, near Segovia, in the south-east corner of the Rueda appellation.  Beatriz feels these lend additional freshness to Cucú.
Both vineyards were hand-picked into small boxes to avoid damage to the grapes.  Back at the winery the whole bunches were then crushed, without destemming, before undergoing a cold soak on the skins for 12 hours.  They were then gently pressed and the juice run off to be fermented using only the wild yeasts from the grape skins.  The La Seca juice was fermented and aged in large used barrels just like its big brother Barco del Corneta, while that from Aldenueva saw only stainless steel.
Both were aged on their fine lees for eight months, but without batonnage (lees-stirring).  Beatriz prefers not to use high-tech cold stabilisation to clarify her wines, so instead the wine was fined with traditional bentonite clay before being blended, lightly filtered and bottled.

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