Viña Pilar Clarete 2020 – Bodegas Félix Callejo.
Ribera del Duero is obviously known for their red, Tempranillo based, wines. But there is a secret the inhabitants of this region rather keep to themselves! They are surprisingly good in producing white and rose wines. In this review we will discuss a unique rose wine from the region, with strong character, the 2020 Pilar Clarete by Bodegas Félix Callejo.
Ribera del Duero sees a very dominant grape variety, Tempranillo, also known as Tinto Fino in this part of Spain. This blue grape is responsible for all the red wines produced under the D.O. classification (blends are allowed, but with a minimum of 75% Tempranillo). But Ribera also has room for another grape variety in its history, Albillo Mayor. This white wine grape has been cultivated for generations as well, and is mostly co-planted with Tempranillo grapes, side-by-side.
Besides great white wines Albillo Mayor is also being used to produce rose wines, named ‘clarete’. For these wines most wineries blend red (Tempranillo) and white (Albillo Mayor) wines. Some would argue if these wines even are rose wines, as they have very dark colour for a rose, but maybe “light red wines”. Like white wines these rose wines are produced in low volumes, but that does not make them less interesting, on the contrary.
About the Winery
At the age of 16, Félix Callejo had to take over the winery after the sudden death of his father. Together with his wife Pilar, he raised the wines of the Ribera del Duero to a new level, which condensed into the founding of today’s winery “Bodegas Félix Callejo” in 1989. Today the winery in the province of Burgos is run by their four children. The wines thrive at altitudes between 830-950 meters above sea level, which, in conjunction with the resulting temperature amplitudes and the lean sand and limestone soils, offers the region the best conditions for elegant and fine Ribera wines.
About the Winemaking
Sotillo de la Ribera has a long tradition in producing Clarete wines. For this, Tinto Fino was grown, harvested and fermented together with Albillo Mayor in a mixed batch. With the Viña Pilar Clarete, the house of Felix Callejo wants to revive this old tradition. The name is a homage to Felix’s wife Pilar.
The blend of 50% Tinto Fino and 50% Albillo Major comes from the individual vineyards El Pajarito and El Lebrero. Grown on sandy loam and limestone soils at altitudes of around 920 meters, the grapes were harvested manually into small boxes, spontaneously fermented with natural yeasts after five days of cold maceration and then aged for 8 months on the fine yeast in concrete eggs and 500-liter barrels.
About the Wine
In this glass this clarete shows a beautiful raspberry red colour with bright reflections. What follows is an intense nose. A fruit driven profile boosts fresh strawberry, cherry and raspberry. Rosehip and some rooibos give it its very own characterful side, which becomes more prominent in the glass, as the temperature rises. The nose finds more depth as it develops, adding earthy and herbal notes along with some oak and balsamic accents.
On the palate, all the goodness continues. There is a change as the fruit notes pull themselves back and play a more modest role. But they serve their purpose, providing freshness and keeping up the acidity. Spices, like pepper, and walnuts add to the body and structure of the wine. It gives the wine warmth and embraces you, using its fine tannins and positive bitterness. The aftertaste is long and rich.
This is not a simply or straight forward wine but one with soul and identity. The depth and character of this clarete go hand in hand with its fresh and fruity side. Well-made in nicely balanced this wine is an experience on its own, that leaves a lasting impression. The 2020 vintage brought just 4,130 bottles (and 50 magnums) and is ready to drink, although it could even develop a bit more in the next 2 years.
We award this beauty with a 93 point DWA score.
We would like to thank the Consejo Regulador D.O. Ribera del Duero for providing this wine. Pilar, and other wines by Bodegas Félix Callejo are available through Vinetique in Belgium and Bosman Wijnkopers in the Netherlands.
Taste date: July 2023
Score: 93/100 DWA Score
Website: Bodegas Félix Callejo