Sometimes first impressions are what matters. Luckily, other times it is not like that, because I would not be writing this article had it be the case. The first time I spoke with Juanjo Moreno was about an orange wine tasting I was organizing in Bilbao and I wanted to serve one of his wines, Berretes 2014. I got in touch with him and he very kindly sent me two bottles. The problem was that in the advertising of the tasting, Los Berretes was written, with the ‘Los’ article. Juanjo saw it and called me on the phone to get me on standing attention. On stormy nights I still wake up at midnight remembering that conversation.
Luckily, that event didn’t have anything to do with our future relationship. And his wine at the tasting was a huge success. A few months later he organized in Santander a paired dinner with his wines and there was greater enjoyment. I really enjoyed it. Both Juanjo and his partner in business and life Maribel Rodríguez told us all there is to know about their wines and their vision, the motivations behind each wine, etc. Ever since I’ve been a fan of them and their wines.
Juanjo and Maribel are the ones behind the Microbodega del Alumbro, a winery located in Villamor de los Escuderos, province of Zamora. His production is all natural wine, but completely natural, zero intervention. The closest their wines are to sulfites is when they share a shelf in a wine store that also carries technological wines.
In this village, which is one of those small villages with only a handful of inhabitants, they make a lot of wines, because if there is something they care about is trying new things. Making trials as well, because every year there are new things to try and change in the not so new stuff. The result of that search for improvement, for example, is Palote, a Palomino that macerates on the skins that Juanjo has been perfecting, both the plot from which he takes the grapes and the winemaking. After several vintages of tests and more tests, Juanjo is finally satisfied with the product. And me too, since I have tasted all its vintages and the last one I have tasted, 2019, is a cannon.
I am lucky Juanjo macerates all or almost all of his white wines on the skins, so trying anyone of them is a pleasure. Berretes is a blend of Godello, Verdeja, Albillo Real and Chasselas Doré. Albyreal is single varietal Albillo Real, and the aforementioned Palote are the embabujado wines, which is how in this area orange wines are known. And speaking of names, Alumbro is out of any DO system. As they cannot state the name of the variety on the label, in many cases they use names that remind you of it.
Another wine that I have very good memories of is Hello God, another Godello that has made me enjoy every time I have drunk it. And at that dinner we tried their Cabernet Sauvignon, which he has made on occasion and was more than great.
Let’s talk a little bit about the history of Maribel and Juanjo, the Microbodega del Alumbro. We won’t go back to their early childhood, but rather we will start on 2009, when they began making wine. Since then, they have always practiced organic farming following a philosophy of using the least possible amount of sulfites. By chance they went to a wine tasting in which natural wines were presented. This tasting and the first Raw Wine Fair in London they attended to in 2012 was when they realized that was what they were doing with no one saying anything to them. In 2013, they already made their first zero-sulfur wine, Berretes 2013. That was the wine that put them on the path they are walking today. They left behind the oenological products and changed their entire orientation.
Nowadays, Maribel and Juanjo, with the help of their sons Abel and Juan, have four hectares of vineyards spread over six plots in which they have planted vines of Tempranillo, Tinta del País and a little Cabernet among the reds. In the white grapes department, they have Godello, Albillo Real, Palomino, Macabeo, Chasselas Doré, Malvasía, Verdeja and Moscatel.
Juanjo likes the wines do their thing without him doing anything. So much of nothing he does that, as Juanjo says, some wines are technically defective and some do not know where they will go. What matters is that their wines are appreciated and by more and more people. That’s what matters in the end, right?
Soon we will talk to Juanjo Moreno about his style when making wine. Meanwhile, as he says, Salud y Buen Vino!!