José Miguel Márquez is a younger wine maker in the town of Montilla near Corboda in far southern Spain. The region is hot and dry with deep wine making traditions but in the modern age isn't so known for wine. Through his wine making Jose is searching for things that are true and tangible expressions of the land he works and the culture he and it are steeped in. There's much more information of the web page of Selections de la Vina. Click here to see and read more: Selections de la Vina on Marenas
Bajo Velo is Spanish for "Behind the Veil". This is an old term in traditional wine making for wines that are allowed to ferment wild and then mature in a barrel with a film of yeast covering the surface and protecting the wine. The French call this "vin de voile" and it's the process by which sherry and Vin Jaune is made.
Sherry goes through this process and the yeast covering the surface helps preserve the wine and prevent oxidization; however Pedro Ximenez sherry is fortified. Jose Miquel's Bajo Velo is made from organic Pedro Ximenez grapes, which ferment with the natural yeast on the skin, but then he lets it ferment totally dry and doesn't add anything. This 2011 vintage is his first successful bottling. He made slightly over 1100 bottles after allowing the wine to mature in casks called boots for 2 years. According to him it was lots of luck and nature taking care of itself that allowed this wine to happen.
Aroma: When I first opened the Bajo Velo it smelled a bit like peaty Scotch. In a minute or so it became more schnapps like and then opened up from there and began to smell more like orange zest and peel. After being open for a few hours it smells pretty like a fino sherry. I can still get a peaty kind of smell, but there's lots of spice and yeast. It smells a bit like pine pitch to me as well and also a strong lemon aroma. It's a unique and deliciously alive aroma: musky, fruity, and spicy all at once. I keep getting flashes of different aromas from the Bajo Velo. One minute it smells like dry edgy sherry and then the next I smell orange juice, and then pink pepper corns and then pumpkin pie. This is a brilliant, cerebral, and demanding aroma.
Palate: Rich, not as oxidized tasting and pleasant with not too high acidity. On the palate the Bajo Velo is meatier and richer than I expected. I have trouble breaking it down it does so much at once. The Bajo Velo opens with citrusy candied lemon but turns more savory and picks up a kind of white heat aromatic spice quality. At the same time as those spicy savory citrus fireworks are hitting your palate the Marenas' texture is lush and the character comes across as sedate. The Bajo Velo really fills your mouth and envelops your whole palate. As you come to the finish, the Marenas changes again and you get an explosion of savory minerality and more lemon zest, then followed by a salty meaty savory flavor that reminds me very much of cured pork. Not just the meatiness, but also the saltiness and the almost floral aromas that cured meat can take on.
Marenas' Bajo Velo is brilliant. I enjoy it so much on it's own. It's complex and demands your attention, but it would also work really well with seared shrimp, cured ham, grilled octopus, nuts and hard cows milk cheese, or maybe some lamb. I've never had anything like this before and it's kind of transcendent. If you're into crazy exciting living wine you should try this. The Marenas Bajo Velo is priced in the mid $30s at Maine and Loire.