Richard Hemming in The Purple Pages, 20/11/15: "Intriguing spice and baked earth character. Dried nettle as well. Hearty and warm on the palate. Chorizo finish. Really individual and tasty."
David Williams in The Observer, 10/1/15: "El Puno Old Vine Garnacha 2011, made by Scotsman Norrel Robertson in the Calatayud region of Aragon, is inkier, more sinewy and complex with nuts and paprika alongside the bountiful fruit."
El Escocés Volante, the ‘Flying Scotsman’, is the winemaking company set up in Calatayud by Norrel Robertson MW who has been based there since 2003. Norrel has been able to work with individual growers for the last seven years to source high altitude, old vine blocks of exceptional quality and make wines with real character. The winery philosophy is to sustain the lifestyle of the local growers. All fruit is hand-picked and selected to maintain the traditional methods of the Ribota valley and surrounding villages. Vines are only grubbed up when they become extremely unproductive and the growers have a positive replanting philosophy.
Norrel has been making wine in Spain for over 12 years and is currently the only Master of Wine living and working in Spain. The winery currently own nine hectares of Old Vine Garnacha and also has long-standing contracts with local grape growers. Norrel was born and raised in Scotland and, after graduating from Aberdeen University with a MA Honours degree in Politics and International Relations, has joined the wine industry, which he has remained in for the last 20 years, starting in sales, buying and product development. In the 1990s, Norrel decided to pursue a career in winemaking and decided the best way was to work and learn from the cellar up. Norrel went on to work vintages in Chianti in Italy, Portugal, Australia, France and Chile. From 1998 to 2000, Norrel embarked on the Master of Wine Course and became a Master of Wine in November 2000, winning the Robert Mondavi Award for the best overall theory performance in the exam. In 2002-2003 Norrel studied the Postgraduate Viticulture and Oenology course at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand, obtaining his postgraduate qualification with distinction. In 2003, he moved to Spain to as Winemaker for International Wine Services and quickly fell in love with the old Garnacha vineyards in the area of Calatayud, Aragon and decided to start making his own wines. His company – El Escocés Volante – took off and Norrel now currently produces many award winning wines made from very specially selected vineyards at high altitude in Aragon, Spain and also has winemaking projects in Murcia, Andalucia and Galicia. His own wines are sold in over 15 markets He also consults for many other high profile wineries in Spain and also consults to import businesses in the US and the UK.
Old, concentrated, bush-vine fruit was picked from 70-100 year old vines from the villages of Acered and Alarba in the southeast of Spain’s Calatayud DO. All the fruit was rigorously selected and as such each vine yielded less than 1.5kg per vine or around two tonnes per hectare (15hl/ha). Once picked, fruit was held for a minimum of 48 hrs in a cool room to chill fruit to below four degrees celsius. Bunches were passed over a selection belt to optimise quality and then crushed to tank and held at 8C to ‘cold soak’ for up to 10 days. The temperature was then increased, allowing a wild fermentation to commence. The individual tanks were then inoculated with local isolated yeasts. Tanks were then plunged gently to obtain gentle extraction. One or two tanks were also allowed an extended maceration after fermentation to add weight and complexity. 40 % of the wine was then aged in barrel. Old, used French barrels were chosen with low to medium toast so as not to dominate the wine. Similarly a selection of larger barrel sizes (300 to 500litre) was chosen to avoid oxidation and to respect the typicity of the Garnacha grape. The wine was then blended and allowed to marry for a further six months in subterranean tanks with lees stirring before bottling with only a light filtration and no fining.
In appearance the wine is deep purple and, on the nose, it has pronounced aromas of crushed violets, black fruit and spice. It is intense yet delicate, with lifted, perfumed fruit and garrigue characters of wild mountain thyme. Full-bodied, it has rounded tannins with crisp acidity and a long mineral finish.
This would be a classic match for rich game dishes and other powerfully flavoured meals such as Ragout or spicy tomato based recipes.