Tintilla de Rota: an Outlier
As you know, at Xpertvinum, we are tirelessly on the look out for everything that makes Spain into such a unique and interesting wine country. Good wine - naturally - but also wonderful stories behind the wine. Stories about special people, and special grapes.
In the region around Jerez, for example, we came across the Tintilla de Rota, an autochthonous black grape that is only found in ever-hot Andalusia. It is genetically related to the noble Graciano, a grape best known in Rioja, where it is usually used in restricted quantities in blends with Tempranillo, to give the wine more colour and structure. Tintilla has adapted to the local microclimate, without losing its particular characteristics. Incidentally, the name Tintilla is derived from the small fruit typical of this variety (Tintilla grape, or small, red grape).
Rota is small town completely dominated by a US military base. The employment opportunities that this offered the local population led, among other things, to the neglect of most bodegas. Ultimately, only one winery survived: Bodega El Gato. Add to this the low yields typical of this grape, the poor sandy soils in the area around the city in which even the dreaded Phylloxera - the grape louse that destroyed almost all European viticulture at the end of the nineteenth century - cannot thrive and you will understand that this special grape was threatened with extinction.
But it's time for change! Nowadays, El Gato makes a fabulous sweet red wine, according to old traditions. It is a unique drink that is kept fresh & lively through its phenomenal acidity: J. Martinez Tintilla de Rota.
Meantime, a few renowned bodegas in the Cadiz area have improved the quality of their Tintilla de Rota and have been making dry red wine for a few years now. Its characteristics: an intense fruitiness, an unusual dark colour and a deep taste without a lot of tannins, with good fruit acids that balance these wines, which is rather exceptional from a region with such a warm climate. In short, Tintilla de Rota wines represent Spain in a nutshell: beautiful, unique and affordable wines with a story.