Pre-Phylloxera Wines: Delicious Originals, Age-Old Intensity
From the box tree moth to the oak processionary caterpillar: there have been a lot of plagues in the news in the last few years. The wine world has its own little devil too: Phylloxera. This grape aphid made the leap from America to Europe in the nineteenth century, at a time of great trade increase between the continents. It didn't take long for it to decimate 95% of European vineyards. It was feared that it might prove the definitive end of winegrowing.
Grafting on to American Root Stock
Phylloxera was difficult to eradicate with pesticide sprays because the aphid lives most of its life underground. Breeding hybrids didn't help either. Then someone came up with the idea of grafting European grape varieties (all members of the Vitis Vinifera family) on to American root stocks, which had proved resistant to Phylloxera. To this day, nearly all European vineyards grow grapes on American root stocks.
All of them? No, not all of them. Phylloxera does not survive in sandy soil or in volcanic, sulphurous soil. Of course, there are exceptions but in a few regions in France, Italy, Greece and Spain there are still real, original vines of 120, 130 and or even 150 years old: known as pre-Phylloxera vines. In Spain, a few of these vineyards can be found in Jumilla, Rueda, Ribera del Duero, Toro and Zamora.
Beautifully Concentrated Wines
Can you taste the difference between wine from original vines and wine from (the same) grafted vines? Interesting question! In our experience, these are wonderfully harmonious and concentrated wines. That shouldn't come as a surprise given the very low yields of the pre-Phylloxera vines. Additionally, they reflect the original character of the grape in question with greater intensity and character.
But you don't have to just take our word for it. Taste and judge it for yourself: