Alicante is home to one of the most diverse and breathtakingly beautiful terruños in all of Spain. Mountains hover in close-proximity to the Mediterranean ocean with old bush vines planted on rocky, calcareous soils, and the ever-present sun giving energy to these vineyards. For Alberto Redrado and Violeta Gutiérrez de la Vega it is the ideal environment to produce profoundly Mediterranean wines that show the tensions between the sun and soil, scrub brush and sea salt. Unfortunately, the recent vinicultural history of this region has spoken less of its environs and more to market forces, with “bigger-is-better” (modern flavor bombs) and “more-the-merrier” (bulk wines) being the two dominant wine styles. With Violeta and Alberto’s Curii Uvas y Vinos, we see a turning point in Alicante – wines that fulfill the promise of this enchanting landscape.
“This wine has the depth, dimension and complexity of some of the most famous wines in Spain. It is a lot like crossing Heitz Martha’s Vineyard and Chambolle-Musigny. Great juice!” – John Gilman
Violeta and Alberto met in 2008 and started their project in 2010. The couple share deep roots in the Alicante region. Violeta descends from the famed estate that bears her last name and put the traditional wines of the area back on the map. She grew up working alongside her pioneering father Felipe, which gave Violeta prodigious insight into her region’s winegrowing traditions. She also studied enology in Bordeaux and worked for a spell in Pauillac and Sauternes. Currently, she helps with day to day operations at Gutierrez de la Vega and is poised to take over the bodega once her father retires. Alberto’s lineage is no less noteworthy. In 1980 his father and uncle started Alicante’s most widely acclaimed restaurant L’Escaleta (recently elevated to 2 stars in the Michelin guide), where Alberto honed his skills in fine dining and eventually obtained Spain’s most coveted award for sommeliers in 2010– the Premio Nacional de Gastronomía al Mejor Sommelier. Alberto holds a master’s degree in viticulture, enology, and wine marketing, and can be counted as one of the most knowledgeable folks working with wine on the Iberian Peninsula.
The couple now work just over 3 hectares of head-pruned vineyards in the Valle de Xaló, Teúlada, and the Sierra de Bernia, all located within the limits of D.O. Alicante (but the couple have chosen to say, “no thanks” to appellation approval). Their great focus is on revitalizing the indigenous clone of Garnacha, locally called Giro. According to the couple, the grape arrived through the port of Denia in the early 19th century and can only be found in vineyards planted before the 1970’s or via selection massale for new plantings. The grape was originally planted in the Marina Alta, but can be found throughout Alicante. In the Valle de Xaló, the grape ripens earlier thanks to lower elevation and heavier soils, giving a shorter cycle and more fruit forward wines when young. In the Sierra de Bernia, Giro ripens later thanks to higher elevation and better soils, which gives “tastier” wines, richer in alcohol, but also higher in acidity, making the wines more age-worthy. Curii compares the Giro grape to Cannonau from Sardinia for its higher acidity and aromatic complexity. Curii also works with the obscure Trepadell Blanc and Merseguera grapes from the town of Teulada for their white wine.
In 2016 the couple moved their winemaking out of Violeta’s family winery and into their own space in the village of Xaló. Now they have more space to focus on producing wines that are true to their Mediterranean roots, yet unique in expressing their passion for their native Alicante. The results are some of the most aromatically compelling and authentic wines we have tasted from southeastern Spain. There is little doubt that we have a new Iberian classic in Curii.