San Blas is an environmental and philosophical, more than a farming, project: 600 hectares of forests, almond, hazelnut and olive trees and, of course, vines, that materialise a lived idea of biodiversity and natural balance. This same idea of harmony and natural complexity can also be used to describe the essential character of the estate’s wines, all of which convey a calm strength and an intense poise. The winery itself, nestled in the hills, shielded by walls of pines, embodies these same principles. Finca San Blas is, above all, a project of attention and listening to nature and its infinite secrets.
Antonio Zahonero, director of Finca San Blas, has a passionate commitment to the landscape of Utiel-Requena and has become, alongside the estate’s team, a vocal advocate for the region’s incredible natural and cultural heritage. Beyond the promotion of the ecosystemic balance and biodiversity of Finca San Blas, the team have transcended ownership and stood up for the preservation of a collective natural and cultural patrimony.
This holistic and shared understanding of the natural and cultural resources is at the heart of how Finca San Blas is managed, allowing the landscape – and within it the vines – to find its own balance. Walking There’s a quite and powerful energy
This is the essence of ‘terroir’, defined well beyond the perimeter of the vineyards, enclosed in each bottle of Finca de San Blas.
Indeed, the powerful quietness that runs through the estate’s rolling hills is key to understand the character of the wines produced at San Blas. Winemaker Nicolás Sánchez speaks precisely of a soft approach that listens to the demands of the fruit, allowing place, time and variety to express themselves. The complexity is found in the landscape itself and in the pines, olive trees, rosemary, lavender, thyme and oregano that grow across the property, all of which is managed under organic principles.
All the grapes are hand harvested and selected, and then transferred to the fermentation tanks. All transfers in the cellar happen through gravity, yet another step in a fluid and gentle process from grape to glass. Fermentation is done either spontaneously or with a pied de cuve, and only second use and larger format wood is used. ‘We want to respect the fruit,’ says Sanchez. The purity and complexity of the berries is thus minimally disturbed and preserved through the vinification process.
Together, Zahonero and Sánchez have created a diverse and interesting range that stands out for its modern classicism and authenticity. While exploring different styles and varieties, all wines have trademark textural appeal, length and flavour definition. Among their flagship examples are age worthy, single-vineyard bottlings – both white and red – and an award-winning botrytised sweet, placed among the world’s best examples of the style. The wines offer a fascinating journey through the different corners of the estate, itself a precious part of the DO Utiel-Requena. The two men compare their working approach to that of a French Chateau, with the winery at the epicentre of the vineyards, as the place where all the energy of the land converges and is naturally sublimated. ‘Our wines smell of tranquillity,’ sums up Zahonero.
Three Finca San Blas wines to know:
Tasted and reviewed by the Decanter team
Finca San Blas Blanco, 2015
Alc 13.5%; 50% Chardonnay, 50% Merseguera
Beautiful aromas of lemon zest, preserved lemon, yellow apple and pear peel. Vibrancy, texture and elegance, with crunchy orchard fruits offset by the depth of toasted almonds, marzipan and a hint of vanilla. A small percentage from a solera gives it intriguing nuances of apple peel, fresh nuts and an oxidative edge. A white wine with the structure and length of a red, but with a very Burgundian elegance and finesse.
La Senda del Caballo, 2018
Alc 14%; 100% Bobal
Deep and complex nose with rich aromas of poached plum, Earl Grey and black cherry, underscored by an elegant rusticity (barnyard, forest floor, red apple). Angular, pleasing tannins, supporting rich flavours of plum, fermented apples, black cherry, mushrooms, thyme and stewed tomatoes. Unpretentious complexity, with lingering grip and a herbal, almost balsamic, lining.
Finca San Blas Dulce, 2016
Alc 10.5%; 50% Chardonnay, 50% Merseguera
Produced with botrytised grapes, carefully selected through several passes. Great complexity and aromatic vibrancy, with marmalade, orange peel and red apple. The palate is luscious yet exceedingly fresh, with the sweetness (more than 200 g/L) so well integrated and lifted by a fine acid line. On the palate, poached pears and nectarines mingle are topped by a delicious citrus twist.