Bodega de Forlong
Updated: Mar 13
The one at Bodega de Forlong is a small project with a lot of heart. It is the story of Alex and Rocío, a young couple who, despite not coming from a winemaking family lineage, found their passion in the world of wine, deciding to create their own winery.
It all started in 2007, when Rocío's family bought some abandon fields. This fields were called “El olivar de Forlón”, a field that was completely abandoned to the fallow and, where Rocío's father (nostalgic from his memories of an adolescence dedicated to polyculture) decided to plant olive trees, fruit trees and… vineyards! 2009 will mark a turning point. Although the vineyards were still super young, they decided to make wine for their own consumption and, right there, they fell in love with the process. They decided to take viticulture more seriously, thus the Forlong project was born. They had an idea in mind from the beginning: to work ecologically. But for this they had to wait 3 years for their vineyards to be granted an official recognition as they treated the vines with chemicals during those two previous years working in their vineyard.
They didn't waste their time. Rocío studied a Master's degree in viticulture in warm climate's vineyards, and after working for a few years with Willy Pérez. Alex, also did not come from a family of winemakers, although his grandfather was a renowned agronomist in France, so he grew up closely linked to the culture of wine. Ironies of fate, Alex works today with viticultural principles completely different from those of his grandfather. Therefore, he decided to study a module in viticulture and had the opportunity to spend couple of years working in the Madiran and Bordeaux area. Upon their return, they set out with the idea of trying to make sherry wines. However, the legal conditions imposed by the Denomination of Origin make the life of small projects much more difficult. It is not economically viable as a specific vineyard and winery job is needed to maintain these long aging periods in the criadera & solera system. Small wineries need profitability long before those deadlines, otherwise they drown. In any case, "every cloud has a silver lining". Those limitations marked the awakening of a new generation of young winemakers (like the Mahara brothers) who are committed to valuing its land, looking for new profiles and identities for their local indigenous varietals. There was no other option than to vinify dry wines with their varieties, releasing, in 2013, their first bottled wine.
It is true that Bodega de Forlong has planted some Cab Sauv., Merlot and Syrah, but it is understandable, as that was basically what people planted to that date and, also, the reds that were consumed at the local bars. However, their intention is to give importance to indigenous varieties such as Tintilla de Rota, Palomino and Pedro Ximenez. Cádiz is a land where Palomino is seen as a neutral variety, not very terpenic and that only serves to extract tertiary aromas, which is why they fortified it to make Sherry. However, Alex and Rocío wanted to find a profile of Palomino that would represent the vineyard, the land from which it comes and that would shout out its varietal identity.
To achieve this, they began by taking care of their vineyards, working them under the principles of biodynamics. They planted vegetation covers (using and rotating plantings of barley, pea, clover...) as a way to create an ecosystem for the vineyard, allowing insects to grow, nourishing the soil, and retaining surface moisture for longer. When they planted the vegetation covers, the old vine growers in the area put their hands to their heads saying to them things like "this year you are not going to pick the grapes" or "you have a dirty vineyard", because they did not understand their methods of working in the vineyards. And if the work in the vineyards was abusive, there was also bad praxis inside the wineries: Still wines were not well produced because, with the extreme hot weather of this region, they were fermented at very high temperatures (destroying aromas) and no racking was underdone (leaving impurities behind that were also adding aromas of no interest in return).
At Forlong, they started to cool the grapes, the use of dry ice was introduced, they controlled the temperature of their tanks to carry out slow fermentations, they began to rack their wines, cold pressing, etc. The final result allowed them to obtain a profile of the Palomino with a surprising aromatic character.
Last Sunday 28 of February, we organized a video tasting among the members of the Association in which we were able to taste 3 of their wines. Alex, very kindly, shared his time with us explaining all about their project personally.
Forlong, Blanco, IGP Cádiz, 2018: This is the last vintage where Palomino is vinified with a little support of PX. From 2019 it will be 100% monovarietal. The harvest starts on August the 20th (ish). This is a wine that is made entirely in stainless steel and fermented with natural yeasts. It's also left to undertake malolactic fermentation and to rest in contact with its fine lees for 6 months. It is a wine that represents its soil very well, in which we find some Albariza Parda (it gives it a little more acidity and a medium mouthfeel). Palomino is not going to give wines with high acidity but its sapidity increases the sensation of freshness. It has a quite complete and interesting nose (papaya, passion fruit) which gets diluted in the mouth a little, where the characteristic bitterness of the Palomino and the chalkiness of its soils helps building up a more interesting finish.
Forlong, 80/20, IGP Cádiz, 2018: A super peculiar wine. A Palomino in purity of 100% natural winemaking. It could be a little bit confusing so pay good attention:
It all starts with its name: 80/20. And it is that 25% of the wine (previously 20%) is fermented on the skins (orange wine). However, it is not the skins of the Palomino what they use, but those of the PX. Crazy right? What they are looking for is to enhance the aromatic profile, achieving a more expressive but very easy drinking wine that has a velvety palate and little tannic character. 80/20 is a cloudy wine that is much thinner and fresher in the mouth than Blanco. The bitterness of the Palomino is more pronounced and accompanies very well those aromas of sourdough, geranium, bee pollen, grapefruit & lychee.
Forlong, Rosado, IGP Cádiz, 2019: Rocío and Alex were never fans of Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, the grapes used to make this rosé were destined for vinegar production. However, as a challenge, they tried to make a rosé in which the Pyrazina was not marked so much. They pressed very quickly without de-stemming the grapes so that the must does not macerate with their skins (this is where the Pyrazine is) and then they naturally fermented it at a very low temperature in stainless steel. I have to say, this is not a Cab.Sauv rosé in purity, as it contains 40% of the local Tintilla de Rota grape. This is a very greedy, silky and creamy wine. There is a lot of strawberry, a hint of marshmallow and rose water.
This is definitely another viticultural project to keep a closer eye on and, from the Association, we strongly recommend to you to go out there and get your hands on their wines!
Thanks for reading,
Founder of the Spanish Sommelier Association