The Botas de Barro project has unlikely origins, the brainchild of Nicola Thornton, who hails from the north of England. Nicola moved to Spain where she has worked in the wine business in and around the Toro region for many years. Forgive the pun of this article’s title, but literally translating as ‘dirty boots’, Botas de Barro is a fun label and concept that actually delivers a fairly serious message. The boots in question refers to the generations of farmers who have tended the very old vines that lie behind these wines. In traditional regions of Spain, many are unirrigated old bush vines, so not supported on trellises, and up to 60 years of age.
Nicola explains that in her local bar not only was she often the only woman, but the only person not wearing ‘dirty boots’, her companions all being farmers of the local vineyards. “I got to know the farmers and their incredible vineyards,” she says, “and always wondered how many pairs of boots have generations of grape growers worn, so that I can sit here and enjoy these wines?”
Her company, Spanish Palate, represents various bodegas, but this is her own baby. The wines are made for her by various local bodegas and co-ops, but always using the best quality fruit from small vineyard owners. Winemaker Alvaro Martin makes these and other wines in the Spanish Palate portfolio.
(2017) From Almansa in Castilla-La Mancha, in the southeast of Spain, this has an extremely vivid, deep and vibrant colour, and aromas to match. Ripe, juicy plums, black berries and a touch of meaty spice leap from the glass, presenting a bottonless pool of dark fruit aromas. In the mouth the sweetness of ripe fruit is buoyant and full, but there's a fine background of earthy tannin, a touch of savoury, spicy oak, and good plummy acidity too. Really lovely drinking this, and possibly my favourite of the three Botas de Barro wines tasted.
(2017) The sixty-year-old Monastrell (Mourvèdre) here is planted on its own roots, grown by an 83-year-old Pedro, a fourth generation farmer in Jumilla, in the south east of Spain. There's a pure, ashy, dry black fruit on the nose, very direct and bold, some juicy currants and a hint of something violet-like. In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit is abundant, but as it fills the mouth with juicy ripe flavour, the firm tannins and edge of acidity clamps down, giving this savoury appeal, a little herbal and nutty dry note adding to that. Is there a little oak here? It certainly has some rounding and texture, in a lovely, easy drinking but quite powerful style.
(2017) Made from 100% Tempranillo - known locally here in Toro as Tinta de Toro, this is another jammily-fruited, copiously-endowed red with massed of crushed berries and a light sheen of vanilla. Coming from 60- to 100-year-old vines, there's a natural concentration, and a bit of real grip as well as all that supple black fruit. Another delicious wine in this neat and excellent range, and a bit of a bargain if on a shelf near you at anywhere around a tenner.