David Carbonell, a wine producer in Alicante who had stumbled across an old cellar containing some ancient barrels, mothballed since the 1960s. His story was so compelling, we’ve followed this through and would like to introduce you to ‘Luis XIV’ and the mythical Fondillón wines of the Levante.
The ‘Luis XIV’ Fondillón wines and Vermouth are the result of an exciting partnership created by David Carbonell of Vins del Comtat and the current descendants of two, old winemaking families: Ferrero Valdés and Ballester, located in the Alto Vinalopó region of Alicante.
It is a unique and fascinating story originating from a surprise discovery. In 2015, Ferrero Valdés, a contract grape supplier to Vins del Comtat, asked David to visit an old cellar at their winery, to give them some advice. The cellar, which included an old barrel room, had remained undisturbed since the 1960s. They uncovered a wonderful collection of 25 very old, traditional Fondillón ‘toneles’, still with their contents and in surprisingly good condition.
It is important to understand that retaining the wine in its original barrel is integral to the tradition of Fondillón winemaking and the natural, constant temperature and humidity of the cellar here, had created ideal conditions to preserve the barrels and the wines they contained.
There was very little documentation or information available to help them identify the actual age of the wines. David and the families worked closely with various experts to ultimately gain classification by the Alicante Consejo Regulador as Fondillón and agree on approved labelling terminology to help denote the age of the wines. Their research included tracing the barrel cooperage markings and using carbon 14 dating on the wood.
This has helped to ascertain the approximate manufacture date of the individual barrels and thereby an estimation of the age of the contents contained within.
In summary, there are:
- 10 barrels ‘toneles’ of 800L, from the end of the 19th century.
- 4 barrels ‘toneles’ of 850L, from the end of the 19th century.
- 11 barrels ‘pipas’ of 500L, from the beginning of the 20th century.
Another branch of the same wine family, Ballester, also joined the partnership. They have contributed old wines and barrels, as well as more recent vintages from their own cellar to add to the discovery at Ferrero Valdés. Ballester had continued to make and age Fondillón wines over the years, exclusively for family consumption.
So, in 2018, David and the two families created Colección de Toneles Centenarios’ (CTC), a partnership with the clear objective to preserve and capitalise on their legacy. For them, the priority was to continue the Fondillón tradition for the future, as part of the heritage of the region.