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Though it's always a wonderful moment when we receive new wines from La Perdida - an estate run by the passionate and humble Nacho Gonzalez in Galicia, Spain - this particular moment is worthy of word 'perfect,' as we are able to offer several wines from the 2021 vintage as well as his never-before-released parcel wines from 2019 and 2020! What could only be called 'micro-cuvees,' with 300-400 total bottles of each produced, these new explorations into the old hillside vineyards of Valdeorras (and beyond) are fascinating and beautiful wines that lend a new dimension to the story that Nacho is telling through the La Perdida project.
In a way, Nacho truly is a storyteller - of his unique corner of the world and the practically unknown obscure local varieties of the region - but he is first and foremost a farmer and a caretaker of local flora (and fauna for that matter). When you meet him for the first time, you can tell he is a person who is immensely proud of the special place he comes from, and ecstatic (literally beaming) to be able to share an artisinal expression from his land and his home. I have tasted with him in Spain and the US, and his appreciativeness and warmth towards everyone who he tastes with is infectious! He may be one of the most selfless winemakers I've ever met, and when you consider his story - the countless years he's spent recuperating abandoned vineyards, his connection to his grandmother and his village and surrounding area - it does seem like he might genuinely see himself as a medium. I'm not sure he cares about international acclaim or "making it" in the wine world, as his joy over sharing the wines with strangers seems to completely satiate him. Maybe I'm glossing a bit, but if you meet him, you'll understand immediately!
Since beginning his La Perdida project, Nacho has experimented with fermentations in various vessels and vats, different types of extraction and infusion, and aging vessels from amphoras to used French barrels and stainless steel. His wines have become more and more focused over the years, and his winemaking more intentional. At this point, I feel he is in full stride, and the wines are showing beautifully. I have had experiences with these wines that bring me back every year, but I will be the first to admit that there are times when Nacho's wines seem to be in a stage of evolution. To that effect, sometimes they can be subdued, other times, exploding with rustic aromatics and verve, a special spice, and a level of elegance that is captivating. Though 2021 was not a particularly easy year in the vineyards (a lot of rain, issues with mildew), it is a vintage that he's proud of - one with a lot of hard work and good results - and for the first time I found everything to be delicious across the board! Usually in a lineup, certain cuvees are open, friendly and immediately charming, while others can seem young or closed, in need of time in the bottle. This round, it was one after another of compelling and balanced wines that were quite expressive and ready to drink, in some cases to age as well.
The history of the Perdida project is well documented in newsletters we've written over the years, so we will summarize here, quoting our esteemed former colleague, Ben Fletcher: "Nacho Gonzalez is a biologist by training. He has been making wine in Valdeorras since 2012. He inherited a vineyard ('O Trancado') from his grandmother. Planted with old vines of Garnacha Tintorera and Mencia, it was in poor shape. He set out to revive it. In doing so, and in continuing to seek out and revive old vineyards in the area, he created one of the most unique wine projects in Spain. The wine region of Valdeorras is increasingly commercialized and industrialized, as large conglomerates move in to produce inexpensive bulk wines. This has led Nacho Gonzalez to search out remote, isolated, difficult to work sites of neglected vines. La Perdida (the lost) is a fitting name for his work. He brings life to these ancient vineyards with careful organic and biodynamic farming. In the cellar and in the vineyard, Nacho is a traditionalist. He employs the Tinaja (a specially-shaped clay amphora) and continues to work and vinify wine from vineyards co-planted with red and white grapes. He often coferments the grapes from these sites, and all of his wines made from white grapes see skin-contact. All vinification and bottling is done without additives and by hand." For further reading, click here to view the producer bio on the Jose Pastor Selections website.
Looking at pictures of Nacho in his vineyards, I've realized that there is a story that wouldn't be told without him. He is the sole person caring for these forgotten vineyards and forgotten grapes that certainly would be "los perdidos" if not for him. These are the least industrial wines that could possibly exist, coming from bush vines, untrained wild vineyards on remote hills scattered around Valdeorras, terraced old vineyards that Nacho spends years personally recuperating through regenerative agriculture. Without him, they would go wild, in inconvenient locations, with no potential to be worked mechanically, requiring sweat and comittment that most would never commit to. These are wines that express a sense of place like none other, and we have this one humble artisan to thank for that. Thank you Nacho!
-Eben Lillie, with thanks to the team at Jose Pastor Selections!
Today and tomorrow we will offer a limited time 10% discount on 6 or more bottles!
Valdagua is a wine produced from one terraced plot of the same name, with very old vines near Lentellais, Valdeorras. Nacho started working with this plot in 2020 and is in the process of recuperating it. The vineyard is steep and remote, on terraces on the Bibei river in Valdeorras, across from Ribeira Sacra (see the photo at the header of this email). There is a wide assortment of varieties (Mouraton, Garnacha TIntorera, Mencia, Merenza, Palomino, GOdello, DOna Branca, and Colgadeira), all with different paces of ripening, so this is not by any means an easy vineyard to work with! Wine was aged in a single 400L used barrel. Beautiful purity, some balsamic notes, bitterness and subtle tannins, spice, leather, red currant and cherry.
Malas Uvas is Palomino from old vines throughout Valdeorras. Destemmed and co-fermented in anfora with 5 days of skin contact. This is a mountain white wine, showing notes of melon, pear, citrus, and salt on the nose, while the palate leans more toward savory earth, herbs, and salty stone.
O Pando is Godello from several parcels of old vines in Valdeorras, All destemmed and cofermented and aged in anfora and used barrels with 5-7 days skin contact. Notes of citrus, salt and orchard fruit on the nose, counterposed to a bright palate with crunchy tannins and notes of lime and savory earth. Chalky and mineral, with nice weight, it's tasting great now and will surely improve in bottle over the next couple of years.
O Pando Orange A special selection of wines from O Pando that are left on the skins for 6 months in anfora. The maceration is gentle, providing texture and density without overwhelming tannin. The remarkable, herbal nose shows basil, pine, jasmine, and ginger alonside quince and apricot. The palate is less herbal, with granitic spice framed by pretty, soft tannins.
Proscrito is the very light red that often garners the most raised eyebrows and excitement! 90% Palomino 10% Garnacha Tintorera from around Larouco, Valdeorras. The grapes were harvested together and fermented in olf anforas, then aged in staineless steel tank. Always a darling of natural wine accolytes, this coferment is bright and juicy. The nose shows crushed strawberries, Morello cherries, and wild roses. This has fine cut, brisk acidity, and buoyant energy that should delight lovers of Poulsard and other light reds.
O Trancado is 70% Garnacha TIntorera 30% Mencia from ancient vines around Larouco, mostly inferited from Nacho's grandmother. These are the very old, low-yielding (less than 1kg of fruit per plant!) vines that set Nacho on the viticultural path. Grapes are destemmed and fermented in open top wooden vats where the skins were removed gradually over the 20 days of fermentation, then aged in stainless steel. O Trancado is a fascinating wine. The nose is somehow simultaneously elegant and explosive, full of crushed blackberries and white peppercorns backed with delicate violet florals. The palate is vividly alive with citrus, raspberry and blackberry wrapped in finely tuned tannins and coursing acid structure. There are savory herbs and an elegant, nuanced finish, and at moments it is quite reminiscent of Gamay-based wines. This wine is by all means approachable in its youth, but aging at least a year if not 3-5 will reveal a magnificent natural wine.
O Poulo is majority Garnacha Tintorera from the O Poulo vineyard, with 5% white grapes - Palomino from O Poulo, Dona Branca and Colgadeira from old vines in Seadur, Valdeorras. Destemmed and fermented in open top wooden vats, with skin removal during fermentation. Aged in stainless steel. In the glass, the wine is dark purple, but the nose shows great promise: smoke, pork fat, blackcurrants and granitic spice. The palate is structured with tannins and acidity wrapped around a cooling, granite minerality. In the past, this has been a wine that we recommended aging for at least half a year after New York release. The '21 was very pure and forward, so drinking young should be suitable. Otherwise, put it away for a year and don't be afraid to decant.
Meu is a field bland of red (Mouraton, Garnacha Tintorera, Mencia) and white grapes (Palomino, Godello, Dona Blanca, Colgadeira) from an old vinetard in Vladeorras that Nacho is currently rehabilitating, like the original vineyard his grandmother handed down to him. Destemmed and fermented in open top wooden vats, with skin removal over the course of fermentation, and aging in stainless steel. Totally delicious, medium bodied, with a fragrant nose of flowers, spice and garrigue, and a zippy finish. Plenty of acid here to see the wine into adult life, though it is particularly enjoyable now.
A Seara is a fascinating field blend of 60% red (Mouraton, Mencia, Garnacha Tintorera) and 40% white grapes (Godello, Palomino, Dona Blance) from a small parcel of old vines on sand and schist soils in the Val do Bibei in Ribeira Sacra. Destemmed and fermented in open-top wooden vats, with skin removal gradually over the course of fermentation. Aging in oak barrels. Notes here are of rosemary, olives, and spice, with medium body and a lovely clean finish. A real treat, with pure purple fruit, elegance and balance.
Latexo is half Garnacha Tintorera from the heart of the O Trancado vineyard (the oldest vines that he inherited from his grandmother), and half Caino Tinto from Antonio Pertela's vines near Pontevedra in the Rias Baixas region. Ben from JPS tells us: "there wasn't much quantity in ’20 and Nacho ended up with about half a barrel. He was looking after the wines of his friend Antonio Portela who is from near Pontevedra on the coast, and he blended Caiño Tinto from his friend with the Garnacha Tintorera. The high acidity of the Caino balances the inensity of the Garnacha Tintorera." The wine was aged for 6 months in one used barrel. 300 bottles made. Wild, fun and crunchy. Without any intention of hype-creation, this is likely a wine that Nacho will never make again.
Faiquefai (roughly translated to "This and that") is from a vineyard called 'As Chozas' on the bank of the River Sil, in Ribeira Sacra. Planted to roughly equal parts red (Mouraton, Garnacha Tintorera, Mencia) and white grapes (Palomino, Godello, Dona Branca), on slate and clay soils. The grapes were harvested and fermented together. From our friends at JPS: "Nacho has been working with this vineyard for 5 years, but this is the first vintage owing to struggles with mildew and animals. Fermented in wood, aged in one used 225L French barrel" More serious and ageworthy, or in the shorter term, decanter-worthy.
Calacan 2019 is from a plot that was normally included in Nacho's O Trancado wine, but in 2019 Nacho wanted to see what it was possible of on its own. Ben from JPS tells us that "it is next to a spot that he [Nacho] is very excited about and has just planted (and thinks will be even better than Calacan), so he wanted to make a wine from this parcel to show some of the potential of the little area." Varieties here are Garnacha Tintorera, Mencia, Palomino and Godello, all on slate soils. According to our friends at Jose Pastor Selections: "Calacan means 'shut up dog!' Nacho's neighbor has 4-5 hunting dogs and he hears people say this phrase a lot as they walk by." Aged in 400L used French oak for 9 months. A touch wild on the nose, with notes of game and brambly fauna, with rustic flavors and a hint of cassis.
Neboa is 50% Garnacha Tintorera, and 50% Palomino and Godello from a small parcel in the center of Larouco, Valdeorras.The soils are clay over slate bedrock. In 2020, the grapes from this parcel were included in the 'O Trancado' cuvée. Aging was in one 300L used French barrel. Dark fruit, cassis, earth, elegant and medium bodied. Ben from JPS says: "It’s a special, tiny parcel very close to Nacho’s cellar, with old vines. I think Nacho bottled this individually because he likes how it tastes: he said that he keeps opening bottles of it on his own."