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From Equipo Navazos: 'Gaspar Florido used to market two very old wines sourced from their soleras at their old cellaring facility at calle Rubiños, in the heart of the “Barrio” in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. When they decided to seize the real estate fever and sell their urban bodegas they had to move those butts to a shabby facility on the road from Sanlúcar to Trebujena. There is where we had the opportunity to sample them for the first time, on a visit with Álvaro Girón to already old Gaspar in June 2006. We were very positively impressed by their quality and consistency, especially in contrast with the lack of distinction–to put it mildly–of the context there and then. There were quite a few butts of the outstanding GF-25 and only a few of GF-30, a very old and absolutely spectacular wine. It is precisely from the latter that this La Bota de Palo Cortado nº 48 “Bota Punta” is sourced. In fact it comes from a sister cask of the one from which we extracted our La Bota de Palo Cortado nº 41 “Bota NO” ten months before. Only a few months later, early in 2007, Bodegas Pedro Romero purchased Gaspar Florido, and since then they have remained marketing GF-25 under the usual label “Jerez Viejísimo”. In Gaspar’s opinion–perhaps questionable but not lacking solid ground–such wines see how the distinctive features of amontillado, palo cortado and oloroso are blurred by their very age. That is why he used to label it simply “Jerez”, which after all merely honors the sanluqueña tradition of referring to the local palo cortado as “jerez cortado”. It is indeed a very old palo cortado, and so we have labeled it as such.'
Located in O Rosal, the most southern sub-zone of Rías Baixas in the Minho valley overlooking Portugal, Vimbio is a small winery, with a total of 2.5 hectares, planted in 1985 and owned by young couple Martín Crusat and Patricia Elola. Practicing biodynamic farming. There are no herbicides or systemic treatments applied (except for minimal application against mildew). The wine has a beautiful intensity on the palate and vibrant acidity. On the nose, fresh white flowers, light herbs and Atlantic saline notes mingle with tart lemon and creamy nectarine notes. This is a great wine to pair with seafood, grilled fish and any summery salads. -CC
Xurxo Alba is making a number of expressions of Albariño and other local Galician grapes in Cambados, in the Rías Baixas DOC in Galicia. His farming and winemaking are innovative and experimental, as he pursues organics and biodynamics in this challenging climate, ferments his wines exclusively with native yeasts, and adds little to no sulfur during production. This is an extremely Atlantic-influenced area, and the wines show that influence clearly. The entry level cuvée is made from grapes sourced from multiple sites with mainly sandy soil. The fruit from each parcel is vinified separately (some in stainless steel, some in barrels) gaining structure and complexity of flavor from six months spent on the fine lees. This is a very good, classic expression of Albariño with plenty of saline minerality and joyous notes of stone-fruit and sea air. -BF
The classic Txakoli! With intensely focused lime peel, green apple and wet stone notes, this has a vivacious texture from residual CO2 and lively acidity, finishing incredibly saline and persistent. This is a ridiculously refreshing white from the land of all things Basque.
This dry, crisp, slightly effervescent rose is a testament to the Ameztoi family's long history of producing txakoli in Getaria. This rose is made from Hondarribi Beltza and Hondarribi Zuri grapes, grown on sand and clay soils and fermented in steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Plenty of salty character and a delicate green herbal note complementing fresh watermelon and strawberry. Perfect for these sweltering summer days, or for pretending you're by the sea any time of the year. -Ben Fletcher
Anima Mundi is a project from Agustí Torello Roca, who also makes sparkling wines under the AT Roca label. Based in the Eastern Penedès, where Macabeu is the most important local grape and also at its most expressive. This pet-nat is from adjacent parcels of Macabeu and Xarel-lo on limestone soils, partially fermented in old 225L barrels and stainless steel before bottling to finish fermenting in bottle with no filtering, sulfur, or other additives. Mineral, linear, and totally refreshing, this the perfect sparkling wine for hot summer days or drinking before dinner! Ben Fletcher
"Le Naturel" is a new project for the organically certified Aroa winery in Navarra: non-interventionist, no sulfur added Garnacha (with a smattering of other local varieties.) The grapes are manually harvested from organically certified vineyards, then briefly macerated (5 days) before fermentation in very large vats. This is a pleasing and direct natural wine, with dominant notes of red raspberry, blackberry and violet. An incredible value at this price. -BF
Unfortified Palomino from a organically farmed single parcel in the famous Balbaino pago (district). This is everything we love about unfortified Palomino! Subtle oxidative notes, piercing acidity and light texture. Wine geeks rejoice! -Eben
I've come to conclude that there's room for all types in the world of Rioja wine, from bright and fresh wines made with stainless steel and carbonic maceration to full-bodied, single vineyard expressions of Tempranillo and Garnacha made in French Oak, with everything imaginable in-between. That is not to say that I don't have my preferences: I have to admit to loving classic, old-fashioned Rioja wines, blended from multipleparcels and made in (mostly) old American oak. These are wines built to last a long time, and the great producers of these wines are typically storied houses dating to the beginning of the modern period of winemaking in Rioja, with familiar names like Lopez de Heredia, Riojanas, La Rioja Alta or Marques de Murrieta. I'm pleased to be able to say that Jon Peñagarikano Akutain, the second-generation owner of Bodegas Akutain, is making wines that are very much in the same vein and of the same quality as these great estates. Everything at the esate is traditional: hand-harvesting from six hectares of estate vineyards, fermentation with natural yeasts and without temperature control, and aging (with racking) in used American oak barrels. The 2014 Reserva is almost entirely Tempranillo from higher altitude plots in Rioja Alta, aged for two years and ten months in neutral (mainly American) oak barrels. The nose shows classic Rioja character: cherry, dried tobacco, and earth with just a hint of that herbal, dill-like note that signals the use of American oak barrels. The palate is deep and full-bodied, youthful but balanced, with structuring tannins and nice acidity. This offers tons of pleasure right now, but the 2014 Reserva could certainly be held for the next 10 to 15 years. Ben Fletcher
Akutain is an estate that we have fallen in love with here at Chambers Street. The Riserva and Gran Riserva were revelations for us, and this Crianza is the perfect prelude, truly resembling a Riserva in style. Mostly Tempranillo with some Garnacha, indigenous yeast fermentation, and aging for 1 year and 9 months in old oak and 1 year in bottle. Leathery tannins, elegant, earthy tones, all around a total winner, and sure to be your new favorite Rioja, especially at this price point. -EL
Juan Peñagaricano Akutain worked at CVNE and La Rioja Alta before planting his own vineyard in Rioja Alta in 1975. Ever since, he and his son, Jon Peñagaricano, have sought to produce classicly styled Rioja wines at a smaller scale, sourcing grapes from their own plots, which they work without chemicals and harvest by hand. Since 2015 they have produced this wine, a Cosecha (unaged) Rioja, fermenting Tempranillo and a little bit of Garnacha in fiberglass and resting the wine in the same container before bottling without fining or filtering. The 2018 shows the terroir of Rioja Alta without any distractions: it is a wine of pure fruit and earth. Notes of ripe cherry abound on the nose, interspersed with notes of green tobacco and earth. The palate follows, with similar pretty cherry quality and a long and broad clay-y minerality. This is a cosecha Rioja, without oak or long aging, and as a result it is much lighter than the wines that many think of as Rioja: it is perfectly suited to drinking with a slight chill into the summer. Ben Fletcher
Ramiro Ibanez is making very exciting wines in Sanlucar de Barrameda. This is his oxidative white wine, made with the ancient varieties Perruno (from Trebujena) and Uva Rey and a small amount of Palomino Fino (from Arcos de la Frontera). Compare it to Palo Cortado sherries, but this is unfortified and the balance between biological and oxidative aging is a product of terroir in the bodega (cellar) and in the pago (vineyards). First, the hand harvested grapes are dried in the sun (this process, the aoleo, is traditional in Jerez but increasingly uncommon) then fermented with indigenous yeasts and pressed whole cluster into very old 500L Botas. There, the wine rested for 26 months, four of them under flor. The resultant wine is full-bodied and oxidative in character, with aromas of salt, earth, white flowers, melon, citrus, and butter pastry. The palate is structured and intense, alive and powerful, showing a deep and intensely saline earthiness coupled to bright white floral notes, sweet spice, bright citrus and melon. This is the sort of wine that lingers vividly on the palate for minutes, transforming in expected and unexpected (but thoroughly pleasant) directions. As good with crackers, nuts and cheeses as it was with turkey this thanksgiving. Uniquely memorable and satisfying, I am in awe. Ben Fletcher
100% Listán Blanco from multiple parcels in Ycoden Daute Isora (northern Tenerife). Fermented separately, the wine is then aged for 8 months - a portion of the wine in concrete tanks on the lees and the other in 500 liter barrels - before being blended and bottled with minimal addition of sulfur. This iteration of the Artifice Blanco sees some skin contact, which adds subtle structure. Tropical aromatics blend with golden fruit and a touch of nuttiness. These wines just get better and better every year: Borja Perez is definitely one of the most skilled winemakers in the Canary Islands! Eben Lillie and Ben Fletcher
Isaac Cantalapiedra and his son Manuel work their organically farmed family plots of Verdejo in their homeland of Rueda to produce wines that show the terroir, density, and authentic character of Verdejo that is so hard to find. Cantayano, their “village” wine is from 3 plots around La Seca, all hand harvested, macerated briefly on the skins, and fermented in mainly steel vats with some used barrels. The wine is raised on the lees for 8 months before bottling. On the nose, Cantayano shows stone fruit, apple, and herbaceous notes, while the palate is surprising dense, with a beautiful seam of acidity. A lovely and affordable Spanish white wine that shows the potential of Verdejo when the grape variety is treated with respect. Ben Fletcher
Manuel and Isaac Cantalapiedra source their Toro (Tempranillo) grapes from high-elevation, organically-certified vineyards near Villabuena del Puente. The grapes are harvested by hand and 90% are destemmed and fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel; the remaining 10% ferment with the stems in open-top fermenters. There is no filtering or fining, and the only sulfur addition is small and takes place at bottling. This shows the depth and intensity of classic Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo), without the extraction or intense tannins that we typically think of in the region. Instead, there are delicate spice notes, mineral structure, and refined, pure red fruit notes. A real treat, and a great value. Ben Fletcher
Castellroig is one of the finest values in sparkling wine and a great example of the wines of Corpinnat: it is farmed organically, harvested by hand, aged at least 18 months on the lees, and fermented with native yeasts. Marcel Sabate and his team have a remarkable understanding of their vineyards and have mapped out every minute shift in terroir on their estate; this fanatical approach to quality shows in the bottle. The focus of this cuvée is Xarel-lo, a favorite among the grapes of the Penedès for its refreshing mineral qualities and notes of mountain herbs. A light-on-its-feet bubbly for everyday occasions. Ariana Rolich
A treat for lovers of Castellroig, the Rosat is a refreshing rosè sparkling wine made from organically farmed Garnacha and Trepat grapes, fermented with native yeasts, and aged a minimum of 18 months on the lees before disgorgement. A lovely, rosy watermelon hue, dry and frothy, with deep and delicious flavors of raspberry, cranberry, orange rind, sea salt, and Mediterranean herbs. This rosat is always cold in our fridge at home, ready for smoked salmon brunch, a sardine snack, and fish from the grill. Ariana Rolich
Sumoll is a difficult grape to grow, but the Sumoll-based wines of Celler Pardas are routinely exceptional. This Rosat, the first wine in this style from them that I've tasted, continue that trend. I think what impresses me so much about this wine is the balance of generous fruit, elegant texture, and bright acidity. Strawberry and bright red cherry with a hint of salty minerality on the nose, while the palate shows pomegranate juice, ripe red berries, orange peel, and lots of chalk. Truly delicious!
Ull de llebre (Tempranillo), with 10 days maceration. Tuets is part of a small crew of exciting winemakers in Catalunya, good friends of Oriol Artigas and many of the usual suspects of the natural wine scene in and around Barcelona. This is the juiciest Tempranillo we have at Chambers, but by no means a simple wine. Nice mineral structure in the mid-palate, and clearly a great wine for pork, as the label suggests. -Eben
This is a dark and slightly funky (reductive) red from Tempranillo and Syrah, vinified partially whole cluster and part de-stemmed. Dark blackberry and black cherry aromas, lots of soil and roasted meat aromas. The reduction ("barnyardy" aroma) on the nose is likely from Syrah, and needs a bit of time to blow off, but the palate is lush, with purple fruit and very soft tannins. -Eben
Alvaro and Ana from Selections de la Vina commissioned this series of tasty liter bottles from their growers, and Manel answered the call with this delicious and funky Sumoll. This shows slight reduction on opening, but this blows off in minutes, just a bit faster than it takes to drink the bottle! -Eben
Sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether you're looking for an orange wine or a rose: this bottle, from Joan Franquet in Catalonia, stradles the two categories very admirably. Made with the red Sumoll Negre grape and the gray grape Xarel-lo Vermell, the wine is pink-orange in the glass and fresh and bright on the palate, perfect for early spring sipping or pairing with vegetables and lighter fare! (Arrives Friday, April 16th)
The Lousas Vinas de Aldea is the village cuvee from Envinate’s vineyards in Ribeira Sacra, sourced from mainly the Riberas do Sil region, with smaller amounts from vineyards in Amandi and Quiroga-Bibei. The blend ends up being about 80% Mencia and 20% a mix of the other local grape varieties like Brancellao, Caiño, Sousón, Garnacha Tintorera and others. Grapes are harvested by hand, ferment with native yeasts, and age in concrete, used French oak and foudres. The 2019 vintage was very good, with moderate temperatures unlike the past few hotter years, and perhaps as a result this year’s wine is more approachable and open than the 2018 or 2017 vintages, showing delicate herbal tones and vibrant red fruit on the nose, and a medium-bodied palate brimming with macerated strawberries, mineral notes, and delicate tannins.
100% Listán Negro, from two vineyards near La Perdoma in the Valle de la Orotava: San Antonio and La Habanera. Both are composed of old vines (80-100 years) and planted on volcanic soils with substantial amounts of clay, sand and basalt. Climactically, the Valle de la Orotava is wet and very windy, despite the altitude (350-650m above sea level). The grapes for Migan are harvested by hand and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete with some whole cluster inclusion before aging for about a year in neutral French oak barrels. Bottling is without fining or filtering, and with just a touch of sulfur. This shows the classic, spicy volcanic character of Orotava, with plenty of savory, earthy substance on the palate. Ben Fletcher
100% Listán Blanco from centenarian vines in the black volcanic soil of the Palo Blanco vineyard, in the Valle de la Orotava of northern Tenerife. This area is humid despite the substantial elevation (600m above sea level), and the vines are trained in the braided Cordon Trenzado method to promote airflow. All grapes are hand harvested and fermented with indigenous yeasts in concrete before aging in a mix of foudre and used barrels for 10 months. Bottled without fining or filtering, and with only a touch of sulfur. This year's expression of Palo Blanco is concentrated and extremely savory, with notes of sea salt, stone, and volcanic spice. Ben Fletcher
100% Malvasia (of some sort?). Malvasia has had a presence in the area of Castronuño for a very long time but was often pulled up and replaced with Doña Blanca or Chasselas in the last 50 years. Esteban found these vines near a vineyard of Albillo Real that he is working with and hypothesized that they are remnants of Malvasia plantings from long ago that made their way to the area from the Canary Islands or from Madeira. The vines are farmed organically and vinified in a traditional style in large barrels where the skins gently macerate in the juice for three months. This method does not impart a lot of orange color to wine, but the influence of the skins in texture, tannin, and flavor is clear. Aromatically, this recalls other orange wines made from Malvasia that I’ve tasted, with lots of jasmine, ginger, and stone fruit notes on the nose. The palate is dense, textured, and concentrated but still possesses a balanced, mineral acidity. Truly a fascinating and refreshing orange wine!
100% Albillo Real, from 130+ year-old, ungrafted vines planted in loose, nutrient-poor sandy soils near Esteban Celemín’s hometown, Castronuño. This cuvee is named for the large flightless bustards which are attracted to the sweet, aromatic grapes before harvest. Esteban works the vineyard organically and is very traditional in the cellar: the grapes are pressed very gently with a basket press and spend 11 months in a single old 225L French oak barrel. This wine’s profile is concentrated and intense. Las Avutardas shows the yellow-flower, pear, exotic spices, and oxidized apple aromatics of Albillo Real on the nose. The palate is concentrated, but there’s a saline freshness that balances the dense, oily texture and notes of ripe papaya, apple flesh, fresh butter, apricot, and yellow Anjou pear. The textural presence of this wine, and its length in the mouth are particularly notable; they build as you drink and provide wonderful depth. For lovers of white wines from the Rhone valley, this delivers on many of the same levels.
100% Albillo Real from vines around Castronuño. This is Esteban’s expression of the traditional, slightly oxidative skin-contact wines of the region, made in the classical clay tinaja or amphora. The Albillo Real grapes’ thin skins macerate gently in the juice for 40 days, lending little in the way of color but plenty of flavor and texture. The nose is bright but very bold, with notes of apricot, orange peel, and citrus, while the palate shows concentrated apricot, peach, and pear alongside savory density. The clay and the skins give this a truly unique texture that I find simultaneously substantial and truly refreshing.
This 100% Tempranillo wine from Ribera del Duero is a fantastic value from biodynamically certified vineyards. Coming from vines aged between 10- and 20-year-old, the wine is aged 80% in stainless steel and 20% in oak. This is a classic, fuller-bodied expression of warm climate Tempranillo: dark fruit, earth, a bit of leather and medium tannins are in balanced with freshness and some herbal character. A great wine for hearty weeknight fare, it can also stand up to steak or lamb. -BF
Goyo Garcia Viadero produces small amounts of elegant, minimal intervention Ribera del Duero from high elevation plots planted with old vines of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). The Joven is a great introduction to Goyo Garcia's unique style. From a single vineyard of 35 year-old vines at about 860 meters of elevation, the grapes for the Joven are hand-harvested, destemmed, and then fermented with indigenous yeasts in steel tank. There is no fining or filtration before bottling, and no added SO2. For a Joven wine, this is strikingly serious and thoughtful without being heavy or extracted. Compared to the 2018, the 2019 bottling shows a bit fresher and brighter, with maybe slightly less tannin and slightly red-er fruit. But it is similarly versatile at the dinner table, and shows classic Tempranillo character with plenty of mineral notes and delicate structure. Ben Fletcher
A Ponte is the newest single vineyard wine from Guímaro, from a new plot above their old vines in Finca Meixaman in the area of Amandi, the most celebrated subregion of Ribeira Sacra. The very steep, terraced site faces the southeast, looking out over the River Sil, and the soil is a mix of granite, slate, and sand. While most of the sites worked and vinified by Pedro Rodríguez are planted mainly to Mencia, A Ponte has been planted a to a nearly equal balance of Mencia, Caino, Brancellao, Merenzao and Souson. The inclusion of larger amounts of the lesser known local grape varieties is a forward thinking response to a succession of riper vintages due to climate change: these other grapes retain more acidity and freshness at higher degrees of ripeness than Mencia does. The vines here are still young, and their youthful quality perhaps translates to the comparative approachability of this wine next to wines coming from Pedro's other very old vine vineyards. Vinification is similar to the other single vineyard wines from Guímaro: grapes are all hand-harvested, then fermented whole cluster with 50 days of maceration before resting in used Burgundy barrels for 14 months. The 2018 vintage was outstanding in Ribeira Sacra, and this is a balanced, classic expression of the region's terroir: red fruits, green herbs, structuring tannins, and tons of mineral character. Outstanding. Ben Fletcher
Pedro Rodriguez is one of my favorite winemakers in Northwest Spain, and the wines from Guímaro are consistently interesting and exciting. This is the most approachable and affordable red wine from the estate, made with hand harvested grapes from precariously steep vineyards of mainly Mencía within the Ribeira Sacra appellation. Fermented and aged without exposure to oak, this wine is red fruited and almost juicy, balanced by bright, clean acidity and a deep mineral core. This is an appealing expression of Mencía, approachable and friendly to food. -Ben Fletcher
Dolores Cabrera tends four vineyards very old vines in the Valle de La Orotava, and the grapes for La Araucaria Tinto come from exclusively centenarian vines trained in the ultra-traditional local braided method, with long vines braided together on and supported in the air to facilitate airflow. These very special vines yield a very classic expression of Tenerife Listan Negro, that Cabrera destems and vinifies in stainless steel before bottling with minimal sulfur addition. The wine shows exuberant notes of cracked black pepper, red fruit, and volcanic soil. The palate is delicate but similarly expressive, with red tart cherry, exotic spices, and volcanic earth. An outstanding vintage of La Perdoma. I would open this about thirty minutes or an hour before drinking. Ben Fletcher
A Seara is this year's new wine from Nacho Gonzalez, the first (as far as I'm aware) from outside Valdeorras. A Seara hails from a coplanted plot of red and white grapes in the Val do Bibei, in Ribeira Sacra. Although the vinification is basically identical to Nacho Gonzalez's other wines (100% destemmed, fermentation in stainless steel, aging in tinaja) the change in terroir is fascinatingly clear. The nose is spicy, with black pepper, mint, and smoke balanced by ripe cherries, raspberries, and red plum skin. The palate echoes, with ripe red fruits and a long, smooth, cooling granitic minerality. Compared to the other 2019 wines from La Perdida, there's less salt here and more spicy, smoky character, and the palte is long, sapid, and integrated. With a few months of rest, I think this will grow to be an exceedingly elegant natural wine.
A Chaira is entirely Doña Blanca from the old O Chao vineyard that Nacho Gonzalez has been working since 2013. The vines are old and low-yielding, planted on steep slopes. The Doña Blanca grapes for A Chaira are harvested separately, ferment with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks, then age in tinaja, the traditional local amphora. This year's A Chaira has a deeply mineral cast. The nose shows granitic spice and citrus fruits, while the palate has abundant bright mineral texture and notes of lime, apple, mountain herbs, and salt. This is probably the leanest and brightest of the white or orange wines from Nacho Gonzalez this year, and may, as a result, need the most time to harmonize and flesh itself out in bottle. I'd like to check on it in 6 months: my guess is that this wine will fill out with some resting time and show more white fruit and spice.
Malas Uvas is a blend of 20% Dona Branca and 80% Palomino - the two least appreciated grape varieties in Valdeorras. The grapes come from Nacho Gonzalez's old 'O Chao' vineyard, where they are hand-harvested, fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel, and macerate on their skins for about five days. 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. While somewhat austere and acid-driven at the moment, I am confident that this wine will relax and harmonize over the next few months to yield a bold, structured, alpine white wine.
O Pando is a mountain vineyard of mixed grapes, including Godello. This is one of two wines that Nacho Gonzalez produces from the vineyard's Godello vines. This, the white which sees less time on the skins, is hand harvested, destemmed, macerated for 4-5 days, and fermented in open-top tinaja. The 2019 O Pando shows 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. This is a really texturally interesting wine, that I think will surely improve in bottle. A recently opened bottle of 2015 O Pando showed extremely well, so I wouldn't hesitate to hold onto this wine for year or considerably more, but this was also one of the more approachable and appealing wines to drink now or in a few months at a recent tasting.
O Poulo is the biggest and boldest of Nacho Gonzalez's red wines. 95% Garnacha Tintorera, with 5% Palomino, this is a dark and brooding natural wine. The grapes come from a small, old vineyard near Larouco, the grapes were destemmed, then cofermented in a single 400L open-top tinaja, before pressing into an old 400L French oak barrel to rest for a year. Production is tiny. In the glass, the wine is nearly ink-black, 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. The fruit here is a bit restrained at the moment, but my experience with the wine in other vintages suggests that this will change: 2018 O Poulo opened in November showed macerated blackberries, plum skin, black pepper and salt. I adore this wine, but I'd wait to open it until those very special aromatics start to emerge: probably about 9 months to a year from now. And don't be afraid to decant.
This is serious Rioja: no new oak, extended pre-release bottle aging, and exquisite vineyard sites (for the Tondonia, vines dig deep through fine-grained alluvial soils overlooking the Ebro River that were first planted almost 140 years ago). Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta founded Lopez de Heredia in 1877, and the wines continue to serve as a benchmark for the region (the familyy business is now led mainly by his grandson Pedro, and great-granddaughter Maria Jose). The bodega comprises four distinct vineyard areas and extends to a total of 170 hectares, with Tondonia being the largest and most famous of the holdings. Jancis Robinson considers 2004 "a very good year, with wines that should last well," and the Tondonia Reserva is certainly that: powerful, lean, and layered with gorgeous, generous fruit and all the cigar box, cedar, and leather notes a lover of classic Rioja could wish for.
Luis Perez makes wines in Jerez mostly, and is a partner in the La Riva project with Ramiro Ibanez. 'El Triangulo' is a red he produces from the local Tintilla grape in Cadiz. Also known as Tintilla de Rota, because it is almost solely found in and around the town of Rota, this grape is apparently related to Graciano (from Rioja/Navarra), and is known for its pigment and acidity. It produces a dark and dense looking wine which surprises on the palate with lift and freshness. The vines here are in Balbaina, on chalky soils. A delicious, dark red, with blackberry notes, and medium body. Perfect for a summer BBQ!
100% Ull de Llebre (aka Tempranillo). A new wine from Partida Creus. Arrives Monday, April 19th.
Pepe Raventós stepped outside of the Cava appellation in 2012 to create the Conca del Riu Anoia designation. The de Nit rosé was the first Conca wine and continues to sate and impress us with its lively expression of calcareous soils, rich with marine fossils. This is an incredibly versatile sparkler that has crisp, pretty stone fruit and light raspberry fruit with a gorgeous minerality. AR
As the story goes, the grapes for this lovely Canary red come from the one of the vineyard owners who was providing grapes for the Canary Island offerings from Envinate. After meeting Jonatan Garcia, who is known for the Suertes del Marques wines, and is originally from Tenerife, this grower began selling grapes to Jonatan, and the Sortevera project was born. This is a blend of many grapes, mostly Vijariego Negro, Listan Gacho, Malvasia Rosado, Listan Negro, Negramoll, with additional local grapes in small percentages. Fruit comes from the Margalagua, Fajanetes, and Amogoje parcels, all from sloped vineyards at higher altitude, clearly expressing the volcanic soil. A must for any lover of Canary Island reds. -EL
Zorzal takes the Graciano grape to new heights with this inexpensive but outrageously delicious 35-year-old, organically-farmed vines in Spain's Navarra region (Rioja's overlooked neighbor). This is a generous, crowd-pleasing, and thirst-quenching red on the fuller side of medium-bodied. It is pretty and perfumed, with flavors of juicy purple plum, ripe red raspberry, and dark cherry, violet flowers, soft funky earth, spearmint leaf, cinnamon spice, smooth tannins, rich texture, and just enough acidity. Unfined, unfiltered, and fermented with native yeasts. Ariana Rolich
Viña Zorzal offers some seriously delicious wines from old vines for very little money (as fans of their delightful red Graciano can attest). This one honors the traditional wine of the Navarra region - rosado of Garnacha. Fragrant red currant, raspberry, and pink peppercorn aromas lead to crunchy cranberry and strawberry fruit flavors, with zesty pink grapefruit and tropical and herbal undertones on the finish. The label features a popcorn kernel pattern because Xabi Sanz of Zorzal recommends it as an accompaniment to popcorn and a movie. This year's wine is electric: bright pink in the glass and incredibly tasty!
Las Enebradas is all Garnacha, from the Cebreros DO in the Gredos. Raul Perez is behind the project, which is named after the tiny .25 hectare parcel that is at 1000m altitude, farmed by a local grandpa whom Perez befriended several years ago. This wine has everything we love about Gredos Garnacha, with dried fruit, herbs, and a frame of chiseled minerality from granitic soils. A big nod to classic Rhone Grenache. Aging in large old barrels. Acidity is perfect, providing lift and elegance to the earthy profile. The 2016 is the current release, and is ready to drink, but definitely shows potential for aging another 5-10 years. -EL