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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
We know Bodegas Albamar for the incredible Albarinos that winemaker Xurxo Alba produces, but his reds are worthy of attention too! This is all Mencia from the Ribeira Sacra DO, aged in stainless steel. The profile is classic for Mencia, with subtle spice, earth, crushed red and black berries, medium tannin and perfect acidity. There is a slightly rustic character to the fruit, but the wine is so elegant that the rusticity is more of an edge than a dominating feature. Highly recommended for all fans of Mencia, and for anyone looking for a perfectly medium-bodied red. -EL
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
Beach buddy, subway sipper... this little can of refreshing Txakoli has many nicknames already and it's only been on the shelf for a week! The can is one third of a bottle of wine, and delivers crisp, zippy Txakoli from the Basque country in Spain, in a perfectly sized vessel. -EL
Iñaki and Rosa Maria Etxeberria produce Bengoetxe in the cool, very green Basque country on the border with France. The humid climate and the influence of the Atlantic Ocean yield wines with lots of bright acidity grown from native grapes (in this case, Hondarribi Zuri and a tiny bit of Gros Manseng). The Exeberrias pursue a lower-intervention and more serious style of Txakoli, harvesting by hand, fermenting with native yeasts, and resting for a full year on the lees in steel tanks before bottling without captured CO2. Bengoetxe is from vineyards from a slightly warmer site, and the wine shows rich citrus, melon, smoke and herbs on the palate. The 2019 is outrageously good, a total knockout for the price: long and extremely mineral on the palate, with brilliant acidity and freshness. I don't know if I'll manage to save a bottle or two (as it is so very tasty right now), but my feeling is that is could also age quite brilliantly. Ben Fletcher
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
Artifice Tinto is all Listan Negro, from a variety of plots in the northern region of Tenerife. The 2018 is by far the best expression of this wine that I've tasted, all citrus rind, cranberry, strawberry, exotic spices and smokiness on the nose, with an admirably delicate light- to medium-bodied palate with gentle tannins. There's clearly some whole clusters used here, but the wine shows softer and more elegant than in previous vintages. Borja Perez's wines just keep getting better! 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
La Vendañona comes from a single, formerly abandoned high altitude plot of 100 to 110 year-old Mencía on iron-rich clay soils. I wasn't able to get information about the fermentation or aging method of this wine, beyond that it is fermented only with native yeasts, and rests for a year in large oak barrels. Quite clearly, however, there is a touch of delicate oak spice here, which complements the dark, savory, character of this expression of Mencía very well. The texture is silky and dense, but medium-bodied, with integrated, dusty tannins that frame the notes of game, blackberry, and plum nicely. I think that this would be a good candidate for medium-term aging, but it's so appealing and gastronomic now it may be very hard to wait! 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 native of Mallorca, Cati Ribot inherited a plot of old vines and has begun to produce wines from local indigenous grapes on the island. This is majority Callet, with Escursac, Callet Negrello. The evidence of the volcanic soils is clear here, with lovely smoky notes and great mineral length. Several of our favorite winemakers from Spain, among them Oriol Artigas, have helped Cati with her project, advising with vinification, as she was intent on making natural wines with minimal or no added sulfur. We have been thoroughly impressed with her first vintage that reached the US, and are looking forward to many more to come! -EL
Parallada, paradiddle.. What a lovely wine! Parallada is a rare grape variety, local to Catalunya, and lends itself well to skin contact. The style here is very much infusion over extraction, with subtle grip from skin inclusion, and aromas of chamomile tea and stone fruit (white nectarine). -Eben
A fascinating blend of Juan Garcia (Mouratón), Tinta Madrid (Tempranillo), and several indigenous varieties from the area, from a parcel of 100-130 yr old vines. This unique parcel is located in a national park (Parque Natural de Los Arribes del Duero), and is primarily composed of granitic and sandy soils. Laura found the vineyard after beginning a hunt for Mouraton, and discovering an old farmer named Angel Mayor, who encouraged her to work with the grape, which is disappearing in the region, and is often sold in bulk for commercial wine production, where it becomes part of a blend. Partially de-stemmed, with 12 days of maceration and fermentation in a combination of large chestnut barrels and stainless steel. Aging is for 11 months in chestnut barrels.This wine is wild and pure, expressing aromas that confuse and delight my neural signals. I wrote in my initial tasting note that it's "more fun than a waterslide." Zippy, chiseled, stony and fresh, with a long mineral finish. The aromas are lithe, and range from allspice to rose petals. A real trip, and a very special red from a young DO (Arribes del Duero) that is rarely seen stateside. -EL
The wild child is back! All Mencia, from a South facing parcel of 50 year old vines on granitic sandy soil, at 400m elevation, in the valley of the Sil river. Fruit is de-stemmed, and fermentation is in 4000L foudres, with aging in the same foudres for 11 months. Total SO2 15mg/l. Upon opening, there are aromas of olives and black cherries, soil and savory. A bit volatile, but truly in the best way. When winemakers describe how volatile acidity can lift the aromas and increase the enjoyment of a wine, this is exactly what they're talking about. The wine stands out with a type of animal aroma that is hard to describe, but is clearly a transmission of the grape and the rugged countryside of Ribeira Sacra. On the finish, bright red fruits, mineral structure, and fine tannin.
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% 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
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.
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!
Alberto Nanclares and Sylvia Prieto are making expressive, exciting wines from Albarino and other local grapes in Rias Baixas. This wine is from multiple sites in Cambados on granitic and sandy soils. The vines range in age from 30 to 60 years, a the wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts and raised in small tanks for close to a year. The 2020 is delicious, showing soft, delicate acidity, stones, and dry melon notes. The mid-palate has perfect density, and the wine truly transcends the one-dimensional generalization of Albarinos as crispy and refreshing, as this is almost more akin to a classic Chablis on the palate, especially if served at cellar temperature. -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
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
Xarel-lo, Macabeu, Parellada, Malvasia de Sitges and Sumoll Blanc. As stated on the side of the bottle, "Not added sulphites. Indigenous yeasts. No barrel. Non clarificated. Non Filtered. Just fermented grape juice!" Vinyes Singulars is a small, organic certified estate in the north east part of Penedes, in Catalunya, Spain. Pim Pam is really enticing on the nose, possibly thanks to the aromatics of the local Malvasia. The palate is fascinating, with great texture and flesh, and it seems to just get better with each glass! Full enough to stand alone as a white with noticeable character, and ready for a wide variety of pairings. Eben Lillie