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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
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
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
The valleys of Ribeiro have been renowned for their white wines, dry and sweet, for hundreds of years. Only in the first part of the 20th century did this reputation begin to diminish due to war, vine diseases, and the introduction of over-productive but inferior tasting grape varieties like Palomino. But any historian of wine or appreciator of elegant white wines will tell you that Ribeiro is a special place, and that the decomposed granitic soils (the sabrego) and old terraced vineyards are capable of producing truly exceptional wines. Bernardo Estevez manually farms roughly 5 hectares of vines that range in age from 20 to 100 years old. His agricultural approach is strict biodynamism, and he is an important proponent of biodynamics in Ribeiro. The majority of the white grapes are Lado and Treixadura, probably the two "noblest" grapes of the appellation. The rest of the blend in the Chans e lus (soil and light) Castes Branco is composed of the other indigenous grapes: Silberilla, Godello, Albilla, Loureira, Verdello Antiguo. He harvests his vineyards by hand, then presses the grapes whole cluster into an old 500L French oak barrel and an ancient 1500L chestnut foudre, where they ferment with indigenous yeasts. The wine rests in barrels for 10 months before bottling with very minimal sulfur, and then rests again in bottle at length before release. For me, this bottle delivers all of the many pleasures of Ribeiro white wine. Jubilant and expressive on opening, the nose is full of granitic stone, white and yellow flowers, wildflower honey, and melon. The palate is beautifully balanced between granitic minerality that lends ginger spice, length, breadth, and texture and the ripe fruit notes of peach, melon, and citrus. Despite the intensity of these different flavors, the balance between them yields a surprisingly delicate and thoughtful wine that will accompany the flavors of the fall and winter table very well. 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 as we wait for more of the top wines to arrive to the US. 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. -Eben
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
An old Chambers Street favorite, Juan Antonio Ponce's 'Reto' is from the rare Albilla grape, sourced from different parcels in Manchuela (near Valencia), averaging around 50-year-old, planted on chalky and calcareous soil. The grapes are then fermented using native yeast in old oak, and aged on lees for 8 months in old oak barrels, with no fining or filtering, and minimal addition of sulfur before bottling. Reto's intense minerality, chalky mouthfeel, and long saline finish are reminiscent of some of our favorite young Chenin Blancs and Burgundies. An extremely elegant, interesting, and versatile wine at this price point. Pairs beautifully with rich seafood, pestos, grilled poultry, and cheese plates. Welcome back, Reto!
A collaboration between our dear friend Pepe Raventos and a fellow winemaker from Sant Sadurni D'Anoia, in Catalunya, Francesc Escala. Can Sumoi is an old farm dating back to 1645, at 600m altitude. This is a pristine sparkling from Ancestral method, and technically Brut Nature. Montonega is the grape, a local name for Parellada (or perhaps a distinct clone of Parellada). Alcohol is 9.5%, and the wine is completely dry and airy. A really impressive wine for the price. Thanks Pepe! -EL
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
Grenache and Syrah, delivered to you via an addictive, chillable red from the south of Spain. We first were turned on to Celler Les Foes with this wild little wine called "L'Adolescent." It was funky, and dark-fruited, while also being really fresh and drinkable. The 2019 is right on the money, though perhaps a bit darker than previous vintages. Sure to serve you well all summer long, at any rooftop party or BBQ you find yourself attending. -EL
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
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
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
Costers del Priorat's Petit Pissarres is 60% Garnacha Tinto and 40% Samso (a.k.a. Carignan), from organically farmed vineyards planted on the unique slate soils of Priorat. The Llicorella, or decomposed slate,, and the vintage's warmth, lend this wine a bold, dense character, but also mineral lift. The fruit character is dark, suggesting plum, blackberry, and black currant on the nose, while the palate is more lifted with notes of cherry, blueberry and blackberry around a core of slate-y minerality, with just a touch of oak spice. The 2018 vintage was very good in Priorat, and the new vintage of this wine is even more elegant than last years - an incredible value. Ben Fletcher
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 Esteban Celemín’s vineyard that he planted in 2014 with clonal selections from surrounding, ancient ungrafted vineyards. The soils in this plot are particularly chalky – unusual in the area, where most soils are clay or sand. In 2018, he harvested this vineyard last, seeking to get the greatest amount of ripeness and concentration possible from these younger vines. Farming is organic, with some biodynamic treatments, and vinification is very traditional: the grapes are foot trodden, then pressed slowly and gently with a basket press into five old 225L French oak barrels, where native yeast fermentation takes place and the finished wine ages for 10 months. In contrast to Las Avutardas, Señora Vale shows slightly brighter fruit notes: white and yellow flowers, freshly sliced apples, green herbs, and Bosc pear on the nose. The palate has a juicier texture as well, with a bright seam of chalky minerality surrounded by notes of bosc pear, butter, and apple. Like Las Avutardas, I think this is a great choice for anyone who enjoys the white wines of the Rhone, or even Chardonnays from warmer sites.
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
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
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
A lovely Bierzo from Jose Antonio Garcia. This is all Mencia, with 30% stems, fermented in stainless steel and aged in large, used barrels. There's a likeness to Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley here, with savory cooking spice and earth balanced by bright fruit. Medium bodied. -Eben
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.
The O Chao vineyard is planted with Godello, and Nacho makes two wines from the grapes of this old-vine, low yielding mountain plot. This, the orange, spends much longer on the skins than the white. Nacho harvests the grapes by hand, fully destems, then ferments with native yeasts in open-top Tinaja and macerates the grapes with the skins for 5-6 months. The maceration is gentle, providing texture and density without overwhelming tannin. In fact, the O Pando 'Orange' is perhaps softer and more immediately appealing than the O Pando 'White' in this vintage. The remarkable, herbal nose shows basil, pine, jasmine, and ginger alonside quince and apricot. The palate is less herbal, instead emphasizing lime, white apple flesh, and granitic spice framed by pretty, soft tannins.
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
Valdeorras is better known for white wines from Godello than red wines, and the Somoza Godello has become something of a staple at Chambers Street the past few years, but this blend of red grapes from a large number of small parcels from Vina Somoza is a lifted, dense, and hedonistic red wine from the region. Winemaker Javier García Alonso macerated Mencía, Garnacha Tintorera, Mouratón, Merenzao, Gran Negro, and Brancellao grapes together for a little more than a month in open-topped neutral fermenters before pressing the juice into 400L and 500L barrels to rest on its lees over winter. The result is a spicy, dark fruited wine with notes of plum, blackberry and exotic spices on the nose, and a structured but delicate palate of mixed small berries (raspberry, blackcurrant, blackberry, blueberry) and bright minerality that finishes with long dense spiciness. The character of the Mencía certianly shines through, but the bright acid of Garnacha Tintorera and the delicate red fruit of Merenzao (Jura's Trousseau) are equally apparent. A beautiful wine that opens splendidly with air to reveal more and more length and surprising power. Ben Fletcher
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
Montsant is better known for its red wines, but this fresh and interesting white from Sara and René of Venus La Universal makes a strong case for the region's whites. Made from 50% Macabeu, 40% Garnatxa Blanca and 10% Cartoixa aka Xarel-lo from organic vineyards, roughly 20% of the grapes are macerated on the skin for 24 hours (providing a soft, complex textural structure to the finished wine) while the remainder are directly pressed into clay amphorae and large old barrels. Dido Blanc shows the influence of the poor decomposed granitic soils of Falset. These soils and the warm climate help promote full ripening and exuberant fruitiness, while the granite simultaneously expresses itself in the wine with balancing minerality and acidity. This was outstanding with buttery, garlicky shrimp over rice with lime and cilantro and would be similarly well-suited to other flavorful seafood dishes, I think. Ben Fletcher
Victoria Torres' Negramoll comes from a variety of sites across the island at different elevations and in different microclimates. All of the vineyards are farmed organically, unirrigated, and ungrafted. Harvested at different times depending on their specific situation, they ferment separately in tanks and barrels with some stem inclusion before blending. The final wine ages for 12 months in old sherry casks.
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