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Made of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Viura from Artuke's organically farmed family estate in the Rioja Alavesa, this wine is a great bargain. This is a traditionally-made Rioja with a freshness that most wines of the region don't have. Whole cluster fermented and raised in concrete tanks, the wine is juicy and floral with aromas of wild violets, ripe cherry, crushed red and purple berries, soft earth, and wild green herbs. Drink this wine with a slight chill and pair it with everything from pizza to paellas!
This is the darker and more full-bodied of Ramon Saavedra's reds, from ungrafted vines of Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot and Garnacha. As with all of Ramon's wines, the Iradei has great balance and length, with very pure fruit, and a backbone of minerality and fresh earth. People say there is something special about wines that come from ungrafted vines, and I would have to concur, though I can't quite put my finger on it. There is certainly something about the aromatic complexity, and a higher tone to the red and black fruit notes of the wine. All in all, this is perhaps the best version of Iradei bottling we've ever tasted, and a great choice for fans of full-bodied natural reds. -EL
Macabeu, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucia. Grapes see 1 day of maceration, and the wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Lovely stone fruit on the palate, with herbal tea notes. Density meets fresh grassy acidity in an ideal way so the wine has depth and length, but is also perfectly crisp. A fresh and fascinating white from the Cauzón lineup. -EL
Ramón Saavedra produces this Tempranillo from high altitude (800-1000m) vineyards in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Granada. Ramon's approach is to emphasize freshness and intensity of fruit character through short maceration times and vinification in stainless steel. Here, the result is a wine with animal, garrigue, and red fruit notes on the nose. The palate is alive and changing: look for black cherry, red raspberry, game, and a pronounced mineral finish. There's body here and some nice, friendly tannins balanced by tense acidity that makes this wine gastronomically very friendly. Ben Fletcher
Duende is Ramon Saavedra's 100% Syrah cuvée from organically farmed, high altitude vineyards in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Granada. The winemaking is similar to the other Cauzon wines, with full destemming, a short maceration time, and vinification in stainless steel. The result, however, is quite a bit darker than either the Tempranillo or the Garnacha, with black cherry, earth, and game on the nose and lots of rusticity on the palate. The profile suggests a natural affinity to lamb or hearty, charred vegetable dishes. Ben Fletcher
Ramón Saavedra organically farms vineyards high in the Sierra Nevadas and produces fresh, living wines with no additives, including sulfur. Mozuelo is 80% Garnacha with the remainder being red-fleshed Garnacha Tintorera, both from high altitude (800-1200m) vineyards. The grapes are entirely destemmed, macerated briefly on the skins and vinified in stainless steel tank. The result is a nervy, high acid expression of Garnacha, with lots of brightness and fresh, just-ripe fruit. The nose is slightly floral with notes of thyme and macerated red berries. The palate is fresh and alive with red sour cherry and freshly picked red raspberry complimented by cooling, clean minerality. Ben Fletcher
Pi Noir is back, and it's fresher, livelier, and juicier than last year! Vibrant body, with herbs and bright red fruit on the palate, with some spice, and weighing in at a pleasant 11.5%. The grapes see 3-5 days of gentle maceration and the wine is aged in stainless steel. High altitude vineyards provide ample acidity to frame the material and keep the alcohol low. This is a singular expression of Pinot Noir. -EL
Telmo Rodriguez is making elegant Riojas from a small selection of outstanding vineyards in the cooler part of the appellation. For the Bodega Lanzaga bottling, he blends grapes (predominantly Tempranillo, with some Garnacha, Graciano and small amounts of other indigenous varieties) from five vineyards, fermenting in concrete before 14 months of aging in 225L foudre. The wine's profile is elegant and balanced but full bodied: savory, meaty notes are balanced by pretty fruit and nice mineral freshness in this great expression of contemporary Rioja. 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. Really a step up for the Artifice label from Borja. No longer simple "intro to Canary Island wines," these are top quality offerings that get better each year, as Borja gains more experience and familiarity with the vineyards. -EL
The Artifice Tinto is delicious in 2017! All Listán Negro, with great acidity and balance. Blood orange and baking spice on the nose, medium weight on the palate, and refreshingly mineral on the finish. Borja has been getting into whole cluster fermentation, and used about 30% whole cluster with this vintage. Even though the tannins of the stems are intense, he really likes the fruit profile, and we have to say, we love it too! -EL
Vidueño is a blend of local white grapes Marmajuelo, Listán Blanco, Albillo, Gual, and Foraster, from multiple parcels. Vinified in 500 liter French oak barrels and aged for about a year in large foudre, then bottled and aged an additional 8 months before release. Worthy of a carafe, this 2017 is a bit reductive on the nose, but this blows off to reveal curry spice, coriander and burnt orange. It's really a fascinating white that will surely benefit from short term aging. -EL
Xarel-lo Vermell is the pink skinned sister grape of Xarel-lo. In many ways it is very similar in character to its white skinned sibling, with bright acidity and thick skins. In this case, the wine is a shade between pink and burnt orange, and there is certainly a light red fruit character to this wine. It is quite light and bright, with lots of citrus and herbal notes on the nose, and well-integrated bubbles. Marcel told me that he thinks that this expression of Xarel-lo may well be the original one, with the white skinned incarnation coming later. Either way, this is a really pleasurable sparkling, well suited to opening with lighter food or on its own! Ben Fletcher
100% Xarel-lo from three vineyards in the Bitlles Valley, this is a great expression of the grape in still form. Here, the soils are calcareous clay with fossilized sea shells - this shows in the wine's bright, bracing acid. The 4 months of lees aging lends body and a creamier mid-palate, but the structure here is entirely acid-driven. Look for notes of fennel, sea air, and anise on the nose, with a palate of ripe citrus, chalk and herbs. I think this is a great introduction to still Xarel-lo and a perfect wine for lighter fish or chicken dishes. 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, harvesting 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 Xarell-lo, a favorite amongst the grapes of the Penedès for its refreshing mineral qualities and notes of mountain herbs. A light-on-its-feet bubbly for everyday occasions.
A treat for lovers of Castellroig, the Rosat is a refreshing rose 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, seas 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
Mas del Gaio is the top white from Celler Escoda-Sanahuja, and the 2018 is truly a stellar vintage. An old vine expression from rustic limestone vineyards next to the winery, blending Garnacha Blanca, Maccabeu, and Parellada. Garnacha Blanca and Maccabeu are fermented together, with the Parellada harvested 10 days later and fermented separately. Once everything is combined, the wine is aged mostly in large amphora, with old French barrels also employed (sorry I'm not clear on the ratio of amphora to used barrel, but I will ask Joan Ramon to clarify!) Tasted in January of 2019 (before bottling), the wine was fresh, with stone fruit on the palate. Tasted here in New York in September of 2019, the stone fruit was still there, but now there were notes of lemon verbena, and fuzzy peach skins, with a long, fleshy and salty finish. Fantastic acidity and viscosity from the lees aging. Tropical too, with subtle notes of passion fruit. All in all, a transportive wine and a really solid vintage for Joan Ramon.
A beautiful, light/medium bodied red from Escoda, the Nas del Gegant is a blend of Carinyena (Carignan), Sumoll, Garnacha, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Fermentation is together in big "beton" (2,000L barrel), and aging is in stainless steel. After a 2017 vintage that showed a bit more stewed fruit and concentration, the 2018 is more refreshing and elegant. Plums and Mediterranean herbs on the nose, with red fruit on the palate, ample acidity and light structure. It's lovely now, and should be even better in another year or two.
Ramon Parera and Jordi Arnan have been making wines under the Celler Pardas label since 1996, when they acquired an old estate in Alt Penedès. They have a passion for the traditional grape varieties of the region, and this wine epitomizes that passion, reviving an old and rare grape variety. Malvasia de Sitges (also known as Malmsey in Madeira or Malvasia di Lipari in Sicily) has a fascinating history as a (very, very old) grape used for the production of sweet wines, often made from dried grapes. Today, it is nearly extinct in Catalonia, where it is found on only about 2.5 hectares (at least as of 2010 or so, according to Jancis Robinson). As a result, this is the first dry wine that I've ever tasted made entirely from this variety (with the possible exception of wines from the Canary Islands, however I think that those wines come from the distinct Malvasia de Lanzarote grape...). Based on this wine, I would love to taste more! Pardas Blau Cru is a stunner, with electric, nervy acidity, beautiful citrus, stone fruit, and sea salt on the palate, and a delicately floral nose. There's a bit of body, and lots of mineral structure from the clay-limestone soils characteristic of this area of the Alt Penedès round out the palate. A great wine that expresses the nexus of tradition and innovation that characterizes Catalan wine these days! Ben Fletcher
This is a new offering from Laura Lorenzo - 100% Palomino, with 2 weeks of maceration. The "Xisto" in the name refers to the schist soils where these vineyards grow. Average vine age is between 80-120 years old. The grapes are half destemmed and half foot stomped, fermented and aged in both 2000L French foudre and smaller 500L old French barrels. After a year of aging on the lees, Laura bottles without fining or filtration.
The Espelt family has been growing grapes for centuries on the sandy granite, limestone, and slate soils of Empordà. In the early 2000s, they began bottling under their own name, resulting in some of the best values coming out of Catalonia. Espelt's vineyards are certified organic and dedicated primarily to native varieties like Lledoner (Catalan Grenache) and Carinyena. This wine is 100% Garnatxa Blanca from 50 year-old vines, fermented and aged for 3 months in neutral French oak barrels. Medium bodied, with pure, fluid flavors of white peach, lemon-lime, tropical fruit, and golden apple, flecked with white pepper and silky florals, anchored by a firm mineral spine. Fresh and versatile. Ariana Rolich
Keeping up with demand for Espelt rosé is a full-time job! Certified organic from a family winery in Emporda, Catalonia, this bone-dry, buoyant, and refreshing rosé of 100% Garnacha continues to wow us with its value and deliciousness. Notes of crushed stone and wild flowers on the nose lead to a tangy palate of citrus zest, blood orange, crushed berries, and sea spray. A delicious accompaniment for squid and tuna.
Mosset is a new Brut Nature Corpinnat from Marcel. I like to think of it as the next step up from the Brut Reserva: clearly more serious and more interesting than the entry-level bottling, but approachable enough in price and character to enjoy with abandon. As a non-dosage sparkling, you can expect a generally more intense character, but the long lees aging lends this wine a creamy, almost plush mouthfeel with very well integrated bubbles. What is most exciting for me about this wine is the herbal character that reflects the terroir of the vineyards with lots of fennel, anise, and rosemary on the nose. Ben Fletcher
Marcel's still Xarel-lo from the Terroja vineyards is one of the more serious expressions of the grape that I've encountered. Terroja is the most treasured of the Sabate i Coca vineyards, with iron-rich clay soils over limestone. This part of the Penedes was once a seabed: fossils from the region's marine life are visible in large sedimentary boulders throughout the valley. The still Terroja is surprisingly full-bodied, showing lush density in tension with a deeply mineral and nervy acid core. Still fresh, the bottle aging has mellowed this somewhat, making for a truly elegant expression of Penedes and of Xarel-lo. Ben Fletcher
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 fermented for 9 days and then 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. Ben Fletcher
What a fun, vibrant red wine from Fredi Torres! This wine is 100% Garnacha from vines planted on red clay soils in La Figuera and granite soils in Falset in Catalonia. Picked early to ensure high acidity and freshness, the grapes are partially destemmed, macerated slowly, and then fermented and aged for 6 months in old French oak barrels. The wine is unfined and unfiltered with minimal addition of sulfur.
This incredible bargain is a certified organic blend of mostly Bobal and some Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted at 1,000 meters altitude in the Utiel-Requena region of Spain. Dense and layered on the palate, the wine is full-bodied with good acidity and supple tannins, displaying a bouquet of rich cherry, tart plum, and ripe raspberry fruit, with a hint of violets and herbs. Caroline Coursant
El Peruco is a unique high altitude (~1000m) vineyard in Ribera del Duero, planted with 120+ year old Tempranillo and Albillo vines on chalky clay soils. The wine from this vineyard is a co-ferment of both grape varieties, about 85% Tempranillo and 15% Albillo.All grapes are fully destemmed before wild yeast fermentation in small foudres, followed by long elevage in large barrel. Goyo's winemaking for this wine is strictly non-interventionist and focused on less extraction: there's no racking, no additions (including no added sulphur), no fining, and no filtering. Ben Fletcher
Viñas de Arcilla is the only 100% Tempranillo wine from Goyo Garcia, sourced from a northeast facing vineyard of very old Tempranillo vines (80+ years) on sandy clay soils. Like Goyo's other vineyards, Viñas de Arcilla is high elevation (around 800 meters) and the winemaking is also similar in approach: everything is destemmed, fermented in old foudre, raised for a long period in old barrel, and bottled without fining or filtration. Goyo avoids extractive approaches to winemaking in general, but as the only 100% red grape single vineyard bottling, Arcilla is fuller and denser than the other wines. Ben Fletcher
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'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. Red and black fruits, with spice and violet show expressively on the nose after 30 minutes open, while the palate is a bit darker and more savory, with taut acidity, pretty tannins and a long finish that would pair nicely with sausages, lamb, or beef. Ben Fletcher
Borja Perez's Baboso Negro comes from 22-year-old vines planted on clay and loam soils at 450m altitude. Fully destemmed, the grapes are fermented in concrete tanks for 18 days and then aged for 11 months in 600L French oak barrels. Baboso Negro's profile is lean and aromatically intense, shown here with spice, salt, and smoke notes alongside raspberry, blackberry and ripe citrus. With the additional year in bottle stateside, this should be a real pleasure to open now. -BF
Borja Perez's Baboso Negro comes from 22-year-old vines planted on clay and loam soils at 450m altitude. Fully destemmed, the grapes are fermented in concrete tanks for 18 days and then aged for 11 months in 600L French oak barrels. The 2017 is a BIG wine...not in alcohol, but in flavor and intensity. Sweet purple fruit on the nose, with significant grip and weight. Borja was breaking in a new barrel, so about 10-20% of the wine was in new oak, which lends even more succulent sweetness and baking spice to the nose. This should age beautifully. Though we often recommend decanting, I believe it's better to let this one open up in your glass slowly instead of accelerating the aeration in a decanter. -EL
Listán Negro is the most widely planted grape variety in the Canary Islands, and a relative of Listán Prieto and Mission. Borja Perez's Listán Negro comes from a small half-hectare vineyard adjacent to a coastal banana plantation. The soils here are rich in iron, and the mineral core of this wine shows a sort of ferrous quality in tension with the ashy or smoky funk emblematic of the volcanic Canary Islands. Bright acidity, tart red fruit, and spice complete the intense, exuberant palate. On the nose, burned Mediterranean herbs, salty sea air, red flowers and tart fruit dominate. If drinking now, open well in advance or decant for the best experience. Ben Fletcher
Listán Negro is the most widely planted grape variety in the Canary Islands, and a relative of Listán Prieto and Mission. Borja Perez's Listán Negro comes from a small half hectare vineyard adjacent to a coastal banana plantation. The soils here are rich in iron, and the mineral core of this wine shows a sort of ferrous quality in tension with the ashy or smoky funk emblematic of the volcanic Canary Islands. Bright acidity, tart red fruit, and spice complete the intense, exuberant palate. On the nose, burned Mediterranean herbs, salty sea air, red flowers and tart fruit dominate. If drinking now, open well in advance or decant for the best experience. Ben Fletcher
Made from 100% Marmajuelo (one of only two grapes that cannot be traced to any varieties outside of the Canaries), this is a deeply intriguing Canary white that should not be missed! Perhaps a bit lighter on its feet than previous vintages, the 2017 is refreshing and balanced, with lovely melon and white stone fruit on the palate, subtle oxidative notes, and a predictably mineral finish (we are talking Volcanic soils here!). -EL
Made from 100% Marmajuelo (one of only two grapes that cannot be traced to any varieties outside of the Canaries), this is a deeply intriguing Canary white that should not be missed! Perhaps a bit lighter on its feet than previous vintages, the 2017 is refreshing, and balanced, with lovely melon and white stone fruit on the palate, subtle oxidative notes, and a predictably mineral finish (we are talking Volcanic soils here!). -EL
This special red comes from a revived vineyard at 780m altitude in the shadow of Mount Teide on Tenerife, planted to the distinctive local Canary Island variety Vijariego Negro (better known to Spanish wine lovers as Sumoll). Truly a treat on the nose and the palate, with notes of spicy red and black berries, savory herbs, and a dense underpinning of mineral-infused volcanic earth. In a way, the experience of the 2017 Vijariego is much like crossing the Ignios Listan Negro with a fine red Burgundy. A really elegant, albeit young, wine. Should age beautifully, given its tannic structure and mineral depth. Years ago, Borja told our colleague Ariana Rolich that this vineyard would soon produce his top wine. Though the Baboso is a pretty unforgettable red, this bottling of Vijariego is beginning to prove his words true! -EL
From Jordi Miró in Catalunya, this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignan, Alicante and Syrah. It's dark, savory, and generous on the nose. It should age nicely over a 1-3 year period, but is definitely a wine for the moment, forward, and ready to go for any summer grill. For fans of Montsant and Priorat reds, this should be a hit. ~Eben Lillie
All Listan Negro from Dolores Cabrera, a farmer/winemaker from Tenerife. Vines average around 100 years old, and unlike many of the Canary Island offerings, are from lower altitude sites, mostly on iron-rich red clay terroir. The new vintage from Dolores is a beautiful expression of Listán Negro, with less intense acidity or tartness than we typically find from high altitude vineyards. Light-to-medium bodied, with ripe red and purple fruit on the mid-palate and a elegant, finessed finish. An all-around delicious wine that should be explored by any Canary Island wine enthusiast. Eben Lillie
Nacho Gonzalez makes this fantastic herbaceous red from 70% Garnacha and 30% Sumoll, aged in one tinaha (clay amphora) and one used barrel. Medium bodied, and just plain lovely. EL
Almost all Garnacha, with 5% Palomino to freshen things up a bit. One year of aging in ONE 400liter barrel. Definitely a limited wine! Blackberry and Blackcurrant fruit, smoky notes... Probably a wine to put away for a little while, but not due to tannin (which is smooth and integrated here), just due to the elegance and length. EL
O Trancado is a fantastic red blend from Nacho Gonzalez, a proponent of minimal intervention in the vineyard and the cellar. This wine is a blend of 70% Garnacha Tintotera and 30% Mencia, planted on granite soils. Fully destemmed, half of the grapes are aged in amphora while the other half is aged in old barrels. The wine is then assembled with no fining or filtering and no addition of sulfur.
This is a great example of what the terroir of Bierzo is capable of! Diego Losada works completely organically with these 60+ year old vines and creates a field blend of mainly Mencía for the "Vindemiatrix" with a bit of Palomino and Doña Blanca. The wine is unfined, unlfitered, raised in concrete tanks and then bottled with minimal SO2 in accordance with his low-interventionist practices. This vintage has a beautiful freshness and menthol quality that lifts this medium-bodied wine. The nose has a really nice soft violet and roasted fruit quality, and the palate shows deep purple and red plum, ripe cherry notes, and soft powdery tannins. Rich enough to match with the smoke of grilled dishes, but refreshing enough to serve chilled on its own. MD
I love a good rosé and the 2016 Amanda Rosado from Alfredo Maestro does not disappoint. 100% Garnacha Tintorera primarily from a single vineyard of 60-year-old vines planted on calcareous clay soils at 850 meters altitude in the province of Segovia, this rosé is vibrant, juicy, and packed with a ton of flavors. Displaying a bouquet of wild strawberries, boysenberry, rhubarb and citrus fruit, with some spice and floral undertones, this dry wine is deliciously luscious with its high minerality, great acidity, and medium body. Pair this wine with fun light dishes such as grilled seafood and Asian-inspired meals. Caroline Coursant
This is Ismael Gozalo's wine of 100% Rufete, a light bodied and lightly colored red grape found mainly in northern Spain and Portugal. The grapes for this wine come from a 1.16 hectare vineyard on decomposed granite and slate in Salamanca planted in 1951. In the cellar there is no mechanical pump-over, only manual pigeage, and the wine is aged in old barriques for a relatively short 9-10 months. The 2017 is pure-fruited, and fresh. Bold enough to satisfy that red wine drinking friend of yours, and ready for a chill at your next BBQ! Eben Lillie
A fresher style of Tempranillo from winemaker Ismael Gozalo , the red Correcaminos comes from a vineyard in Rueda planted on slate soils. This wine goes through a short period of semi-carbonic maceration (8 days) before resting in stainless steel tanks. The 2018 vintage of Correcaminos has medium body and ripe red and black fruit on the palate, and is still fantastically chillable. A perfect, satisfying red that can take a light chill during the summer. Eben Lillie
Tempranillo and Verdejo Pet-Nat from MicroBio. Super fresh, light and easy drinking: a great pet-nat for outdoor drinking or cracking open before dinner. This is perhaps even lighter, fresher, and brighter than the white: a great, very dry, introduction to the world of natural sparkling wines. Ben Fletcher
Alberto Nanclares and his wife 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. Compared to other Albarinos in this price range, I find Nanclares' style to be more acid driven and more exuberantly mineral. A great aperitif or pairing with lighter fish or sushi. Ben Fletcher
MilaGritos is made from three parcels of old vine Garnacha on Gredos' celebrated high altitude sandy soils in the Navalmoral de la Sierra region. Here, the climate is more continental and the vines receive more rain than in other parts of the Sierra de Gredos. Orly Lumbreras ferments this wine with the stems in 1000L concrete vats, macerates on the skins for 3-4 weeks, then presses to old barrels before blending in local amphora. Amphora use imparts this rustic, dense wine with a fascinating texture that contrasts with the meaty, almost gamy character of the fruit. Drink with roast or grilled lamb, wild boar, or leaner cuts of beef. Ben Fletcher
Pablo Matallana is a native of Tenerife, who studied winemaking with our dear friend Louis-Antoine Luyt before returning to the Canary Islands to make his own wines. La Bardona is a blend of Listán Negro and Negramoll, from mostly volcanic soils mixed with red clay. The nose is wild and peppery, reminiscent of the Ignios Listan Negro from Borja Perez. On the palate, smokiness and volcanic minerality outline dried fruit, hibiscus, and tart cherry. A fascinating and eyebrow raising red from a very promising young winemaker! Eben Lillie
Massimo Marchiori and Antonella Gerosa are former architects, who moved from Piedmont to Barcelona many years ago, and eventually took to the countryside and began making natural wine. This is their white blend, sourced from old vineyards of Vinyater, Xarel-lo, Moscatel, Garnacha Blanca, Parellada, and Macabeu. All the fruit is co-fermented, with no added SO2, as is the unwavering practice at Partida Creus. Surely one of the least expensive (and most) "funky" whites we have at Chambers Street! Cloudy, unfiltered, with a cornucopia of fruit and a broad but mineral finish. -EL
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
A relative rarity in the granite-heavy Gredos, this wine comes from two very steep vineyards on rocky schist soils near Cebreros that are vinified separately, then blended and finished in two 500L barrels. The exceptional 2016 vintage, the high altitude (~950 meters) of the vineyard and these soils give this wine a welcome brightness that contrasts with the dense and powerful fruit and spice character. Drink with beef or pork dishes, or other simple but robust fare to appreciate this wine's complexity. Ben Fletcher
Groove comes from a unique spot in Cebreros, the highest granitic vineyard in the village, planted on very sandy soils at 900m to 50-year-old Grenache vines with very low yields of small grapes with thick skins, with electric tannin and acid. This wine consistently throws people off, as it is not fruit-driven. Groove is intense and distinctly mineral- and acid-driven, with flavors of brambly and herbal wild berry fruit, brilliant acidity, and hints of herbs and coriander. Cool and pretty, even in the intense 2015 vintage. Ariana Rolich
The Ulibarri family has a long history in the Basque country, primarily as shepherds and cheesemakers (Artzaiak is the Basque word for shepherd). They also have vineyards planted to the traditional grape of the region - Hondarrabi Zuri - and have existed as a bodega since the 18th century. Farming is certified organic (extremely rare for the area – they might be the only ones!) and the sheep play a major role in the vineyards, handling weed control and providing natural fertilizer. In an area where winemakers harvest early and often inject the wines with CO2 to make them a bit fizzy (a characteristic associated with the wines – think Vinho Verde), the Ulibarri brothers harvest at full ripeness, allow indigenous yeast fermentation, and let the wines age on the lees. There is no filtration or stabilization - this is REAL Txakoli! The 2016 is fresh and even has the slightest tickle on the tongue from the natural acidity. A fantastic thirst-quenching white from a magical place! Eben Lillie
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% 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
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. We look forward to giving that pairing a try! Ariana Rolich
This 100% Albillo Mayor skin-contact orange wine is a great introduction to the style. Soft, round, and characterful with a very light tannic structure, it's the rare orange wine that works well for drinking on its own as well as with food.