This Saturday we travel to Spain to explore both its diverse landscape of red wine and four producers who are translating their local terrain into tasty “natural” wine.
The basic definition of “natural wine” is wine that is made by small-scale, hands-on farms that use strict organic and/or biodynamic cultivation techniques, spontaneous fermentations with indigenous yeasts, and very little to no sulfites. Most winemakers that aim to produce wines that speak of place will limit sulfites but the fact is that they do serve an important role in the preservation of a wine’s character. The four producers in this week’s Saturday Sips Review package understand the relationship between this important aspect of production and work meticulously to strike a balance between conservation and raw expression.
Of course, (as with all of our selections) we ensure that these “natural” wines receive the proper treatment of cool transport and storage before they get to your table. In general, these wines will have a bit more wildness, or attitude, than a typical red, and will benefit from a slight chill. With this package we invite you to embrace the great range of possibilities that fermented grapes can offer.
Saturday Sips Review: $190 — 8 Bottles of “Natural Wine” from Four Spanish Producers
The price for this Saturday Sips Review Package includes tax and delivery, as well as a 10% discount. We will also honor a 10% discount on any bottles you might wish to add to the Wine-Aid package.
“Pésico” (Asturias 2013) Red, Regular Price: $28
Nicolás Marcos clearly likes a challenge. He left his family’s winery in Toro, did a stint with the distinguished Alain Graillot in Crozes-Hermitage, and then settled into the northwestern region of Asturias, specifically Cangas del Narcea. Pésico is a blend of equal parts Carrasquín, Mencía, Verdejo Tinto, and Albarín Tinto, all grape varieties indigenous to the region. Nico vinifies the juice from about 18 acres spread over parcels from four different crus. Each parcel is fermented separately with indigenous yeast before blending and partial aging in French oak barrels (including second year barrels from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti). This is truly a wine that speaks of the land, ripe yet fresh, bursting with blue fruits and layers of texture before a lengthy finish.
“Silice” (Galicia 2016) Red, Regular Price: $29
Sílice Viticultores is a project started in 2013 by brothers Carlos and Juan Rodríguez with star winemaker Fredi Torres, a native of Galicia who cut his teeth in Priorat working with Clos Mogador. The partners cultivate using organic and biodynamic methods with the goal of expressing the terroir of Amandi — one of the five subzones of Ribeira Sacra. 2016 Sílice is a Mencía-based blend with 20% of other grapes including Albarello, Garnacha Tintorera, Merenzao, all planted on sand, granite, and slate. Fermented with indigenous yeasts, the wine is then matured in a 17-year-old, 4,000-liter oak foudre purchased in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The result is a wine with aromas of sweet cherry, wanton flowers, smoked tea, and loamy earth. Ripe fruit is in ideal balance with bright and juicy wild forest berries.
“Latitud 40” (La Tierra de Castilla 2015) Red, Regular Price: $23
Uva de Vida’s wife-and-husband team of Carmen López and Luis Ruiz have harnessed the soul of the land to produce wines of purity, brilliance and energy. Biodiversity of plant and animal life is promoted in their 33 acres of vines planted at 1,600 feet of altitude in the clay-based soils near the tiny village of Santa Olalla just up the road from the city of Toledo. Uva de Vida employs minimal intervention techniques from start to finish. 100% Graciano and nearly opaque deep red, a glass of “Latitud 40” radiates aromas of cherry fruit leather, dark chocolate, herbs, and salty, sun-baked earth. These heady scents merge seamlessly into a mid-weight sip of blackcurrant fruit with a long and juicy finish.
“Cielos & Besos” (Arribes 2016) Red, Regular Price: $20
Almaroja winemaker and Englishwoman Charlotte Allen holds 15 acres in western Spain on the border with Portugal. “Cielos y Besos” is mostly organically-farmed old vine Juan García, a variety native to the Arribes del Duero and the most widely planted red grape in the area. The wines of this variety are characterized by wild berry fruit, fine tannins and good acidity. The remainder is an eclectic mix of tempranillo, rufete, bastardillo chico, bastardillo serrano, and garnacha (to name but a few) with a few kilos of white grapes thrown in for good measure. Filled with fresh, ripe berry fruit alongside a deep, earthy vibe, this wine is not only a great value, it is versatile. Pair it with pizza, red meat, and everything in-between.