Thinking about my summer holidays (yes, they are really good memories already), I asked myself why not writing a post about what I have been drinking? I was very lucky to spend some time between my beloved Sicily and a nice sea village near Alicante, Spain. Any time I visit a place, my wine seeker mode goes on automatically and some really interesting jewels are often discovered. Of course, all that glitters ain’t gold. But no worries, I have selected only those Italian and Spanish specialties that will make your taste-buds thrill. A French inclusion at the end of it has been added as well as a special treat for wine freaks like me. Enjoy!
‘A Rina 2013, Etna Rosso DOC
94% Nerello Mascalese, 6% Nerello Cappuccio
Producer: Girolamo Russo
Passopisciaro, Mount Etna (Sicily). The first time I tasted this wine, finesse was the first word coming to my mind. My first impression was absolutely confirmed this year. This light ruby dry wine, made from organic grapes grown at between 650 and 780 mt above sea level on volcanic soils, from more than 80 years old vines, is the perfect expression of its terroir. Each variety is vinified separately and fermented in stainless steel vessels with natural yeasts and no temperature control. Aging: 14 months in old French oak barriques and 6 months in bottle before release. No fining or filtering. The result is an incredibly intense, mineral structure. Red cherries and plums give way to complex hints of tobacco, leather and volcanic ash. Supple tannins and well-integrated alcohol contribute to the silky texture, lifted by a refreshing acidity. The finish is lingering and elegant. To drink now or in 4-5 years. Around 18-21€.
Grillo Verde 2015, Terre Siciliane IGP
70% Grillo, 30% Verdejo
Producer: Badalucco De La Iglesia García
Petrosino, Marsala (Sicily). This dry, almost gold wine is the latest succesful example of its producers’ philosophy: making blends from native Sicilian and Spanish grapes, planted in Sicily, and following a natural approach in viticulture and winemaking.
The Grillo grape (one of the main ingredient of Marsala wines), planted in the family’s old vineyards facing the sea, is harvested in three tries to better control the sugars level, which can be high under the Sicilian climate conditions. The Verdejo grape helps controlling the alcohol rate thanks to its low sugars and gives the proper nerve to the blend. The grapes are foot trodden, which is quite uncommon nowadays. After a spontaneous fermentation with natural yeasts, 5-10 days of maceration on skins contribute to the gold colour. The wine is then shortly aged in old oak “botti” and barriques and bottled without any fining or filtering. Although not particularly aromatic on the nose, the wine captures the taster with its complex notes of almonds and nuts, orange blossom and candied cedar fruit, enhanced by hints of minerality and salinity. Rounded and well-structured, amazingly persistent on the finish with clear memories of is close relative: the Marsala. To drink now or in 3-4 years. Around 15€. Hurry up, if you want to try it: the 2015 seems to be already sold out!
Nocera, Sicé, Rosso IGP
Producer: Tenuta Gatti
Librizzi, Messina province (Sicily). Nocera grape was the main reason why I decided to buy this wine. Although having tried it as the main ingredient in Faro DOC wines (Messina province), I was intrigued by the monovarietal expression the bottle was offering me. What a discover! The wine is an accurate reflection of its grape: a refreshing acidity, which the Nocera is able to maintain even under the really hot Sicilian climate; grippy tannins and medium ruby color, derived from the thick skin; warming, but still well-integrated alcohol and bold body. Red berries and some black berries notes are combined with complex hints of leather, toast and black pepper. Its intense structure makes further bottle ageing easy to soften the wilderness of the young stage out. Around 15€. A personal tip: drink this wine in the days following your first sip. You will be impressed by its ever changing flavours!
De Bartoli, Vecchio Samperi Ventennale, vino liquoroso secco
Producer: Marco De Bartoli
Samperi, Marsala (Sicily). Love at first sight! The first time I tasted was in 2015, exactly a year ago, and in that occasion my opinion about Marsala wines was positively overturned. Whenever I can, I drink it. There is always a good reason for it! Have a look at my last year post about De Bartoli to know more about this revolutionary producer and his wines, among which Vecchio Samperi Ventennale.
Trenzado, Tenerife Valle de la Orotava DO, 2014
90% Listán Blanco, 6% Pedro Ximénez, 4% other native grapes (Baboso Blanco, Marmarjuelo, Gual, Vijariego Blanco and Verdello)
Producer: Suertes del Marqués
Valle de la Orotava, Tenerife (Spain). The local traditional trellis system “Cordón Trenzado” gives the name to this white dry wine from Canary Islands. This family-owned winery is doing an impressive job with the re-discover of native varieties and the application of environmental-friendly approach in the vineyard and in the wine-making. And Trenzado is just one of the many intresting wines produced by Suertes del Marqués, absolutely worth a taste. The Listán Blanco and the PX used in the blend come from more than 100 years old vines planted at 300-800 m of altitude on volcanic soils. Each parcel is manually harvested. After a gentle pneumatic press, 40% of the must is fermented in concrete on its skins and the remaining 60% in large old French oak barrels. The ageing follows the same pattern, 40% of the wine in concrete and 60% on its own lees in large old French oak barrels, both for 8 months. Not filtered before bottling. The result is distinctive: zesty and wild, full of notes of citrus and ripe white stone fruits, slightly salty and tangy, but really mineral. Beautifully textured and lingering. Drink it now if you want to taste something fun, keep it further 4 years to appreciate its complexity. Around 14€.
Arrayán, Garnacha de Arrayán, 2013, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León
Producer: Bodegas Arrayán
Cebreros, Ávila (Spain). Almost 1,000 m of altitude. This beautiful Garnacha is made from vines of more than 60 years of age, planted on slate soils. Fourteen months in French oak barrels and the additional nine in bottle help crafting a perfect balance between the juicy fruitiness of the grape variety and the touch of toast coming from the oak, both sustained by notes of slate. Silky and rounded, very approachable and enjoyable thanks to its vivid and ripe raspberry and cranberry notes and its clear and polished structure. A well-crafted wine made by the promising winemaker Maite Sánchez. To drink now. Around 20-22€.
Enrique Mendoza Viticultor, 12 meses en barricas, Alicante DO, 2014
50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Monastrell
Producer: Enrique Mendoza
Villena, Valencia (Spain). Another great example of organic viticulture in Spain. I discovered this wine after a visit of the winery in August and I was really impressed by the care taken to grow high-quality grapes through organic and biodinamic techniques (i.e. cover crops, water stress sensors, no use of pesticides/herbicides, own natural compost, etc.). Even in the winery, every decision responds to sustainability and high quality standards (i.e. use of local natural cork for the best products, carefully selected cooperage, hygiene control, etc.). All these aspects are reflected in the glass and it is any wonder that Enrique Mendoza is today officially one of the Grandes Pagos de España.
This Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot blend is the result of a low temperature fermentation in stainless steel vessels, followed by MLF in barrels and 12 months of ageing in French and American oak barrels. The bold character of the Cabernet is well reflected into the nerve and the body of the wine, while Monastrell contributes to the mineral edges. Spicy and toasty, with notes of dark chocolate, coffee and ripe blackberries. The oak is well-integrated and the tannins are high but silky, resulting into a rounded and persistent wine. To drink in 5-8 years. Around 8-10€.
Domaine Berthet-Bondet, Tradition, 2012, Côtes Du Jura AOC
50% Chardonnay, 50% Savagnin
Producer: Domaine Berthet-Bondet
Jura (France). The French discovery in my line-up. I am a big fun of Jura wines and knowing how hard finding them is here in Madrid , as soon as I saw this bottle on the shelves of Enoteca Barolo wineshop, I literally grabbed it. The wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Savagnin, a native grape variety of Jura region, well-known for its aromatic, its ageability and for being apt to produce the sherry-like specialty, vin jaune. It is said that it reaches its best expression on the marly soils of Chateau-Chalon, resulting into wines of complexity and structure.
The wine has been bottled after 2 years of ageing “sous voile”, under a film of yeast that develops on the wine’s surface in partially filled barrels. This film protects the young wine from oxidation and imparts a peculiar nutty character and a deep yellow colour to the final wine. Notes of delicate white flowers, pear and white stone fruits give way to toasted almond and reminescence of fresh dough and aromatic mountain herbs. The balance is perfectly reached thanks to the well-integrated alcohol and the refreshing acidity. Very persistent and complex, to keep 4 years more. Around 15-17€, a really good bargain considering the usual high prices of Jura wines outside the region.