Wine Club – April 2021
Bianka and Daniel Schmitt, 2019
As in a lot of the big natural wine-producing areas, Bianka and Daniel Schmitt have taken an overworked varietal, kicked by the wayside for the slew of unimaginative cuvées it’s produced, and reworked the whole idea of what can be made with it. This is a single-varietal Müller-Thurgau that leans more into the funky side of white wine but still walks the tightrope between refreshing drop and something with a little extra depth and character with calculated grace. Half the grapes received a direct press, while the rest were left on the skins to macerate for five weeks, before being aged in wooden barrels. The bottle wouldn’t go amiss at your next outdoor lunch, like a good few other bottles this month, with some apple, acidity, and light tannins giving this wine its backbone. The couple behind the winery, Bianka and Daniel Schmitt, are based in the Flörsheim-Dalsheim region of western Germany.
Finca Mas Perdut, 2019
This is a special and fairly rare Catalan variety, 100% Xarel·lo Vermell—Xarel·lo itself being a white varietal, whereas the Vermell version has a salmon-pink tinge to it, meaning the wine can feel more or less like a rosé or an orange depending on the winemaking process. At Finca Mas Perdut, they’re calling their Endogen a rosé and have made a really delicate wine by taking only the free-run juice (from before the grapes are pressed), which has been macerated on the lees, and finally the majority’s been aged in oak barrels for four months, while the rest went into amphoras and a tiny proportion into demijohn glass bottles. ‘Delicate’ isn’t to say that it’s not aromatic; there’s plenty of quince, herbs, and light strawberry on the nose, with some vanilla and almond in the glass, a good hit of flavour straight off the bat, but still fresh and clean. This is the first vintage of the wine, but we can only hope for more.
Cascina Roera, 2018
As the name suggests, this is a zero-zero red, made with no added sulphites to stabilise the wine at any stage of the process. For family and friends still doubting the wisdom of your vinous affiliation, that also makes it a prime candidate for proving that classics can be made with the absolute lowest intervention. This vintage by Cascina Roera from the Piedmont region in northern Italy has all the hallmarks of a well-made Barbera, with the fruits, tannins, and acidity swashing around in harmonious balance. Think dark red fruits—plum and cherry—with a very subtle undertone of vanilla. As for the winemaking, Claudio Rosso and Piero Nebiolo (yes, their real names) have a light touch in the cellar, giving the grapes a soft press, then leaving the juice to macerate on the skins for two months in concrete tanks, before nine months’ ageing in the same vessels.
Sons of Wine, 2020
The winemaker Farid Yahimi summed up most of what you need to know in his short text message: ‘We could’ve waited until summer to drink it, but we’re already thirsty’. The 2020 Mojo Pét-Nat is a quaffer, and with its low alcohol content (10.5%) it won’t suddenly creep up on you either. Grape-wise, the lion’s share is Chasselas Rose, macerated for five days to draw out that soft pink colour and mixed with a touch of Yahimi’s GW Inspiration, an orange wine made from Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris. There’s a very fine fizz; on the nose it’s light and sweet, and the lightness continues through to the palate but with a little bitterness and grapefruit. Yahimi himself only properly set up his cellar in 2017, but that’s after almost 20 years of working in and around natural wine, experimenting in his garage, dining out at méchoui parties with Marcel Lapierre, and finally taking over some unused space in Alsace from his good friend Christian Binner.
Alois Lageder, 2018
From an old-world winemaking family in the German-speaking Alto Adige area in northern Italy, this wine is almost annoyingly good; they’ve managed to keep a very elegant structure while still updating the feel of it—this isn’t a stuffy classic but it’s still a Wine For An Occasion. On the nose you’ll get the aroma of white flowers, jasmine, and honey, but it’s not cloying inside the mouth: the structure’s clean and balanced, with some light minerality to keep it fresh. As for the grape, we have 100% Manzoni Bianco, a varietal invented in the ‘30s as a cross between Riesling and Pinot Bianco, favoured by Alois Lageder because of its resistance to climate change; its high acidity and low sugar make it a good fit for rising temperatures in the area, which are push up sugar levels. For ageing, the wine was split between stainless steel, barriques, and larger wooden casks for 15 months, adding to that final complexity.
We haven’t included much glou-glou in past selections, but here we have an easy-drinking red with all the superlative qualities of the genre: raspberry, blackberry, all the soft red fruits; it’s light and refreshing. Definitely juicy. And it has that shameless ruby warmth when held up to the light. The winemaker behind Cosmic, Salvador Battle, is based close to the French border in the north of Catalonia, but for this particular cuvée he harvested his grapes from the family estate where he grew up, south of Barcelona. In the bottle there’s a mix of 85% Cabernet Franc and 15% Parellada, a local white variety that aids in bringing a lighter touch; this is definitely on the fresher side of any Cab Francs you’ve tasted lately. Finally, in the cellar, the grapes had seven days’ skin contact and were fermented half in amphoras, half in stainless steel, before being aged for two and a half months in chestnut barrels.