Wine Club – Feb 2023
Mas Lasta, 2021
Mas Lasta is the winemaking life project of Anne-Laure Sicard, a one-woman show cultivating grapes and crafting bottles in the middle of a forest in the strikingly beautiful subzone of the Languedoc called Terrasses du Larzac. This hilly area has the benefit of being fairly protected from the Mediterranean heat, due to its relative distance from the sea. This makes for slow-maturing red grapes, which in turn result in deep red wines that maintain a great acidity and have a natural maturity to them–even the young ones. This wine is just that: a ripe red with a long finish and striking freshness despite it all. Anne-Laure herself brings a deft hand, maximum respect for the health of her land, and generational know-how to the equation (her grandfather has a small parcel in Burgundy, lucky man). In two words, made well.
The Raimones are back on tour. Last year, their Engrescada red was a huge hit; this year, we’re certain their Engrescada orange will be too. It’s a three-piece collaboration, as always: three families, three tanks, three varieties. Sixty days on the skins for each of Xarel·lo, bringing mediterranean herbs, fennel, and citric flowers; Muscat, bringing orange blossom and hints of tropicality; and Marina bringing the rest. (If anyone has any information on this bizarre grape variety, let us know! We can admit to not knowing sometimes!) Remember that sixty days is 3-4 times longer on the skins than most other “orange” wines on the market. Don’t be fooled by the light colour–this wine is as macerated as they come, with all the kick and high-key aromatics that make us love orange wine. To be enjoyed.
Roditis is the most planted white grape variety in Greece. Locally, it is said to produce humble table wines with a pleasant fruit but not a great deal of depth. Once again, let’s call this one a fallacy of the masses. Roditis is actually more pink-skinned than white, and with the right treatment, those humble, fruit-forward wines can be made zestier, brighter, and more confident. Tetramythos was one of the first wineries in Greece to make this bet. They have years of experience producing Roditis to a much higher standard. Their natural ethos–indigenous yeast, minimal intervention, letting the grape be the star of the show–was enough to achieve a version of Roditis with a wider range of flavour. We’re not saying this isn’t a table wine–we’re saying it’s a damn good one.
The first of two Greek wines in this month’s box is a powerful rosé from Domaine Tatsis, whose white you may remember from a few months back. What makes it truly Greek–and what sets it apart from other rosés–are a few surprising details. First, it has a crunchy, vertical, natural acidity that rosés tend not to express. Two, it’s packed with a spicy, wild-fruit, heady aromatic quality in the style of a red wine. Three, it’s made from a grape variety – Negoska – that you almost certainly have never heard of, at this point on the verge of extinction. (It’s an unfortunately commonplace occurrence with obscure regional varieties). Four, search a bit harder: it’s very tannic for a rosé, and has an overtone of orange peel. The intensity is enchanting. A winter rosé if there ever were one.
Katla Wines, 2022
One of our favourite things about natural wine is its ability to challenge the traditional, elitist barriers of the wine world. In that spirit, Jas Swan of Katla Wines is one of our favourite upstart winemakers of recent years. Not only because the wines are fascinating, but also because Jas is unafraid to take that boundary-breaking to new heights. Queendom is one of two Drag Wines bottlings by Katla this year; a Queen perched proudly on the front, giving her all. To some, it will seem a transgressive label. To others, it may seem like a transgressive wine. Slightly sparkling, slightly tart, a touch of residual sugar, a whole lot of juice and heart. Open now for a more raw, transparent drinking experience, or keep her for the summer when she will have grown and settled. Either way, respect is due.
Sicily has always been a hot vacation destination – more so now with the White Lotus, of course – and it has always been a hotspot for high-quality natural winemaking. The distinctly volcanic soils are not only relatively healthy for the vines, requiring less intervention in the vineyard and in the cellar. They also add depth, direction, and a distinct smokiness to the wines borne there. Guccione’s C is a monovarietal Catarratto with a degree of skin contact that brings breadth to the wine as well. It’s gastronomic, savoury, and pungent. A bottle to put on the table the night you decide to roast a whole chicken or hand-make some pasta. Where a lot of wines we send are meant for easy drinking, this wine is meant for quiet discussion and contemplation: now, or in a few years time. It’s already great, and it’ll get better.