Wine Club – February 2022
Vinyes Singular, 2020
The Vinyes Singulars estate has been in the family of winemaker Ignasi Seguí Matas for the past 600 years or so, located in the Penedès region of Catalonia, and his Sumoi Barmei has been made from a local grape, Sumoll, which was mostly grown in pre-phylloxera times but is now gradually re-establishing itself. Even if it’s a red, this is still among the freshest bottles in the February box, great for some early-evening drinks and with a pretty low alcohol level to keep things in hand. Expect a velvety nose, good acidity, dark cherry, and a light body.
Frank John, 2020
For us this one lands more in the camp of Sauvignon Blanc than Riesling, even if Riesling is much more prevalent in the Pfalz region of western Germany where Frank John and his family have been making wine for the past two decades or so. Oenologist by trade, he also consults on a lot of projects around Europe, mostly with wineries converting to biodynamics. Previous to that, he worked under Hans-Günter Schwarz for several years in the ‘80s, a legend of winemaking in the German tradition, and the Hapbee incorporates a very clean, precise aspect together with some malolactic fermentation giving it an extra creamy, yogurty finish.
Raúl Calle Viticultor, 2020
100% Garnacha from central Spain, to the west of Madrid, but far from a heavy, traditional red. The grapes were on the skins for around two weeks before ageing for another six months in barrels, and the tannins do draw at the inside of the mouth, and yet it still feels like a dose of white grapes could have been added at the end to freshen things up. On the nose, there’s a bit of liquorice, cherry, and cinnamon, with that welcome acidity rounding things out in the mouth. It’s all brought together by Raúl Calle, a former forest engineer who took a sommelier course and ended up a winemaker.
Made by a German-Italian couple who first worked in Bordeaux, Tuscany, and Le Marche before settling in Alto Adige, the mountainous region bordering on Austria, in 2011. At the time they were making fewer than a thousand bottles a year, but in 2017 they took over some extra cellar space and for the 2019 Chardonnay were able to make about 2000 bottles. The grapes were harvested on two separate occasions: early on in the season to ensure a level of freshness in the juice, then again to add in the strength and flavour of later-harvest fruit. The grapes were partially macerated for a few days and aged in acacia barrels, and the woodiness comes through on the palate.
Katla Wines, 2021
Jas Swan was urged into winemaking by the son of the legendary Ardèche natural winemaker Gilles Azzoni, who told her that everyone who’d interned with them (as she’d done) went on to make their own bottles. In 2019 she left her job as a sommelier and made her first vintage, and since then she’s been working in the Mosel Valley and sharing the cellar at Staffelter Hof, one of the oldest wineries in the world, with records dating back to 862. Cucu, a sparkling rosé-style wine, is far from staid though, and packs a lot of tropical, citrus notes (blood orange and grapefruit, with good acidity but flavour to round it out), made from an interesting mix of red (Merlot) and white (Kerner, Gewürztraminer) grapes.
Pinot Gris can go a lot of different ways, but this Alsatian version stands apart from its lighter, fruitier Italian cousins. Because it’s been macerated for three weeks, there’s an added layer of complexity on top, and the wine was finally barrel-aged on the lees for six months, helping to draw out that flavour. Jean-Pierre Rietsch took over his parents’ vineyard in the late ‘80s, and since then he’s changed up the range of techniques used to vinify in the area (also making solera wines, for example), pulling it off extremely well. This bottle has a beautiful nose of prune and amaretto, and a light tannic finish in the mouth.