Wine Club – July 2022
We love a little wine with lots to say. This Italian banger is certainly humble—just a single day of skin contact on three relatively unknown grapes—but every time we go back to it, there’s something new there. Peach pie? Bergamot tea? Lemon zest? Mediterranean herbs? It’s got all of that, and, helped along by a relatively high altitude and breezy microclimate, it remains fresh and easy to drink despite the aromatic complexity. Winemaker Antonello Canonico is committed to frankness as a way of honouring the ancient viticultural practices of all the families that emigrated abroad from this southern region a century ago, leaving it relatively depopulated. We think this wine is a call for return.
David Baixas and Miriam Clotet, 2021
Some wines just transport you directly to a time and place. This one brings us directly to the beach at 6pm in the summer, when the sun is still strong but at least it’s at an angle. The thirst for water has been quenched, so now it’s time to switch to wine, but we’re not ready to drink something too weighty just yet. This fresh, bright Catalan white is just that: an ideal first bottle for a long, hot night after a long, hot day. Miriam and David are serious practitioners of biodynamic agriculture, so you can be sure the grapes are very well cared for too. Some bottles will have a bit of spritz (even better), but despite the crown cap, this is not a sparkling wine! Drink in lieu of hard lemonade.
La Vrille et le Papillon, 2021
In 2004, the international market of wine was shifted significantly by an unexpected cult-indie film called Sideways. In it, the protagonist, Miles, a hedonic self-described wine connoisseur, declares robustly at a dinner table: “if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving!” The “Sideways effect”, as it has come to be known, caused a traceable and statistically significant dip in Merlot sales worldwide. It’s a shame, because the rich and cloying American Merlots of the 1990s and 2000s were a far cry from the true delicacy of the varietal in its purest form, expressed perfectly in this fruit-forward, peppery, bright, and ample wine from the undervalued Ardèche region of France. Check the prejudice at the door, friends.
The French have a term for highly drinkable red wines—glou glou, after the sound one would make while chugging. The Spanish have a similar term—zumo de uva, literally meaning grape juice. We think it is intentional that this glou glou French wine borrowed the Spanish term (Sumo, by Uva), because if this isn’t your international heavyweight, one-two punch, smashable and chillable red natural wine, then we really don’t know what is. A bit of fresh fruit, a bit of spicy acidity, nice fluidity, and no astringency to speak of. Drink chilled and drink chilling, and don’t be afraid to chug! Some wines are just no-brainers.
Celler Nessu, 2021
Besstia is aptly named, if you ask us, because this beast of a deep red pet-nat is strong, wild, and full of stamina. It’s a style that has received a bad rap over the years. Red wines with crown caps are gimmicky, they said. Tannins and bubbles don’t go together, we were told. But this is a grippy cherry cola of a wine, perfect for pairing with a midsummer charcuterie board. For those of you who have visited the Spanish basque country, from whence the winemakers originally hail, think high-quality, natural, juicy, spicy kalimotxo.
Giulio & Gaia Vinyataires, 2021
Giulio and Gaia are Italian transplants in Barcelona who dreamt of making wine for a long time and finally manifested those desires when they acquired a precious plot of xarel·lo last year. This bottling is a gem: fluid but rich, fruit-forward but vegetal. It’s fermented in chestnut barrels, which adds to its complexity and shows wisdom beyond its years. Named after their newborn daughter (you must be brave to birth a winemaking project and a newborn child in the same season!), the promise of this wine convinces us that both Lias will grow up to be veritable powerhouses. Drink now if you need to, but it’s a wine definitely worthy of Cellar Bottle status.