Wine Club – March 2022

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Malvasia Nera
Andrea Pilar, 2020
Malvasia Nera
Made by a young brother-sister duo from Umbria, on the border with Tuscany, who decided to take over a portion of the family property to start their own natural winemaking project. This bottle is from their very first year, one of several single varietals grown in the 40ha of vines where they’re based. The grapes received a short maceration, with fermentation and ageing in inox tanks, and the lees being periodically stirred back into the wine. On the nose, the Malvasia Nera has pretty juicy Gamay vibes, and in the mouth it starts with red fruit before becoming very tart, almost spicy; in reality it feels like a few different layers that are all still coming together, but it’s interesting to see this kind of structure in a wine. In their own words, Andrea and Pilar want their wines to be young, fresh, and like a snack, which is not a bad way to approach this bottle.
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Domaine de Majas, 2020
Grenache, Carignan

Alain and Agnès Carrère took over the family vines in 1992, moving away from the cave coopérative system in France, a generally one-track road to overproduction in the vineyard and low financial returns. In theory they wanted to turn organic, but with 30ha of vines it felt like turning a tanker upstream, and so they spent a few years selling to supermarkets instead. In 2007 a chance encounter with Tom Lubbe, the South African winemaker of Domaine Matassa fame (located close by in Roussillon), was the turning point for making widespread changes in both the vines and the cellar that they’re still following today. Back to the Cortado, it’s a mix of Grenache and Carignan, half of which received a direct press, the other half receiving two days’ maceration (a cortado coffee also mixing equal parts espresso and milk to ‘cut’ or dilute acidity), leaving us with a juicy, sunny red.

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Cyclic, 2020
Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Parellada
Most people know Cyclic for their craft beers and co-fermentations of different fruit, veg, herbs, and flowers, or (at least locally) as the beer of choice for wine-drinkers who need a reprieve. Albert and Josh, the two founders, started in Barcelona in 2016, working with produce from a family farm in the northeast of Catalonia and gradually starting to experiment by adding grapes to certain mixes as well, eventually developing their own ‘wine ales’. A few years ago they started making wine pure and simple, often working with winemaker friends on individual vintages. This particular bottle, Fulcrum, was made in collaboration with Pol Andsnes, an American winemaker who splits his time between projects in Argentina and Catalonia. A mix of white Catalan varietals, Xarel·lo, Macabeu, and Parellada, it has something of the savoury, refreshing crunch that you associate with a beer, while still maintaining the flavours and vinous quality of the grapes.
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Cuvée George
Hugo Barkshire, 2020
Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc

This is the very first vintage by English winemaker Hugo Barkshire, who’s currently working in the cellar of Le Soula in southwest France. He drove down to Barcelona to hand-deliver the bottles, with just a moment of separation anxiety, and we’re extremely lucky to have them. The combination of growing up in and around restaurants in the UK and spending summers in France had him thinking early on that he wanted to work with wine, and after harvesting in all corners of the world, from Bordeaux to New Zealand, he settled in his current location. For this first vintage, the Syrah received a direct press and started fermenting in inox tanks, at which point a dose of Sauvignon Blanc was added (after macerating on the lees for a week). The juice underwent malolactic fermentation, there’s an almost smoky bacon aroma on the nose, and the texture is so smooth it barely even feels like the wine touches the inside of your mouth, though still with an intensity of flavour that keeps you drinking.

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De Vini, 2020
Chenin Blanc

It’s rare to meet a Chenin that we don’t like, and this is no exception. It comes from Christophe Bosque, who spent a decade or so as a négociant before trying his own hand at winemaking in 2017; at that point he knew exactly where to go for his grapes, and five years later he sources from several different producers, depending on the cuvée. The Chenin was harvested about an hour’s drive from his base in the Loire Valley, aged for nine months in stoneware jars, and in the process Bosque says that he bathed the juice in sound vibrations of Tibetan bells, Lebanese trumpets, a saxophonist from North Carolina, and guitarist from Seattle, all to help transmit a certain energy, or vibration, through his wines. We’ll let you be the judge, but either way we love the Armagueridon: it’s classic Chenin Blanc, direct, with the butteriness opening up with time.

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Domaine Villet, 2020

There’s nothing gimmicky or new about this wine, it’s just classic good flavours and excellent technique from a couple who’ve been doing their thing for the past 30 years. Gérard and Christine Villet grow their grapes around Arbois, the first recognised AOC in France and spiritual wine capital of the eastern Jura region, and turned organic essentially as soon as they started out in 1998, making them among the first in the region to do so. The Poulsard grape used here is local to the area, known for its floral aromas but also the thinness of its skins, which means the grape can easily translate from sparkling and blanc de noirs to rosé and reds. Here though we have a light- to medium-bodied red with a nose verging on kiwi and plum and savoury red fruit in the mouth, with a little bit of crunchiness. This is definitely one to be enjoyed in its own right.


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