Wine Club – March 2023
Celler Frisach, 2021
Last month you got our favourite entry-level bottle from the brothers Frisach – L’Abrunet Negre, an easy going red with a simple approach. This month, you’re getting our favourite upper-range bottle from the brother Frisach – Les Alifares, a knock-out garnatxa gris that is anything but simple. As Francesc tells it, their town, Corbera d’Ebre, has history etched into the grapevines. It was the centre of one of the last battles of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Every so often, they still uncover a piece of shrapnel in the vineyard. Les Alifares is a homage to this history: a garnacha gris (pink in colour), left 10 days with its skins to absorb the memories of time. Time is important to this wine, and in that spirit, it’s also this month’s cellar bottle. Ready to drink, but worthy of keeping around a while. Lest we forget.
Portes Obertes, 2020
Josep Serres from Portes Obertes is, for all intents and purposes, Laureano Serres from Mendall’s prodigy. Working in the same town, Pinell de Brai, he makes wines following the same untamed spirit and purist philosophy – and has the same last name to boot. Josep’s wines, however, are slightly darker and more ample than his mentor’s, with a fundamentally rich centre that makes them feel close to the heart. Petricor is a red garnacha, that cherry flavoured grape that is strongly associated with all the mediterranean winemaking regions. In the Terra Alta, the sun beats down hard, making those cherries taste dark and ripe – just like the ones you get in July. Then again, at night, this interior region cools down quite a bit, so unlike other big-bodied mediterranean garnachas, this one remains linear. A big, humble wine.
La Furtiva, 2021
This is not the first go-round for young upcoming wine superstar Oscar Navas in a T.N.W.C. box. Some of you may remember last year’s Punt Verd, the “recycled wine”. This wine is a totally different ball-game: a bespoke wine, made thoughtfully and especially for his family’s Barcelona restaurant (Macot). Oscar graciously let us have some bottles for the box after we fell in love with it while eating there a few months ago. It’s a light red, but decidedly not glou-glou. It has more brightness and depth. Drink it with ease at a dinner at home for 2, because you are going to want at least half the bottle. Morenillo is a bit of an anomaly of a variety. Technically from Aragón, the neighbouring province, there is very little of it in Catalunya. Usually it’s dark and stormy, but Oscar has made it clear sailing.
Celler Foracaime was born in 2019, but as was common in the Terra Alta, they’ve been making wine at home for a lot longer. Winemaking has only ever been natural for them, because it started in an artisanal sense in the purest way possible. Since 2019, they’ve exploded onto the market with a wide range of playful wines, each of which speaks to a different public. For you, dear member, we’ve selected the most “traditional” of the wines – the region’s most classic grape variety, garnacha blanca, made in the classic Terra Alta “brisat” style (a light infusion with the skins of the grape). Think orange wine, but the light version. It’s a very traditional way of making wine, but the wine is not traditional. It’s juicy but structured, fruit-forward but with a kick of baking spice, and completely 0/0. A great orange for everyday use.
Laureano Serres is, without a doubt, the godfather of natural winemaking in Terra Alta, and quite possibly in all of Catalunya – point blank. Nearing two decades of harvests at this point, the Mendall wines are renowned world-wide for their wild, untameable, and purist spirit – just like the man who makes them. They have been in all the best natural wine bars around the world for years, so we’re not surprised if you recognize the label this time. Now, you have one for yourself. Terme de Guiu is a classic Laureano vineyard, an extension with plenty of different varieties co-planted that he has been working for a number of years. This is a medium-bodied, wild-fruit red whose surprising freshness reflects the cool 2021 vintage in the region. Mendall at its most Mendall: frank, direct, and imperfectly perfect.
Guillem Cumilla & Carol Murtra, 2022
Guillem Chumilla is a longtime T.N.W.C. member, a master caterer, and a future organic truffle farmer. We say a future truffle farmer, because it takes 8 years to reach a harvest, and they were sewn just this year – hence, patience! Along with his partner Carol Murtra, he started making wines in the Terra Alta, one of many new upstart projects in the region. After buying terrain for the truffles, they found 80 year old vines on the land, and jumped at the opportunity to make wine – hence, impatience! (Im)paciencia is a garnacha peluda, a strange mutation on red grenache, with a noticeably “velvety” skin of little follicles on the grape (“peluda” means hairy). The wine itself has a surprising amount of structure – which is to be expected, given the grape’s thick, “hairy” skins – but still juicy. Meant for drinking impatiently.