Wine Club – October 2022

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Malas Uvas
La Perdida, 2021
Palomino, Dona Blanca

Here at T.N.W.C., as you know, we love to source wines from promising, upcoming projects. But we also give maximum respect to the experienced, longstanding guardians of natural winemaking. In Spain, Nacho González is certainly in the latter category by now, with 10 years of quality wines under his belt. Malas Uvas (Bad Grapes) is his version of a Palomino-based wine, a grape once widely planted in his native Galicia, but that has received a bad rap in the region in recent years. Here it’s flushed out with the indigenous Doña Branca to bolster its character. The wine itself is a subtle study in Atlantic-climate winemaking: saline, balanced, floral, and light on its feet. It’s not an exuberant, expressive drink; it’s a contemplative bottle for quieter moments. Ready to drink, but will certainly improve within a year or two.

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Glow Glow, 2021
Scheurebe, Bacchus, Müller-Thurgau

Perennial favourites of the T.N.W.C. team Glow Glow Wines have returned with a new vintage of their Weiss Wein, to all our collective delight! This zippy, electric white is a blend of three uniquely German “new breed” varieties, meaning they were borne through laboratory experimentation and “crossing” (sexual reproduction) of other grapes. Mild and fruit-forward Müller-Thurgau (Riesling x Madeleine Royale, 1882) is the best known and most widely planted of the three. Tropical and floral Bacchus (Müller-Thurgau x unnamed Riesling/Sylvaner cross, 1933) brings the body, and aromatic Scheurebe (Riesling x unknown wild vine, 1916) brings its characteristic blackcurrant and grapefruit notes. The resulting wine is fun and spritzy, and much less austere than most German bottlings: like a hard seltzer, but at least 500 times better.

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Bennie II
Niloufar, 2021

As the bottle will tell you, all the wines from travelling winemaker Niloufar’s 2021 vintage are named Bennie after her beloved truck that was totaled in a freak accident. Thankfully she is doing just fine, and this bright and spicy orange wine is a beautiful homage to Bennie, her trusted former companion. Nilou took Hárslevelű grapes harvested in Hungary and brought them to a winery in her native Netherlands for vinification. A relatively lengthy maceration on the grapes brought about a great structure, balanced perfectly with fruit and acidity, that is wrapped up in a distinctly herbaceous, almost minty finish. Since 2021, Nilou has continued on the road in Bennie’s successor, making wine this year in Penedès near Barcelona, which is how we came to know her and her fascinating wines. We predict a bright future.

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Les Bois Perdus, 2021
Carignan, Syrah, Grenache

Malotru hails from the most underrated French winemaking region, the Ardèche; in fact, it’s not even considered a winemaking region on the classic, rigid wine maps of France. Still, nestled in the centre-south of the country, to the northwest of the much more famous Rhône Valley, it is a hotspot for natural wine upstarts–because land is affordable, and because there’s a community of more experienced natural winemakers nearby for mentorship. (Domaine de Özil and Domaine du Mazel, from whom the grapes for this wine are bought, and our friend Anders Frederik Steen, among others.) Léna and Alexis, the team behind Les Bois Perdus, are showing huge promise in this tart, dark-fruit, fluid red wine, mostly Carignan in carbonic maceration, made juicy with a hefty addition of direct-press must. Just perfect for the change of season.

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La Cave Apicole , 2021
Muscat d'Alexandrie

If there ever were a grape deemed “controversial”, it’s Muscat. This extensive family of over 200 distinct varieties, likely amongst the first domesticated by human beings, is known for its highly aromatic floral notes and a distinctly grape-y taste. Strange that it is controversial, but we concede that sometimes it is just too intense, and its historic use for sweet wines is a turn-off at first glance. The good news is that there are dry wines made from Muscat–especially in the world of natural wine–that abstain from its highest-maturity expression (orange blossom eau de parfum) and reign in the beast to something fresher (orange peel and lemon zest). Java is a case in point on this front. A Muscat for non-Muscat drinkers, reminding us not to judge wines by labels, or by varieties, or by anything apart from our own palates.

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Domaine Obrière, 2021
We’ve all tried “chillable” reds in many iterations. There are the early-harvest acid bombs, the carbonic maceration fruit bombs, and the co-fermented funk bombs. We think that Domaine Obrière’s Manhac is a particularly successful iteration of the glou glou red, because it somehow lies in between these categories and supersedes them at the same time. This glowing Cinsault from the Languedoc is a bomb of a different category: not green, not sour, not cloyingly fruity; yes juicy, yes vegetal, yes delicious. This is a harder feat than it might seem at first glance, as climate change in the mediterranean forces winemakers into a deadlocked decision between low-alcohol/underripe and high-alcohol/ripe. The little grape on the label might be tipping his hat to us, but we tip our hat to the winemakers for a job well done. 

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