Wine notes – August 2020
Esteban Celemín, 2017
The Últimas Huellas included in this month’s box comes from the first year that Esteban Celemín released his wines and was given the name (roughly translated as ‘Last Tracks’) because he only ever intended to make one more vintage of it. Based in Castronuño, about two hours northwest of Madrid, Celemín founded his label with the very singular goal of safeguarding a local white variety called Albillo Real. He planted one vineyard and recuperated others, but when tempted by particular parcels of grapes he’s also made very limited runs of as little as 250 bottles and up to 2000, so long as the grapes hold promise. The Tempranillo is one of these wines and has been given a short maceration time, and then aged for 12 months in French oak. In the end, from the relatively poor, sandy soils of the district we’ve been given a medium-bodied red that carries really delicious flavours of cherry and light spice.
Judith Beck, 2019
‘Less is a bore’ was Robert Venturi’s rejoinder to the minimalism of mid-century ascetics. Arguably, Judith Beck agrees. The Koreaa is an ample field blend of all the grapes picked in one of the parcels she works, located near the town of Gols in the east of Austria, and it’s also one of a surprisingly long list of wines she produces, in addition to a couple of craft beers made with her partner Ulrich Leitner (the idea being to foster choice and diversity in beer, as well as wine). She also lives in among the family vineyards she took over in 2007, but the ‘more is more’ approach shouldn’t be confused with one of imprecision; the Koreaa has quite a classic buttery taste, with some apple and herbaceous notes, while still being fairly light- bodied. The grapes received three to four days’ maceration, before being pressed and fermented in barrels, and finally aged for six months on the lees.
Celler 9+, 2019
Over the past few decades, tradition’s had it that if you’re growing Xarel·lo (aka Cartoixà) in these parts of Spain, you’re selling most of your grapes to the massive Cava houses that came to dominate in the ‘80s and ‘90s, to form part of their blends. Thankfully, some winemakers have opted to redefine the use of the grape and are now making some of our favourite single- variety wines in the region. The Mèdol White, made by Moisès Virgili close to Tarragona, is 100% Cartoixà and has a beautifully mature flavour of peach and apple, nothing too sweet, and with a very balanced acidity. The grapes are first pressed, then fermented for 18 days, and finally aged for eight months on the lees, with Virgili stirring things up once a week to get a nice creamy finish. It’s a wine we could drink all summer long.
Cantina Giardino, 2019
Lockdown was definitely a strange couple of months, but one of the few palatable outcomes has been the release of Cantina Giardino’s new range of wines—the result of having some extra time on their hands. Based in the mountainous region of Irpinia, slightly inland from Naples, the friends who run the label decided to bring back the old renana style of bottle for the launch and have released this intensely ruby-coloured rosé made from 90-year-old Aglianico grapes— plus a few extra varieties that’ve made their way into the vineyard over its lifetime. The wine isn’t at all as sweet as you’d think from the colour, being light-bodied with a little spiciness, acidity, and a slight fizz. It also opens up a lot over time. We get the sense that the wine was born of a special moment for Cantina Giardino; they wanted to make something refreshing and accessible in a pretty dismal moment, and so we’re glad to help pass it on.
La Salada, 2019
In the world of Catalan natural winemaking Toni Carbó is a household name, having already founded the influential Mas Candí winery in 2006 with his close friend Ramón Jané. In 2011 though he created La Salada, like the prodigal son returning to his roots, going back to work in the family vineyards he started on as a teenager. He says the wines he makes now are like an homage to his ancestors, and La Bufarrella is the most personal of all, made in the same style as the generations before him. It’s a single-variety Xarel·lo, and having spent seven months on the skins it’s technically an orange wine (though the colour is very light and buttery). Part of the grapes have also been lightly pressed, and then it’s all been aged for another seven months in stainless steel. The taste of the wine is full Xarel·lo, with slightly vegetal, herbaceous, and citrus notes, a little smokiness, and a dry, light-bodied finish.
In the haze of 1980s post-modernist fantasia Jasper Morrison started a design career characterised by its humility and utilitarian sensitivity, an analogy that works just as well for the pared-back wines he’s now producing near Saint-Émilion, in one of the most fabled wine regions of the world. He took over the vineyard in 2007, together with his partner Fabrice Domercq, and their 2017 James takes a classic blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon to make instead a bone-dry effervescent wine that’s spent two and a half years on the lees before being disgorged last month. Their goal was to produce a wine that’s eaten up all its sugars to create a refined, light-bodied sparkling red. Jasper’s been a huge influence and friend to Apartamento since we met a decade ago around a buffet table at Milan design week, and we’re incredibly proud to send you this wine, limited to a run of about 850 bottles.