Wine Notes – July 2020
La Cave Apicole, 2019
Not long ago we drove up to southwest France to the small Pyrenean village of Caramany to pick up this month’s bottles and get better acquainted with Sylvain Respaut and Olivier Cros of La Cave Apicole—definite bons vivants, evidence of which you can find in the 2018 documentary Le Vin Se Lève. Our cellar time was suitably fun, but there’s also a bittersweet feel to the success, the wine story beginning after Respaut lost his livelihood as a beekeeper to invading hornets and moved into viniculture. Their Carbo Culte (named after Serge Gainsbourg’s 1971 song ‘Cargo Culte’) is a little daily solace though, a blend of all their red varietals—Lledoner Pelut, red Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Syrah—made with two-weeks’ carbonic maceration that leaves a very light gas in the glass and an incredibly juicy and velvety taste on first opening the bottle. With time, the 13.5% ABV also becomes more noticeable.
Vinyes Singulares, 2019
And then sometimes roots are just as good, like a family that’s worked the same estate since the 15th century in the region of Penedès, dedicating around 20 hectares to growing vines, the other 100 going to cereals, olives, and orchard fruits. Ignasi Seguí Matas is part of the current generation on the farm and leads the winemaking, and for the Elemental he’s used an even mix of Macabeu and Xarel·lo, traditional Cava grapes that have simply been allowed to take on their identity, harvested in a single day, destemmed, and left on the skins for one more day. The natural conclusion is a sparkling wine that’s extremely fresh and crisp, with some apple and herb- like notes in particular. It’s quite strongly flavoured, but the palette melts away, leaving you ready for the next glass.
Jordi Llorens, 2018
There’s a synaesthesia that exists between language and taste, and given the details of some rambling summer months in the Spanish backcountry, Laurie Lee-style, this would be the taste. The wine has a rustic quality and a finish to it that conveys a landscape better than most, something that Llorens, a trained geologist, pushes through the label, with his ultra-close-up of quartzite and fossil. So the Blan 5·7 is a little cracked and earthy, then, featuring a combination of local Macabeu and Parellada grapes, slightly acidic and citrusy in flavour, rounded out with the creaminess of white stone fruit, making it a refreshing but also rugged drink. Until quite recently, or 2017, Llorens was still making wines in an overhauled garage in the backstreets of his Conca de Barbarà village, but this 2018 vintage is one of the first generations to take advantage of his new set-up, undergoing four days’ maceration, then ageing for six months in buried amphoras.
Señor Vino, 2019
Señor Vino is part of a new project quietly taking shape between friends, starting on the island of Mallorca with 700 bottles of their first ever vintage, released last month, while the idea is to keep travelling and making wine with friends and winemakers and friends who are winemakers wherever these factors converge. Spearheaded by Ibon Apezteguia, a maker of artisanal olive oils, and his Swedish partner, Henrik Falk, the goal of the Mianes was to take an often potent red variety, the Monastrell, and treat it like a blanc de noirs, pressing the grapes immediately after picking, and transferring the juice to inox tanks to ferment for 20–30 days—no skin contact, but just eking out the juice to make something very light and drinkable. Which it is. In the end, the wine has a very soothing coral colour and a delicate complexity that makes us extremely excited to see what comes next.
Nuria Renom, 2019
Nuria can be hard to pin down, in writing, in person; she’s a generous friend and mentor and a bit of a whirlwind, someone we know from her time as sommelier at Barcelona’s Bar Brutal, where she helped bring together a wine list and extend the late nights that put it on the map. She’s also a winemaker in her own right, working a vineyard close to the seaside town of Garraf, south of the city, where her boldly structured pét-nat, La Mosca, was born of two types of Muscat, the Petits Grains and Alexandria. These are macerated separately for a week, bled off, and then refermented with a third batch of Muscat juice that comes from direct pressing. On the nose it’s super fruity, sweet, and honey-ish, but then also a little sour, while in the mouth the bubbles are fine and the taste of ripe stone fruit ends with a very subtle, savoury finish.
The Sete venture is a bit of a wild card, the whole premise being to recuperate a patchwork of vineyards in southern Lazio that have been abandoned as the older generation of farmers heads indoors. In this way, Sete now runs about 12 different vineyards over three hectares, adapting their winemaking approach to each new parcel. Their golden-orange Flora comes from the village of Capocroce and uses 100% Moscato di Terracina, a much lighter, fresher, and fruitier version of the Moscato found in the north of the country. The 2019 vintage is also a departure from the 2018, which allowed just two days’ maceration; this time, half the grapes had two weeks’ carbonic maceration then two days on the skins, while the other half were given five days’ skin contact. Once open, the wine’s super perfumed—very juicy with a balanced acidity, tasting of peach and orange fruits, and complex to the point that each sip has you exploring the taste all over again.