Wine Notes – June 2020
The Magula winery, on the Carpathian slopes of western Slovakia, has been harvesting for barely a decade and experimenting for a good few of those, but with this classic Austrian-style 100% Grüner Veltliner they’ve definitely hit their stride. We should start with the undeniable: with this wine, the acidity hits big, but then eases down after your first glass. And it whets your appetite; half a glass down and we’d lined up a very full and haphazard menu of all the dishes we now craved, be it a cacio e pepe or a spicy Thai salad—the idea being that the acidity can cut through the heavier dishes but also stand up to big aromatics. Ultimately, the region’s high number of sunny days and below-average rainfall mean the grapes can be left to mature and harvested a little later in the year, giving the wine its full depth of flavour. There’s also a refreshing crispness from the taste of green apple, and however you end up drinking this, we’re sure you’ll have some fun with it.
This is the first vintage of the SIN Tempranillo, but it comes from the same producers behind the Els Vinyerons label, Amós Bañeras and Alex Ruiz Masachs, based in the Penedès region of Spain, just south of Barcelona. In both cases they’re only working with local grape varieties and picking up extra parcels of vines with a landscape that interests them enough to want to distil the combination very purely and very simply. Unlike Els Vinyerons though, where the wines are partly aged in barriques, the SIN Tempranillo has taken this idea further, aiming for as light a touch as possible—it’s worth remembering that sin in Spanish means ‘without’. With only two days’ maceration, and a lot of rain the year it was produced, this is a softer version of Tempranillo, but with a lot of character. You’ll notice the sun-ripened fullness of a Spanish red in the background, but the wine itself is refreshing; we even had a few glasses chilled and loved it.
Mas Gomà, 2019
From deep in the Bible Belt of Catalan cava country comes this lively flower child of sorts, a pét-nat or light, sparkling rosé bottled in 2019, the first year it was produced, making these the first bottles to be released. It’s an excellent catch from a limited run, especially with the warmer months ahead and if, like some of us, you’re easing back into the wine after a prolonged lockdown. Made by a father/son duo on the family’s estate in Penedès, the Alba al Turó is easy to drink, but with plenty of aromatics to keep you interested: lots of red berries, a little peach in the background, and some decent minerality. The wine’s made from 100% grenache, harvested at peak ripeness to ensure a good balance between sugar and acidity, and left to macerate for a few days. As it’s made with the ancestral method, with no added sugar and left unfiltered, the sweetness stays in check and the wine itself will keep evolving after the bottle is opened.
Suertes del Marqués, 2017
Islands are nature’s way of concentrating some of its most grandiose and left-field kinks, and Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, does well in this area, dominated as it is by a massive, active volcano at its centre. Suertes del Marqués clings to the northern slopes of Mount Teide and has managed to make an absolute classic of Canarian natural wine in this setting. The 7 Fuentes has all the minerality you’d expect from its volcanic base and is closer in nature to a cool-climate red; it’s fairly light-bodied, but peppery and with some cherry in there as well. The winemakers, Jonatan Garçia Lima and Luis Seabra, have used a mix of 90% listán negro and 10% tintilla, taken from several dozen plots varying in altitude, where some of the vines are up to 100 years old, and then partly aged the juice in French oak. It’s savoury and lively and you’ll be very pleased with this particular lesson in geology.
Aldo Viola, 2017
The welcoming and slightly maverick posterchild of Italian natural wine, Aldo Viola, is a fourth-generation winemaker from close to Alcamo in northwest Sicily. He’s also the mastermind behind the Krimiso, a deep, medium-bodied orange wine made from 100% Catarratto grapes, a local variety and one of Italy’s most prevalent grapes. This isn’t a wine you’ve tasted before though: there are definite citrus flavours characteristic of the Catarratto, as well as savoury herbal notes and even a saltiness that nods to the encircling sea. But, arguably, the wine is made in the long and gentle approach to maceration adopted by Viola. The grapes sit for a healthy five months to ferment on the skins, with no pressing or coercing, and at the end, gravity is the only tool used for extracting the juice. The resulting Krimiso is a beautiful golden-orange colour, deeply flavoured, but not overpowering. Trust us, drink this wine and you’ll have your Sicilian holiday, but you’ll come back with some memories that you didn’t see coming.
Drinking a Metamorphika starts before you even reach the orange wine; the clay bottle makes it super distinctive, but also brings the process full circle, referencing the clay soil that underlies some of the Costadors vineyards and the clay amphoras (or tinajas) used during fermentation. The end result is an amber-coloured wine, with six weeks’ skin contact, deep flavours of apricot and stone fruits, together with a little acidity—a great rendition of the sumoll blanc that’s used in this particular cuvée. The grape is indigenous to the area around Tarragona, just south of Barcelona, but has largely died out and become a rarity in Spanish wines. The whole Greco-Roman influence of the amphoras, the Spanish connection, bacchanalian pleasure, and sturdy and honest nature of this wine make it a liquid Robert Graves of sorts, and you could do worse than to share an evening with the Metamorphika and the man and his stories.