Wine notes – November 2020
Finca Parera, 2019
We’ve saved a more festive bottle for last; festive because it connects us to a place we’d rather be—at Bar Salvatge in Barcelona—as we contemplate instead our current partial lockdown. One of the owners at Salvatge is also the winemaker at Finca Parera, and this fourth-generation farmer, Rubén Parera, makes sure the same good nature reigns in both his wine and the bar. From his vineyards in the Penedès region of Catalonia, this particular bottle is made from a social blend of 80% Xarel·lo together with 20% Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Malvasia de Sitges, Parellada, and Garnatxa Blanca. All up, it’s a creamy nectar, macerated for just a few days then left to ferment in stainless steel, before being pressed and finally aged in clay amphora for 12 months. The structure is what keeps things interesting, with flavours of white fruit, grapefruit, and apple, plus great acidity and minerality, coming together for what is really a great drop.
Pivnica Čajkov, 2018
Marek Uhnák says that after his first few years of winemaking he went through a sort of purge to rid himself of the pride and cellar mechanics that had got in the way of just working with the grapes themselves, and the copper hue of this wine genuinely captures something of the volcanic mountain range and mineral-rich area that it comes from. Made entirely from Pinot Gris, 70% of the grapes are fermented on their skins for a week, the other 30% for a month, before being aged separately in oak barrels for 15 months, and finally blended again in stainless steel tanks. There’s no pressing of the grapes, which, combined with the maceration, helps explain the wine’s jewel-like transparency. Taste-wise, we got a hit of strawberry jam, and a few tannins have also crept in, giving this bottle from the Western Carpathians in Slovakia an overall dry minerality, with a slight floral aroma.
Les Salicaires, 2019
We shared an impromptu tasting with the winemaker behind Les Salicaires, Vincent Lafage, in his cellar in the southwest of France over summer and are very pleased to share this medium-bodied red as a result, a mix of 60% Mourvèdre and 40% Grenache, with the slight gaminess of the former balancing out the fruitiness of the latter.
Weingut Sternen, 2019
Hard to beat for a late afternoon aperitif, and potentially a good conversion tool for any natural wine sceptics that you’re drinking with, as it comes from an institution of Swiss winemaking, Weingut Sternen, located in the north of the country. The Holy Roman Empire still controlled the Alps when records point to the Meier family first occupying the site of their winery, 500 years back, and in the 1920s they also founded a young vine nursery which has gone on to supply vineyards around the country and in neighbouring ones as well. It’s from this vast resource that the PétNat was born, incorporating small amounts of around 200 different varieties, both red and white, to create the winery’s latest release. PétNat also come with six different labels designed by the Swiss artist Tobias Gutmann, playing on the slight variations in taste that can be created as the yeast continues to ferment in each individual bottle.
Bruno Dubois, 2018
A single-varietal grown in the cradle of Chenin Blanc—the Saumur region of the Loire Valley—Les Perruches is something of an only child, the sole wine to result from Bruno Dubois’ small parcel of Chenin grapes, which covers less than a hectare and produces fewer than 2,000 bottles. Dubois himself grew up among the vines of his father and uncle, and notably also worked in Beaujolais with Marcel Lapierre before returning north. Still, you can see the same kind of interest in following a novel but noble approach to winemaking, as this is definitely a classical rendition taste-wise: medium-bodied and rich and creamy, balanced with some minerality and the taste of white fruit. In practice, whole clusters were pressed after picking then left to ferment (50% in clay amphora and 50% in oak barrels), aged for 10 months on the lees, and eventually racked and blended for a final month before bottling.
Continuing our tour of Mallorca and the burgeoning variety of local grapes that’ve been making their way back into the cellar there, we have the Manto Negro from Soca-Rel, a new micro cellar that’s just released its first three wines this year. Some compare this grape to a red Grenache, but for us it has a welcome lighter touch and a vegetal note that keeps the fruitiness in check, even while keeping an almost bubble-gum or pomegranate sweetness. It’s easy drinking but still makes you second guess yourself in the best possible way. Based in the DO Binissalem, towards the north of the island, the winemaker Pep Rodríguez fermented his grapes on the skins for a week, before they were lightly pressed and left to age for six months in stainless steel. In July he launched his wines at a fantastic Mallorcan restaurant, Ca Na Toneta, and you’ll also be able to find one of their recipes in the next Apartamento cookbook.