Wine notes – October 2020
Quinta da Boavista, 2019
Rounding out the October box is the Tretas from Quinta da Boavista, another winery that shares La Stoppa’s spirit of returning to the local vernacular, the winemaker João Tavares de Pina having uprooted his foreign varieties around 10 years ago like we’d throw out the Billy and the Lovbacken. This particular wine came from a desire to try out a red from our neighbours on the Iberian peninsula, and the Tretas uses an 80/20 split of Jaen and Touriga Nacional, which have been macerated for just a few days before spending a long eight to nine months on the lees and being aged in stainless steel. It comes from the Dão region of northern Portugal, which used to known as the Burgundy of the south, but this is a super tasty and rustic alternative to the glou-glou reds of the north.
Selva Vins, 2018
There’s a little nostalgia in this bottle, the last drop of summer from a trip to Mallorca and up to the village of Selva in the north, just below the Tramuntana mountains. With Carlos Rodríguez Furthmann, who’s spent the past 20 years or so making wine across the island, we spent a really beautiful day trying every last one of his cuvées, and this is the wine we picked to share with you in the October box. The grape, Giró Ros, was on the verge of extinction back in the ‘80s and was only authorised for winemaking as late as 2011. There still aren’t many vineyards producing it as a single-variety wine, but this one’s a rather acidic, lemony-brioche type of white, the grapes having spent three months on fine lees, before being partly aged in chestnut barrels, another feature that’s distinct to Rodríguez Furthmann and the project he founded with Selva Vins in 2017.
Domaine Zélige-Caravent, 2018
We were talking recently to a sommelier in New York who’d paired wines with the collection of a fashion designer, based on colour and texture, and for us this wine immediately came to mind, given its velvety feel. The Jardin’s made from 100% Carignan, which has a bad reputation for being a little rough around the edges, but Luc and Marie Michel of Zélige-Caravant have somehow managed to produce the opposite effect from their vineyard at the foot of the Cévennes in the south of France. Their grapes come from 80-year-old vines—one of the forgotten pockets leftover from Carignan’s heyday, when it used to be super prevalent—the trick to producing lower yields with robust, intense fruit. The 2018 vintage was harvested fairly early though, to balance this out with juicy, fresh, and acidic grapes, which were then left to macerate for two weeks. As the name suggests, there’s a floral note to the wine, with red fruits and a touch of funk.
Grange de l’Oncle Charles, 2019
The Orange could’ve been something very traditional—being a Gewürtztraminer from Alsace—and yet it takes you to a place you weren’t necessarily expecting from this grape but that’s incredibly enjoyable to drink, an orange wine smelling of slightly fermented tropical fruit and apricot, that’s almost copper in colour, refreshing and not at all cloying. The winemaker, Jérôme François, hasn’t even reached the age of 30 yet, but has been releasing wine since he was 21 and mostly rejects the idea of labelling those wines according to variety; instead, he’s a proponent of companion planting to help promote biodiversity among the vines and the idea of making ‘village cuvées’, which goes some way in explaining his novel approach to making wine with the classic Alsatian Gewürtztraminer and also the catch-all name.
Rebel Rebel, 2017
The name comes from a reflection made by the Basque winemaker Alfredo Egía after deciding to take a different path with his wines, creating a new project in the northwest of Spain and making an alternative to the regional specialty, txakoli, a dry, acidic, sparkling white. Instead, we have a wine made in the oxidative style to give it a much more intense, broad flavour, and its darker yellow hue. The Rebel Rebel still uses a mix of local varieties (over the border in France, the Petit Manseng is often used for making sweet wines), and after a direct pressing the grapes were exposed to oxygen and fermented in French oak barrels, although around 15% went to amphoras instead, for up to eight months. The taste is fairly sweet, but still has good acidity, with citrus and floral notes as well. The vintage in this month’s box, 2017, was also the first year of Egía’s new venture, and each of the 785 bottles is individually numbered.
La Stoppa, 2019
Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa is one of the Italian pioneers; she took over the family vineyards in the early ‘90 and tore up most of the vines around 1995, replacing all the grapes unsuited to the local Emilia-Romagna climate (but valued by a globalised market) and returning to a regional approach to growing. For us, we maybe think of it in terms of Bernard Rudofsky’s valorisation of regional vernacularity, the local and non-pedigreed, his architecture without architects. For Pantaleoni, who just wants to ‘make wine’ as it’s always been made, she’s produced a staple of the Italian scene, natural or otherwise The Trebbiolo contains a mix of 60% Barbera and 40% of a rare local variety called Bonarda, which together have formed an earthy yet berry-sweet, medium-bodied winner that somehow puts you in mind of both a rustic Italian red, with decent tannins, and a juicy Beaujolais. The grapes received 20 days’ skin contact and were aged in cement tanks.