Over the last month, our staff has been introduced to several new producers in Spain. They are all making noteworthy wine and are located outside of Spain's most recognizable wine region, Rioja. In addition, we have included in this newsletter some producers you may have also seen in the shop already, which we are excited to revisit. Cheers!
Region: Ribeira Sacra, Galicia
Laura Lorenzo is a perfect example of a winemaker (outside of Rioja) transforming Spain’s wine industry. For a number of years, she was at the helm of one of our favorite Ribeira Sacra producers, Dominio do Bibei. Recently, she started her own project in the same region, which is an undertaking due to the often neglected condition of the vineyards in the area. With such a long history of viticulture in the region, it’s a pitty that so much of the land was used as large scale commercial viticulture. Laura’s meticulous dedication in the vineyard is paying off and showing the true essence of this excellent region’s terroir. Her approach to winemaking is minimal which is beneficial in showing a clear, vivid, fresh, yet rustic expression of the land.
EnvíntateRegion: Canary Islands, Galicia, Extremadura
Some of you may recall our Envínate newsletter last summer. These wines are not widely exported but have been a huge success in the shop because they are stunning and exciting wines. We were drawn to their energy, balance, and freshness, and complex minerality which can sometimes be deficient in such warm, southern, and harsh climates.
Envínate–which means “wine-yourself”—is a collaboration of four friends Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos and Jose Martínez (Almansa) from the Canary Islands, Ribeira Sacra, Murcia, and Almansa, respectively. They met at the University of Miguel Hernandez where they studied Enology and, a decade ago, began producing stunning wines with clear expressions of uniquely chosen terroirs. Many of the vineyards are farmed organically with untrained vines and are located in, generally speaking, rough continental conditions at high-elevations with an Atlantic climate - some of the vines on the Canary Islands are sitting on extremely steep cliffs peering directly over the Atlantic!
Region: Allela, Catalunya
Allela is a microscopic D.O. unknown to most but only a stone’s throw from the city of Barcelona. The history in Allela alone is impressive enough, with records of viticulture since the 1st century. What sets Quim’s vines apart from so many others in the country is the truly unique terroir. The vineyards reach around 1,000 ft in elevation, on steep terraces, with cool Mediterranean sea breezes. The vines would struggle to ripen without its atypical white colored granite soil, Sauló, which simultaneously traps heat and redirects sunlight. Quim organically farms Xarello, Picapoll, and Garnatxa Blanca. These are special wines because you really do find a salty sea Mediterranean characteristic.
Vinos Ambiz - Fabio Bartolomei
Region: Sierra de Gredos, Avila and Madrid
Fabio is from an Italian family and worked in the world of finance in Scotland,
but has resided in Spain for two decades, essentially teaching himself how to make wine. He produces very little in way of production and is truly an artisan compared to his neighbors. Fabio believes in as little interferences with winemaking as possible by farming organically and using native grapes and yeasts. This allows for the wines to show the true character of their place. Fabio’s curiosity is one of his best assets because he has fun making several wines as opposed to a few. There is a playfulness yet completely unconventional approach to his wines. We guarantee you have not tried anything like them – they will push your palate’s boundaries, challenge the status quo, and make you think outside the box in terms of what Spanish wines can be. You can’t help but jump on Fabio’s train of curiosity, which makes them incredibly fun to drink. He produces Garnacha, Tempranillo, Malvar, and Airén.
Luis A Rodriguez
Region: Ribeiro, Galacia
Luis, a local of the region, has a reputation of being a leader and craftsman winemaker in Ribeiro since 1988, all the while being incredibly kind and modest. He helped steer the charge of returning winemaking and viticulture to its once former capacity by being heavily involved in the D.O. for several years. Historically, the region has suffered events beyond its control, leading to mass farming and wine production, which has done little to boost its status as a desirable wine region. Luis has acquired excellent vineyards and planted many of the vines himself, some up to 50 years old. He uses minimal sulfur and herbicides, native yeasts, and new oak, so the wine can speak for itself.
Region: Ribeiro (Arnoia), Galacia
New to the Spanish wine scene is Bernardo Estevez, car mechanic turned winemaker. His wines are now just beginning to trickle into the U.S. market. His dedication is undeniable – he spent years studying biodynamic and natural viticulture in the region, as well as outside Spain. When choosing vineyards, Bernardo was extremely selective - some reach up to 100 years old. His white blend, Issué, is one of the most intriguing Galacian whites we’ve come across. The importer, Jose Pastor, describes it as a “multi-grape blend of Lado, Treixadura, Silveiriña, Albilla, Godello, Loureira and Verdello Antiguo, from different (younger and older) vineyards on granite and clay soils in the Arnoia valley.”