Looking for wines made from beautifully grown grapes with minimal intervention in the winery? Wines that express the land and people that made them, not wines made to fit a product specification? Here are six of them to enjoy.
Celler Batlliu de Sort, Negre_Pinot Noir, Costers del Segre, Spain - these guys say they are farmers, not hippies or poets. However their wines are magical. They replanted vineyards on meadows surrounded by forests of oak and duron in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees which had been abandoned for over 200 years. They work the land with horses and use no herbicides or pesticides. They grow mainly aromatic varieties - Riesling, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Ull de Lebre - that suit the high mountain environment. In the winery they do as little as possible (intervention-wise) in order to let the wines speak for themselves.
Comando G, Mataborricos, Sierra de Gredos, Spain - The Sierra de Gredos is a high mountain range in central spain west of Madrid and Comando G was created by a trio of enochalados (crazy winemakers) who had day jobs with serious grown-up wineries but having been friends at university got together for a side project making wines from small, sometimes abandoned, often neglected vineyards scattered around the hills. Comando G was also the name of a Spanish / Japanese manga comic in the 1980’s and the wine labels reflect this. Now just two, Dan and Fernando, they approach what they do like it’s done in Burgundy, making very site specific wines, mostly from a single grape variety (Garnacha) but with a much more developed sense of humour and much less developed sense of their own importance. This wine has been matured in amphorae (but not many more than one amphora as it is really small production) and the texture on the palate really reflects this.
Moulin de Gassac, Rouge Classic, Pays d’Hérault - the Guibert family is largely responsible for putting Languedoc on the map of fine wine production. Mas de Daumas Gassac was created by the family back in the day when Languedoc was really only known for big volume, low price and average quality at best. It is still one of France most sought after wines although perhaps a little less on-trend as it uses and has always used international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon rather than more local varieties. You’ll also probably not find an amphora filled with wine though you might find one being used as a plant pot. Anyway, back to the wine. This is a young, fresh, smashable red for everyday. A blend of Merlot with local varieties Grenache, Syrah and Carignan.
Domaine Plageoles, Bro’cool!, Gaillac - Domaine Plageoles has been in existence since 1805 and remarkably survived phylloxera, the vine disease which decimated viticulture in Europe. In South West France near Albi, it’s a slightly forgotten corner of wine production but they have a wealth of local grape varieties and some amazing vineyard sites. This wine is made from Braucol. It can produce wines which a pretty hard, high in acid and tannin but Bro’cool! stands out as being much more fruit forward, approachable and, frankly, enjoyable. The Plageoles family farms organically, stick to traditional vine training techniques (which exclude mechanical harvesting), and don’t use any commercial yeast etc in the winery. When they need to replant vineyards rather than going to the vine nursery which is the normal course of action, they propagate their own by massal selection from their own vineyards, thus maintaining clonal diversity. Every little helps (create complexity in the wines in this case!) Try it with cassoulet or something else reasonably robust - it goes well with a bit of fat, preferably duck or goose!
Château de la Mirande, Picpoul de Pinet - This is a wonderful example of a wine totally fit for purpose. It is grown very close to the coast near Montpellier overlooking the Etang de Thau. It is wonderful with fish, seafood, crustacea. This particular Picpoul has a little more weight, a lovely almost limey and aniseed character and gorgeous texture. Produced very simply - no wood ageing, little skin contact, no fancy oenological stuff going on - from organically grown fruit on the characteristic chalky limestone terraces.
Celler del Roure, Cullerot, Valencia, Spain - The latest vintage of this wine has just arrived and it is once again delightful and very appropriate for summer-time drinking. Ten years ago Celler del Roure had embraced all that was new in winemaking - stainless steel, cooling, french oak barrels, the latest technology - but what is new for them now is what is thoroughly old-skool. Since Pablo Calatayud took over his family vineyards and cellars he has been rediscovering the heritage of Valencia wine production, reintroducing lost grape varieties and reusing the terracotta amphorae abandoned in the winding subterranean cellar. Cullerot is made from local varietal Verdil with Pedro Ximinez and Macabeo. The grapes are pressed, the juice transferred to tank where the fermentation starts naturally, then moved to amphorae buried in the ground in the ancient cellar to finish fermentation. It stays there on lees for around six months. While it has aromas of tangerine and spice, weight and texture it also has lovely freshness. Drink happily over the next couple of years.
This case contains one bottle of each of these wines. If any is out of stock or becomes unavailable it will be replaced by one of equal or greater value and deliciousness.