The Varied Vineyards of Spain

The following covers our Featured Wine Sale for the week of 8/27/18 - 9/02/18.

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This week, we're exploring wines from the Iberian Peninsula and its territories, covering PrioratNavarraVegas Altas, and Lanzarote.

The Regions at A Glance:

Navarra:

From Decanter Magazine's Adam Lechmere:

Navarra is a huge region, extending 100km south from Pamplona and encompassing a variety of different climates, from the cooler, damper northern mountains to the dry, continental conditions of the centre and the more Mediterranean climate of the south. Soils, generally poor and well-drained, vary from shallow sandy loam, limestone and clay to gravels and – in some cases – extremely rocky. In the south-east is the Bardenas Reales National Park, 42,000ha of semi-desert, whose vast escarpments put one in mind of Arizona’s Monument Valley.
 
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Located in the Ribera Baja subregion of Navarra, Viña Zorzal is a family run winery that takes its name from the Spanish name for thrush (zorzal), the bird depicted on the eponymous label.  The family owns about 40 hectares of vineyards, with 25 of those hectares devoted to Garnacha, so this Garnacha Blanca is cultivated from the remaining 15 hectares under vine.

Garnacha Blanca only accounts for 2% of the overall white wine production in all of Navarra, where Red varietals account for 91% of the 11,500 hectares under vine.  

Led by brothers  Xabier, Iñaki and Mikel Sanz, and family friend Rafael Regadera,  Viña Zorzal began their winemaking operation in 2007, though the family began its first vineyard operations in 1992. We're featuring their Garnacha Blanca, sourced from vineyards in between the Ebro Valley and the Iberian mountains, trained in bush vines at higher altitudes.  The juice underwent cold maceration on the skins for 12 hours and fermented with indigenous yeasts before spending 6 months on its lees in a combination of 1200-liter Flextank and in 500-liter barrels.

The Sale Price:  ̶$̶1̶4̶.̶9̶9̶ $13.49

 

Lanzarote:

 The volcanic vineyard landscape of Lanzarote.

The volcanic vineyard landscape of Lanzarote.

We've touched upon the wines of the Canary Islands before, and Los Bermejos.  But we've never had the Listan Negro Rosado from their vineyards. 

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From the direct importer David Bowler Wines:

Owned and run by winemaker Ignacio Valdera, Bermejos is on the easternmost island of Lanzarote. Only 125km from the African coast, conditions here are extreme. A volcanic explosion that lasted from 1730-1736 covered the entire island in lava and ash 3-5 meters deep. Consequently, each vine must be planted in a hole or hoyo that breaks through that infertile volcanic crust of petrified lava to the organic matter that can nourish it. The wind, which acts as a natural fungicide, is so ferocious that each hoyo is surrounded by rock walls for protection. The flora on Lanzarote  – including the vines – cannot grow up very high; there are not enough nutrients in the soil to support sprawling greenery. Yields are miniscule (16 hL/ha) and each berry is concentrated with flavor. All vineyard work is done meticulously by hand. Some of the wines are certified organic, depending on the vintage. Ignacio supplements his crop with purchased fruit from growers who share his vision of sustainable viticulture; with such low yields the winery would have to own most of the land on the island in order to produce financially sustainable quantities of wine from exclusively proprietary grapes.

The Los Bermejos Listan Negro Rosado is a direct press rosé that has a nervy, high-acid profile that accentuates the dry finish and the unique soils of the Canary Islands.  We just have a handful of these wines left, and they won't last long. 

The Sale Price:  ̶$̶2̶4̶.̶9̶9̶ $22.49

 

Priorat:

 The vineyards of Alvaro Palacios in Priorat.

The vineyards of Alvaro Palacios in Priorat.

Located just west of Barcelona, Priorat is a DOC in Spain that makes up the area of 12 villages for which the sub-regions of Priorat take their name.

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From Eric Asimov of the New York Times:

One of the most fascinating stories of late 20th-century winemaking was the rebirth of the Priorat region in northeastern Spain. In the last 25 years, it has been completely transformed from a moribund area to one that makes intense, concentrated, expensive wines that manage the difficult trick of appealing to modern, globalized tastes without sacrificing their own distinctive character.
Priorat's success is due in large part to its isolation. The vineyards, planted on breathtakingly steep slopes on craggy hills about 100 miles southwest of Barcelona, do not lend themselves to the sort of industrial farming that can result in tankers of insipid wine or that attracts big corporations. They demand determination and vast amounts of sweat. After the phylloxera louse ravaged European vineyards in the late 19th century, Priorat stagnated until around 25 years ago, when a group of idealistic young winemakers arrived. They were led by René Barbier, who brought a French winemaking heritage to this Catalonian region, and their belief in the potential of the vineyards has been borne out. Now, millions of dollars later, Priorat is home to dozens of producers making small lots of wine that are coveted the world over.

Alvaro Palacios is located in the sub-region of Gratallops, and is one of the more prestigious winemakers in the region. We have the vineyard's Camins del Priorat open and on sale this week.

 

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This blend is sourced from 8 vineyards surrounding Gratallops, and the blend is 40% Garnacha, 30% Samsó, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Syrah. The wine is aged from 4-6 months in used oak barrels and large wooden vats.

The Sale Price:  ̶$̶2̶4̶.̶9̶9̶ $22.49

Vegas Altas:

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Cerro la Barca is the first and only certified organic winery in Extremadura region of Spain, located on the border of Portugal, and sources these wines from the Vegas Altas comarca (the local term for administrative division) . We have their 100% Tempranillo bottling open for tasting and on sale this week.

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With the classic expressive spice undertones and ripe fruit that Tempranillo offers, we feel this bottle is an absolute killer value.Grown in the Vegas Altas part of Tierra de Barros (land of clay), a sub region of Ribera del Guadiana in the province of Badajoz. Old vines planted on clay soil. Wild yeast fermentation in stainless steel. No oak treatment. Unfiltered and unfined.

The Sale Price:  ̶$̶1̶4̶.̶9̶9̶ $13.49