01-03-2019

Natural etc. Can Sumoi

Europe is in the “Recuperation Era” of winemaking and by that I mean that there is still a lot of recuperation of old varieties, vineyards, and winemaking methods taking place to produce the modern, evolving wines we drink today.

In strictly viticultural terms, many regions have indeed been fully recuperated. Places like Mosel, Champagne, Napa, or Priorat have seen what may have been old vineyards that were languishing brought back from the brink due to war, disease, or economic neglect. Or these regions have fully planted out the legally-available vineyard space and are now expanding under what small increases are allowed each year by regional governing bodies. Thus, they are no longer in a state of recuperation but have moved on to evolution. But these are but a few of the success stories and much work is still to be done.

Penedès is a region that I feel is more or less fully recuperated in terms of vineyard plantings. It’s to the point where if you want to plant more Xarel·lo, you’ll probably have to buy someone’s vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon and graft over it and buying that land in the first place will be costly, even though Penedès covers a mighty 25,000ha.

Even recently though, there have been estates that weren’t in as good a condition as they could have been, such as Can Sumoi. This is an 18th-century located in the higher reaches of Penedès at around 600m of altitude. The say that on a clear day, one can see out to the Balearic Islands although given the air pollution in Barcelona lately, I wonder when the last time was that they were afforded a 200km view…

Recuperation began when Raventós i Blanc (justifiably) left DO Cava in 2012 and bought the property which is a rather massive 400ha of which only 20ha are planted with vines that consist of the native Sumoll, Xarel·lo, and Parellada (or the local name of Montònega) grapes. That’s a big amount of wilderness around a small amount of vines and I have to think it’s for this that Pep Raventós and his friend, Francesc Escala, made the decision of making “natural” wines from the grapes. If you think I’m being judgmental, let me assure you that for once, I’m not as there on the label it says, “vi natural d’alçada” or “high altitude natural wine”.

I had initially tasted the 2017 wines but could see they were in a bit of a learning curve which has becomes even more evident as the 2018 wines showed marked evolution to the positive. The Xarel·lo, much like the past vintage holds very high acidity so if that’s not your cup of tea it may not appeal. I think there’s more evolution to be had with this wine though as I also understand a bit of recuperation is still happening with the vines. Also need to add that while still a 75cl bottle, having this squat format more akin to the 63cl to Clavelin found in France’s Jura is a nice touch visually.

The Ancestrale from Sumoll is easy drinking and not in the (ugh) “glou glou” kind of way but as a wine that shows where it’s from as well as being transparent in a good way. I’m not sure why but the cork was so tight that I hat to pull it out with pliers. This had to be a one off considering that one of the people making this wine crafts some of the finest sparkling wines in Spain.

WINES

Can Sumoi - Xarel·lo 2018
Light peach, lemon peel, briny citrus, golden apple, delicate floral notes of chamomile which are covered a bit by an acetic aspect. Touch of lemon grass and parsnip. Very high acidity on the palate, citric notes very prominent with earthy truffle notes, but very much dominated by the acid profile. Nice enough but would be at least two points higher if the acidity was more in check.
100% Xarel·lo · 11.5% · 11EUR
87 1 Stars

Can Sumoi - Ancestral Sumoll 2018
Red plum, fresh cut strawberries, bit of candied forest fruit, damp floral notes, light bit of damp earth and a gravelly base. Medium plus acidity and intensity, full mousse and mouthfeel, red fruit notes present but not dominant on the palate, rather rigid backbone to it, fresh, lively, super drinkable but medium finish leads to a bit of simplicity.
100% Sumoll · 12.5% · 11EUR
88 1 Stars