Un món de vi/Un monde de vin
The battle lines have long been drawn in regards to the whole “natural wine” debate. While we’ve written about the growing trendiness of natural wine in Catalonia, the issues around this were further emphasized in a recent article by Alice Feiring, specifically the pitting of the small, “Un món de vi” event that happened on Monday, April 22 at Villa Más in S’Agaró and organized by El Celler de Can Roca versus the much larger Vinum Nature happening in Barcelona in the second week of May. Her article shows that the definition of natural wine continues to be problematic as organic and biodynamic wines are all put in the same basket, and she raised the question as to whether many of wines at Vinum Nature are actually “natural” or just using it as a marketing gimmick.
As we were out and about to finalize printing of the Priorat guide (it’s coming, we swear), we swung northward to stop in and see how this fair shaped up to be. After a couple of missteps due to Google Maps hating Spain, we rolled in to the event and were immediately enchanted on many fronts. For one, it was a gorgeous day to be in the Costa Brava and the venue of the fair, Villa Más restaurant, was right by the beach. Moreover, this was really a professional event and we knew many of the people in attendance; the focus was really on the wines, not on getting drunk.
Taking place in what seemed to be the inclined dirt parking lot behind the restaurant, there was a laid-back, rough and tumble aspect to it. People were just spitting their tastes in to the dirt. As it was later in the afternoon, winemakers wandered off to taste other wines and generally left people to serve themselves. And one well known gentleman in the wine trade “stealthily” walked a few steps away from the stalls to check his mobile phone and take a whiz behind a tree. In other words, it was an informal and incredibly friendly event with some of the most knowledgeable wine people and wine lovers around. As natural winemakers Josep Ramon Escoda and Laureano Serres like to say, natural wine is just vegetable water that makes one feel good.
The wineries in attendance were many from regions in Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Germany and beyond. From the local Catalan scene there were the vi de pagès makers of Mas Molla and Mas Ponsjoan in Calonge (Empordà) to the very exclusive Priorat winery, Terroir al Límit. So, it covered a range from less than 2€ to nearly 200€ a bottle.
Probably the most interesting discovery for us were the wines from Algueira winery in Ribeira Sacra (Galicia), all made with local varietals such as Godello, Treixadura, Merenzao or Albarello. All really lovely. And the owner was quite enjoyable too, explaining how he makes wine for fun.
Other highlights included Mas Molla’s 2009 Monastrell still showing as strongly as when we tasted it last year. Terroir al Límit’s Terra de Cuques was pleasant to taste outside of the insanity of the Vitis Vinifera event in March and shows that it does remain to be a fresh, lively wine. Then there were the Xarel·lo wines in ceramic bottles by Toni Rimbau in Penedès which showed a fresh, brilliant take on that white. He even had a Muscat sweet that was also very interesting.
Comando G was there as well with their high altitude Grenaches from the Sierra de Gredos in Madrid, that showed how a few hundred meters takes the typically spicy Grenache and evens it out a little. The Greek wines were great as it’s generally hard to find them in Spain (the only Greek wine we had tasted was the Mavrodaphne of Cephalonia by Gentilini winery at Monvínic). There were some Assyrtiko whites, but we particularly enjoyed the Xinomavro reds and a couple of delicious dessert wines.
We also had a very nice 100% Sumoll Cava by Can Ramon Viticultors del Montgros (Penedès), which was bold and expressive, not like these blinking little glasses of bubbles that you typically find in Cava.
Overall it was an eclectic mix to say the least and in a wonderful setting out of high season. Will Vinum Nature trump this? They’ll definitely have something bigger, but it will be a tough act to follow.
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012 93
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015 93
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR