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The 2016 edition of our popular Late-Summer Spanish Mixed Case is packed with fun and fascinating selections from old friends as well as some new favorites. It goes without saying that a "late-summer" wine must be refreshing to succeed in combatting the mind-numbing heat of August. Surprisingly, I have found myself reaching not for the lightest and leanest wines in the fridge, which can get bludgeoned by steamy heat and humidity, but for wines with big personalities and invigorating profiles - but without big alcohol or price points. Every wine in this offer is energized and interesting enough to snap you out of sunstroke (and all the reds can be served chilled)!
The long-awaited arrival of Silice Viticultores in the Ribeira Sacra (Galicia), a collaboration between the brilliant and very busy Fredi Torres (who makes wine in his home-base of the Priorat and Montsant, in addition to Ribeira Sacra, Rías Baixas, and Empordà) and brothers Carlos and Juan Rodriguez.. Silice is dedicated to unveiling the greatness of Ribeira Sacra's steep slopes and old vines through organic and biodynamic farming and natural winemaking, eschewing the widespread practice of acidification and (in so doing) the approval of the Ribeira Sacra DO. Silice's basic bottling is one of the most unique and exhilarating examples of Mencía from the region (with Merenzao, Albarello, Garnacha Tintorera, and a few white grapes). Savory, smoky, and mineral, with intense freshness and silky fruit, this is a wine that will change the way you think about the Ribeira Sacra.
Corisca Albariño is a wine that we are extremely proud to work with here at Chambers Street. The devoted father and daughter team of José María and Natalia Rodríguez farm their four hectares of certified organic Albariño vines (planted in the 1970s in the Condado do Tea, Rías Baixas DO) with the utmost care. They make just one wine and it is the perfect summer white: citrusy and salty, with bold yet chiseled fruit, quite elegant and totally thirst-quenching. At $15.99 we recommend it for everyday consumption, as an apéritif or paired with fish, white meat, and vegetables.
We have been enjoying a diverse range of fresh and affordable Tempranillos this summer. Artuke is our new favorite source for light-hearted and juicy young Rioja that offers the complete package: organic farming, bright fruit, ample complexity, and a shockingly low price tag. We were recently very pleased to make the acquaintance of Ismael Gonzalez of MicroBio in Rueda, through our good friends Alvaro de la Viña and Ana Gonzalez at Selections de la Viña, young importers who are sourcing some of the best natural wines in Spain and representing their growers with admirable precision and care. They just started importing MicroBio and promptly sold out of most of the wines. Thankfully, a small stash of luscious zero-added-SO2 Tempranillo remains! Germán Blanco of Casa Aurora and Quinta Milú is hard at work, farming organically and vinifying some of the most natural, delicious, and fairly-priced Ribera del Duero wines available. The 2015 basic Milú bottling is bold and ripe, reflecting the heat of the vintage, with layers and length that defy its everyday price point. We love this wine with a chill and a burger, snacks after work, or a steak from the grill.
A lightly sparkling white from Avinyó in Penedès, a fully sparkling Champagne method Vigiriego Blanco from Barranco Oscuro in the mountains of Granada, gorgeous new vintages from Canary Island favorites Tajinaste and Bermejos, and a brilliantly acidic red wine of Garnacha Tintorera from the ambitious team at Envínate round out today's mixed case. Cheers! Ariana Rolich
The 2015 vintage of Tajinaste's Listán Blanco is the best yet. Talented young winemaker Agustín García and his family farm six hectares of vines at up to 500 meters altitude in the Valle de la Orotava on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The windswept, volcanic terrain is palpable in this wine, which is exotic, bright and generous, just bursting with energy. Aromas of green apple and pear, bitter melon and white pepper, followed by flavors of lemony citrus zest, lemon balm, tart green apple, and typical Listán Blanco notes of fennel with a hint of brine. Ariana Rolich
The Espelt family has been growing grapes for centuries on the sandy granite, limestone, and slate soils of Empordà. In the early 2000s, they began bottling under their own name, resulting in some of the best values coming out of Catalonia. Espelt's vineyards are certified organic and dedicated primarily to native varieties like Lledoner (Catalonian Grenache) and Carinyena. This wine is 100% Garnatxa Blanca from 50 year-old vines, fermented and aged for 3 months in neutral French oak barrels. Medium bodied, with pure, fluid flavors of white peach, lemon-lime, and golden apple, flecked with white pepper and silky florals, anchored by a firm mineral spine. Fresh and versatile. Ariana Rolich
An irresistable, lightly fizzy wine from the Esteve Nadal family, who are Cava specialists in the heart of Spain's Penedès region but make this wine through Charmat method. 40% Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains from a high altitude planting combined with the family's old vine Macabeu; refreshing citrus zests mingle with delicate florals, salty mineral notes, and hints of almond. Ariana Rolich
A bit offbeat and totally lovely, this is a blanc de blancs from Vigiriego, a local white grape that grows in the mountains of Granada. Lemon-lime, apricot oil, white flower, and sea salt aromas; vaporous citrus, spicy oils, coriander seed, coastal brine, chalky tannin, and a fine, beady bubble electrify the palate. Taut and racy, impressively composed, with no added SO2 at any time. Ariana Rolich
The beautiful 2015 rosado from Bermejos has arrived. 100% Listan Negro from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, grown at the bottom of painstakingly-tended hoyos (the local name for the craters dug into the crunchy, black volcanic ash topsoil that coated the island of Lanzarote following a series of volcanic eruptions that started in 1730). One vine is planted at the bottom of each hoyo, which protects the plant from Lanzarote's relentless trade winds. Stone walls of volcanic rock rim the hoyos, an effort to prevent the soils from blowing onto the vines. In turn, the walls are constantly blown down and rebuilt. This is high-maintenance viticulture! Bermejos' visionary winemaker, Ignacio Valdera, makes it look easy. His wines are fascinating and crystal-clear expressions of this unique and mystical vinescape. The rosado is pale, dry, and refreshing, with hints of tangerine, orange blossom, dried oregano, and ash on the nose, followed by flavors of salty citrus and strawberries, blood orange, brine, and cherry pits, with ash, orange oil and rind on the finish. Complex yet crowd-pleasing. Ariana Rolich
Viña Zorzal offers some seriously delicious wines from old vines for very little money (as fans of their delightful red Graciano can attest). This one honors the traditional wine of the Navarra region - rosado of Garnacha - and is made from the Sanz family's low-yielding, head trained, organically farmed, old vine Garnacha. Fragrant red currant, raspberry, and pink peppercorn aromas lead to distinctive crushed cranberry and strawberry fruit, with zesty pink grapefruit, tropical and herbal undertones on the finish. Zorzal offers impressive concentration, freshness, and complexity at an unbelievable price. Bold, clear, and comforting, we love this wine after a particularly long day and alongside anything from the grill. The label features a popcorn kernel pattern because Xabi Sanz of Zorzal recommends it as an accompaniment to popcorn and a movie. We look forward to giving that pairing a try! Ariana Rolich
An utterly delicious bargain, made of 95% Tempranillo and 5% Viura from Artuke's organically farmed family estate in the Rioja Alavesa. Made in the traditional, refreshing (pre-barrel aging) style of Rioja, whole cluster fermented and raised in concrete tanks for a pure, juicy, floral, and thirst-quenching young red that begs to be chilled and downed over lunch (or on the couch). Alluring wild rose and ripe cherry aromas and flavors, with crushed red berries (cran/raspberry and currant), soft earth, wild green herbs, and a hint of salty licorice. Keep a bottle chilling in the fridge to pair with everything from pizza to paellas! Ariana Rolich
A straightforward and honest expression of old vine Tempranillo from the insuppressible and delightful young winemaker Germán Blanco. Despite the intense heat of 2015, Quinta Milú's “house wine” is fresh, lively, and beautifully composed with notes of warm, dark fruit, violets, black pepper, silty minerality, and a hint of pumpernickel. Robust and solid with a firm yet fluid tannic structure from aging in a combination of used French and American barrels, this utterly quaffable wine works equally well paired with a meal, or as a meal unto itself. Sydney Snyder
Upon tasting the fresh and luscious, palpably natural wines of MicroBio, it is hard to believe that winemaker Ismael Gonzalo is a fixture in the winemaking community of his native Rueda - the heart of industrial Verdejo production. Correcaminos Red is Tempranillo from vines planted on slate soils in 1949, fermented in stainless steel, and bottled unfined and unfiltered with no added SO2. Bright and juicy with flavors of sour cherry and tangy purple plums, crushed blackberries and black currants, oregano, earthy licorice, and a hint of tobacco. Serve chilled. Ariana Rolich
Silice Viticultores is a partnership between super-talented winegrower Fredi Torres and brothers, Carlos and Juan Rodriguez, who together are dedicated to shining light on the real Ribeira Sacra. The potential and power of this steep and mighty region, planted on granite and slate slopes, to produce luminous, expressive, and precise red wines is unlimited. Farming is organic and biodynamic, with no additives or manipulation in the cellar (beyond tiny amounts of SO2). This is key to Silice's quality and purity, in a region where chemical farming and acidification of wines are commonplace. Silice is 80% Mencia, with Merenzao, Albarello, Garnacha Tintorera, and some white grapes, from six small vineyards in Amandi averaging 60-80 years old. Aromas of wild berries, herbs, sweet smoke, and damp earth meet a juicy, fresh, light-medium palate of tart cranberry, wild cherries, sour plum, black tea, and blueberries, with wild thyme, purple and blue florals, and salty, funky notes of damp soil. Lovers of Pinot Noir and Cru Beaujolais in search of some Spanish sun and soul need look no further. Ariana Rolich
Envínate is a collaboration between four friends who met at enology school in Alicante and have gone on to make memorable and terroir-expressive wines from special parcels of vines all over Spain: the Ribeira Sacra, Canary Islands, and this one from the Almansa DO (just inland and south of Valencia). 100% Garnacha Tintorera, a deeply pigmented and vibrantly acidic grape also known as Alicante Bousquet, from 30-year-old organically farmed vines at 800 meters altitude on chalky, clay-calcareous soils. Wild yeast fermented, with 50% whole clusters, raised for 8 months in large cement vats. The 2014 vintage is exuberant and mouth-watering, with rich aromas of musky floral berries, purple fruit peels, peppercorns and cloves, with flavors of juicy ripe raspberry and tart currant fruit, hints of tea leaves and savory resinous thyme, framed by assertive tannins and lots of fresh acidity. Ariana Rolich