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With the mid-October heat wave behind us, we are once again enjoying the chill in the air and savoring the unhurried transition from summer to fall produce at the farmers' markets. We're still lighting up the grill each weekend, glass of bubbles in hand, to steam open clams and char the year's last peppers, simultaneously braising meats in the oven and selecting rich red wines for dinner.
Just in time for this transition, we have received new vintages of three perennial favorites from Alfredo Maestro: Lovamor Albillo, Amanda Rosado, and Viña Almate. Earlier this year, I wrote about Alfredo's labor-intensive process of culling Albillo Mayor for white wine, Garnacha Tintorera for rosado, and Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) for his sensational "basic" Viña Almate, over multiple harvests from dozens of disparate parcels - or majuelos - in the valleys and plateaus in and around the Ribera del Duero. These organically farmed, low-yielding, old vines on limestone, clay, and alluvial terroirs produce grapes of distinction and complexity, which Alfredo translates into the memorable and very fairly priced set of natural, no-added-SO2 wines on offer today. (You can read more about Alfredo Maestro here: https://www.chambersstwines.com/Articles/6710/alfredo-maestros-majuelos-the-ribera-del-duero-of-100-years-ago)
We are celebrating the long-awaited arrival of delicious Montsant and Priorat wines from our fabulous friend Fredi "Fresquito" Torres in the Priorat. One of the most talented and maniacally busy young winegrowers (among many!) in Spain, Fredi (who is Swiss and Galician by birth) arrived in the Priorat in the early 2000s to work at Clos Mogador. He fell in love with the power and spirit of the rustic village of Gratallops, whose spiraling, dramatic slopes of gnarled old vines on sun-baked schist have cast permanent spells upon many an ex-pat! Fredi is a force to be reckoned with - comedic and self-depricating one moment, fiercely bombastic and analytical the next, with strong, practical regard for biodynamics and natural work in the cellar as crucial to quality and terroir expression in the finished wine. He is a committed collector and lover of fine wine, an affinity that resonates in the clarity and elegance of his Montsant and Priorat wines, which display fresh florals and focused, lifted berry fruit, without any of the pungent, dark-fruited rusticity often associated with affordably-priced wines from these regions.
Fredi's winemaking projects take him through multiple wine regions on a continuous loop: Ribeira Sacra (we highly recommend his transcendent, unadulterated Silice wines!), Rías Baixas, Empordà, Conca de Barberà, and back home to the Priorat and Montsant. For the last few years, Fredi has been hard at work on a sweeping 8 hectare vineyard that he purchased in 2012. In one parcel, he has resuscitated ancient vines, abandoned more than 25 years ago; on the highest slopes, he planted rootstock for a future grafting of Carignan, Garnacha, Syrah, Macabeo, Pedro Ximénez, Malvasia de Sitges, and more. We cannot wait until there are wines to drink from this beautiful vineyard! In the meantime, we are thrilled to have his Priorat Classic and Montsant Selección: wines that exceed expectation in deliciousness, complexity, and value.
Take advantage of this chance to try all of these (limited) new arrivals from Alfredo Maestro and Fredi Torres in our 2016 Autumnal Mixed Case, offered at an excellent price alongside zero-added-SO2 bubbles from Toni Carbó of Celler La Salada in Penedès, a blend of biodynamically farmed Mencía and Albarín Tinto from Domaine del Urogallo in Asturias, laser-sharp Albariño from Nanclares, a rich and rustic amphora Garnacha from Daniel Ramos in the Sierra de Gredos, and more. Enjoy great variety, excitement, and value from Spain's cutting edge! Cheers! Ariana Rolich
2016 Autumnal Spanish Mixed Case* includes a fabulous array of organic, biodynamic, low- and no-SO2 selections, including Maestro 2015 Lovamor, Vega de Tera 2014 Verdejo, Nanclares 2015 Dandelion Albarino, Clos Lentiscus 2012 Blanc de Blancs, Celler Frisach 2014 L'Abrunet Blanc, Maestro 2015 Amanda Rosado, Maestro 2015 Vina Almate, Fredi Torres 2014 Priorat Classic, Antoine Touton & Fredi Torres 2014 Montsant La Seleccion, Daniel Ramos 2014 Kapi Garnacha, Maisulan 2014 Rioja, Dominio del Urogallo NV Fanfarria Tinto. *Out-of-stock items will be replaced with wines of comparable price and quality.
Lovamor is a perennially sought-after white wine of 100% Albillo Mayor, a rare white variety and dwindling commodity in the modern day Ribera del Duero, where red wine rules. With one week on the skins, bright acidity due to naturally-inhibited malolactic fermentation (Alfredo pushes the tank of wine outside into the winter cold!) and no added SO2, Lovamor is pert and peppery, with tart golden fruit and a tickle of tannins from the skins. Light enough for seafood and aperitifs, but delicious with some air alongside poultry or fish and roasted vegetables with herbs. Ariana Rolich
There is a powerful vibration inherent to Amanda Rosado, which is felt by just about everyone who tastes it. The moment I laid eyes upon the organically-farmed, 60-year-old vines of Garnacha Tintorera on an isolated parcel of chunky limestone soils, perched high above the Valle de Botijas at 850m altitude in Segovia, I understood why! Garnacha Tintorera is a deeply pigmented and wildly acidic grape, therefore ideal for rosado. Aromas of spicy, rose florals and strawberry-rhubarb are followed by a bolt of bright acidity on the palate, with tart red and black raspberries, wild strawberry, crunchy salt, and rocky minerality. A thoroughly exciting aperitif, also delicious with grilled fish or squid, tacos, and spicy food. Ariana Rolich
The 2015 vintage of Alfredo Maestro's Almate might be the most delicious yet! 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), organically farmed, primarily from high altitude vineyards in Valtiendas, near Maestro's home town of Peñafiel (the heart of the Ribera del Duero). Fermented with whole clusters in stainless steel, bottled with no SO2 additions whatsoever; aromas of wild berries, plum, bramble, and herbs open up into sweet and spicy black licorice, and blackberry sap. Juicy, jubilant wild cherry and red berry flesh fill the mouth, with bursting acidity, ripe and rustic tannins, dark earth and tobacco notes, and a very long finish. Outrageously good and unusually complex at this price point, Almate is a perfect pairing with lamb. Ariana Rolich
An instant staff and customer favorite from the Montsant, La Selección is a fresh and elegant young wine from our friend Fredi "Fresquito" Torres. Organically farmed Garnacha with some Carignan, primarily from clay and calcareous soils, raised in stainless steel and bottled with minimal SO2. Medium-bodied, approachable, and thoroughly delicious, with aromas of wild herbs, raspberry blossom, and tangy cranberry fruit, with a vibrantly acidic, floral, and herbal palate of juicy red berries, brambly purple fruit, thyme, a hint of pepper, and earth. Easy to drink and a versatile pairing for any food group - poultry, vegetables, burgers - priced for every night of the week. Ariana Rolich
It is a true delight to feature Priorat at this price point from organically farmed vines of Garnacha, Carignan, Syrah, and Macabeu planted on a variety of schist and granite terroirs around the Priorat. Fredi Torres makes this wine to be fresh and drinkable - Priorat at 13.5% alcohol is rare! Perfumed on the nose with rich wild berries, gentle musk, and spicy earth; juicy plum and black berries with chewy skins, and dark earth, infused with lots of great Priorat electricity without the customary extract or heft. Ariana Rolich
Balance, purity, and affordability combine in Vega de Tera's organically farmed Verdejo, the great white grape of Spain's Rueda region. Heady aromas of yellow flowers, stone fruit, white pepper, and green herbs, followed by refreshing flavors of crisp apricot, orange oil, lemonade, florals, and a hint of salt. There is earthy, mineral depth and definition in Vega de Tera that is rarely found in Verdejo under $15 (it's also fermented with native yeasts - another rarity for Verdejo in this price range!). I'd love to serve this wine with seared mackerel, garnished with vegetable sprouts and lemon, served over jade rice with Verdejo pan sauce. Ariana Rolich
The Nanclares 2015 Dandelion is a taut, focused Albariño that shows considerable depth produced from 30 to 60 year-old vines farmed organically and fermented with native yeast. White flowers are prominent on the nose, with tart white peaches and Asian pears that are washed away by sea spray and bright citrus notes. With a fair amount of density and piercing acidity, the palate isn’t defined so much by citrus and light stone fruit as it is by strong minerality and powerful salinity. Fresh but not light, with big fruit to back up its mineral structure, I would pair Dandelion with salt-baked fish, fresh oysters, or Bacalao on toast. It would be happy with anything that comes out of the sea! Andy Paynter
This is serious pet nat from Toni Carbó, a fixture in the natural wine bars of Barcelona, but brand new on our shores! Tinc Set is organic and biodynamically farmed Xarello and Parellada, two of the great local grapes of Penedès. Calcareous and clay soils speak loudly through tiny firm bubbles, vibrant golden fruit, fresh peach, green apple skins, bitter almond, salty yeast, and crunchy mineral length. Exuberant and fresh in flavor, yet smooth and round in texture, with no added SO2. Tinc Set pairs nicely with a chill in the air and some charcuterie on your plate! Ariana Rolich
Francesc Ferre of Celler Frisach is producing some of the most balanced and delicious expressions of Garnacha Blanca we've tasted to date. L'Abrunet Blanc is casually priced, yet quite complex and seriously refreshing, from organically farmed 20+ year-old vines on iron-rich calcareous soils at nearly 400m altitude in Terra Alta (southern Catalonia). Two harvests are performed (one at lower potential alcohol to contribute crunchy, cool acidity, and the second at higher ripeness with more phenolic development), fermented separately, then blended and raised in stainless steel. Racy lemon zest, key lime, and fresh green herbs on the nose, with fresh, firm flavors of stone fruit, green apple, and crisp pear, gentle peach blossom florals, and a hint of white pepper. Ariana Rolich
The most exciting Garnachas in the world are being produced in the Sierra de Gredos, just 90 minutes west of Madrid by car. Extremely old vines and extremely poor soils on difficult-to-work slopes make for higher price tags on the single vineyard cuvées from this region, but winemaker Daniel Ramos' Kapi lineup is priced for everyday enjoyment. From the north-facing granite and schist vineyards around the town of El Tiemblo, Kapi Garnacha is made in the traditional manner of the region: de-stemmed, then fermented and aged in clay amphorae. Aromas are spicy and mineral, with bold, wild florals surrounding the fresh, full palate of wild raspberry, chewy purple plums, black cherries, and star anise. Ample acidity and taut young tannins make this a natural match for anything coming off of the grill. Ariana Rolich
Maisulan's deep and delicious Rioja is 100% Tempranillo from organic and biodynamically-farmed 40 year-old vines in the Rioja Alavesa. Aromas of spicy rose, creamy berry fruit, and licorice root combine with full but fresh flavors of black cherry, boysenberry, and rich, dark earth. This is velvety, satisfying Rioja for a very fair price. Ariana Rolich
We are very happy to have the wines of Dominio del Urogallo from Asturias, a region well known for cider and dairy, but also home to some fascinating wines and grape varieties. "Fanfarria" is the word for a gypsy band - fitting for a wine of texture and flair! A blend of Mencia and Albarín Tinto from organically and biodynamically farmed vines planted on slate, quartz, and anthracite in Asturias, de-stemmed and fermented in stainless steel, then raised in a combination of stainless steel and neutral French oak. Salty and herbaceous on the nose, with berry seeds, cherry pits, and hints of earth; bright and cool, with tense minerality, acidity, and tannins, between light- and medium-bodied, with wild cherry, sour cherries, tart cranberry and raspberry, with intense minerality, creamy purple berries and florals on the long finish. A unique pairing for darker poultry, roasted with herbs and deglazed with red wine. Ariana Rolich