One place Pat and I have not yet had the pleasure to visit is Spain. We dream about taking a holiday there, soaking up the culture, the history, the sites, the food and of course the wine! For this month, as we often like to travel through wine when we can’t do it in person, we are visiting Northern Spain. The three wineries we are showcasing are all right around the 42nd parallel. Which is extra cool because here in Southwest Michigan we are also quite close to the same Latitude. Spain is very high on our list, and we plan to make it in person someday soon. We hope these wines take you on a little adventure this month and put a bee in your bonnet for some future travel plans.
P. & E. Mullins
2020 Leirana Albariño
Rias Baixas, Spain
In the very Northwest corner of Spain and just above Portugal lies Rias Baixas. It’s lush rolling hills open up to the Atlantic Sea and the soil is rich with granite and alluvial deposit. These conditions allow for the best expression of the Albariño varietal which is no wonder this is where it originates. Winemaker Rodrigo Mendez is a 5th generation winemaker. His style is one of low intervention and high risk. The vineyards he farms belong to families that no longer have winemaking in their lives. He feels compelled to work their land and essentially preserve it, for without his work they might no longer exist. He lets the fruit hang longer than most to highlight a weight and viscosity to the wine that most winemakers obtain from malolactic fermentation. This also allows the acidity and salinity to shine bright. This wine is 100% Albariño. In the glass it is a crystalline pale straw hue. You can see the weight in the wine when you swirl your glass. The nose is fresh with underlying notes of melon and like a ripe summer fruit salad. The palate is supple and layered with honeydew, a hint of vanilla. There is a backbone of minerality that goes throughout and a lingering acidity on the finish. Only 2000 cases produced.
2020 Anima Mundi Xarel-lo
Penedès Catalonia, Spain
Just of south of the Principality of Catalonia between the pre-coastal mountain range (Serralada Pre-litoral) and the Mediterranean Sea lies Penedès. The terrain is very soft with plains and a gentle grade to the mountains. The climate is Mediterranean with moderate winters and hot summers, which makes this an exceptional place for vineyards to flourish. Winemaker and grower (also father and son), have started Anima Mundi meaning the “soul of the World.” They practice biodynamics by using ancestral techniques, making the most use of the land and following biological patterns and lunar cycles. Made of 100% Xarel-lo from vines between 50 and 60 years old. The grapes are skin-macerated and then aged in old 500 Liter French oak barrels and 600 Liter Clay Amphorae to ferment spontaneously with natural yeasts on its lees without stirring. No additional sulphites are added at bottling. In the glass this wine is a honey amber, slightly opaque, almost like liquid gold. The wine appears heavy in the glass. The aroma is funky with a bit of barnyard and dried hay. It does not prepare you for the pretty palate. Without being sweet, it reminds me of a cherry slushy and a little nutty and dry on the finish.
2018 Vizcarra “Senda del Oro”
Ribera del Duero, Castilla y León, Spain
In the Iberian Peninsula on an elevated plateau lies Riberia del Duero. The name is fitting as it means “Bank of the Duero” and it indeed is, It divides the region and provides the area and vineyards with great water supply. The climate has hot days and cool nights which helps provide a longer growing season and ultimately more complex, expressive wines. Winemaker Juan Carlos Vizcarra has a style of elegance and finesse. In the vineyard, the land is nutritious with lots of organic material. The vineyards are hand pruned and clusters thinned to allow native herbs and plants to also prosper, which allows the terroir to not be overly saturated. This wine is 100% Tempranillo. The varietal itself is a delicate one as it bruises easily and can produce harsh tannins. Vizcarra exclusively uses gravity when making the wine, there are no pumps or upwards movements, just gentle flow. In the glass the color is reminiscent of the stain blackberries make on your hands and clothes and tongue. The nose has aromas of dark blue fruit; blueberries and plums and a fresh note that reminds me of walking under a laurel bay leaf tree. The palate is delicate with the blue fruit notes carrying through from the aromas, and a little dried fruit and earth on the finish. Tannins are gentle and present on the medium body and very smooth finish.