Home Blog Page 4

Nicolas Joly, biodynamics at its best

After two hours of deep and interesting conversation, he asked me: ‘Do you have any other question?’ The only one coming to my mind was: ‘yes, may you continue talking for the remains of the day?’ It was only 13:00 but two hours had gone by in the blink of an eye and the day was still young. I knew in advance he was going away for the weekend, so the chances of listening to him longer were just slim, but, hey, I had to take my chances.

He had that effect on me and my brother. Sometimes he looked as a preacher, in the good sense of the word, as I was already part of his choir. I love organic viticulture and I love biodynamic viticulture so everything he was explaining to me was like, well, Gospel. At times I was deciding between taking notes and just trying to inhale as much knowledge as possible coming from him. He was talking and sharing his beliefs, his opinions, his path through life… So many things and thoughts that was more than the typical wine conversation. He was jumping from one topic to the next but not the way a lecturer does, but rather as someone who is explaining his passion for his work and his love for the way he works. He adopted biodynamic many years ago and he was talking about why this is important for him, and why it should be important for everyone involved in wine.

Nicolas Joly is considered, or at least for me, the father of Biodynamic viticulture in Europe. In his previous life he worked in the finance world. One day, a senior member of his company called him to tell him he was to be promoted. Nicolas answered: ‘thank you very much. I’m leaving the company’. His interlocutor said: ‘maybe you didn’t hear me. I said you are to be promoted’. Joly said: ‘yes I heard you. And I’m leaving the company’. That was a few calendar pages before the 1980s. That’s when he moved from that life in the corporate world to one in which he would start taking care of the family vineyards and making wine.

Nicolas’ empire is not far from Angers sitting by the banks of the Loire River in France. A wonderful place if you like to travel and visit ancient castles, and a pilgrimage area if you like white wines produced with Chenin Blanc. He has a huge maison, the typical French château surrounded by vineyards. Here, he produces only three wines: Les Vieux Clos, his entry level wine, appellation Savennières; Le Clos de la Bergerie, appellation Savennières-Roche aux Moines; and finally his flagship wine: Clos de La Coulee de Serrant, appellation La Coulee de Serrant. By the way, the name of his home is Château de la Roche aux Moines.

Nicolas is also the leader of a biodynamic producers association called Le Renaissance des Apellations. It started in 2011 with only French producers but the number has grown to over 230 winemakers from 13 different countries, including nine from Spain.

Soon we will talk to Nicolas Joly about his passion in life.

The Ribolla Gialla, that wonderful variety

Many of us have a favorite singer, a favorite actor, a favorite writer… people or things that we like a lot, that we love because they mean a lot to us: that song we fell in love with, that book that made us imagine faraway worlds and adventures, that movie that made us feel like the person in the screen… I have a favorite one or two in all of these categories and many other favorite stuff, of course, but I’m not gonna talk about that now. I’m gonna talk about some other thing that I have as favorite. Yes, I have to confess it: I have a favorite white grape. Yep. Can you imagine it? I do have it. If you think about it, it is not such a weird thing when talking to winelovers. Many of us/them like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, some others are completely nuts about Pinot Noir, some about Chardonnay or Palomino in the form of a Sherry wine… Luckily enough, WineWorld is widely ample for all of us to find a grape variety to favor when it comes inside a bottle of wine.

For me, well (here comes the emoticon of the guy rubbing his chin while thinking hard), how would I say it? Well, I love the Ribolla Gialla.

Probably by now you know (because you are my faithful reader) that if there is a place on Earth I reckon as a piece of Heaven, we are talking about that small corner of the world between Italy and Slovenia. That patch of land combining the hills of the Collio in Italy and Goriška Brda in Slovenia.

Why the Ribolla Gialla? I fell in love with it with the very first glass of a wine produced with this variety. It was a special wine, not a typical dry white wine but a white wine macerated on the skins, that thing we call now an Orange Wine. It was a Riserva di Oslavia 2012 from Primosic, a winery located in the heart of the Collio, in a small village called San Floriano del Collio, where this variety is the absolute queen. Six producers in this village have established an association whose mission is to promote the Ribolla Di Oslavia.

Something I really like about the Ribolla is its versatility. So far I have been able to enjoy great samples of dry wines (both fresh and aged), macerated wines and sparkling wines elaborated with the Ribolla. And I know somebody is producing a sweet wine with it. As you can see, quite an array of styles employing this wonderful variety.

The Ribolla Gialla is a yellow-skin grape as its name implies (Gialla means yellow in Italian). In spite of different stories regarding its origins, we can be sure now that it was born here in the Collio/Goriška Brda area many centuries ago, since there are written notations about this grape dating eight centuries ago.

An important feature of this grape is its thick skin, which makes it perfect for using skin maceration for long periods. Depending on areas, some winemakers macerate the must on the skins for short periods, such as eight to ten days, while others go farther down this road for months, sometimes one or two months, sometimes up to six months. The Ribolla also takes very well ageing in amphora and in oak or acacia barrels and botti for up to seven years (yes, seven) in some cases.

Ribolla Gialla dry wines are really easy to drink, with a nice balance of fruit and acidity making them highly enjoyable. Sparkling Ribolla is also a wine you drink all the way to the bottom of the bottle before you even notice it. And the Orange wines are just art in a bottle.

I mentioned before San Floriano del Collio. In this small village in the outskirts of Gorizia we can find some of my preferred producers of Ribolla wines. I will mention those whose wines I have tasted and I love. They are also great persons and some of them I can call my friends: Ana and Franco Sosol from Il Carpino; Silvan and Boris Primosic; Stefano Bensa from La Castellada; Dario Princic from Dario Princic; Saša Radikon from Radikon; Matej Fiegl from Fiegl; Alexis Paraschos from Paraschos; Franco Terpin from Franco Terpin. All these wineries produce macerated wines using the Ribolla and some of them also produce dry versions with it. My heart is with these guys and with their wines.

Not far from San Floriano we will find the macerated version of Damijan Podversic from Podversic, and Marco and his son Roberto Felluga from Marco Felluga. The Fellugas produce only the dry version of the Ribolla. The same we will find going towards Udine, where Mario Zanusso from I Clivi makes wonders with the Ribolla both dry and sparkling. Not far from them we will find Stefano Novello from Ronco Severo: wonderful skin contact Ribolla.

So what happens now if you we cross the border to Goriška Brda in Slovenia? Well, for starters there will be Ribolla Gialla no more but rather it will be named Rebula. In this Slovenian area, part of the big Primorska wine region, the grape changes its name to its Slovenian version. Rebula is also queen here. And macerated Rebula as well. My local heroes, some of them also great friends, are Jean Michel Morel and Katja Kabaj from Kabaj; Aleks and Simona Klinec from Klinec; Ales Kristančič and Movia Vesna from Movia; Valerija and Marjan Simčič from Marjan Simčič and Tamara and Janko Stekar from Kmetija Stekar 1672. Aleks Simčič from Edi Simčič works with the Rebula in its dry version with ten months of ageing in oak.

And maybe 20 kilometers to the east we will enter the Vipavska Dolina, or the valley of the Vipava river, where splendid Rebula wines are made by Kristina and her father Boreslav Mervič from JNK; Valter Mlecnik from Mlecnik and Primoz Laurenčič from Burja Estate.

This is just a short list of producers whose wines I have enjoyed and in almost all the cases I shared a glass with them. There are more, of course. Many of them are in my to-do list, for there will be time to continue visiting and discovering new Ribolla Gialla and Rebula wines. The list is long. It is a pity that there are not many Ribolla/Rebula wines available in Spain, but you know, if you bring the food I will bring the wine. There is no time to waste.

Burja Estate, one of Slovenia’s finest wineries

Many times I have had conversations about Biodynamic agriculture. Some people say it has some Hocus Pocus, some “mystical” stuff around, not based on scientific rigor but rather on obscure precepts outside the reach of common mortals. I think organic winemaking and biodynamic principles in agriculture and also applied to winemaking are here to stay and in the upcoming future we will see a growing number of winemakers working this way. The influx of the Moon over so many things occurring on Earth is for real. Centuries ago, and not even that far, agriculture followed the cycles of the Moon. It is a fact that biodynamic preparations help the soil of the vineyards to be richer in nutrients and more alive than when you don’t use them. Biodynamic farming consists on creating a live entity including vineyard, winery, vines, animals, soil, insects and humans, all being part of a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to cultivation, land management, food processing and nutrition.

I like so much biodynamic agriculture applied to vineyards and wines. I like to follow the phases of the Moon for bottling and for moving wine. I like the use of the preparations in the field. I do believe all this has its influence in the glass of wine we can enjoy. For this reason, I also love to visit and talk to winemakers working this way.

Sitting almost atop of the Vipava River Valley is the right place for finding a winery guided by the principles of Biodynamic. Primož Laurenčič is the owner of Burja Estate, where he continues the tradition initiated by his ancestors when they arrived in the Vipavska Dolina back in 1499 and dedicated to agriculture and viticulture. Now Primož follows his passion applying organic and biodynamic methods to winemaking. His principles are very basic and simple, even if they are not followed regularly in other wine regions. Important concepts like planting local varieties, being honest to diversity and richness of his vineyards, as each of them responds differently, depending on soil and climate are key to reaching his objectives. The use of indigenous yeasts is also of top importance, as these yeasts will convey the expression of the vineyards into the wine.

Primož has a handful of hectares planted with different white and red varieties. The vineyards are Ravno Brdo (1,7 ha.) planted with Modri Pinot (Pinot Noir, Blauburgunder), Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch), Malvazija (Malvasia Istriana), Zelen, Laški Rizling (Italian Riesling, Welschriesling) and Rebula (Ribolla Gialla). Stranice (1,6 ha.) has Refošk (Refosco), Pokalca (Schioppettino), Malvazija and Laški rizling. Zadomajc (0,8 ha.) is planted with Modri Pinot. Golavna has 1,4 ha. of Zelen and finally Ostri vrh has 1,6 ha. planted with Rebula, Malvazija, Renski Rizling (Rizling), Laški rizling and Modri Pinot.

One of the important features of Burja Estate vineyards is the soil. In past articles about wineries in the Italian Collio and Slovenian Goriška Brda, we have talked about the Ponca (in Italian), Opoka (in Slovenian) or Flysch (in Friulano) soil, a marlstone and sandstones soil developed over fifty million years ago. These rocks, rich in calcium carbonate, were formed under the sea in the Eocene Era and it is also very rich in marine sediment and full of fossils that you can see just by simply looking at the rocks.

Another important feature is shown in the name of the winery: the Burja, a brutal wind in this part of Slovenia coming from the Northeast that sometimes reaches gusts of up to 235 km/h.

As for the wines Primož produces, I had the opportunity of tasting all of them, including some old vintages. Primož macerates all his white wines on the skins. His Malvazija is a wonderful wine and his Zelen, a local variety, is a truly amazing wine.

Noir is his interpretation of the Pinot Noir known here as Modri Pinot, a wine that will give you so much pleasure. And his most special red wine in my opinion, Reddo. A blend of Pokalca 50%, Modra Frankinja 30% and Refošk 20%, grapes coming from young vineyards 4 to 6 years old. The first vintage of Reddo was 2016. I never was a fan of Refosco or Refošk but this wine has a very elegant personality.

Both red wines are aged for two years in large barrels (10 to 15 hl) and also the typical 225-liter barrels.

Burja Estate is a grand discovery here in the Vipavska Dolina region. Honest wines with a deep terroir character.

Soon we will talk to Primož Laurenčič about his winemaking philosophy.

Casa Agrícola, going back to the roots for Pepe Mendoza

Pepe Mendoza is a person who does not leave you indifferent. From the very moment you meet him he is already smiling, and when he starts talking about his passion, not about his work, he is very contagious for the love about what he does. You can feel what the vineyards tell him, what the soil transmits to him, because he makes you feel the same way as he. The way in which he describes the origin of the vineyards, the history of Llibet, the small village in which he was born in the province of Alicante, the beginning of his career in the world of wine… everything is full of his passion for wine.

Pepe is member of the Mendoza family who runs Bodega Enrique Mendoza, located in L’Alfaz del Pi (Alicante), an emporium producing wine that is marketed worldwide. But today we are not going to talk about this winery but about a project that Pepe started a few years ago in the outskirts of his hometown. Here he owns 12 hectares of vineyard where he grows Monastrell, Garnacha, Syrah and Alicante Bouschét in the red varieties and Moscatel de Alejandría, Macabeo and Merseguera in the white ones going into the market under the label of Casa Agrícola.

Pepe is passionate about natural viticulture and this is how he works his vineyards. Things as they have been done forever, neither chemicals nor pesticides in the field or oenological preparations in the winery. The facilities he has in Llibet were used for decades to make wine. There is an old wood destemmer that he is more than tempted to use, though I think its prime is already in the past. He also has underground concrete tanks and an old horizontal press. Pepe wants all of this to be part of a future small wine museum. I think an idea lives somewhere in his mind for ​​using part of this equipment to do some experimentation. It even has a well that collects rainwater.

Every day, Pepe is adding small plots to this project of Casa Agrícola, parcels that for the last thirty years are managed to the best of his abilities by Clemente, an old-school winegrower who, just as Pepe does, loves thing well made.

When you walk through the vineyard or taste the wines with Pepe, you will learn to distinguish characteristic aromas of this area. He is a countryside enthusiast and he explains where these aromas of jasmine, orange blossom, rose petals, and above all fennel, are present in his wines. These are the aromas that Pepe says are identified with Mediterranean wines. And you see in his eyes his passion for these wines.

Casa Agrícola started offering three wines in the 2016 vintage: two whites and one red. The first one is called Casa Agrícola Blanco and is made with Moscatel de Alejandría, Macabeo and Airén, from the parcels located in Benimei and Serra Forta, in the Marina Baja area and the Alto Vinalopó mountains. Casa Agrícola Tinto is a blend of Monastrell, Syrah and Alicante Bouschét. The wine is made in 10,000-liter tanks with whole grain and 20% of stems. Part of the wine is aged for one year in 500-liter French oak barrels.

Pureza is for me his star wine. Single-varietal Moscatel de Alejandría, macerated on the skins for 6 days and aged in clay amphoras made by the master tinajero Juan Padilla in Villarrobledo, Albacete. I had the chance to enjoy the 2016 and the 2017 vintages. The first is an incredible wine; with a power in the nose and palate that grabs you from the first moment you hold your glass. A true Spanish orange wine made the way I think it should be, full bodied band powerful yet elegant at the same time. 2017 shows on the nose much more power but in the palate is a bit shy, like a little brother. According to Pepe, the natural evolution of a wine like this will make him acquire the profile of his older brother in a short time. And above all, as he pretends, the wine will grow to be more radical. The two vintages are spectacular for those who love this style of wine. Something very important for me is that the period in an amphora, between 6 and 8 months, is not perceived in the wine.

To these wines he has added in the 2017 vintage four wines more under the label of Pequeñas Producciones Vinícolas. First a blend of Macabeo and Mersegura called Ánforas – Tinajas de Padilla, a wine that captured me for the very first sip. Very well produced and very enjoyable.

The second wine is Velo Flor Ánfora 2017, 95% Merseguera and 5% Moscatel whose name explains it all. Produced in clay amphoras, the wines developed a velo de flor, like the wines elaborated in Xerez. The aromas of this wine are really amazing.

El Veneno 2017 is his champion red wine. Monastrell through and through with an ageing of 12 months in 500-liter oak barrels. Red fruit all-around, El Venero is a wine far from the classic Mediterranean Monastrell where you could find lots of extraction, full body and oak. The balance here is perfect, with the right mix of body, fruit and extraction. A wine that you can finish the bottle before you say: ‘Vive le Mourvèdre!’

Sero-roSé Monastrell Clásico 2016 is a rosé wine. 14 months of ageing in French oak barrels and very light skin maceration, this wine goes into the market four years after its elaboration. Pepe wants it to be introduced in its fourth year, so it will be in 2020 when this wines sees the light.

There are not many bottles of these wines, and as Pepe told me, we’ll have to wait to get some more, since what’s left is all sold. It’s going to be a long wait.

Soon we will talk with Pepe Mendoza about his passion for wine and his winemaking philosophy.

Slovenian wine tour

What if one day we would want to go on a wine tour through a European country that was small both in size and in wine production? A place that was yet-to-be-discovered, but which at the same time excellent wines were elaborated? A good choice for this would be Slovenia.

The first thing would be to choose our destination airport. Another good thing about Venice is its airport, that for such a small town is served by a large number of airlines that come from almost anywhere in the world. Once there, the only thing left to do is rent a car and go to neighboring Slovenia. Our destination is just an hour and a half from the airport, following the A4 motorway in the direction of Trieste. Other arrival possibilities are the airport of Trieste or the farthest one of Ljubljana, although Venice is the one that enjoys better connections (and better prices as well).

During our trip we will spend a few days in one of the four wine regions of this small country with just over two million inhabitants sharing borders with Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia. Though it is not widely known, Slovenia has a great wine tradition with a number of wineries exporting their wines all over the world.

Primorska is the easternmost Denomination of Origin and it is divided into four areas: Vipavska Dolina (Vipava river valley), Kras, Slovenska Istra and Goriška Brda. It is the latter one where we will enjoy its wines and people. The center of this area is Nova Gorica, a city that on the map looks more like a neighborhood of the Italian Gorizia, since between them there is no division, with the Italian part being the largest. You can go changing countries from one street to the next one without even realizing it.

For our stay, we will choose three wineries that also have a bed and breakfast, which will make moving around the area much easier. An area that occupies just 20 square kilometers and where the longest travel distance for us will be around 10 kilometers.

Exiting the highway in Villesse, the evening falls over the horizon. Three kilometers after crossing the geographical border between Italy and Slovenia, there is only one small abandoned building that once served as a border post. There we find Kozana, which more than a village, is a small group of houses surrounded by vineyards. The road crosses vineyards where we see different ways of working the vines: trellis, simple guyot, double guyot… Passing a gas station (it should be noted that whenever we need to refuel, it is better to do it in Slovenia and not in Italy, where gasoline is of average about 30 cents per liter more expensive) we have the detour that takes us to Guest House Kabaj Morel, owned by Katja Kabaj and Jean Michel Morel. Married to Katja many years ago, Jean Michel is one of those extremely charismatic French winemakers whose wine origins we have to look for in Bordeaux and Languedoc Roussillon. After their marriage, they decided to take care of the cellar of her family and then they added the bed and breakfast. Besides wine, they also make their own prosciutto. Jean is one of the few winemakers in Slovenia who uses the Kartuli method to make one of his wines. This method involves burying large terracotta amphorae, which Jean brought from Georgia, to age the wine. In them he elaborates a blend of Malvasia, Rebula and Sauvignon. Once deposited into the amphora along with the skins, the must rests until the next vintage is ready to begin the same process. Then Jean empties the amphorae and passes the wine to oak barrels, where it remains other year. After bottling, the wine ages another year before going on the market.

Jean works mostly with white varieties that he macerates on the skins: Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Rebula, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Friulano and Malvasia. The Merlot is the red that Jean elaborates the most, and he also makes a few bottles of a pretty good Pinot Noir.

The village is very quiet, without sounds other than those of nature, and the house is fully surrounded by vineyards that you can see from your window. Sleeping here is very pleasant and the copious breakfasts Katja prepares for you make you get ready to enjoy the new day.

Jean is an excellent host and always delights visitors with a glass of wine in their hands, and Katja shows off her hospitality and kindness at the slightest opportunity. And the best thing is that in order not to have to move after visiting the winery, we can eat in their restaurant where they also offer their wines by the glass.

In the afternoon, after having rested the meal and planned our next few days, we will make a small ride of four kilometers. Being winter, the sun is slowly hiding behind a small hill partially covered by broken clouds on a February afternoon. Medana is a town located in a place destined to vineyards and the elaboration of great wines. Behind them, less than an hour away, they have the protection of the Pre-Julian Alps that prevents the cold north currents from reaching here. In front, less than 25 kilometers away, is the Adriatic Sea, which offers its sea breeze. And occasionally, the Burja (Bora for their Italian neighbors), a wind that comes from the northeast that blows hard (in many occasions with gusts exceeding 200 km/h) that keeps humidity away from the vineyards. The other important characteristic of this area is the soil. Vineyards settle on marl and sandstone originated in the Eocene rich in marine sediments. His name is Opoka (Ponca in Italian, Flysch in Friulano), and we can find many labels of the wines of the area that include both its name and its style.

Medana is also one of the main villages in Slovenia for the production of wine. In 1787, during the reign of Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Empress and wife of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Francis I, a classification was created to establish the best places for winemaking. In a range from I to VIIII, Medana was classified as I, equivalent to a Grand Cru.

It is in this village located next to the Italian border where we will find our next accommodation: Klinec Inn: cellar, bed and breakfast and restaurant, all in one. The first thing we will do is go to the terrace, because though it’s winter, the afternoon is nice and the sunset well deserves it. The day has been sunny and warm, unlike the previous day when it snowed and rained, so being on the terrace is a pleasure that we can afford. At our table, a glass of Rebula 2014 from Klinec, a great white wine macerated on the skins, and the remains of a plate of prosciutto (also homemade) and cheese. In the restaurant of Klinec Inn, the family of Simona and Aleks Klinec continues its celebration, which I guess has started before lunch and will continue well past midnight. Medana does not even reach a hundred houses and already has a dozen wineries inside the city limits.

Our glass of Rebula 2014 is a wonderful example of the wines we find in both Goriška Brda as in Klinec. For the most part, about 75%, are white wines made with local varieties Rebula (Ribolla Gialla) and Friulano, and then Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Malvasia, Chardonnay and Sauvignon of the foreign varieties. Many producers use maceration on the skins in the vinification of their wines, because traditionally it was the way families had to preserve their wines for consumption. When Slovenia was part of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, the means to acquire chemical products to protect wines and vineyards were scarce, so the development of organic and natural wines was the norm. And this is still the case today, with wines whose period of contact with the skins extends from a few days for varieties such as Pinot Grigio until two or three months of the Rebula, a variety whose thickness is ideal for long macerations.

The wines elaborated with red varieties are almost always single varietal Merlot. Occasionally we find some Cabernet Sauvignon and the no longer common Cabernet Franc, but the normal thing is that these varieties only participate in some other wine in small percentages. The background of Aleks’ wine labels shows the document of the aforementioned wine classification.

The winery well deserves the visit and tasting of their wines. So elegant and beautifully crafted wines that will delight those who enjoy them.

Here at Klinec Inn we will stay a couple of days, since the next two wineries we will visit are just within walking distance.

After a fantastic breakfast at the Klinec’s and having recovered our strength (well, tasting wine does not finishes our energy, but you know what I mean), it is a good time to take a short walk through Medana. Of course, we must be careful not to leave the town, which is not too big and before you know it, it is well behind you. Then, we will head south, where 600 meters past our accommodation, on the road that leads to Cegla in Italy, there is a sign indicating that we are in another town, Ceglo (called almost like its neighbor), although it is more a thing of public administration that of physical limits, since they are not old-style towns. Actually, both Medana and Ceglo belong administratively to a larger town: Dobrovo V Brdih.

Our first destination today is Movia Wines. This is the realm of who probably is the country’s most media recognized winemaker: Aleš Kristančič, at the helms of a large family-owned winery since 1820 and dedicated to making out-of-the-ordinary wines. Together with his wife Vesna, Aleš is one of the winemakers who make more bottles and labels in the country, and he is especially known, in my opinion, for three of its wines, two of them sparkling: Rebula-based Puro, and Pinot-Noir-based Puro Rosé. Both are marketed without disgorging because, according to Aleš, in this way the wine can live up to 100 years. The third wine is Lunar, a very special Orange wine made with Rebula and/or Chardonnay, depending on the vintages, which will be macerated on the skins for about eight months and bottled without filtering or decanting. The wine is cloudy, which is what Aleš is looking for. Both their website and others sites offer videos of how to decant Lunar and how to do to test decanting half the bottle and leaving the other half with the sediments to see the differences between them. It is highly recommended because it gives the feeling of trying two different wines. And we cannot forget its spectacular Rebula, but I said that I would only mention three wines…

In the same cellar we can have lunch in its restaurant accompanied by his wines. The food is very well prepared. And of course, the vineyard views from the terrace are spectacular and also very funny, since Movia vineyards are divided between Goriška Brda and the Collio italiano.

Another option to lunch or dinner is to go back to Medana, where we can find restaurant Belica, a good place to enjoy local food and local wines. This will allow us to do a siesta before our second visit of the day.

After lunch, either in Movia or in Belica, we will walk along the same road barely 100 meters to find opposite Movia another of the big Slovenian wineries. Marjan Simčič is one of those great winemakers who take full advantage of his vineyards. Vineyards that, like those of Movia, are spread between Italy and Slovenia. From the terrace of his winery, he tells us about a hut in his vineyard just fifty meters away, which is located in Italian territory. Marjan works the Rebula like nobody else and his Chardonnay is also something serious. Of its red wines, especially Merlot and Pinot Noir stand out. All of them, the ones we have tasted from the 2014 vintage, are very elegant, though it is a vintage that due to bad weather during harvest season does not have a good reputation. Even so, the wines of that year are great and have won several awards and mentions. The visit is very worthwhile since Marjan’s style is very personal, both in his wines and when guiding the visit through the winery. Both he and his wife Valerija are outstanding hosts that are really nice to meet, I must say.

After spending a more than pleasant time with Marjan, it is a good moment to call it a day and carefully plan the next one. Visiting these two wineries in one day gives us the opportunity to taste many wines, so we must be careful and above all moderate; we have a long journey ahead. Luckily, it is not necessary to travel much, since our next Destination is close.

The last stop and inn will be in a town about 10 kilometers far from Ceglo. In Kojsko we will find our final destination on this wine trip. Of all the winemakers we have visited so far, Janko Štekar is the most special one. He is a natural winemaker and he also owns along with wife Tamara a bed and breakfast. They elaborate their own prosciutto and oil, like many of his neighbors. Janko’s production is around 10,000 bottles a year coming from vineyards in front of his house. It is an area that requires a lot of work, with a ravine shape that in the past allowed the erosion by the rains to cause a lot of damage to the soil, with a loss of almost 15 centimeters per year. For that reason, Janko always leaves a green cover in his vineyards serving as protection. He works naturally, like many Goriška Brda producers, because that was how things were always done at home. Janko does not use oak but chestnut and acacia barrels. He is also man of much conversation. He sits with you during breakfast while he explains you about the origins of his country and his family. Tamara, Janko’s wife, is also an exceptional hostess.

We are in an area that has traditionally been changing hands depending on who won the wars. Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, Yugoslavia and finally Slovenia since the late 90s of the last century. It was a period in which borders were moving from one place to another. Janko tells that her grandfather was born Austrian, his father was born Italian, he was born Yugoslavian and his son was born Slovenian. And all of them were born in the same house, a house offering nowadays excellent wines, especially Chardonnay, Rebula and a fabulous Pinot Grigio that has a reddish color that you love. Janko only works with the Merlot for the red wines.

The three accommodations I have mentioned allow us to also visit other wineries that are not far away. In fact, all of them are within a radius of 10 or 15 kilometers, so it is always possible to make several visits in the same day. It must be said, though, that the Slovenians are very generous and kind during visits, so a good advice to follow is to visit no more than two wineries a day. You’ve been warned.

In that radius I mentioned we could visit Edi Simčič, Stemberger, Ščurek Wine, Matjaž Kramar and Jakončič Winery, all of them without leaving Goriška Brda. Passing Nova Gorica to the east we enter the Vipavska Dolina, where in less than 30 kilometers we find Kristina Mervič, Miha Batič, OUO, Mlecnik, Burja Estate, Guerilla and Kmetija Hedele, among others. Not all of them are orange winemakers, which will give some more balance to our findings.

It’s time to finish our first wine tour of Goriška Brda and start preparing the next one. It may be a good idea to rent bicycles to continue our tour of the wineries in the area. The roads do not have long slopes and the greatest distance we can travel is between Kabaj and Štekar.

Where to sleep

Šlovrenc 4, 5212 Kozana, Slovenia
+386 41 454 002

Medana 20, 5212 Dobrovo V Brdih, Slovenia
+386 40 663 322

Snežatno 31a, 5211 Kojsko, Slovenia
+386 40 221 413

Where to eat

Medana 32, 5212 Dobrovo V Brdih, Slovenia
+386 53 042 104

Where to taste

Ceglo 3b, 5212 Dobrovo v Brdih, Slovenia
+386 53 959 200

Ceglo 18, 5212 Dobrovo v Brdih, Slovenia
+386 59 930 930

Loxarel, natural wines in Penedès

Amazing. The truth is that little more can be said to express what I felt when visiting Loxarel, a winery located in the very heart of Penedès. They had a big advantage because I had previously enjoyed two of their wines that had enchanted me: A Pèl and A Pèl Ancestral. These are two wines whose label touch me deep inside. So before I even tasted the wines, they already had won my little heart. In spite of this, it was necessary to go to the winery and put on my serious face, so that they would have to make an effort during the visit. And saying they made an effort is a big understating, because if those two wines had already conquered me, Pep, Sergi and Josep Mitjans made their number one fan out of me.

Loxarel is a family winery. When you hear this ‘family winery’ thing, the first image coming to your mind is that of a small place, with a low production and a very limited number of bottles. This winery, being familiar as it is, does not respond to that premise. On the family side of Josep Mitjans’, they own 20 hectares of vineyards located in what we could call the low area of the Penedès, in Masia Can Mayol in Vilobí del Penedès, Barcelona. This farm belongs to the family of Josep for five generations. From the family side of Teresa Nin’s, Josep’s wife, they have added another 20 hectares of vineyards located somewhat further, and in an area reaching 800 meters above sea level. The union of the two families brings over 350,000 bottles per year split on around 25 labels. Something very interesting about this, though it is just a reflection of how viticulture works, is that from each area different wines come because each variety responds in different ways to different soils and climate conditions. The Syrah, for example, is much better in the upper part while the Xarel·lo offers better results in the lower side.

This article would be too long if we should talk about each of those 25 labels so we will review only a few wines and leave the rest for a later review. Though the visit was wonderful, we left on the table some wines I’m very curious about for another date, like their Merlot and some of the sparkling ones. Today we will talk about those wines that we as orange wines fans can enjoy with pleasure and satisfaction.

First of all, I must say that Loxarel practices organic and biodynamic viticulture. Their wines are not subjected to any clarification or filtration treatment nor are they added sulfur.

Loxarel makes a wonderful orange wine, the aforementioned A Pèl. Currently it is made with the Xarel·lo variety, though during my visit I had the opportunity to taste their excellent 2011, a phenomenal wine with a very peculiar orange pinkish color that had been elaborated with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We also tasted the 2016 and 2017 vintages, with a fermentation on the skins for 4 weeks in steel tanks. Afterwards, the wine rests in 720-liter clay amphorae for 3 months.

The clay amphorae are another of the peculiarities of this winery. They have several of them with a capacity of 720 and 1,000 liters manufactured in Extremadura. They also make OPS 2017, a Garnacha wine that we tasted directly from the amphora (ups, I think I should not have said this; Josep does not like it) that was very fresh and tremendously fruity, without the presence of earthy notes and really interesting. A wine that will surely be more enjoyable after bottling.

A Pèl Ancestral is a spectacular sparkling wine made with a single fermentation following the winemaking method that its name indicates (Pet Nat). The fermentation starts in 1,000-liter amphorae on the skins and finishes in the bottle. It’s the sparkling version of the A Pèl, and like this one, it’s incredible. It is marketed with cork and crown cap, following the most ancestral style.

XLV de Loxarel is a wine made with Xarel·lo Vermell, a recovered autochthonous variety of Penedès. The maceration of this wine is made with the whole berries for five months in amphora.

A Pèl Negre is another of their wines I had the pleasure of enjoying: A natural wine made with Garnacha and Merlot. Three months in 500-liter barrels and three months in 720-liter clay amphorae. The Garnacha vines are located over 500 meters of altitude while the Merlot vineyard is in Can Mayol, 250 above sea level.

In July 2014, 14 wineries integrated into the DO Cava decided to create a new classification, which they called Clàssic Penedès under which they elaborate cava following three main rules: Being 100% ecological, using traditional methods of cultivation and ecological techniques; that all the territory of the winery is inside the Penedès area; being 100% Reserve for what each wine should be aged for at least 15 months of aging at the cellar.

And speaking of cavas with longer aging times, the sparkling Loxarel star is called 109, not because of any numerology relationship, but because this cava has at least 109 months of ageing. It is a sparkling wine produced according to the Méthode Traditionnelle: 90% of Xarel·lo from the 2004 vintage (the last in the market) and tirage in February 2005. The wine is served with the original unlabeled bottle, cork stopper with staple and without degorging. Presence of the natural lees. A Brut Nature Gran Reserva, of which only 1,000 bottles have been produced in this 2004 vintage.

And the visit could go for much more, such as to have enjoyed the A Pèl Ancestral 2017 and Los Nous de +500 2010 in the middle of the vineyard, next to the exit of a refuge from the civil war in which the cavas are now housed, but that will be for another day.

Soon we will talk with Josep Mitjans about everything they do in the winery.

A conversation with Tommaso Colò about natural wines

One of the reasons to start writing this website was Orange wines. I’m in love with this style of making wine. The deeper I go tasting and discovering more Orange wines, the more I enjoy them. I have also developed a passion for natural and biodynamic wines, but far from being a natural-wine-only-consumer type, I like to find wines that make me enjoy. Not just because they are natural or not or because they are Orange or not. I can drink any style of wine, as long as it makes me enjoy. For me, that’s the key.

I also look at wines in the same way I look at books. I like author wines, and with this I mean wines I can find the person behind the label, a character, a way of making wine, a way of accompanying wine along its passage through life. I understand that there are wines for every people and every winelover can find the wine they love.

In my case, I normally enjoy more when I drink a wine of this or that winemaker. Not because I’m able to pinpoint the differences between the work of Rodri Méndez and José Luis Mateo (which I’m not) but because I like wines made with passion, with personality, and I think that when a wine company makes one million bottles of one particular wine, it is very difficult for that wine to show a character. Maybe I’m wrong but hey, I’m the owner of my mistakes too.

This approach to wine is growing in many countries. We can find in many wine shops and many restaurants wine lists wines made by independent producers who, in many cases, have a limited production. I like a lot to open a bottle of wine and knowing who is the producer, how they did make this wine, and in many occasions, knowing them personally. That way, I tend to enjoy more the wine. When I open a bottle made by Kristina Mervič, Aleks Klinec or Jean Michel Morel in Slovenia, Franco Sosol or Mario Zanusso in Italy, Orly Lumbreras, Rodri Méndez or Juan Piqueras in Spain, I really enjoy the experience. There are so many things in that bottle rather than just wine.

In Italy, for example, it is very easy to find wines according to who produced them. In this country there are so many winemakers who are producing wines with a distinct personality, wines that not only reflects the soil and the variety, but also a way of understanding winemaking. Recently we talked to Massimiliano Croci about the natural wine movement in Italy and today we will talk to another Italian who has a view from another side, not that of the producer, but from that of the wine seller.

Tommaso Colò is the owner of an Italian website devoted to natural wines. He has been discovering, tasting and selling wines for a long time and now he is working with so many interesting natural, organic and/or biodynamic producers that his views on this topic are well versed. Rolling Wine (www.rollingwine.com) is the name of his business. There, in the website, rather than the typical menu option saying Wineries there is one saying Producers. We will talk today with Tommaso about natural wines.

Buongiorno, Tommaso, and thank you very much for your time. How did you arrive to natural wines?

Hello Aitor and thank you for the chance to talk about wine! My passion for natural wine started a few years ago while I was visiting Tenute Dettori in Sardinia.

I was born in Florence and as a good Tuscan I grew up drinking wines manufactured by the great names of Tuscan enology: great Bolgheri and great Chianti (I’ll leave the actual names to your imagination). When I visited a winery in my spare time, I visited a factory, with a large infrastructure and advanced tech. I liked it, but it was too formal, too “perfect” to truly feel like something that I could belong to.

While I was in Sardinia for a holiday I had lunch at Dettori and Fabio D’Uffizi let us tour their winery I was amazed: a single, large room, no temperature control, concrete vats)… It was a brave new world for me! I felt like when I was 14 when I discovered Joy Division and The Cure!

Since then, I have been discovering the world of natural wine. I started going to specialized natural wine fairs and established direct contacts with some producers – amazing people who transmitted their ideas and philosophies when it comes to winemaking and grape framing.

As time passed, I realized how difficult it was to find these wines I liked so much in ‘classic’ wine cellars and from there I decided against all odds to start Rolling Wine.

Do you think natural wines are a passing trend or are they here to stay?

Definitely they are here to stay. It’s not going to be a fade if only because those who try them and understand them rarely go back. It’s a matter of taste, sure, but also a matter of ethics.

I know so many people, friends, sommeliers and restaurant owners who used to drink conventional wines and they are now discovering wines from small natural wineries. If a restaurant is looking to make the quality of their ingredients part of their identity, I think they are almost morally obligated to have natural wines on their menu – the alternative is nonsensical and against that very same philosophy.

Obviously we all need to do our best to communicate our passion and help customers understand our wines, since they can be somewhat inaccessible to the layman.

Italy is very rich now in the natural wine movement. How do you see its development?

Italy has a real shot at excellence and a great potential for growth. Each year we see new experiences pop up in every region – wineries doing great work and rediscovering the original grapevines native to their areas.

It’s important to note however that the rise of natural wines is not a phenomenon that is uniquely Italian: there are new natural wineries in Austria, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada, the US, Spain, France, Australia, Chile to say a few. The world of wine is constant evolution and our passion, our drive to improve our product and discover new ways of making wine will never stop!

Do you think we will see more natural wines than conventional wines in the future?

My hope is seeing more and more natural wines, in restaurants and homes alike, but it’s hard to deny that today the market share occupied by natural wine is still small (about 5%). Conventional wines still dominate the market and are still the most appreciated by the public at large. However, as time goes by, we are seeing more and more producers making better and better wine, so there is a very real chance that in a few years natural wines will be a much bigger slice of the winemaking pie and will be enjoyed by more and more people across the globe!

Do you have any particular favorite region in Italy?

It’s too hard to choose a specific region. I don’t care where a wine comes from as long as it tastes good and it’s made with care! The most exciting thing about what is happening is that there are regions that nobody was talking about in the context of wine production until a few years ago, but now are creating some real gems. Take Lazio, for example, a region that has shown us incredible growth in the last few years, carried by the fantastic work of Le Coste. Now we have rising stars like SETE and Il Vinco, which I am sure, are going to show us great things in the coming years.

You are also distributing a few Spanish producers. What do you look for in a producer for beginning doing business with?

I love Spanish wines! From the wines I am selling on Rolling Wine the only ones I already knew before I started are the ones from Fabio Bartolomei (Vinos Ambiz). I was recommended the other producers (Clot de les Soleres, La Gutina, Costador, Vinyes Singulars, Daniel Ramos) by a dear friend, Antonio Sicurezza, and I took advantage of their booths at Live Wine in Milan to taste all their wines. I was impressed by their superb quality. It was an awesome discovery and almost a year later I must say that Spanish wines have been selling well, even with my Italian customers.

What these Spanish producers bring to your portfolio so special?

These producers brought with them a lot of curiosity about Spanish grapes and production zones that were a novelty to many of my customers. This was my goal to begin with. Going back to what I was saying earlier, the starting point of this journey is always a desire for discovery – of a new area, of a new grape, of a new winery. These days, there is no place in the world that doesn’t have something to offer, it’s just a matter of finding it. From this point of view, Spain has a great heritage and many, many amazing wineries – all the more reason to make sure people learn to know them and want to drink them!

Any interesting producer in France?

The same goes for France. Lots and lots of great producers and a natural culture in constant expansion. France is another nation where some regions have been historically considered “minor” such as Languedoc, Rossillon and Savoie, but now those regions are producing wines of spectacular quality. Off the top of my head I can name Antony Tortul de La Sorga, Bruno Duchêne, Collectif Anonyme and Jean Yves Peron as some great winemakers. I am going to stop the list now, but I could keep going for a day if I wanted!

You also take part in a wine fair in Milano. Can you tell us something about this fair?

For the first time, this year I will be at LiveWine Milano on 3-4 March 2019. I’ll present some new producers and wines from winemakers not present at the fair! For me it’s a great satisfaction to be present at one of the most important wine fair in Europe!

Who will be your next important discovery?

The last few expos I attended I discovered two or three new producers that I find very very intriguing. I can’t say who right now but I am hoping to start working with them very soon.

Is there any country producing natural wines we still haven’t heard about?

As I was saying, there is a whole world ready to be discovered, from Spain to Australia!

Which wines do you like to drink? Just to enjoy, no work?

When I am home, drinking for my own enjoyment, I like to be daring and to be surprised. Lately, I am exploring the world of French natural wineries. What I am drinking exactly depends on what I am eating, my mood, and the music I choose as a background… My most common choices as of late are orange wines and easy to drink reds with low alcohol content.

Grazie mille, Tommaso!!

Grawü, wonderful natural wines under the Italian Dolomites

Small projects, family-operated projects, are those I really love. In them you can feel the passion and drive of the owners when you taste and enjoy their wines. When a winery produces 6,000 bottles per vintage, as Dominic and Leila do, and you drink a glass of their wine, it is almost as savoring a part of them, not only something they just produced but something they put their souls on.

Dominic and Leila run Grawü, whose name has been built with the first syllables of their last names: Dominic Würth and Leila Grasselli. Their winery is in the outskirts of Merano, a small village located up in the mountains of Alto Adige, in Italy. The area changed hands of Austria and Italy after each war, hence the cultural mix we find in this area, where some people have an Austrian background while others share an Italian one. Here you can ask for directions to villages and streets names known in either German or Italian languages.

They started their winemaking operation back in 2011. Two years later, they were producing around 800 bottles a year. Then in 2017, they rented a small winery and a small vineyard nearby Cermes and Naturno, where they have the capability of reaching the aforementioned 6,000 bottles per vintage. As they are still growing, taking small steps as they go, they mainly buy the grapes they need for their wines to three local growers in Trentino and South Tyrol.

Which grapes are those? They use Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and a new fungal disease resistant variety called Souvignier Gris.

One great thing about Grawü is that they are completely organic. They have a very simple approach to winemaking. As Dominic, says: “Selected grapes, no selected yeasts, no additives, no filtration and maximum of 50mg/l of sulfites. We love macerated white wines, so all our wines go through maceration. From three days to up to six months, then the wines are refined for a minimum of ten months in big acacia or oak barrels.

Nowadays they are producing five wines: Bianco is their outstanding white cuvee with a blend of Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Grigio. Three weeks of skin contact and an ageing period of two years in barrel and one year in the bottles make this wine a spiritual experience. 2015 is the vintage in the market currently. Gewürztraminer is a beast. Four weeks of skin contact and an ageing of 18-24 months. Their Chardonnay: is an incredible wine as well. Just a merely three days on the skins and then this wines stays one year in a big acacia botti. The Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, stays in Eslavonian oak barrels for a year after beong on the skins for just five days.

Dominic and Leila also rent a small vineyard in the Venosta valley that grows the Souvignier Gris variety, which is a fungi-resistant grape variety. The must goes on the skins for six months in oak barrels, and the year of ageing is divided into six months in an inox tank and another six months in the bottle.

Finally, the wild wine of Grawü. In 2016 Dominic and Leila decided to elaborate a fully natural wine, with no treatments in the vineyard and vinified without added sulfites (it only contains 3mg/l of total SO²). Skin contact for at least six months, then it is aged in used oak barrel and in stainless steel tank for six months. The name of this wine is Ambra. This was the first vintage they have produced this wine and it is really good. I’ve had the chance of tasting a bottle of Ambra 2016 and the Bianco 2015 and I instantly fell in love with them. Ambra has a lot of power and the raw appeal of a natural wine. Bianco goes under the same philosophy but it is so fine and elegant wine that makes you enjoy the entire bottle before you even realize how good it is. They certainly are two beautiful examples of how passionate winemaking is and how natural wines should be.

This is a great winery if you like to walk in the wild side of wine. If you prefer the safety of the everyday wines, those that year after year taste the same, maybe this is not for you. But if you want to be surprised, to be held by all of you when opening and enjoying a wine made with passion and soul, definitely these are wines you should try. Dominic will be at RAW London in March and he will open the doors of his winery for the non-faint of heart. Don’t let the chance pass by.

Soon we will talk to Dominic Würth about their wines and winemaking philosophy.

Kmetija Hedele, terroir expression in Slovenia

This article was supposed to be about Kmetija Hedele, a winery located at the very heart of the Vipava River Valley in Slovenia, the Vipaska Dolina DO. But soon enough it became a story about Andrea Pittana.

Andrea is an agronomist engineer who has devoted his life and work to his passion: wine. He is not only a business partner of Kmetija Hedele (Ales Pulc and Andrea Gheller being the other ones) but he also works as consultant for several wineries in the Collio area in Italy. A funny thing about his work comes around Orange wines. In a conversation with another winemaker from Vipavska Dolina, Andrea’s name came up and he said that he and Andrea were always arguing about natural wines and macerating wines on the skins. The other winemaker works this way whereas Andrea is against the way some producers nowadays justify some defects and non-positive sensorial characteristics on this style of producing wine. The funny thing is that Andrea is a consultant for some of the best Orange wine producers in Collio. Some of them are natural winemakers and with Andrea working with them we can be sure their wines are wonderful examples of what this style of wine should be.

Andrea is one of those winemakers who transpire his passion for his work. As soon as we met, we went straight to one vineyard part Chardonnay, part Sauvignon and he started explaining the soils, its effects in the aroma and flavors of the wines, the sun exposition, how they work on the field, why a training system is better than the other to one particular soil and variety, etc. He is a never-ending source of knowledge but at the same time he talks in a way you never get tired of listening.

Then we went to the church of Cerkev Marija Snežna (Saint Mary of the Snow), a small church on the top of a hill surrounded by vineyards. Here Andrea explained how we might distinct a soil of Terra Rossa, the characteristically soil in the Slovenian Kras and Italian Carso from the Flysch soil found in the Vipavska Dolina, the Ponca/Opoka we have talked about in previous articles. Simply by looking at the trees growing on each different soil could do this distinction.

After many years of being a consultant, Andrea started producing wine with his partner in Slovenia. 2011 was the first vintage that Kmetija Hedele brought to the market, a winery that produces only three white wines and no red wines, as for Andrea the Flysch soil is so great for white wines. They work with the Malvasia, the Chardonnay and the Sauvignon varieties producing single-variety wines. Andrea bears an attitude like in Burgundy as he says, ‘because of the attention that must be on the site of cultivation and the expression this can convey to the wine.’

 Andrea cut his professional teeth in this French region and because of this, Chardonnay is his true calling and his dream is to produce single-vineyard wines, rather than single-varietal ones. In Vipava Valley he is lucky to work in ‘a geology that gives a great terroir effect to the wine.’ I have the feeling that we will soon see this dreams coming true.

At the winery they vinify each plot on its own. They have a bit less than 10 hectares in total for a total number of 30.000 bottles. They are slowly adding several small plots to the winery to increase that number to 15 hectares. Each plot goes straight to oak barrels (obviously from France) after pressing for a period close to a year, then it stays another year in steel tanks and the final blend is done before bottling.

They work organically in all their vineyards and also they are very conscious about their carbon footprint. Because of this, instead of building a new winery they are utilizing small basements in different houses in the village of Gaberje. Here is where we tasted 2018 samples in barrels and 2017 samples in tanks. Then we opened a few bottles, including a really wonderful Malvazija 2011, their first vintage that was simply an outstanding wine.

And the visit was not over after tasting their wines, but we went to nearby Vipava village for a coffee. Then we went to the Vipava Valley Tourist Office where besides tourist information they have a room where you can taste different Vipavska Dolina wines. Amazing.

A wonderful discovery. Vipavska Dolina. Kmetija Hedele. Andrea Pittana. Soon we will talk to him about his Burgundian background and all he is doing in Italy and Slovenia.

The wines of Teo Legido

Visiting a winery is something that always takes time. Sometimes the winery is far away and it the visit takes almost a whole day, so you have to assess if it’s worth the trip. One of these cases, that of a winery that was rather quite far away, is the one that concerns us today. To go there, I not only had to assess the distance, but it was also part of a route in which going from point A to point C did not include to go through the winery. Point B was quite far from the planned route and implied quite a detour. Still, something told me that it would be worth visiting the winery, not only because I liked a lot the wine I had tasted, but because after talking on the phone with the owner there was something who told me the visit would definitely worth it.

Teo Legido (almost of the same age as me, which always helps) owns the winery bearing his name in Castellanos de Zapardiel. This sounds far away, and far away it is. This small mall village sits on the corner between the provinces of Ávila, Valladolid and Salamanca, provinces that are perfectly visible from its vineyard. There you can see vineyards of the DO Rueda, very large and overplanted, to the point that each year they add some 1,000 hectares of new vineyards. If we compare it with the amount of vineyard that there is currently in Priorat, which reaches scarcely 2,000 hectares in total, we see that there is a lot of new surface area added every year. During the drive you can also see the buildings of large business groups coming from other areas such as Rioja or Ribera de Duero.

But this is not what concerns us but Teo and his wines. Teo comes from the world of jewelry design and although the work of goldsmithing is also his passion, making wine comes from his family lineage, since in the outskirts of this small village of Avila is where his family has been producing wine for home for years. Nowadays Teo owns 1,5 hectares of vineyard plus another 0,5 that belongs to his cousin. His cousin’s vineyard name is El Rosal and it’s planted with Garnacha. His vineyard is called La Bovila and it has Tempranillo, Syrah and Verdejo. Teo works his vineyards organically. For this upcoming 2018 vintage, all his wines will include the organic label as his vineyards are now organically certified. He also follows biodynamic methods, though in this area there are very difficult things to do, like having farm animals. The depopulation attacked this region as well as the transformation of the crop, which went from grapes to cereals and there are hardly any vineyards or pasture animals. Therefore, Teo cannot produce his own fertilizer, among other things. The soil has a very dry layer, since the rainfall here does not reach 250 liters per year but curiously a few centimeters below its surface there is good humidity. And we can also find many stones.

Teo makes three wines with the grapes he collects, two reds and one white. The Verdejo is a very special wine. It is not produced in the mold of the Verdejos of the neighboring Rueda, but far from it. Teo works very well, with some velo de flor in some vintages that nobody would say that can develop in this area. It is a very nice wine in the mouth, with a very good body and structure, as well as a very pleasant acidity, which is not high. It has a bitter end that begs you to continue enjoying your glass. A wine that captivates you for its subtlety and makes you fall in love with it. And if you accompany it with a bit of cheese and ham from the area that Teo puts on the table, the experience becomes fantastic.

The two red wines bear the name of the vineyard. They are wines with body and power but luckily nothing woody. We tested 2015 and 20 16 in bottle and 2017 in barrel. In 2016, the Garnacha de El Rosal had been pressed with the scrapes while the 2016 grape of La Bovila It had been destemmed. Before trying them I thought that I would like more the destemmed pressed part than the other one , but that of the scrapes was frankly good and without astringency, but all the contrary, a wine with a very tasty complexity. Later, in this 2018 vintage, Teo is working all the wine without destemming.

The production of Teo Legido is very very very limited, so who wants to try their wines should hurry before they fly. The Verdejo is no longer there. In 2017 he made 1,200 bottles of the three wines and in this 2018 the amount will rise to 2,000 bottles.

After seeing the vineyards and tasting the wines it was already time for lunch, so armed with a little wine that we had reserved for the occasion, we went to Arévalo, a nearby town where there is a piglet temple, the Asador Las Cubas, where Teo and I (well, especially him) were received in style. It only took a bit of good suckling pig, a little salad and a little good dessert to accompany the wines and enjoy an excellent meal. The three wines were first with food.

Resuming my trip later, I was thinking that every kilometer made of more had been worthwhile to meet Teo Legido . I liked the wines very much, but the opportunity to spend some time like the one we had is worth everything. People like Teo give meaning to the world of wine.

Soon we will talk with Teo Legido about his vitivinicultural philosophy.

Este sitio web utiliza cookies para que usted tenga la mejor experiencia de usuario. Si continúa navegando está dando su consentimiento para la aceptación de las mencionadas cookies y la aceptación de nuestra política de cookies, pinche el enlace para mayor información.plugin cookies

Aviso de cookies