Having been in Spain for almost a year we are so excited to finally have our first shipments from Catalonia arriving! With more to come, our first three projects are an amazing introduction to natural winemaking in Penedès from a team of producers with very different backgrounds.
The wines we're bringing in are from Els Vinyerons, Project SIN, and Amós Bañeres and we'll talk about each individually, but first, let's talk about Penedès!
When people think of Penedès winemaking they generally think of Cava, but that's not the only great thing coming out of the region, with beautiful reds, still whites and oranges from the traditional grapes of the region.
This region goes WAY back in winemaking, dating to finding Phoenician Chardonnay vines during the 6th century B.C. and is thought to have been a major export during the Middle Ages. After the phylloxera plague the region changed dramatically and actually led to the shift or producing sparkling wine and creating the designation for Cava.
If we go back even further we get a great view of the soil quality here, as during the dinosaur times much of this land was underwater. This has led to some significant deposits of limestone fossils that create wonderful minerality in the wines.
Being located next to the ocean gives Penedès a largely Mediterranean climate alongside multiple micro-climates. Vines grow anywhere from sea level up to around 800m and generally sees more rainfall than most wine regions in Spain (aside from Riax Biaxes!) These pictures give great examples of the soil and climate variation only within a few kilometers of each other.
The first is a lush green vineyard for some of Amos's orange wines.
The second is one of the fossil-filled Els Vinyerons Xarel-lo vineyard!
Now that we have some background on the region, let's talk about the producers and the wines themselves! We heard about Els Vinyerons before we moved to Spain and stumbled upon them for the first time at Bar Brutal with their white Xarel-lo wine. Thinking it was delicious and a price performer, I decided we had to find these guys and get some of their wines!
For general context before we go into each project, all three are led by two winemakers, Alex and Amos. Alex's family owns a large Cava house that makes conventional wine and after meeting Amos, a natural winemaker making beautiful orange wines and other ancient method wines, they decided to collaborate to make projects that would create natural wines at a price point where people who would not usually drink natural wine would give it a try!
As mentioned above, Els Vinyerons is the first brainchild of Alex and Amos with a white, red and Cava natural wine creating very classic examples of Tempranillo and Xare-lo. When we talked with Alex while touring the vineyards he discussed wanting these wines to bridge the gap between people who were afraid of funky natural wines and created them as a bridge for people to take a chance on a clean made wine that would give them a delicious and easy introduction to natural wines. The wines are all also named in Catalan after bugs found in the vineyard.
Here's an intro into the wines we have from them:
Meaning grasshopper in Catalan. Pale red, a bit cloudy, with a spicy, nutty, red berry fruit, soft, gentle, with a touch of fruit sweetness and earthiness at the same time. Fine tannins, refreshing, easy drinking. 10% of the previous year’s harvest is added after spending a year in old French oak 300L barrels to add a little spicy complexity.
Meaning praying mantis in Catalan. Ancestral method, delicious Cava, getting the maximum expression out of the Xarel·lo variety. First in stainless steel tanks and the end of the fermentation takes place in the bottle itself on its fine lees for 18 months.
Meaning firefly in Catalan. Lovely vegetal cool to support the typical creamy, orange, fruit, with a great finish, sappy, juicy, digestible, clean and a touch of spice. 10% of the previous year’s harvest is added after spending a year in old French oak 300L barrels to add a little spicy complexity.
Bañeres has been making his own wines for some time before teaming up with Alex. He is very committed to preserving the environment and uses many traditional winemaking methods from the region that have long gone out of style, like boiling to make sweet wines. He has some incredibly special and historic plots and we were only able to get 3 of the wines he produced in this round, but plan to get new ones soon!
Powerful Xarel.lo with very well integrated skin contact. Coming from hill with limestone, calcareous clay and sand soils. One week of skin contact during the fermentation with wild yeasts and fermentation and aging for 16 months in barrel.
Missatge em una Ampolla
Elegant, very expressive orange wine with great minerality and a full body. Subtle but intense fruit within a silky structure. Revitalizing pear and lemon fruit character. Ripe and savory, it’s a very sensuous wine.
Made in the traditional way of 'boiled wine' in Penedes. The grape must is boiled down until it's concentrated with a high acidity and sugar left. Then mixed with some of the juice from Missatge and fermented slowly again for a year. A very special, expressive sweet wine, with a great minerality, fruit, acidity and a full body.
The latest project from Alex and Amos is called SIN, meaning without in Spanish, as they don't add anything to these wines. All are more glou glou style than the Els Vinyerons wines and are made to be drank quickly with a slight chill for the red even! We love these wines because they are fresh takes on Tempranillo, Xarel-lo and Cava.
A gentle wine with fine, refreshing acidity and vegetal, grassy finish to the pure cool, creamy citrus and stone fruit character. Very light, easy drinking by itself or with lighter pairings like fish, salads, or sandwiches!
Pale in color, clean and refreshing, light and pure with lively red berry and cherry fruit character, with silky tannins. From pure limestone soils and with a maceration of just two days, this is as simply made as possible to yield a very soft, silky, pure, light red wine.
Beautifully balanced, with a touch of fruit sweetness, saline mineral spice, notes of honey, orange and peach, and a fine persistent fizz. It’s bottled with 21g residual sugar and the ferment continues in bottle. Sulfites are not added at any stage of the process. About 2g residual sugar remain.
We are so excited for you to try these wines and have already ordered more, as we know it will sell out quickly! If you are wanting to try the orange wines, you'll need to join the wine club as the allocation is only enough for the club members to receive them! These are also the first bottles we have in the US with the new logos of MYSA, 1% for the Planet and the Carbon Fund so we are ecstatic to continue offsetting the carbon footprint of all our wine deliveries.
Let us know what you think of these wines!