by Richard Harvey
Spain still continues to fox us all with a seemingly endless parade of unique grape varieties, wine styles, and regions. This is no complaint or protest however- I say bring it on! Discovery, mystery and pleasure...are you for or against?
A trip in Fall 2017 and a crisscross of the Iberian peninsula was a voyage that offered us up a rich bounty of brand new wines to share with you. And it might have been coincidence but all the talk everywhere I went in the northern regions of Galicia, Penedes and Somontano was of witches and magic, so perhaps my comments are coloured by visions of flavour and flavours of visions?
The entrancement started with the first three wines from Viñedos Singulares. These wines are selections made by a pair of brothers from Barcelona who’ve chosen wines from various quality areas with which to beguile their hip, sophisticated Catalan customers. For starters, it’s all pagan dancing from the NW region of Rias Baixas, from whence comes a delightful bouncy example of the Albariño grape. Luna Creciente (Crescent Moon) is her name and all you need to supply are the grilled prawns to enhance the fresh dryness of this maritime white. Delicious during all phases of the moon...
On the turf side of life, there’s a warm wool blanket of a ripe Garnatxa from Catalonia’s Montsant region. El Venïat (The Community”) can be found stoking a wood-fired oven where a couple of legs of lamb will soon be set to roast, then settles you in a large comfy chair as this generous wine cloaks you in satisfying opulence.
But wait! The Bishop has come to call, and he’s more keen on a bit of discipline (and perhaps naturally less pagan), so shares his Corral de Obispo (The Bishop’s Farmyard) made from the Mencia grape’s homeland, the Bierzo region. More severe with a bit of strict tannins, but also a lively wit, the Bishop might have had just enough to drink for a man of his station...
Then if we now climb the Catalan hills of the Alt Penedès, we find at the proverbial wide-spot-in-the road, Heretat Montrubi. Up in these hills, things can be both simple and complex. I wandered the streets of a small village seemingly replete with artists yet lacking in street lamps as my group of mysterious new friends toured art installations in old paper mills and abandoned ATM storefronts filled with imagination and creativity.
Montrubi’s no-BS “White” is 100% of the Xarel-lo grape and replicates the sensation of walking on cold flagstones on a hot summer’s day, while “Black” is a Garnatxa that speaks of the first plums of summer, begging to be picked and torn apart with hungry zeal.
The Montrubi winery is also a story of an obsession. The focus is on the rare, indigenous grape of Sumoll. A finicky grape variety, pale in colour but with haunting red fruit aromas, the Sumoll “Radical” will lead you off into the depths of the forest and have its way with you...and you’ll like it. It’s wine sibling, the Finca Durona, is single vineyard combination of Sumoll, Garnatxa and Carignan (aka Samso) that will come in to rescue you with seemingly gentler intentions, but you’ll still be late for your breakfast appointment in the morning...
Soon to arrive, wines of Somontano (the third region mentioned above) have no lack either of bewitching wines that will make their appearance in the shop. Cool climate Grenache, a unique grape called Moristel and a white wine of a most surprising union all await discovery.
Spain will call you back, over and over again...not a curse, a blessing!!
Luna Creciente Albariño $25
El Veïnat Garnatxa $25
El Corral del Obispo Mencia $25
Montrubi “White” Xarel-xo $27
Montrubi “Black” Garnatxa $27
Montrubi Gaintus “Radical” Sumoll $32
Montrubi Finca Durona $32