Saturday Afternoon Tasting 2-5 PM
Please join us for a tasting with colleague and friend Mark Lindzy, of importer Jose Pastor Selections. Jose Pastor carefully sources and thoughtfully supports pioneering, grower-produced Iberian wines. We are so fortunate to have this diverse and delicious crew of wines available to us in Chicago.
Suriol, El Bosc, 2012
It’s a family affair at Cellers de Can Suriol, an estate that manages to embody tradition while producing some of the most delicious Cavas and still wines as naturally as possible. “Naturally” in this case means working only with their collita propia (own vineyards) and certified organic grapes, no added commercial yeasts or enzymes, very little sulfur additions, and no dosage, or sugar addition, at bottling of their Cavas. In short, Suriol is the real deal.
The Suriol family has lived and made wine in the same masia, the Castell de Grabuac, in Font-Rubí, Penedés, since the 15th century. Their 25 hectares of vineyards are divided up into 20 different microplots and surround the masia. Located in the Alt Penedés, the higher elevation winegrowing area of the region, the Suriol vineyards are planted at 250 to 350 meters altitude on "heavy limestone" clay-calcareous soils. The family works with the native grapes Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarlel-lo to produce the Cavas and blancos, and Ull de Llebre (the local clone of Tempranillo), Cariñena, Garnacha, and Sumoll for the tintos and rosats. H
aving always been farmers of a variety of crops, not just grapes, it was in the early 1900’s, after phylloxera and civil war that the Suriol’s focused their efforts exclusively on grape growing. Originally, the family made wine for themselves and to sell to local tavernas.
It was not until 1985 that, under the leadership of the patriarch Francesc, the family started working seriously to produce Cava and bottling their own sparkling wines. Their vineyards have been always worked organically, with certification arriving in 1998.
The Suriol’s are located in the middle portion of Alt Penedés, which is the sweet spot for Xarel-lo, with Macabeo excelling at the lower elevations and Parellada at the higher elevations.
In the Celler, the lively and passionate son Assís Suriol is in in charge of the winemaking. All the wines are fermented –by parcel- with wild yeasts in stainless steel vats. The fermented wine is racked to underground concrete tanks where the malolactic fermentation occurs over the winter without added bacteria. This allows the must to stabilize and clarify naturally. The Cavas rest on the fine lees until sale. In some cases, the wine can spend as much as ten years or more on the lees for the Gran Reserva wines.
All of Suriol’s work in the vineyard and in the cellar equate to remarkable expressions of their place and their family’s long history of winegrowing. These are true Vins Catalans with heart and soul.
All Suriol Cavas are brut nature and vintage dated, and raised on the lees in bottle until order, with the disgorgement date noted on the back label. Fruit for El Bosc comes from a single eponymous parcel of Xarel-lo vines planted in 1989.
The wine was fermented with wild yeasts in steel vats, racked by gravity to underground concrete tanks for malolactic fermentation over the winter, raised in chestnut barrels for 4 months, then bottle aged for a minimum of 15 months, although 25-40 months is typically where they find the fruity and yeasty/toasty flavors are in perfect balance. This is a powerful and complex Cava with flavors of brioche, hazelnuts, honey, herbs, and chalk.
Luis A. Rodriguez, Escolma blanco, 2012
Luis Rodriguez has been quietly crafting remarkable Ribeiro wines since 1988. From the beginning, Luis’s aim has been to showcase the enormous potential for the once nearly extinct native grapes to produce distinctive and age-worthy wines.
The Ribeiro wine region was once world-renowned. During the 16th and 17th centuries the wines were heavily traded on the Atlantic, most notably England was a big customer. The traditional wine of the area was called Vino Tostado, made from grapes hung to dry in the sun, not so dissimilar to Italy’s Amarone. Successive disasters profoundly affected the region’s wines, including war with England, oidium, mildew, phyloxera, and then civil war. Ribeiro descended into an area responsible for primarily bulk wine production.
As of late, with the help of colleteiros like Luis, there has been a movement towards producing wines that are more reflective of the unique Ribeiro terruño.
As a passionate son of Ribeiro, Luis Rodriguez is one of the most knowledgeable winegrowers that we have come in touch with in Galicia. He studied enology and philosophy in Madrid, took the time to visit many of Europe’s great wine regions, and even served as the president of the Ribeiro D.O. for many years. Over time, Luis has accumulated just over 5 hectares scattered over nearly 100 micro-plots primarily located in the town of Arnoia, a village with some of the steepest south-facing vineyards in Ribeiro. Here the soils are decomposed granite with sandy topsoil. Luis’s vines range from 10 to 50 years old, with many of them being planted by Luis himself.
The tiny adega that Luis works in was built by his grandfather and is called Viña de Martín, named after the first vineyard that he took over from his uncle Martín. Luís works with a mixture of temperature-controlled equipment and a variety of sizes of oak barrels, with a small amount of new barrels reserved for the top Escolma wines that are only made in certain vintages. All fermentations are carried out with native yeasts.
With all of Luis’s work, the most striking thing about him is how humble he is, his face blushing at the mere mention of praise. If you are in Galicia, it is worth paying him a visit. He makes fantastic homemade embutidos and chorizos, and distills his own spirits as a hobby. He also keeps good stock of back vintages of his wines, which just show how remarkable these wines are as they age. It is time for the world to notice that fine Ribeiro wine prevails.
From the lowest yielding old vines, comprised of mostly Treixadura, planted on steep granite hillsides. Escolma means “selection” in Gallego. This top cuvée is only produced in excellent vintages, it was wild yeast fermented in a variety of sizes of French oak barrels, raised on the lees for 12 months, and further aged in the bottle for 36 months. Escolma is a very complex and age-worthy medium-bodied vinho branco with a lovely balance between structured, lush quince fruit, and vivid mineral flavors. A noble wine to pair with lobster, crab, rich sauces, game, and pork dishes. 880 – 6 packs produced
Guimaro, Tinto, 2014
Cultivated since Roman times, Ribeira Sacra’s steep terraced vineyards are some of the most picturesque and treacherous to work in the world of wine - think Douro, Cote Rotie, or Mosel. Like those most dramatic terruños, winegrowing here is not for the faint of heart; it takes spirited determination, unwieldy optimism, a sense of tradition, and a willingness to collaborate. All of these qualities are embodied by the young Pedro Rodríguez of Guímaro, our colleteiro in Ribeira Sacra.
Pedro descends from a long line of colleteiros working in the Amandi area, Ribeira Sacra’s most prime subzone with south facing vineyards planted on slate, called Losa locally, just above the river Sil. His parents Manolo and Carmen still work the vineyards daily. They also maintain a small finca of mixed agriculture, very common in Galicia, raising chickens, rabbits, pigs, and cultivating a sizable vegetable patch. The culmination of the family’s agrarian traditions manifested with the establishment of their adega, or winery, in 1991.
Before 1991, Pedro’s family produced small quantities of wine for their own consumption and sold their wine in garrafones -20 liter glass containers- to local cantinas. It was an enologist from León and soon to be a close family friend, Luis Buitrón, who was instrumental in the creation of the Ribeira Sacra D.O. and helped the Rodríguez family begin estate-bottling their wines. They named their winery Guímaro, which means “rebel” in Gallego, a nickname of Pedro’s grandfather. Guímaro was one of the first adegas to join the appellation in 1996.
In the beginning the wines were simple jovenes, young wines that showed the slate-infused freshness of lush red fruit and supple texture, the kind of wines the area of Amandi was known for. They continue that tradition with their un-oaked Tinto, an amazing value year in and year out.
In the early 2000’s Luis Buitrón introduced Pedro -who by then was in charge of his family estate- to the great winemaker Raúl Pérez of Bierzo. Raúl helped Pedro see the potential of his old vine holdings to produce profoundly expressive and age-worthy single plot wines. This led to significant improvements in the vineyard, such as reducing yields of the commonly over-cropped Mencía grape, eliminating chemicals in the vineyards, and paying attention to the different plots’ expositions, which greatly helps to preserve natural acidity in the grapes.
Old-fashioned winemaking methods were reclaimed as well: wild yeast fermentation, foot treading in open-top vessels, raspón (stems) inclusion, working with low sulfur, and aging in used barrels. This approach gives us Finca Meixemán, Finca Capeliños, and the new Finca Pombeiras, some of the most distinctive and age-worthy wines being produced today on the “Sacred Banks”.
Never resting on his laurels, Pedro is leading his estate to organic certification. He has undertaken a massive project of planting heirloom grape varieties at the highest elevations in Amandi. Grapes like Caiño, Merenzao (Trousseau), Souson, Albariño and Treixadura will soon be part of Pedro's never-ending search for authenticity in his native land. With this ever-evolving approach, no doubt, the future is looking bright at Guímaro.
rom multiple plots of Mencía vines with an average age of 40 years old, located in and around Amandi. The un-oaked tinto is all about immediate pleasure with pure, lush red fruits, spices, and slate-laden minerality.
Goyo Garcia, Cobero Tinto, 2012
Goyo comes from one of the most respected winemaking families in the Ribera del Duero. Greatly inspired by natural winemakers, like Pierre Overnoy from the Jura, Goyo started to produce his own naturally made wines in 2003.
He farms 3 tiny single-plots in the heart of Ribera del Duero, near the town of Roa, all of them interplanted with white grapes, on different soil types and altitudes. The idea is to come back to the past and let the vineyard –rather than each individual grape variety– fully express itself. To accomplish that he works with very old, traditionally head-pruned vines, harvests first for acidity, and then co-ferments red with white grapes together, as things were done in Ribera del Duero back in the good old days.
All of his wines are de-stemmed, fermented exclusively with wild yeast, and nothing is added during elevagé (including SO2). The wines are raised in old French barrels at an underground, century-old cueva located in Gumiel del Mercado.
Goyo also makes wine in Cantabria, the region where his mother comes from, high up in the Picos de Europa mountain range, where there is a little known out-cropping of old vine Mencia and Palomino planted on pure broken slate.
This unusual red wine is comprised of 80% Mencía and 20% Palomino, a vineyard mix often-times found in the Cantabria region in northern Spain. The vines are at least 80 years old and are planted on broken slate soils. The wine was co-fermented, red and white grapes, with wild yeasts in steel vats, and then raised for 12 months in old French oak barrels without any SO2, yielding an aromatic wine, red in color, with formidable structure, like Morgon meets Barolo. Cobero Tinto pairs well with game, fowl, richer seafood, like Tuna and Swordfish, and even heartier grilled meats.
This week's writing came from JPS. This is a terrific site, please check it out!
As always, if you can't make it to the tasting but would like to order one of the featured wines, please let us know by replying to this email or calling the store directly at 773-486-4769.
We hope to see you soon!