• *New Cuvées Heaven Sent:  Nanclares Rias Baixas Albarinño

    *New Cuvées Heaven Sent: Nanclares Rias Baixas Albarinño

    Last week's Alberto Nanclares offer sold out quickly. Today I'm happy to announce two of Nanclares' top cuvées that have just arrived, as well as the very last bottles in California of the previously sold out Soverribas and "Nanclares". Quantities are again very limited.

    After weeks on the road covering nearly every corner of Spain I walked away with a lot of epiphany moments. But, none surpassed the thrill I had during my introduction to Alberto Nanclares. His traditional pergola-trained Albariños from Cambados, the seaside village with vines just meters from the Atlantic, marked a massive shift in my understanding on what descriptors like crystalline and acid-driven can truly mean in the context of a Spanish white wine.

    Today, I'm happy to offer Alberto Nanclares 2017 Pajare Mina and A Graña Rias Baixas Albariño.

    Paraje Mina is a west-facing single vineyard planted on sandy soils over granite. Fermented in a 
    1,000-liter steel tank and one 500-liter and 450-liter used French oak barrel, which saw weekly battonage for the first 2 months. Less than 2,500 bottles produced. The west exposure here gives a full bodied expression of sun-drenched Albariño with neutral wood and stainless steel providing ample cut and tension. 

    A Graña is a north-east facing single vineyard also on sandy soils over granite. Aged in a new 800-liter chestnut cask and a 200-liter steel tank. Weekly battonage for the first 3 months. Among the most acid-driven Albariños in all of Rias Baixas, one that incorporated new oak elements of the chestnut cask to soften the texture a touch with more oxygen exchange during élevage. Only 1,212 bottles produced.

    Tempus Vivendi may lead you to believe this is truly an entry-level wine with its humble $29 price tag, but nothing could be further from the truth. Among the greatest value whites in the world, this Albariño is dramatic in its complexity and precision. Sourced from 6 parcels in the parroquias (or parishes) of Vilalonga, Noalla and Dorrón close to the municipality of Sanxenxo along the Atlantic coast. Aged exclusively in stainless steel.

    On the re-loaded "Nanclares" and Soverribas:
    Drinking these two cuvées multiple times abroad, I'd be remiss if I didn't share two familiar wines that share a common thread to help give some context. "Nanclares" is to Roulot's village Meursault, as "Soverribas" is to Dauvissat's Chablis Premier Cru La Forest. If you, like me, put those two iconic wines at the top of your wish list, you will be pleasantly surprised in what you'll find from this master of natural winemaking in the most historic and traditional village of Rias Baixas.

    Like Roulot's Meursault, "Nanclares" wows the senses with that unmistakable mineral spring-like purity and acid-driven frame that just levitates on the palate. This parcel of granite bedrock with sandy topsoil captures the very most ocean-influenced personality of Albariño, with white peach and white flowers melding with faint almond notes on the finish. Aging in a combination of older French tina barrels and stainless steel. 

    As in the case of Dauvissat's La Forest, there's an element of clay in the soil here (mixed with decomposed granite) that gives "Soverribas" more texture and breadth on the palate. This single parcel, 
    Paraje Manzaniña, is a powerful and saturating style of Albariño, however, its profile is still very much founded upon a fresh streak and salty, long finish. The peach profile is a touch more forward and that almond note carries more of a marzipan quality on the mid-palate. *Decanting is recommended to allow its layers of complexity to unravel. Aged for an extended period on its fine lees in 10-yr-old, 2,200-liter tina. The owl on the label is an ode to the Mochuelot (pictured below) that is commonly found in and around this vineyard.

    Legendary Spanish importer, José Pastor has been the gateway to so many new Spanish discoveries (Envínate, Luis Rodriguez, to name a couple). Nanclares reflects the philosophy in the vines and the cellar that Pastor has used as his foundation in building such a critical and impressive portfolio of ultra-attentive, thoughtful growers-producers

    In 1992, Alberto Nanclares and his wife chose to leave their native Basque country and settle in this extreme Atlantic Ocean setting in the beautifully green and lush northwest Galicia region. Organic viticulture is no easy task in Rias Baixas, as the high humidity and constant rainfall have meant conventional farming with chemicals and extremely high yields is the overwhelming norm. There was a gradual shift over the years for Nanclares to get his parcels farmed the right way, through painstaking labor. 

    It's wines like these that serve as great reminders that when focus is placed squarely on quality and the most natural viticulture/winemaking the results can ultimately be game-changers for regions steeped in such history like Rias Baixas. Among all the wines I drank through the summer in Spain, there is none that I personally have reached for with more regularity since returning as those from Alberto Nanclares.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Ultimate Ambassador of Piedmont: G.D. Vajra

    Ultimate Ambassador of Piedmont: G.D. Vajra

    The wines of G.D. Vajra stole my attention when I was living in Burgundy, but a subsequent visit in Italy put the whole picture in to context: These are Piedmont elite at pricing that speaks to everyone. From the Dolcetto through the Barolo Ravera, this family estate is the first place to turn for the entire spectrum of what Piedmont is all about.

    Aldo and Milena Vaira bottled their first vintage in 1978 from vineyards planted by Aldo's father in 1948. Vajra's vineyards are set at the highest elevation in the commune of Barolo. Aldo from the start was heavily influenced by the traditional approach of his neighbors down the hill, Bartolo Mascarello and Beppe Rinaldi

    The Vajra wines stand at a perfect intersection between two styles. Aldo has noted descriptions of the estate as "The most modern of the traditionalists and the most traditional of the modernists". Though traditional fermentation and aging is the common approach, the accessibility and silken texture of the wines calls to mind modern sensibilities.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen