• All-In on Raul Perez Fresh Streak: 2015 La Del Vivo Bierzo Blanco

    All-In on Raul Perez Fresh Streak: 2015 La Del Vivo Bierzo Blanco

    Through customer responses there's no doubt anymore just how fantastic the whites and reds coming from  Spain's new maestro, Raul Perez really are. If I had to choose one wine to perfectly capture what all the fuss is about it's surely his "La Del Vivo" Bierzo Blanco. Last vintage was my first taste, immediately bringing to mind a Raveneau-esque texture and a seriousness that belied its $38 price tag.

    Today, we turn to the just-landed 2015 vintage of this magical combo of Godello and Doña Blanca planted in 1925 and 1940 from just 1.5 hectares.

    Let's get this out of the way quickly: the 2015 vintage of this wine is NOT what you're expecting. Although 2015 saw hot, dry conditions through much of Europe, Perez has given us something beautifully at odds with nature. This white, whose strong suits are always its freshness and salinity, clocks in at 11.8% alcohol and is noted below for its flinty and mineral qualities by Spanish authority, Luiz Gutiérrez of Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate.

    La Vizcaina de Vinos is based on the hillside crus around Raul's hometown of Vatuille de Abajo in Bierzo. "La Del Vivo" comes from Godello and Doña Blanca vines planted in 1925 and 1940 at 500 meters elevation. This sandy and clay soil brings cool-fruited and saline notes that counter the orchard fruit and faint citrus profile brilliantly. The overall balance is impeccable. Blinded, this wine takes you to top Chablis domaines in one sip. 

    The winemaking approach is fascinating. 80% of the grapes are pressed and fermented in large neutral French oak barrels. But, 20% of the grapes ferment on their skins in clay amphorae for one year, completely untouched. These two parts are blended prior to bottling without undergoing any fining or filtering. 


    Finding Spanish whites that harness all of the inherent richness of the sun-soaked terrain is no tall task, but revealing them in a frame where harmony and balance steal the show is something entirely unique.  

    In 2014 Raul Perez was named best winemaker in the world from the German publication, Der Feinschmecke. And in 2015 the same honor was bestowed by France's Bettane & Desseauve. For lovers of Chablis and Côte de Beaune white Burgundy this is a project that must be on your radar!

    Gutiérrez gives the 2015 his greatest review to date:

    "I also got to taste the 2015 La Vizcaína la del Vivo, which came from a vineyard in the zone of La Poulosa in the village of Valtuille de Abajo that was planted with Godello as well as reds and other white varieties. The wine was fermented in 500-liter oak barrels and old terracotta amphorae. It has a subtle nose, with contained ripeness (it's 11.8% alcohol!) and a flinty, gunpowder-like sensation. The palate is austere and mineral, serious, tasty, not as explosive as other vintages. This is more about the soil. I think this is going to age beautifully. Some 3,500 bottles were filled in March 2017." (08/17)

    2015 La Vizcaina de Vinos Bierzo Blanco "La Del Vivo" 
    $38 per bottle.


    Raul Perez Mixed 6-Pack: $259 (Regularly $277)
    (One bottle of each wine offered today)

    2016 Raul Perez Ultreia Saint Jacques Bierzo Mencia
    $23 per bottle.

    2014 Raul Perez Bierzo Tinto Ultreia
    $34 per bottle.

    2011 Raul Perez Tierre de Leon Albarin Blanco
    $57 per bottle.

    2011 Raul Perez Tierre de Leon Tinto
    $57 per bottle.

    2014 Raul Perez Bierzo Tinto Ultreia de Valtuille
    $68 per bottle.
    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Act 2, Mencia: All-In on Raul Perez & Bierzo

    Act 2, Mencia: All-In on Raul Perez & Bierzo

    The arrival of the Raul Perez wines into the US has garnered a lot of attention. Last week's offer on his Godello and Albariño was a big hit, and today we turn to his reds. Mencia is the focus in Raul's home of Bierzo, where the wines often call to mind qualities of Pinot Noir and Gamay, but with a darker and spicier fruit profile showing elements of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The very best examples are highlighted by their elegance and ability to age. When I tasted through Raul's lineup from 120+ yr-old vines, like with his whites, I was reminded that this man is the proverbial game changer for Mencia and Bierzo.

    Perez's natural focus endow his wines with an authenticity that's impossible to miss. As much as he follows the historic path of his ancestors (no herbicides, pesticides, or additives of any kind in the cellar), he's made waves with his 100% whole cluster fermentations and extra long maceration on skins. Raul completely redefines what Mencia is capable of in Bierzo. 

    Tempering the impact of the heat and sun has always been the area of largest concern in the more continental Spanish zones. Working with high elevation vineyards and old vines is not enough to ensure grace, subtlety, and lift are the overriding characteristics when the wine is finally poured. It's the attentive, thoughtful approach to viticulture and minimal intervention in the cellar that Perez has come to trust as the root of success. In doing so, he's become recognized only recently as a master of his craft.

    In 2014 Raul Perez was named best winemaker in the world from the German publication, Der Feinschmecke. And in 2015 the same honor was bestowed by France's Bettane & Desseauve.

    Raul's two wines today offer an entry into Bierzo and its native Mencia grape, as well as the towering heights it can achieve from his top cuvée.

    Tinto Ultreia is sourced from 3 hectares of vines divided in two villages: Valtuille de Abajo (30%) and Valdecañada (70%), and two soil types: Clay (Valtuille) and slate (Valdecañada). The blend is predominately Mencía with small amounts of Bastardo (Trousseau), Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet), Doña Blanca, and Palomino. Fermented in large oak vats, with 60-day total maceration on skins. Aging is in neutral 225-liter French oak barrels. 

    Ultreia de Valtuille is sourced from 1.7 hectares of vines planted in the late 1800's. Sitting at nearly 600 meters above sea level on sandy soils these old vines produce what comes across as Raul's most delicate and deeply layered wine. Incredible concentration is met with finesse and a cool-fruit quality that sandy soils are often associated with.Maceration can go as long as 90 days on skins, and aging also is in neutral French barrels. Here the blend is almost identical to the above, but tiny amounts of Godello has replaced Palomino. 

    Spanish authority, Josh Raynolds of Vinous found these same attributes in May when he wrote of the 2013, 


    "In a lithe, elegant style but in no way lacking for depth of flavor or power. Closes seamless, sweet and strikingly long; suave, well-knit tannins contribute shape."

    2014 Raul Perez Bierzo Tinto Ultreia
    $34 per bottle.

    2014 Raul Perez Bierzo Tinto Ultreia de Valtuille
    $68 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Spanish Spotlight: All-In on Raul Perez & Bierzo

    Spanish Spotlight: All-In on Raul Perez & Bierzo

    It may become a little belabored, pointing out how many exciting new projects are coming out of Spain. But, when something's worth immediate attention there's no point in sidestepping giving serious praise where it's due. In the case of Raul Perez we're talking about the single most exciting young white wines I've ever encountered from Spain. Although these two Godello and Albariño-based wines have earned him the title of best winemaker in the world by French and German publications, these are new to me and to much of the United States.

    Perez has made a big impact onto the scene here in a very short period of time. His natural focus within his home region of Bierzo and nearby parcels in Rias Baixas endow his wines with an authenticity that's impossible to miss. Raul completely redefines what a mineral-driven Spanish white is capable of, showing depth and the nuance I've come to expect from elite Chablis and Côte de Beaune Chardonnay.

    There are two projects under Raul's belt and today we take close look at a top white from each.

    La Vizcaina de Vinos is based on the hillside crus around Raul's hometown of Vatuille de Abajo in Bierzo. "La Del Vivo" comes from Godello and Doña Blanca vines planted in 1925 and 1940 at 500 meters elevation. This sandy and clay soil brings cool-fruited and saline notes that counter the orchard fruit and faint citrus profile brilliantly. The overall balance is impeccable. Blinded, this wine takes you to top Chablis domaines in one sip.

    The winemaking approach is fascinating. 80% of the grapes are pressed and fermented in large neutral French oak barrels. But, 20% of the grapes ferment on their skins in clay amphorae for one year, completely untouched. These two parts are blended prior to bottling without undergoing any fining or filtering.

    Bodegas Y Vinedos Raul Perez is also based in Bierzo, but the most elusive of all his wines is from nearby Rias Baixas where the Albariño grape is king. "Sketch" comes from a minuscule .5 hectare parcel planted in 1965 on granite soil. Vines are incredibly tightly spaced, leading to competition and endowing wild concentration in the wine. The sea influence in Rias Baixas is a huge component for Albariño here. Temperatures are moderated allowing for a long, slow growing season and grapes are harvested as late as possible. Sketch is aged in 14-year old, 750-liter French barrels. 

    In 2014 Raul Perez was named best winemaker in the world from the German publication, Der Feinschmecke. And in 2015 the same honor was bestowed by France's Bettane & Desseauve.

    Finding Spanish whites that harness all of the inherent richness of the sun-soaked terrain is no tall task, but revealing them in a frame where harmony and balance steal the show is something entirely unique.

    2014 La Vizcaina de Vinos Bierzo Blanco "La Del Vivo" 
    $36 per bottle.

    2015 Raul Perez "Sketch" Rias Baixas Albariño
    $84 per bottle.

    Posted by Max Kogod