• 1891-Planted Natural Wine Ace:  Alfredo Maestro Lovamor Blanco

    1891-Planted Natural Wine Ace: Alfredo Maestro Lovamor Blanco

    Finding compelling natural wines that equally hit the mark in their soundness and complexity is a mission of mine. When Spain's most exciting natural-minded producer tapped 1891 and 1910-planted Albillo vines I was enticed. Learning he also excluded sulphur additions and had blocked malolactic fermentation to highlight its fresh factor, I wanted to taste immediately.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2017 Alfredo Maestro Lovamor Albillo for $27 per bottle.


    Lovamor comes exclusively from 128-yr-old and 119-yr-old Albillo vines in Peñafiel, located in Spain's Basque country. Alfredo Maestro excludes any and all additives in his winemaking. And here, he took the unusual step to vinify these white grapes on their skins for seven days, giving a warm golden hue and adding a textural grip and very slight tannin that makes this one of the wildest and most though provoking wines in all of Spain.

    While the value here is certainly the first thing that pops at $27 from 128-yr-old vines, the main attraction is what happens in glass (or decanter depending on how you approach Lovamor). Once poured, there's a huge transformation that takes place.

    What starts with spicy orchard fruit and slight cider-like tones shifts after time to reveal mouth-watering salinity and renewed freshness from lingering minerality. Pear and red apple notes are slowly met with a more nervy kaleidoscope of citrus fruits. It's a wine that provides equal amounts of deliciousness and fascination.

    Whether you're focused intently on the unsulphured natural side of wines, or you're just curious to see the best executed skin-contact whites, Lovamor at $27 per bottle is your ideal landing spot.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • *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
  • Montefalco's Legendary Maestro:  Paolo Bea Sagrantino

    Montefalco's Legendary Maestro: Paolo Bea Sagrantino

    When considering the most soulful and magically unique wines in Italy, the name Paolo Bea always leads the discussion. The family roots in Umbria's Montefalco region stretch back to the 16th century on this property, now a diverse eco system of livestock, vegetables, and fruits, with only five of the fifteen hectares devoted to vines.

    Today, I'm happy to offer a deep lineup from Paolo Bea, including rare 1.5L and 3L bottlings.

    San Valentino is an intriguing blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Montepulciano from a clay-dominant single vineyard at 1,300 feet. With Umbria's fruit forward personality, the high elevation here adds a dimension of lift that makes this one of the world's most hedonistic, yet refreshing wines. From 50-yr-old vines.

    Rosso de Veo comes from Sagrantino vines in the Cerrete vineyard which sits at the highest point in all of Montefalco at 1,500 feet. Clay and limestone comprise the soil here. 2005 was the first vintage of Rosso de Veo, and has since been adored for its more approachable and fruit forward nature, as compared to the Pagliaro. Fermentation and aging follows the same protocol as Piparello.

    Pagliaro is all planted to Sagrantin, also perched at 1,300 feet. The grapes see harvest toward the end of October and spend up to 50 days on their skins for maceration. The fermented wine is aged for one year in stainless steel, then two years in large Slavonian botti, and finally one more year in bottle. Many of the notes from the Rosso de Veo are found here, but there's a darker and more wild expression of fruit and earth. Sagrantino is notorious for its firm tannins, but Bea's examples always show softer and more approachable tones than is the Montefalco norm.

    Cerrete is Bea's highest altitude Sagrantino vineyard, and has only been produced since 2007. Like the Pagliaro, it's immensely concentrated, but the added lift and brightness is something entirely different.  


    Arboreus is comprised of clone of Trebbiano known as Trebbiano Spoletino where vine training is high, allowing clusters to hang above the ground. Planted in Trevi and Montefalco between 650-700 feet on clay and gravel soils. The Trebbiano sees skin contact for up to 3 weeks and then is pressed and aged in stainless steel tanks for minimum two years. Sulphur is never added.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen
  • Heaven Sent:  Nanclares Rias Baixas Albarinño

    Heaven Sent: Nanclares Rias Baixas Albarinño

    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 "Nanclares" and "Soverribas" Rias Baixas Albariño for $37 and $44, respectively.

    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
  • Maximum Tension:  2015 Ronco del Gnemiz Sauvignon Blanc SOL

    Maximum Tension: 2015 Ronco del Gnemiz Sauvignon Blanc SOL

    The Friulian Sauvignon Blanc selection has long been dominated here by the skin macerated style. To be blunt, I've left the direct-press, crisp style to Chavignol and the eastern Loire valley. The reason is simple. I've found the tension and structure much more appealing in the Loire versus Friuli. Of course, my #1 job is to continue to taste and continue to have opinions flipped. Ronco del Gnemiz marks a serious shift in my thinking.

    Today, I'm happy to offer the 2015 Ronco del Gnemiz Sauvignon Blanc "SOL".


    Ronco del Gnemiz' entire range of wines is dead-set on displaying a serious backbone of minerality that perfectly frames the sun-soaked hill of Rosazzo, famous for its poncasoil (a limestone/clay marl). Their "SOL" bottling comes from a parcel of selection massale Sauvignon Blanc vines on a particularly limestone-dominant portion of Rosazzo. "SOL" is endowed with a rigor and laser-like focus that stands out, as not only one of the greats of Friuli, but one of the world's most compelling expressions of Sauvignon Blanc.

    Tasting "SOL" is a masterclass in how Friuli's unique ponca soil translates into wine, as the pulverized chalky components here skyrocket out of the glass on first sniff. There's loads of tropicality like grapefruit and guava, but all held in check under a tremendous amount of tension that offers a serious side here that matches anything you're likely to find in the Loire valley. The sensation of grip, dancing minerality on the palate, and long finish is a statement on the world class effort this is.

    The Ronco del Gnemiz wines still very much fly under-the-radar. 
    Serena Palazzolo and her sons have organically farmed these parcels since she took over for her father in the 90's. Today, these southern-facing slopes see moderation from the Adriatic ocean that also offers a sea-breeze element that differs drastically from what you're likely to find in the Loire. A must try for any Sauvignon Blanc lover, or those who gravitate towards whites founded on structure and a more linear focus.
    Posted by Alexander Rosen