New wave Spain #TryThis
When I say Spanish wine, what do you think of? Do you picture the traditional, oak forward Tempranillo blends from Rioja? Those aged and age-worthy, sturdy reds that speak of sweet and savoury dried red fruit, earth, and leather? Or perhaps the similarly mature white Riojas made from Viura grapes; complex, but with a noted oxidation? These styles of wine remind us of tradition and culture, but they don’t necessarily reflect the shift in the modern palate towards fruit and freshness. This is where the new generation of Spanish winemakers find themselves- how to embrace their tradition and yet move with the times. There is a whole lot to love about the lively wines of up-and-coming young winemakers like Daniel Landi, Rafael Palacios, and the Envinate gang of four, who work with native Spanish grapes, but whose wines are anything but traditional.
Rafael Palacios Louro Godello 2016, Valderroras, Spain ($33)
Born into winemaking at his well-known family estate in Rioja, Rafael branched out to the little known region of Valderroras and began working with an old, forgotten vineyard of the near extinct white grape Godello. The result is a concentrated, firm, zippy white with aromas of pear, peach and orchard blossoms. There is incredible depth on the palate, with a lees creaminess complimenting the bright acidity, and just a touch of almond from the use of large neutral oak barrel.
Envinate Lousas Viña de Aldea Mencia 2016, Ribeira Sacra, Spain ($35)
Envinate (translates to ‘Wine Yourself’) is a team of four young winemakers that graduated from enology school and shared the common goal of crafting low intervention, terroir expressive wines. This Mencia is a blend of multiple old vine parcels and shows aromas of dense cherry and red plum fruit, flint, and a precise balance of freshness, firm tannin, and moderate alcohol (12.5%). The flavours carry on for a long, fresh finish.
Daniel Gómez Jiménez Landi Las Uvas de la Ira Garnacha 2016, Méntrida, Spain ($42)
Shifting the family farm from selling bulk grapes to organic and biodynamic viticulture, Dani is a part of the movement to reinvent Garnacha. The sites he works with are all high elevation on poor, vine challenging soils, and the wine reflects this with depth and concentration, though with an elegance I didn’t realize Garnacha was capable of. Ripe and fresh red berries, rustic herbs, white pepper and a dusty earth note. The palate gives way to a lightness, a fresh red currant fruit character with a rich plum and savoury rosemary flavour, and a not shy 14% of alcohol. Dense but transparent all at once.