2011 Clos Mogador, Manyetes Priorat, $71.50
Winery info: Founded in 1982 by René Barbier in the Priorat region of northeast Spain. He came from a family of French winemakers, trained in France, and brought with him the concept of “clos” wines: those sourced from a single specific vineyard site. Along with several other top producers, Barbier was instrumental in promoting the Priorat to DOC status.
Winemaker: René Barbier’s son, often referred to as René IV, now oversees all winemaking
Grapes: 100% Carignan
Vineyard: Manyetes is a south-facing vineyard in Gratallops, with 100% llicorella soil, a type of decomposing slate found only in this region. With the poor soil, intense sun, and harsh exposure, the grapes struggle to survive, producing concentrated wines with unique Priorat character.
Flavor Profile: Rich, yet rustic, with loads of minerality from the slate soil, and layered dark fruit flavors of plum and figs, and a touch of spice. The winemaker writes, “In my opinion, this is the most complex and balanced Manyetes to date. It is the greatest we have made!”
Production/Availability: About 5000 bottles annually. This vintage is gone.
Drinkability: Drinking well now, but it will age beautifully for 15 to 20 more years.
Food Pairing: Charred or braised meats, harissa spiced lamb (or roast rack of lamb), pork dishes, or mushrooms stuffed with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
2014 François Chidaine, Clos du Breuil Montlouis, $35
Winery info: François Chidaine has been called one of the most exciting winemakers in France’s Loire Valley today, known for his compelling terroir-driven Chenin Blancs. Most of his holdings are in Montlouis, a white wine appellation in Touraine, across the river from Vouvray. He farms biodynamically and has been Demeter certified since 2003.
Winemaker: François Chidaine
Grapes: 100% Chenin Blanc
Vineyard: From one of the highest points in the appellation, with silex (flint) and clay soil over a base of tuffeau, a soft, calcareous soil type that offers particularly good drainage. The vines average 40 years in age, with some up to 80 years old.
Flavor Profile: Very classy, racy, and mineral-driven, with good body and a long, lingering finish.
Production/Availability: The winery is now onto the 2015 vintage
Drinkability: Now, or over the next three to five years.
Food Pairing: Vegetable dishes such as a zucchini soufflé, potato soup, or rich fish or chicken dishes.