2017 Celler Cal Pla, Black Slate, Porrera — The Priorat zone is located in northeast Spain’s Catalonia region and is coveted for its unique decomposed slate soil known as llcorella which adds a singular minerality to the concentrated, powerful wines produced there.
Porrera is the largest of the zone’s 12 villages, located in the relatively temperate southwestern corner of the Priorat. Joan Sangenís replanted and resuscitated his family’s vineyards here after returning to Porrera from his studies in enology. Black Slate is a joint project between Joan and his U.S. importer. This wine is a blend of Garnatxa, Cariñena and Cab Sauv, from some of the top sites in the village and aged 12 months in neutral oak. It has the classic Priorat notes of dark fruit, licorice, and spice, and great minerality from the iron-rich soil. Smooth, nuanced, and complex, it continues to evolve as it opens up. Enjoy with lamb chops, steak, or roasts. $24
2020 Mont Epin, Mâcon-Péronne — Mâcon-Péronne is an appellation in the Mâcon region of southern Burgundy, straddling both sides of the Bicheron River. This winery, named for Mont Epin, the highest point in the Maconnais, was purchased in 2015 by brothers Richard and Stephane Martin, who also own Croix Senaillet in St Véran. Their winemaking approach combines modern facilities with a respect for traditional winemaking methods, with a goal of producing authentic Maconais wines. This one comes from 50-year-old Chardonnay vines from their estate vineyards on the western slope of Mont Epin, with pebbly clay and limestone soils. Aged ten months in stainless steel, it is fresh and complex with nice texture and flavors of yellow fruit with a hint of nuttiness. Try it with roast chicken, grilled freshwater fish, or perhaps sashimi. $19
2019 Pedro Gonzalez Mittelbrunn, Prieto Picudo — Prieto Picudo is a red grape variety grown in Spain’s northwest Castilla y León region. This one is produced by Pedro González Mittelbrunn, a León native who also teaches enology at the University of León. Dedicated to preserving the region’s historic, grape varieties, he partnered with top local wine growers to replant Prieto Picudo. His 20- to 100-year-old vines grow in deep, acidic, gravelly soil on the barren plains of León near the Cantabric Mountains and are the only organically farmed Prieto Picudo in the region. This wine is unoaked and made with natural yeasts to best highlight the terroir and character of the fruit. It has fresh, juicy flavors of ripe red fruit and a nice touch of spice. Enjoy anytime, with grilled meats, mushrooms, or fideuà (a paella-style seafood and noodle dish). $13
2020 Domaine des Cassagnoles, Reserve Selection Gros Manseng — The Gascony region lies in southwest France and is known for its fresh, easy-to-drink white wines made from local grapes that grow well in the transitional climate, from maritime to continental. The Cardeillac family has been farming here for several centuries. In 1974 Gilles Baumann and his wife Janine Cardeillac settled on her family’s estate and transitioned exclusively to wine production. Today they have 75 hectares of vines, all sustainably farmed and certified Haute Valeur Environnementale (a commitment to protect biodiversity and preserve natural resources). This wine is 100% Gros Manseng, a grape traditionally used for sweet wines, but which produces delightful dry wines as well. This one is aromatic with stone fruit flavors, fresh citrus notes, good acidity, and surprising texture and depth. Enjoy it anytime, with white fish, mussels, or goat cheese. $12
2018 Idilico, Tempranillo — Originally from Spain’s Ribera del Duero region, Javier Alfonso now makes his home in Washington State where he is owner and winemaker at Pomum Cellars in Woodinville. He also produces wines under his Idilico label, which focuses on the Spanish grapes of his home, which happen to grow very well here in our state. His 2018 Tempranillo is sourced from Spanish clones from Upland and Dineen vineyards. These particular blocks, he says, tend to produce Tempanillos more like those of Spain’s Rioja region, with notes of mushroom, forest floor, and leather. Aged 19 months in mostly neutral French oak, this wine is smooth, rich, and medium bodied, with savory aromas of dark fruit and dried herbs and a ripe, juicy mouthfeel. Enjoy with cured ham croquettes (a Basque specialty), tapas, grilled meats, or paella. $19.75
2020 Viña Maitia, Weon Carignan — David Marcel is originally from the French Basque country. After working for a number of wineries he eventually settled in Chile and in 2012 he and his wife, Chilean enologist Loreta Garau, founded Viña Maitia in Chile’s Maule Valley south of Santiago. They wanted to produce minimal intervention, artisanal wines, from Chile’s older, historic grape varieties and found a perfect site with Carignan, Pais, and Malbec vines, some up to 120 years old. They farm organically, without irrigation and vinify their wines with native yeasts and low sulfur to let the character of the fruit and the terroir shine through. This Carignan has fresh notes of black cherry, cassis, and spice and bright acidity. Give it some time to open up then enjoy it with, as the label suggests, roast turkey, smoked pork, or cured meats. $18