Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A pair of gems from the north of Spain, Graciano from the northwest, Xarel-lo from the northeast

A pair of gems from northern Spain

Graciano from the northwest

Xarel-lo from the northeast

Ruiz Jimenez Valcaliente Rioja (DOC) Graciano  2013

12.5%, €27.00, Restaurants mainly and Mary Pawle

Think Rioja reds and you think Tempranillo. Not in this case. This organic wine by Ruiz Jimenez is one hundred per cent Graciano, a tough-skinned grape with good acidity that accounts for only a tiny minority of the harvest in Rioja.

Graciano is a tough one to grow (it doesn’t handle stress well, is susceptible to mildew) but, according to Grapes and Vines, “that doesn’t stop the good guys from trying”. And Ruiz Jimenez is one of those good guys if this bottle is anything to go by.

It has intense purple colour. Intense aromas too, with black fruits leading, hints of vanilla, blossom also. Power and balance in the juicy palate where the varietal’s acidity stands out, oak is well integrated and there’s a fine finish as well. Very Highly Recommended.

Importer Mary Pawle fills us in: Graciano grapes, Malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels for 4 months and another 4 months in a concrete egg...… A suitable match for smoked meats or charcuterie and semi-hard cheese.

Ruiz Jimenez: We grow our vines and fields with the greatest combination of climate, soil composition, and organic matter. It is the product of more than 30 years of organic agriculture.... A special wine, which can accompany an appetizer such as cured and semi-cured cheeses, black olives, smoked tapas, sausages and especially suitable for game birds and red meat.

Found these suggestions online: Chorizo and lentil stew with Morcilla (Spanish blood sausage); Lamb-stuffed bell peppers; Seared kangaroo with raspberry glaze.

Entre Vinyes Oníric Brisat 2020, 11.5%

€16.75 Organico, Bantry, Lettercollum Kitchen in Clonakilty, Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny, Quay Co-Op, Urru, Bandon, various restaurants and Cafes, and MaryPawleWines

From old bush vines (in poor quality soil) fallen into disrepair and now rehabilitated, amongst forest land that provides the area with a rich biodiversity, comes this wonderful white wine, aromatic and flavourful.

Colour of this organic Penedes is a light orange and it has a slight haze. Apple and citrus notes in the aromas.  The assertive palate is packed with tangy lemon notes and there is more than a salty hint of Sherry through to the fresh and savoury finish “coming from 6 months ageing in amphora on the lees”. Soft and very drinkable, this is an orange wine for everybody. The grape is Xarel·lo which, as you know, is one of the main grapes used in Cava. Very Highly Recommended.

Importer Mary Pawle: “Entre Vinyes is a personal project of Maria Barrena (Azul y Garanza in Navarra) and this Penedes white is a lovely expression of the local grape variety.” She also suggests that it is the perfect introduction to orange wine.

The producers: “With an average age of 60 years, these vineyards of Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada are in the natural environment of Foix, surrounded by oak and pine forest, under a dry climate and on a porous soil (which swallows the water) and limestone, very poor and shallow, with hardly any organic matter. The great biodiversity present creates a unique ecosystem that naturally regulates the balance of the vineyard.”

The grape juice is left in contact with the skins for about 12-14 days and then kept in clay Amphora and steel tanks. It is unfiltered and unfined, low sulphur and low alcohol.

Managers and winemakers of the Entre Vinyes de l'Arboç Winery (Baix Penedès) are Maria and Josep who started from scratch in 2012 after taking over a set of very old parcels from Josep's father, and have slowly seen their dreams realised. Appropriately, the word “ONÍRIC” is relative or pertaining to a dream”.

We have reviewed a few of the ONÍRIC wines recently, one here  and their impressive Pét-Nat here .

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