Pure Vine Wines May 2015 Wine Club: Garnacha, Granaxta, - Tomato, Toematoe
This month we head into the heartland of Catalunya, where a vibrant culture of wine, food and art has a personality nearly all its own. The dialect is also quite distinct, so much so it was banned during the Franco dictatorship. This period was powerfully instrumental in giving residents of this northeastern-most province of Spain a firm basis for their own nationalism and identity. It is mountainous yet strewn with beaches and there is a small city there you may have heard of, Barcelona… It is the birthplace of Joan Miro and the city in which Picasso spent his formative years. With it’s deeply rooted, artistic and grassroots culture, distinctive language (not to mention theart nouveau creations of Barcelona’s signature architect Antoni Gaudi.) Catalonia, as English speakers call it, is a truly magical place, perhaps one of the most beautifully idiosyncratic in Spain. The wines here too, are diverse, ranging from light, fresh still whites to the bubbles of Cava and on up to the rich, structured reds of Priorat. It is the most diverse region in Spain, but, this month we focus on just one grape and offer you two expressions of Grenache, each with their own spelling!
Speaking of Priorat, the first wine we offer this month is a beguiling Garnacha Blanca, the 2011 Les Brugueres from La Conreria d'Scala Dei. This project is connected to a priory called Cartoixa d’Scala Dei, which literally translates to steps to god. Perhaps this is in reference to the steep terraces where the century old vines are grown in schist soils. The winemaker Jordi Vidal is focused on organic farming to fine tune low yields and engaged decision-making at harvest to ensure lots of acidity. The process in the winery utilizes 48-72 hour pre-fermentation marceration and then native yeasts to ferment the juice in stainless steel tanks. The young wine is allowed to rest with the fine lees over the winter and bottled unfiltered in the spring after harvest. This wine has had a few years in the bottle and we’re infatuated with the volume and expanse of aromatics and flavors. Astoundingly enjoyable and fun, this is a wine from vines that saw the rise and fall of Franco. And we think that’s just perfect, a wine that quietly attests with elegance and verve to the sheer gall and vigor it takes to outlive a dictator. Viva Garnacha Blanca! We hope you enjoy this as much as we do, all politics aside.
Just down the hill, Montsant is the incomplete ring around the bottom of the gentle summit that is Priorat. The red we offer you is the 2012 Altaroses, from winemaker Joan d'Anguera. Labeled “Granatxa”, this is the old Catalan name for Garnacha. The d’Anguera family is well respected in Montsant; they were the first to plant Syrah in the region in 1980. Bothers Josep and Joan are the sixth generation to continue farming and vinification. They started farming biodynamically in 2009 and this is the first wine from certified vines. They focus less on extraction and more on infusion to highlight aromatics, texture and purity of fruit. This wine is fermented with some stem inclusion in concrete vats with native yeasts and aged in a mix of concrete and old oak barrels for 12 months before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. In the return to a style of wine that is imminently drinkable from a region overcrowded by extracted and powerfully alcoholic reds that are sturdy enough to topple a thousand year old tree, this elegant drink is sure to please. It is a wine with a soul made by bothers committed to refining their family’s craft and farming their land with care This wine is an outrageous value and a beautiful example of a grassroots Spanish wine that we hope you’ll enjoy with friends and family soon.
Both of these wines are wonderful now. That being said, they may be some of the most age-worthy wines offered this year. Let us know if you want to increase your allocation. In any case, we hope May brings you all health and happiness!
2011 La Conreria d'Scala Dei Les Brugueres, Priorat
A lovely and complex Garnacha Blanca with subtle aromatics that under promise before over-delivering on the palate with wild, rushing and energetic flavors. The nose is scented with tart pear, Meyer lemon, pineapple and mint. There is good acidity yet the wine feels round and full with savory and oily qualities that are kept bright and vibrant. Flavors are of lychee, pearp, apple and candied ginger yet totally dry. Beautiful extract, creamy texture imbued with sweetness of fruit and balanced with acidity, this wine has a long, gorgeous, almost chewy finish that is the closest thing to Sour Patch Kids we’ve ever come across!
2012 Joan d’Anguera Altaroses Granatxa
This pure, light, refreshing and elegant Granatxa is the kind of wine that is best served with a great meal It is a delicious everyday drinking Spanish red that speaks to site and vintage character with plenty of intrigue. It is produced in a manner that respects earth and history, yet also defies commonly held beliefs about Catalunyan reds. The aromatics are of fresh spice Fruit, spice, iron, minerals and toasted bread. The bright acidity carves out a long expression of fruit and is balanced with good textural tannins.The flavors are focused and with cocoa, dark cherry cola, earthen rose and violets, anise seed, cumin and a coriander. A wine that that challenges the notion that Cataluyan reds are powerful and tannic, this is all texture, all class. This is a wine that will be beautiful for many years to come!
Recipe of the Month:
Paella with Rabbit and Snails (Paella Valenciana)
20 threads saffron, crushed (about ¼ tsp.)
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1½" cubes
½ rabbit (about 1 lb.), cut into 6–8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ lb. shucked lima beans, fresh or frozen and thawed
½ lb. green or romano beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, minced
7 cups chicken broth
36 live or canned snails (if canned, rinse and boil for 3 minutes and then drain)
2½ cups short-grain rice, preferably Valencia or bomba
1. Put saffron and ¼ cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes. Season chicken and rabbit with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 16"–18" paella pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and rabbit and cook, turning often, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the beans, paprika, garlic, and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is soft, about 5 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture, broth, and snails; season with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.) Reduce heat to low and cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes more. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.