March 4th, 2016
La Perla White Rioja, 2014
The La Perla winery is located in Labastida, an area in Rioja that is at a higher elevation and experiences a cooler climate than most of the region, resulting in wines that are higher in acidity and are especially fresh.
Manuel Ruiz is the 2nd generation winemaker here. The wine is a blend of dry-farmed Viura (92%, 30 year old vines), and 8% Malvasia (50+ years old) sourced from independent growers. It’s fermented in stainless steel and is light and easy, a touch tropical, and will be an easy one to toss back all spring and summer. And it’s super cheap too!
De Martino “Viejas Tinajas” Cinsault 2014, Itata Valley, Chile
This 100% Cinsault is made in 100 year old amphorae or tinajas, (earthenware jugs) that the De Martino family salvaged to bring back this old winemaking tradition. The grapes come from unirrigated vineyards in the coastal mountain region of the Itata Valley, about 14 miles from the Pacific. There is little to no intervention in the winemaking process. After destemming, the grapes were fermented for 15 days in amphorae, where they undergo carbonic maceration. It then rests in the same jug and then goes through malolactic fermentation. It’s bottled unfiltered and unfined, with no artificial enzymes or yeasts, and only a small amount of sulfur.
Cinsault is somewhat low in acidity, hence the choice to plant here in the Itata Valley, where the proximity to the ocean, and the cooler climate, help to boost acidity. The wine itself is fresh and lively, tempered by an earthy, floral, herbaceous notes.
Alto 3 Malbec, Catamarca, Argentina
Catamarca is located 515 miles north of Mendoza, and at 4,947 feet, has some of the highest altitude vineyards in the world. Alto 3 practices organic and biodynamic farming. They ferment in concrete tanks and some of their wines go into clay cones which are buried in the ground; winemaker Carlos Arizu does this because the wines will undergo fewer temperature fluctuations and add structure, in his opinion. Fermentation takes longer but he thinks the process produces more complex wines.
Alto 3 Malbec is alas not one of the wines that goes into cone, but it’s still pretty special. It’s hand-harvested, estate-grown fruit (as are all the wines here). After fermentation in concrete, it goes into French and American oak casks for 6 months. It’s then bottled unfiltered and unfined. This wine is rich & smooth, with mocha, plums, raspberry and tobacco. The finish is long with notes of licorice and spice.