The Spanish team (now with added Polish) at Vinostito have put a firm focus on low intervention winemaking – not for the sake of it, but for the authenticity and excellence of the wines it can produce. Of course they have an extensive selection from Spain, but also other countries such as Portugal, Germany, France and Italy.
Here are five which really piqued my interest at October’s SPIT festival:
Weingut Immich-Batterieberg CAI Mosel Riesling 2016 (11.5%, RRP €21.50 at 64 Wine, Glasthule; Loose Canon, Drury St; Baggot Street Wines, Ballsbridge; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Kelly’s Off-Licence, Clontarf)
Immich-Batterieberg is one of the oldest estates in Germany’s Mosel, being noted in the first, second and now third millennium. The Immich family themselves began making wine back in 1425, and were instrumental in the creation of the Batterieberg between 1841 and 1845 using lots of explosives!
The CAI is a Trocken, i.e. dry style of Riesling, with an alcohol of 11.5% which is higher than many sweeter wines, but remains modest. It isn’t bone dry, however, with just a touch of residual sugar which enhances the attractive, zippy fruit. Full of Riesling Goodness!
Weingut Immich-Batterieberg Escheburg Mosel Riesling 2016 (11.0%, RRP €29.00 at 64 Wine, Glasthule)
Compared to the CAI, this is somewhat drier, still young and tight – waiting for its wings to unfurl. It’s made from superior grapes which don’t quite make it into the single cuvées. The steep slate vineyard soils really show in the minerality of the wine, even though the minerals themselves are not technically soluble enough to be absorbed by the vines. This is a fairly serious wine which would be at its best with shellfish or after some years to develop and open out.
Casa da Passarella Descoberta Dão Branco 2017 (13.0%, RRP €16.50 at On The Grape Vine, Dalkey; Martin’s Off-Licence, Fairview; Lilac Wines, Fairview; Baggot Street Wines, Ballsbridge; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock; Matson’s, Cork)
Dão wines aren’t particularly well known in Ireland, though they deserve more attention. The region is situated about a third of the way down the country from the northern border and roughly equidistant from the Atlantic and the eastern border with Spain. It sits on a granite plateau topped by well drained sandy soil – not too bad for quality wine! This is a blend of local speciality Encruzado plus some Malvasia Fina and Verdelho. It’s quite different from the by-the-glass selection in your local pub, with a lovely mouthfeel and richness to it, but not oiliness. A dry, textured finish seals the deal.
Suertes del Marqués Trenzado 2016 (13.0%, RRP €25.00 at SIYPS, Baggot Street Wines, Ballsbridge; Blackrock Cellar, Blackrock; The Corkscrew, Chatham St; Clontarf Wines, Clontarf; Lilliput Stores, Stoneybatter)
I’ve reviewed this wine at least once before, but no apologies for repetition will be forthcoming as it’s so damn good – and so damn interesting – that it never disappoints. Suertes del Marqués are a relatively new outfit but they have access to plenty of older vines – the ones for this blend range between 10 and 150 years old, all in the Valle de La Orotava of Tenerife. I say “blend” as the majority of the wine is Listán Blanco (aka Palamino of Sherry fame) but there are also dashes of Pedro Ximenez, Albillo Criollo, Gual, Marmajuelo and Malvasia. As pictured on the front label, the vines are (mainly) trained with the traditional trellis system of cordón trenzado after which the wine is named.
For anyone studying wine this is a great example to do a model tasting note for as it shows so many different types of aroma and flavour: various citrus fruits, nuts and sea-washed pebbles on the nose, with the same on the palate but also a slightly waxy character. It’s a fairly different wine but it’s one that’s easy to like and to love.
Luís Seabra Vinhos Xisto iLimitado Tinto 2016 (12.0%, RRP €22.00 at Sweeney’s, Glasnevin; 64 Wine, Glasthule; On The Grape Vine, Dalkey; Martin’s Off-Licence, Fairview; Lilac Wines, Fairview; Baggot Street Wines, Ballsbridge; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Matson’s, Cork)
Luís Seabra makes a fantastic range of wines in Portugal’s north, the Douro Valley and Vinho Verde regions. His Douro wines are very different from the normal big reds found there, with lots of fruit, oak, tannin and alcohol. His wines are lighter and judiciously oaked, but don’t lack in flavour or length. As “Xisto” is the Portugese for “schist”, it’s not too hard to guess what type of soil the vines are planted in!
This 2016 is a blend of several grapes, some of which are coplanted in old and almost forgotten plots: 30% Touriga Franca, 20% Tinta Amarela, 20% Tinta Roriz, 10% Rufete, 10% Tinta Barroca, 5% Malvasia Preta and 5% Donzelinho Tinto. Luís’s approach to grape variety selection and winemaking both lead to his wines being very interesting and very fresh.
I was browsing some new additions to the shelves of Baggot Street Wines in early 2018 and noticed several wines from Luis Seabra in Portugal. What really caught my eye was the “REPROVADO / DISAPPROVED” warning notice on the back label of the 2015 Tinto – the first time I had ever seen anything like that on a wine label.
Speaking to the man himself a few weeks later at the Vinostito portfolio tasting, he recounted that when the wine was not allowed the Douro classification due to being “untypical” of the region, he sought permission to put a warning label on. The wine authorities had never received such a request previously, but they allowed it.
For the 2016 vintage (above) the Tinto was immediately given the Douro badge – I think the wine authorities learned their lesson!
The SPIT series: