Bodegas Honorio Rubio, Añadas Rioja Edición Limitada 2014 Release, $54.99 ($43.99)
This is actually a wine that we sold in a small quantity a few years ago. It is exactly the type of wine that is made for the Grand Crew: renegade yet outstandingly talented producer making delicious yet genre bending wine in very limited quantities. The only issue is that it was slightly too expensive and I could never get enough of it. A few weeks ago, however, the importer got in touch with me and asked if I would like to take everything they had left in stock which had previously been on reservation to a few top restaurants before COVID. I jumped and secured a price which meant I could share it all with you!
Bodegas Honorio Rubio was started only a few years ago by the man himself, with the goal of taking advantage of some of a few older, high elevation parcels in Rioja and vinifying them in a combination of ultra traditional and innovative ways. This wine, his Anadas, I believe to be truly one the best white wines made in all of Rioja, up there with Lopez de Heredia and Castillo Ygay.
Honorio Rubio sitting amongst some of his very old vines.
The Anadas was born out of Honorio’s exploration into how to create truly long lived, world class white wine. He ended up taking inspiration from both the long barrel aging common in Rioja and also the concept of blending vintages (i.e. blending juice which is at various stages of the oxidation process) in sherry. The idea was to create a wine whose youthful flavors would be protected by a broad base of pre-oxidized phenolic compounds while also giving the older wine a youthful jolt of acidity to stabilize the aging process once combined. The result is one of the most delicious and complex wines made in all of Spain, with many of the roasted citrus, vanilla, and iodine notes of classic white Rioja yet with a twist of freshness and salinity. This particular bottling is a blend of the 2007-2012 vintages, blended and then further aged for an additional year in barrel and then for another year in bottle.
4 Monos Agula del Fraile Tinto Sierra De Gredos 2016 $38.99 ($31.19)
This is another wine that we have briefly sold before but that I absolutely adored and was initially assured by the importer I would only ever see a few cases of. Low and behold, much like the Anadas, the importer recently got back to me asking if I wanted any more due to orders being cancelled by restaurants, and they happened to have just enough for the wine club.
4 Monos is one of the estates that is leading the charge in what is, I think, the most exciting regional development in Spain this century. The Sierra de Gredos is a mountain range near Madrid spain, that before Phylloxera and the huge expansion of industrial winemaking in Rioja that followed (funded by french money and winemaking expertise to help replace the capacity that was lost in Bordeaux), was incredibly important in quenching the thirst of the nearby urban population. After Phylloxera, however, when Rioja had become much more efficient at producing oodles of wine more cheaply, the steep slopes and of the Gredos were largely abandoned.
Today, however, a few intrepid young winemakers have climbed back up into the mountains and found a legitimate treasure trove of old vineyards, mostly planted with Grenache. The rediscovery of these old Grenache vineyards by a new generation of winemakers that are interested in creating wines of elegance and perfume over power and concentration has been an incredible combination, resulting in some of the most exciting wines being produced in all of Europe. Indeed the unique climate, vine age, and attitude of the winemakers has resulted in Grenache wines that are totally singular in a global context, which taste much more like great Burgundy than they do like Chateauneuf du Pape, Priorat, or Barossa.
The 4 Monos high up in the Gredos.
The 4 Monos (four monkeys) met by chance while hiking the Gredos mountains. The team is comprised of winemakers Javier García (formerly the head winemaker at Méntrida icon Bodegas Jiménez-Landi) and Laura García, wine-lover David Velasco, and vineyard holder David Moreno, and 2010 was their first vintage as a team. Over ten years they have acquired 5 hectares of their own vineyard parcels, a small bodega with built-in concrete tanks in Cadalso de los Vidrios, and are also working another 5ha with local growers who share their passion for organic farming practices.
The Del Fraile Tinto is a single-village red comprising old vine Garnacha, with a small addition of Cariñena and Garnacha Blanca, planted on sandy soils with gneiss and pink granite in the village of the same name. The grapes are hand-harvested, whole-cluster cold macerated, wild yeast fermented with 100% whole clusters and 40 days maceration, then raised in 300 and 500 liter used barrels for 12 months.
Bodegas Los Bermejos Lanzarote Listán Negro Rosado 2019 $24.99 ($19.99)
Many people in the wine community would also point to the Canary Islands as the most exciting wine region in Spain, with its uniquely extreme Atlantic climate and extremely old vines that dot Tenerife and its satellites. Bodegas Los Bermejos is in fact found on the eastern most island of Lanzarote, also the one island which has the most dramatic terroir of almost any region in the world. From 1730-1736, Lanzarote suffered from a violent and prolonged volcanic explosion that covered the entire island in 3-5 meters volcanic ash. The island is now a sea of jet black soil, the vineyards dug into the earth with little green vines that poke out amongst the dark earthen sea. You really need to see them to believe it.
One of Bodegas Los Bermejos vineyards from an aerial view.
The Listán Negro Rosado 2019 is direct pressed of the skins and fermented and aged in large format barrels, giving the wine an amazing texture that is glycerol from the touch of oxidation yet totally unencumbered by much any phenolic character. It is enormously refreshing, almost txakoli like in its vivaciousness (although without any actual spritz) with an amazing juiciness yet also with a touch of smoky minerality that is classic to the region. Delicious!