Monday isn’t my favorite day of the week, the come down after the euphoria of the weekends adventures, unless…
You know at the end of the day you’ll be spending an evening at one of London’s best wine bars with some of the greatest Spanish wines that you have never even heard about. This is a good remedy to any Monday.
The Remedy is a wine bar and restaurant that may not have the profile of other top London wine spots, (it’s not as trendy as Sager + Wilde or as modern as Verdin) but make no mistake, it is one of the capitals finest. This is the kind of place that London’s top Somm’s go after a shift to chill out, it’s somewhere you will discover some amazing bottles of wine (and not just the trophy stuff). Located on Cleveland Street in the ghetto of Fitzrovia it’s just round the corner from MW HQ which I found a bit of a surprise.
I’d always imagined MW HQ as being more akin to the Thunderbird’s Tracy Island but with a much better cellar. MW’s being deployed to whichever wine region or market they are most needed in. 5. 220.127.116.11. MW’s are GO!! This got me thinking, which MW would each Thunderbird character be? Lady Penelope could be Jancis Robinson, I love the idea of ‘Parker’ driving her round in FAB 1, ‘sherry m’lady?’. Did you know the character of Parker was originally based on a somm? Anyway, I digress.
The reason I was at The Remedy was to have dinner with a group of young winemakers who are producing some remarkable bottles under the Envínate (wine-yourself) umbrella. Envínate is a project set up by Laura Ramos, Jose Martinez, Roberto Santana & Alfonso Torrente after they met at oenology school in Alicante and was a natural evolution from consultancy work that they were doing in 2005. They make wine in three different regions of Spain, Ribera Sacra in Galicia, Extremadura in South West Spain and in Tenerife on the Canary Islands, searching out small and unique vineyard parcels.
Old school in their approach they look to fully express the ‘terruño’ or terroir of each site by eschewing chemicals in the vineyard, picking by hand, treading by foot and using wild ferments, old barrels and little or no sulphur. Unfortunately Laura Ramos & Jose Martinez were unable to make it to London but Jonatan Garcia from Suertes del Marques joined and they were in fine form and throughout the course of the evening conveyed their huge passion for the amazing sites that they farm and wines that they make.
The opportunity to dine with these guys had attracted a number of London’s wine elite including flying winemaker & MW student Nayan Gowda, importer Richard Dudley Craig and the multi talented Daniel Primack of Winerackd to name but a few. Before the dinner kicked off we got stuck into a couple of bottles, the first was a creamy bottle of 2005 Savennières from Château D’Epiré in the Loire Valley that Richard had brought along, proof he is an importer with a keen eye!
Next up was an incredibly tasty wine from down under called Somewhere on another Hill from a producer called Jauma. What happens when you leave Gewurztraminer and chenin blanc on the skins? This happens. The acidity from the chenin is a good foil to the ripe fruit of the Gewurz, rose water, Turkish delight and lychee plenty of structure, an alluring wine and interesting producer well worth checking out (nice one Dan).
Roberto Santana – Táganan – Tenerife – Canary Islands
Roberto is the winemaker at what must be Tenerife’s top winery, Suertes Del Marqués, he was in town with owner Jonathan Garcia Lima, they make three white wines and five red under the main label. Two of the white wines are relatively easy to get hold of in the U.K and are unique in character, the Trenzado is a downstairs mix up of local grapes with Listan Blanco (Sherry’s Palomino to you and me) and Pedro Ximénez (yeah, you heard me, PX!) at its core. Trenzado takes its name from the distinct way that the vines are trellised which is depicted on the wines label. A unique wine that benefits from a long decant and will be very interesting to see how it develops with a few years in bottle.
The Vidonia is a step up in price but worth every penny, again this needs plenty of air to open up and if you can manage to keep your paws off should be great in years to come.
Envínate Táganan Blanco 2013
White blend that includes Listan Blanco, Malvasia, Marmajuelo, Albillo, Gual and Forastera among others. Tenerife. 3800 Bottles produced.
Táganan is what the locals round these parts were known as and roughly translates to ‘the people surrounded by mountains’ and this comes from about 17 plots of ancient vines on volcanic soils at an elevation of between 100 and 200 metres.
Struck match and rich orchard fruit on the nose complimented by a mineral, salt bake character, the palate shows great texture and again leads with a saline snap to the acidity. Food match: fried sardines and grape mustard.
Suertes Del Marqués Vidonia 2013
100% Listán Blanco, Valle de la Orotava, Tenerife.
Grown on volcanic soils at an altitude of between 350-600 meters the grapes are whole cluster pressed, it spends over 10 months on the lees in 500ltr neutral French oak casks after a natural yeast fermentation.
Reduced to start with notes of matchstick that mellow out with time in the glass, the nose then offering up lemon oil, macadamia nut and a strange but very inviting meat jus note. Wet lemon hand towels, smoky bacon. Wonderful structure on the palate with a powerful snap on the mid palate, fresh with a saline mineral, grippy finish. Food match: Smoked Mackerel and deep fried pardon peppers.
The first flight of wines was paired with Fried sardines with grape mustard mayonnaise.
Envínate Táganan Tinto 2013
Red blend that includes Negramol, Listan Black, Black Muscat, Listan Gacho, Vijariego Black among others. 4200 Bottles produced.
This comes from a number of different plots that include; Ensambaje Campillo, Chavarria, and the plateau Zorrocloco. Again old vines on volcanic soils at an elevation of between 100-300 metres above sea level.
Rose bud floral notes on the nose gaining a more mineral character with some air. Fresh and up front in the mouth this had the fruit that you would expect on really good village level Beaujolais but with some of the great acidity that you get with unoaked Mencia.
Suertes Del Marqués La Solana 2012
100% Listan Negro
This comes from a northeast facing vineyard with an elevation of between 400-520 metres and vines that are between 80 – 110 years old on volcanic soils.
Bright upfront cherry and blueberry fruit on the nose with richly textured cherry compote and blackberry fruit in the mouth, light body with chalky tannins on the finish.
Suertes Del Marqués El Ciruelo 2013
Listan Negro with a small percentage of Listan Blanco
This wine comes from 0.75ha plot of ungrafted vines that are over 90 years old on volcanic rock with wild cover vegetation at between 500-550 metres elevation.
Where the La Solana is more fruit forward the Ciruelo is defined on the nose by a smoky, meaty and mineral character. A wonderfully pure palate with svelte dark chocolate infused tannin, delicious red fruited acidity follows through on the finish.
Alfonso Torrente – Lousas – Ribeira Sacre – Galicia
For some years the wines of Ribeira Sacre (Sacred Shore) have been at the top of my Spanish wine shopping list. Reds from the Mencía grape, when not overly oaked can be incredibly attractive offering a unique acidic minerality not found in many red wines. Godello in the right hands is no less majestic and if you’ve yet to try Rafael Palacios offerings I would highly recommend searching them out.
Judging from the wines tasted at this dinner, Alfonso Torrente is up there in the top echelon of Mencía producers, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Palacios and Raul Perez. The only problem is that these wines are produced in tiny quantities and are very hard to get hold of, if you see any of them on a wine list do not hesitate to snap them up. Berry’s do a good example from Godelia in neighboring Bierzo that comes in sub £10 if you want an intro to this most characterful grape.
Envínate, Lousas, Viñas de Aldea 2013
A blend of 90% Mencia – 10% Merenzao, Caiño, Alicante Bouschet, Sousón
Lousas is the name of the local slate which is what the Alfonso’s vines are planted on, the average age here is around 60 years at an altitude of between 400-600m with a predominantly southerly exposure. Malolactic fermentation in neutral oak and spending 11 months on the leaves with no fining or filtration at bottling. 2200 Bottles produced.
On the nose there is a great mix wet wood and kola nut, the palate at the moment seems quite blunt but there is plenty of lush black berry fruit and a refined tannic structure.
Envínate, Lousas, Camiño Novo 2013
Blend of 85% Mencia, 15% Alicante Bouschet from a single parcel of 70 years old vines planted at 430m with a south-eastern exposure ( wine making as the Viñas de Aldea) only 700 bottles made.
Camiño Novo or ‘new Road’ is thus named after a former owner of the plot died while trying to build a new access road to the site. But then, if you gotta go this is Mencía to die for and probably the greatest take on the variety that I’ve tried, it was my favourite wine of all the Envínate wines and I wish I had some in my cellar!
A beautifully perfumed nose with dense red & black berry fruits and a compact mineral earthiness, wonderfully floral, a real beauty! In the mouth the juicy acidity hits right from the off and there is a prolonged and very classy red fruit character along with a ripe but firm stem’y finish with a great mineral depth. An incredible wine that clearly has great aging potential.
Envínate, Lousas, Seoane
Blend of 95% Mencia 5% other (Merenzao, Caiño, Alicante Bouschet) from a single parcel in Doade, Amandi at an elevation of 400m with 100% whole cluster fermentation, only 700 bottles produced.
Though no less serious than the Camiño Novo this wine has a more up front, aromatic fruit laden profile on the nose with cherry, rose petal and rich strawberry fruit, concentrated yet at the same time incredibly elegant. An abundance of snappy, taught red fruit on the palate that is pushed through by plush, chalky tannins.
Dessert was a Hazelnut Parfait with raspberry coulis.
This really was an outstanding dinner with some amazing wines, great food and enthralling company. After the serious business of dinner was done with a number of other great wines were cracked open (including a scandalously young bottle of Clos Rougeard 2010) and I hear the merriment went on long into the evening despite a heavy schedule the next day, maybe Monday is the new Friday?
Cristiano Guttarolo, Rosato Amphora Rosé
Smelling of smoky strawberry and light cherry liqueur, there is a sweetness to the rough edges and this has a very elegant, pure palate of red berry fruit, über drinkable.