Not fresh meaning 'Meh' but fresh meaning FRESH!
By Joseph Manekin
Greetings and Happy Friday everyone,
August is here, which in most parts of the country means long, hot days and hopefully a comfortable cooldown at night. In the Bay Area, of course, along with other coastal spots in the Golden State, it means that while we may luck out with some occasional warm days, our real summer is just one more month away! Depending on your mood, your food, and yes, the weather, what you drink could be white, pink, bubbly or red. My only requirement this time of year (OK, all year 'round, but especially in August) is that the wine be fresh.
Based around Alicante, near Spain's middle Mediterranean coast, Rafa Bernabe is making some of the most energetic, alive, complete, and completely gluggable wines in Spain. Organic cultivation, check. Minimal intervention in the cellar, check. Interesting vineyards with old, indigenous vines, some of which I had never heard of prior to tasting (Merseguera or Fourcayat anyone?), check. While these wines have quietly been on our shelves for the past few weeks, they are very limited, affordable at $25 each, and not likely to last too long once word gets out about their quality. Year to date, this is my Spanish wine revelation. - JM
(*If you click on the wine it will direct you to the K&L website where you'll be able to purchase that particular wine direct from them.)
2012 La Viña de Simon - Alicante - $24.99
La Viña de Simon is a 70 year-old vineyard of Merseguera grapes. Whoa, is this bright and acid driven white wine! As my palate was so shocked (in a good way) from the tingle of acidity and immediate intensity of flavor, this is unfortunately the most articulate tasting note I can muster for the time being, until I have the chance to sit down and consider a bottle more thoroughly. What a fascinating, lively wine from Spain's southeast! - JM
2012 Musikanto Rosado - Alicante - $24.99
This rosado, produced from Garnacha peluda (a variety that is very similar to Garnacha except that its leaves have little thistles growing on them), is deeply colored and full flavored, with rich flavors of red berried fruits that retain freshness. My candidate for medium to fuller bodied rosé of the season. - JM
2012 Ramblis Arco - Alicante - $24.99
Produced from the obscure, native Fourcayat grape, and then raised in both French oak and acacia barrels, this red has wine geek pedigree to spare. More importantly, it is an amazingly delicious, expressive, intensely flavored red wine that makes you want to drink. It is one of those wines where, again (this seems to be a running theme with Bernabé's wines) tasting notes escape me and in their place my notebook reads "Yes!" and "TASTY!" - JM
2012 Ramblis Monastrell - Alicante - $24.99
Here we have wine made from 60-70 year old Monastrell planted at 700 meters of elevation, aged for six months in 1-4 year-old French oak barrels. Deliciously dark fruited, but not at all inky, oaky, blackberry-licorice liqueur-ish type Monastrell the likes of which Australians are making nearby. This is real wine from the south of Spain; if you don't know you better ask somebody. It's time to catch up and drink some Bernabé! - JM