Spain is a great example of how some traditions must survive, at all costs (Sherry), while others (new oak) simply must go. Neither sustainable nor terroir revealing, the Tempranillo-based appellations were not thinkable without the use of wood until now. Thanks to our intrepid friend Jose Pastor (aka "the Joe Dressner of Spain") small wineries that are getting back to basics are coming to light.
Write Ribera del Duero in your head and then cross it out; Alfredo Maestro's there but would rather not have his wines associated with the oak-bombs the region was famous for. His wines are super-natural in both senses--no additives and incredibly powerful, raw, think Paolo Bea but Tinto Fino and Grenache. This is the difference. And instead of using the standard form of "Rioja" based on grape-assemblages, Abel and Maite Mendoza are making wines exclusively by soil type. This one's tempranillo collected only from limestone-laden ("limoso") vineyards in the Rioja Alta with no oak at all (only concrete!), one of the more fresh takes on Rioja we've had in a while! Our Spanish re-assemblage would not be complete without Fabio Bartolomei's bonkers-good unfiltered wines from Madrid. Our wine club members get first dibs on our final re-stocking this vintage (our allocation is relatively large, but actually quite miniscule!). His "Titulciano" is mostly old-vine tempranillo with some "Sirah" and Graciano, wonderfully spiced and complex, and the "Malvar" is from one hundred-year-old vines and made the way Lapierre and co. make their quaffable Beaujolais (Carbonic Maceration in shop talk), where the berries are fermented quasi-intact and then pressed afterwords. The result is a new plateau of deliciousness: blood-orange wine. Sherry, we mentioned, should not change at all, but is rarely organic. We found you one that's both--a half-bottle of Manzanilla is heading your way--if you like it, come get some Fino or Oloroso in our shop! Serve the sherry with green olives, salted nuts, and lighter fish tapas, and the reds with anything you can get your roast on. (If you're curious to join the club, rsvp and we'll get you started.)
the Thirst team