On Monday night I had the pleasure of attending Petit Comité, a tasting event for artisanal wines organized by Samuel Cano/Vinos Patio, La Cave du Petit Bar degustación and the Observatorio de Vino. Not only was it an incredibly interesting opportunity to try the natural wines made by 6 different winemakers, but it was also heartening to have the chance to talk one-on-one with such enthusiastic individuals, who are obviously very dedicated to preserving the artisanal quality of their wines. Representing four different areas of Spain (Madrid, La Mancha, Cataluña and Ribera del Duero), the maximum number of bottles (of natural wine) produced by any of these wineries was 25,000.Â
While I am a huge supporter of organic wines, I have always contended that quality Spanish wines are often, for the most part, organic. In general, the higher the quality of the wine, the more care is taken with the grapes and the fewer chemicals and treatments are added. However, given that the organic label is still not much of a marketing factor in Spain, it tends to be something that many winemakers don’t bother mentioning. However, at the event, I was informed that there is a difference between organic and natural wines, in that natural wines have absolutely nothing added to them, while organic wines still permit small quantities of additives.
The first wine that I tasted on Monday was a 100% natural white wine, produced by Fabio Bartolomei of Vinos Ambiz in Madrid. Made from Airén grapes, it was crisp and aromatic with notes of apples and pears. Next, I tried three wines from Josep Garriga of Celler Mas Garrian in Priorato, who produces 15,000 bottles a year. All reds, I was particularly impressed with the 2003 Mas Camperol, made from Cariñena, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. The fruit was still incredibly vibrant, the tannins soft, and the whole thing wafted notes of thyme and oregano. Samuel Cano of Vinos Patio, in La Mancha, served me a late harvest Airén with the honeyed notes of noble rot, and I also tried the Patio Ensamblaje 2008: Syrah (50%), Tempranillo (25%), Petit verdot (12%) and Graciano (12%); which was very rich and aromatic with a long finish. At Bodegas Lobecasope (which I can’t for some reason find on the official list of participants – usurper!) I tried a wine called Ziries 2008, made from 53-year-old Garnacha vines, and the word chocolate came to mind and stayed there.
The only wine left at Celler Ecosetrill (Lleida) was the Vinya Sanfeliu 2009 Trepat Rosado, which is one of my favorite rosado-making grapes, and it was crisp, fruity and delicate, despite being slightly warm. I unfortunately missed out on trying anything but the Viña Almalte (Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) 2008 by Alfredo Maestro, of the winery by that same name in Valladolid, which oozed berries, spices and some herbal notes. And finally, I did manage to try – probably more than my share – the unique and surprising wines from Bodega Bruno Ruíz. The first, a late harvest red made using carbonic maceration, was not at all what I expected. It was like drinking soft velvety raspberries, as well as being salty, with aromas of thyme. The second, a 2007 Tempranillo, Cabernet, Merlot that had spent 12 months in oak, was all about rosemary, while a 2008 Syrah, Petit Verdot was perfectly rounded in the middle, and long on the end. All in all a great event that I hope will be the first of many more to come!