Title: Atardecer 2018
Grape: Tinto Velasco & Airen
Location: Spain, La Mancha
La Mancha is the largest delimited wine region in all of Europe. There are about 470,000 acres dedicated to grape growing. While the numbers are impressive, this can be a difficult region for many grapes to thrive. This arid plateau gets incredibly hot in the summers and well below freezing in the winters. The soils are made up primarily of limestone and chalk, allowing for retention of moisture to assist the thirsty vines. The Airen varietal takes up the majority of La Mancha’s acreage. It is a grape suitable to handle the extreme temperature fluctuations and needs little maintenance. However, it can also produce rather forgettable wines if not given proper care and attention. Tinto Velasco, the other grape in this rosé, creates rustic and earthy wines that are high in tannins and acid (a perfect grape for providing a backbone to more nuanced blends). Wine making in La Mancha goes back certainly to Roman times, but the first written records of wine making are from the 12th century. It is the largest plain in Spain and gets its name from the Arabic word al-mansha, meaning “birthplace”. These lands are the ones made famous by Cervantes in his 1605 novel Don Quixote.
Winemaker Samuel Cano makes wines filled with soul and rustic charm. The Atardecer (translating to sunset) was bottled as a Petillant Naturel but has since lost its fizz and is now just a deep and enchanting still wine. Samuel uses no chemicals anywhere in the vineyard or winery and does not add sulfites to his wines. Imagining the land of La Mancha and its vast expanse of open land, vulnerable and exposed, we can see a parallel in quality and experience of drinking these wines. The Atardecer can take you there.
Producer: Andréa Calek
Title: Babiole 2020
Grape: Grenache, Syrah
Location: France, Ardéche
The region of the Ardéche has had human inhabitants dating back to the Upper Paleolithic (between 50,000 and 12,000 years ago). It is a place filled with rivers and streams, cliffs and caves. Due to its proximity to Provence and the Mediterranean Sea, this was an area heavily raided by slavers during the 9th century, causing its population to decline. The various regions within the Ardéche have been (and are still) difficult to access: it is filled with rivers and valleys, there is no rapid transit system, and the terrain makes it difficult to move easily from one place to another. Because of this, possibly, the Ardéche as a wine-region has remained somewhat obscure. Wines from the Ardéche are interesting for the reason that they share a border with the western Rhône Valley, home to many celebrated wines. Because of this, Ardéche wines often exist in the RhôneValley’s shadow. That said, there is a greater opportunity for discovery of terroir and personal style in the Ardéche. The wines of Andréa Calek are a perfect example of this mix of personal stamp and terroir expression.
This wine, Babiole (meaning trinket) is a blend of Grenache and Syrah. Andréa believes in being as hands off in the vineyards as possible. (He actually says that he is lazy and does not like to work!) He ferments this red with the stems on grape clusters, and then puts the wine in stainless steel for some months for aging. He bottles with no added sulphites. The Babiole can be strong on the nose at first, with notes of clay and earth. However, on the palate, the wine is soft and grounded.