Grapes: Xarel-lo, Sumoll, and Garnatxa Blanca
Geography: Catalonia, Spain
One of the most exciting regions in Spain when it comes to natural wine has got to be the Penedès. I know that may sound a bit strange considering the amount of plonky Cava being made, but this is actually part of the reason driving a group of young winemakers to do things differently. I call it the process of diseducation and at the forefront of this movement is Ruben Parera.
Ruben was born into a family of farmers but it wasn't until he finished his viticultural and oenological studies that they started making wines of their own. We first met him at a tasting in 2013 and his wines were perfect...almost too perfect, if you know what I mean. Since then, I feel like he's stopped relying so much on the books and turned to his land for answers. He converted his family's 10h estate from organic to biodynamic, continuing the natural process into the cellar while applying the same practice to their cherries and olives and obtaining the rather grueling Demeter certification on their first visit.
His 2015's are simply on a different level than what we first tasted in 2013. In a short period of time he's evolved from making textbook technological wines to making wines of terruño, seeking drinkability without compromising depth and complexity. His entry level white, red, and rosé are super fun to drink while his 2014 acacia aged Xarello might be one of the most interesting expressions of the grape we've ever tasted. It's the first wine he makes without adding SO2. I'd bet the same professors who told him it couldn't be done would even take their hats off to this wine. Long live the diseducation of Ruben Parera!
The affable iconoclast Alfredo Maestro started making wine in the late 1990’s when he planted his first vineyard, Almate, near his hometown in the Ribera del Duero. From the beginning,...