In August of 2006, Francesc Grimalt and Sergio Caballero set up 4Kilos Wines in Mallorca, a company dedicated to producing wines that reﬂect the strength of the grape and its nuances, as grown on this unique Mediterranean island.
Francesc Grimalt, winemaker and former partner and technician of the Anima Negra Cellar in Mallorca, is known mainly for rescuing the native Vigeron grape. Sergio Caballero is a musician and founding partner of the Sonar festival and is responsible for 4Kilo’s branding and communications.
In late September of 2006, in the garage of a fellow winemaker, with few resources but with excellent grapes, 4kilos produced its ﬁrst wine. Then working alongside the Apolonia Viticultors -Balearic Agrarian society, they converted a former sheep farm into a small winery.
The vineyards are located in different parts of the north and south of Mallorca. As such, they do not belong to any particular D.O. In many of the vineyards, native vegetation cover is used to protect the vines in order to obtain more concentrated grapes, better ground porosity and an increased microbial population.
The name "4Kilos" comes from the initial investment in the previous currency of pesetas by both partners, which is to say, 4 million pesetas. This modest investment demonstrates that good wine does not depend on a great financial outlay, but an ambition for quality and a passion for the product.
4Kilos is an unmistakable reﬂection of its owners and a clear declaration of their principles.
Winery of the Year - 2015 Luis Gutierrez
"The winery was only founded in 2006, but has raced off the starting blocks, rising right to the top of the Mallorca rankings.”
Alvar was born and raised in the village of El Pego near the southern boundary of the D.O. of Toro. His family had tended vineyards in the village for generations but Alvar didn’t stay in Toro to learn his trade, rather he fell in with a pair of vinous rebels working in the Sierra de Gredos – Fernando Garcia and Dani Landi. While working as the cellar master for Fernando at Bodegas Marañones, Alvar began acquiring vineyards of his own in and around his native D.O., splitting his time between the Gredos and Toro.
From the outset, Alvar wanted to create a very different Toro wine.
Thoroughly rejecting the almost gaudy proﬁle now associated with Toro wines, Alvar has turned tradition on its ear by converting his vineyards to organic viticulture, then spent three years experimenting with his wines to produce a style that is refreshingly acidic, with aromatic depth, ﬁnesse and outstanding balance.
Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate
Winemaker Beatriz Herranz makes two delicious wines from organically farmed Verdejo vines, on land inherited by her mother.
The vineyards are in the Rueda D.O., however they don't work within the appellation, as their approach to viticulture and winemaking is opposite of Rueda's industrial reputation. Beatriz is also recuperating some 100+ year-old vines on original rootstock in a neighbouring village, so we can expect more excellent wines from Barca del Corneta!
Located in Cantarranas, in the area of Valladolid called la Seca, it is a perfect location due to its land of siliceous sand and pebbles, with a layer of clay and subsoil, as well as limestone in its deepest layers.
With a particular interest in the Verdejo grape (which in Beatriz's hands is rather like Sauvignon Blanc on steroids), Barco del Corneta works organically and treats a proportion of the grapes to fermentation in French oak.
Beatriz demonstrates in her wines just how impressive Verdejo can be, while still remaining versatile enough to enjoy as an aperitif or with light summery food.
The Alba family owns about 2.5 hectares but also sources from about 10 hectares spread throughout the region. Their winery and land is close to the Atlantic Ocean, near the mouth of the Umia River in the heart of Galicia's Rías Baixas.
Xurxo Alda, the bodegas' winemaker, wishes they owned more, but like their land, neighboring vineyards have been passed along from generation to generation. Working the land is a way of life. It's what people do with their free time. It's a lifestyle that money can't buy.
Xurxo farms and makes sure his farmers farm as naturally as possible, as much as the region permits. Being by the sea, the threat of fungal diseases like mildew and oidium is always present. In the cellar, spontaneous fermentation with native yeast is a common denominator between all of the wines. Whether he works the lees or uses oak is on a wine by wine basis, vintage by vintage.
Celler Comunica is the work of the mercurial viticulturists Pep Aguilar and Patri Morillo.
Having worked as consultants in nearly every wine region on the Mediterranean coast, they’ve settled in an old farmhouse estate, known as Mas d’en Cosme, in the town of Falset on the border of Priorat and Montsant.
The estate comprises seven hectares of old Garnacha and Carignan vines, and a little chunk of Syrah, all planted on a soil of decomposed granitic sands shot with myriad types of slate.
Celler Comunica wines are almost the opposite of what’s become typical across the border in Priorat. Pep and Patri use no oak at all; they prize freshness and bright clean fruit over dry extract and high alcohol. The wines are immensely sluggable and thirst quenching, and provide a fascinating insight a terroir that’s too often hidden behind alcohol and oak.
Having fallen into disrepair after the Spanish Civil War, the Can Comas estate was made up of 30 hectares of Mediterranean forest, an additional 30 hectares of pasture, a derelict medieval country house and various farming buildings. Purchasing the property in 1996, Ramon Parera and Jordi Arnan embarked on a painstaking process of planting new vineyards that reﬂected this unique part of Penedès and restoring the industrial and residential buildings.
Most importantly, the partners developed an approach which they’ve named
“Conception Wine.” Irrigation is kept to a minimum, allowing vintage conditions to be expressed. The vineyards are worked as little as possible, natural vegetation growth around the vines is encouraged and fertilizers are avoided. Low-interventionist viniﬁcation processes and low-tech cellar work are also employed.
The result are highly personal, terroir-driven wines that are at once both unique and delicious.
Deserving of special mention is his treatment of Sumoll: a much discredited grape that ultimately was excluded from the Penedès D.O. because it was viewed to yield poor quality wine. Pardas has shown an ability to obtain from it a stunning Rosé and the completely delicious Sus Scrofa.
Daniel Landi and Fernando Garcia epitomize the new generation of winemakers now emerging in Spain. Working in the remote Sierra de Gredos, about an hour’s drive from Madrid, their wines push the limits of the terroir and the Garnacha grape.
The Comando G vineyards, comprised of just 5 hectares, are between 50 and 80 years old, and grow in mostly granite soils. Employing organic and biodynamic viticulture, the almost impossible to reach terrain is tilled using mules and minimal machinery in order to protect the delicate sub-soil.
In the hands of Dani and Fernando, the Garnacha vines, growing in the cool altitudes of between 900 to 1200 metres above sea-level, are transformed into beautifully perfumed, expressive wines that rival the ﬁnesse and elegance of Burgundian Pinot Noir and the Syrah’s of Hermitage.
“They seem to go from strength to strength and are getting closer to their goal with some of their wines achieving world-class status! One of the most exciting new projects not only in Gredos, but in the whole of Spain!”
Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate
Dani Landi is a native of this region dominted by the Sierra de Gredos.
Growing up in Mentrida in a family of vineyard owners and farmers, he knew he wanted to do more than grow bulk grapes and sell them to the local cooperative. Instead he envisioned making wines from his family’s vineyards.
For many years he was the winemaker at Bodegas Jimenez-Landi, a company he formed with his cousin. But in he left in 2012 to create his own eponymous label. In doing so he kept part of his family’s inheritance, as well as a few sites that he had purchased or leased himself. All of these sites are small isolated vineyards of Garnacha and Albillo perched high up in the Sierra de Gredos.
While they bear various D.O. designations, they are all sites with sandy weathered soils, high in elevation and meticulously and biodynamically farmed.
Along with the pioneers of the Priorat, as well as his partnership with Fernando Garcia in the Comando G project, Dani is redefining what was previously viewed as a workhorse variety, Garnacha, into something that can rival the elegance and finesse of Pinot in Burgundy or Syrah in Hermitage.
Envínate ("Wine Yourself") is the brainchild of four friends, winemakers Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and José Martínez.
This gang of four formed back in 2005 while studying enology at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante. Upon graduation, they started a winemaking consultancy, which evolved into Envínate: a project that focuses on exploring distinctive parcels in the Atlantic-inﬂected regions of Ribeira Sacra and the Canary Islands and the Almansa region near the Mediterranean.
Their collective aim is to make profoundly pure and authentic wines that express the terroir of each parcel in a clear and concise manner.
To this end, no chemicals are used in any of the Envínate vineyards. All parcels are picked by hand, the grapes are foot-trodden, and the wines are fermented exclusively with wild yeasts, with a varying proportion of whole grape clusters included. For aging, the wines are raised in old barrels and sulfur is only added at bottling, if needed.
The results are some of the most exciting and honest wines being produced in Spain today.
Fedellos loosely translates as "Brats", and Couto refers to the 12th century manor in Ribeira Sacra at the heart of the vineyards.
It's a young project, started in 2013 by Luis Taboada (whose family has owned the Couto manor for generations), and winemakers Curro Barreño and Jesús Olivares.
They lease 4 hectares of vineyards which are farmed organically and worked by hand - you couldn't do otherwise on these steep terraces! The vines are planted on terraces along the steep slopes of the rivers Sil and Bibei, with a myriad of grape varieties, altitudes, and expositions.
The wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts and whole bunches, at low temperatures to favour a gentle extraction of colour and phenolics. All the wines share an Atlantic freshness and a slatey minerality that make these wines unmistakably Galician.
Goyo comes from one of the most respected winemaking families in the Ribera del Duero. Greatly inspired by natural winemakers, like Pierre Overnoy from the Jura, Goyo started to produce his own naturally made wines in 2003.
He farms 3 tiny single-plots in the heart of Ribera del Duero, near the town of Roa. All of the vineyards are interplanted with white grapes, on different soil types and altitudes. The idea is to come back to the past and let the vineyard, rather than each individual grape variety, fully express itself. To accomplish this, he works with very old, traditionally head-pruned vines, harvests first for acidity, and then co-ferments red and white grapes, as things were done in Ribera del Duero back in the "good-old days."
All of his wines are de-stemmed, fermented exclusively with wild yeast, and nothing is added during elevagé (including SO2). The wines are raised in old French barrels at an underground, century-old cueva located in Gumiel del Mercado.
Goyo also makes wine in Cantabria, the region where his mother comes from, high up in the Picos de Europa mountain range. It is here where Goyo found a little known out-cropping of old vine Mencia and Palomino planted on pure broken slate. With the help of a winemaker from the area, Goyo uses similar practices as his Duero reds to produce beautiful mountain-laden, mineral-inflected natural wines.
Joan and Josep d’Anguera have been busy. On their father’s untimely death, and with the guidance of their mother Merce, the brothers have been working on their own approach to Montsant viticulture and deﬁning the style of wines that are produced in this up-and-coming D.O. of Spain.
Established in 1820, the Bodega is one of the oldest family-owned properties in the region. However now, despite seven generations of winemaking, the Bodega is deﬁning a “different” Montsant; one that isn’t trying to be a copy of Priorat.
Turning to biodynamic farming practices, crushing by foot and only partially de-stemming, the brothers now favour older barrels, foudres and cement tanks. Perhaps most importantly, Joan and Josep are now focused on Garnacha (or more appropriately, “Garnatxa”, the old Catalan name for the grape).
The resulting wines are a revelation for the D.O.
Returning to the lighter style of wines that were traditionally made in Montsant, Joan d’Anguera delivers highly approachable, yet elegant wines that balance soft, perfumed fruit with purity and freshness.
It takes tremendous conviction and creativity to come from one of Spain’s most respected wine-making families, leave the familiar (and extremely prosperous) Palacios terroir in La Rioja, and stake new roots in a tortured landscape, with a near-extinct grape.
And yet, Rafael saw the potential in the Godello grape and the Valdeorras D.O. of Galicia.
Choosing vineyards at the highest altitudes in limestone and schist soils, many of the hard to reach vines are over a hundred years old. With minimalist, organic farming practices and hand harvesting, the distinctly mountainous, mineral-driven wines have the structure and precision of the best Puligny-Montrachet.
Rimarts owes its name to the family patriarch, Ricard Martínez de Simón, who began the winery in the town of Sant Sadurni in 1987.
Today the brothers Ernest and Ricard continue developing some of the highest quality Cavas produced in Penedès using the traditional method demanded by the Cava D.O. Producing less than 80,000 bottles a year, all are aged a minimum of 15 months (in fact, the Uvae is aged for more than 60 months, almost unheard-of with Cava), resulting in quality over quantity.
The vineyards are planted with Macaque, Chardonnay, Parellada and Xarel-lo.
While having the utmost respect for traditions and the craft of making Cava, the Martinez brothers are innovative. The bottle designs are modern and the House has also created some unique Cavas: just wait until you try the Rosae - it is like nothing you have ever tried.