Escoda Sanahuja, Els Bassots Chenin Blanc, Catalonia, Spain 2014
This isn’t some pristine, ripping-ly acidic Chenin Blanc, but, man, is it honest and pure. There is an ease about it, a substantive treat that’s still playful, piquant, quaffing, and full of juicy pineapple, tart lemon, and fresh herbs. Extended skin contact imparts texture, and a smokey almost flinty character; It’s satisfying like whoa. My mouth was watering at every sip! It’s tightly packed with ripe yellow fruit that’s balanced with a salinity and firmness, making it ultra-lean, not mushy. In the glass it’s a golden haze, unfiltered and seductive like that fuzzy warm light pouring through your window and mingling with the atmospheric what nots in the afternoon.
100% Skin-Fermented Chenin Blanc aged in Amphora for 8 months!
Escoda Sanahuja Nas del Gegant, Catalonia, Spain 2014
Dark and a bit brooding, this is a Loire-inspired blend full of cassis, black cherry, charred herbs, and roasted peppers. Earthy tannins twist and turn in slow motion like a trail of smoke from a blown out candle making its way to wherever it pleases. Abundant dark purple fruits, licorice, and dust mingle with woodsy violet and an indistinguishable - possibly entirely fictitious - berry note…let’s call it shnozzberry. Super satisfying with a freshness that makes it too easy to drink. These are familiar flavors, but with a bit of a wild streak, a welcome surprise. Like getting flowers for no reason. Or taking a vacation in the off season. Let’s go!
Escoda Sanahuja ‘Conca de Barbara’ Les Paradetes, Catalonia, Spain 2013
Spiced, red, and juicy. It was more serious than I expected, but the ripe raspberry and cherry pop slap you in the mouth cheerfully, and you don’t really have to pay attention all that much to enjoy this. Super zingy, more red fruit than black, with a kicky little pepper at the end. There’s a punchy, cobbler-like zing going on, bright and juicy and utterly enjoyable.
Blend of: Garnacha, Mazuelo and Sumoll Tinto.
Escoda-Sanahuja is the joint force of Joan Ramón Escoda and Carmen Sanahuja in the Conca de Barberà in central Catalunya, where they’ve worked organically from the start, switching to biodynamics in 2003. The wines are made without any added sulphur dioxide and unfiltered. The duo farms a tiny total of 10 hectares, but that includes olive and almond trees, vegetables, and livestock - the biodiversity encourages a richer, more nutrient-dense soil. The weather is definitely Mediterranean but much cooler than the neighboring Penedes and Priorat (to the north) and Terra Alta (to the south), which is really evident in the wines: these are not overly fleshy, highly alcoholic beasts. They are wines of substance, restrained but generous, and made extremely well. You can taste it.
Escoda himself is definitely one of the most restless and consistent champions of the natural movement - he’s a co-founder of PVN, the Spanish Association of Natural Wine makers, and both gents are active members of the Mediterranean Biodynamic Work Group. Still - and this I love - Escoda is pretty skeptical about how fashionable natural wines have become because no organization exists to control what happens in the vineyards or the wineries. So, he insists that only the wine itself can do the talking. And his wines speak: of their natural and gentle production methods, of their beautiful, serene, and moving place origin, and of a real person who is dedicated to reflecting those elements so truthfully that you can taste them all in each heaping mouthful.
Helpful hint: these wines will all benefit from decanting, and if you don’t have a decanter, use a science beaker or a pitcher with a narrow opening and wider base. And, if you don’t have any of that, allowing them some time in the glass will really pay off; they’re delicious from the start and only get better with a little time to unwind.
Fun fact: If you ever get down to Espana, Escoda is a partner in Barcelona’s Bar Brutal, a wine bar that focuses solely on naturally-made wines.