THIS MONTH, we'e featuring Bodega Matsu, with the manager of Vintae Wines, Ricardo Arambarri. You might remember Marta Plana, our featured importer for our very first month of Curate Wine Club. Marta represents Vintae with her importing company, the Winetones, and brought us together with Richi. I'd like to introduce Richi to share about this incredible winery in his own words, just for Curate Wine Club members. If you enjoy these wines, the fourth wine in this collection, La Jefa, is available with limited stock at curatewineclub.com!
“When I was barely 23 my father felt seriously ill (he is gladly recovered now), so I had to take care of the wineries and the projects that he had previously started in his homeland Rioja. I consolidated them, and followed-up the exploration in order to add new wine areas, as Navarra, Ribera del Duero and Toro. Toro was one of the great discoveries on those first Vintae years. I was astonished by the huge extension of very old vineyards, some of them even previous to filoxera, that I saw in a D.O. quite unknown at that time (mid 2000s) but which I sensed was full of potential. I wanted to break the Toro reputation of strong wines by transferring the classical Riojan “touch” of kind and elegant wines. I was shocked to meet Juan, a winegrower of the area who trust the rhythm of Nature, letting Nature take its course and using ancient techniques inherited from popular wisdom. This wisdom, shared for all this country men that I meet, pushed me to put all of them in the centre of the project. The faces of “El Pícaro” (the sly boy), “El Recio” (the strong man), “El Viejo” (the old man), and “La Jefa” (the female boss) are, without any doubt, the best Toro introduction around the world. Three red wines and one white wine, real handcrafted wines with our Vintae seal, fresh wines which let the vineyard talk.” – Ricardo
This month’s Cúrate Wine Club is going to be a little bit different! With Sherry Week right around the corner,
(November 8th through 14th,) there couldn’t be a better time of year to introduce you all to the amazing world of sherry.
I have been dying to send our members a special box of sherry, and could not think of a better person to work with for this shipment than my friend Lucas Paya. When I think about my journey of learning and getting excited about wine, Lucas is the one who has taught me so much along the way – about sherry, and wine in general! I had the pleasure to work with him first at elBulli in Spain, and we went on to opening several restaurants together for José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup. I would manage service, with Lucas in charge of the beverage program. If it wasn’t for those experiences, and all I had the opportunity to learn by working alongside him, I would never have understood how the wine list should work when opening Cúrate! Overall he has been a huge influence and such a support to us, often visiting to guide our staff in educational trainings and cheer us on at Cúrate. Now, Lucas is the brand ambassador for Lustau, and the person who guides us to understand sherry better, how to drink it, and what to pair it with! – Felix
Discover the European grape...or should I say the Mediterranean grape? Did you know that Catalonia is the area with the most Garnacha in the world?
Garnacha is the Mediterranean variety par excellence, and Catalonia offers many different expressions thanks to diverse microclimates and soils. It has the ability to deliver complex, structured and well balanced wines. You can find Garnacha as both a red or white grape, so the wine itself can be red, white, or rosé. Because of that, Garnacha is one of the most versatile and diverse grape varieties ~ LOVE GARNACHA!
We teamed up with European Cellars and Kellog Selections to offer you an incredible expression of this amazing grape from three different Southern Catalonian regions. SALUT!
The story of Familia Fernández Rivera is incredible. The family is truly the driving force behind the DO Ribera del Duero. It all began with Alejandro Fernández and his wife, Esperanza Rivera, when they purchased a 16th century stone wine press where they began to produce their first wines. In the 1970s, they went against the norm in the area planting grapes instead of beets in an area that had never been known for producing wine - Ribera Del Duero. Since launching Tinto Pesquera in 1975, Familia Fernández Rivera has created what many critics consider some of the top wines in the world, with a focus on reds.The family was integral in the classification of the Ribera del Duero DO in 1982.As of 2019, the granddaughters of Esperanza and Alejandro are at the helm of the company - managing a diverse business of four wineries (Tinto Pesquera, Condado de Haza, Dehesa La Granja and El Vínculo), and Hotel Pesquera, showing an ability to innovate, adapt and grow.
In this shipment, you’ll taste wines from 3 of the 4 wineries. El Vínculo Alejairén Crianza is the only white wine made by the family. The grape variety is 100% Airén. You may not recognize the grape in conjunction with wine, but it’s the primary grape used in brandy production. This winery is located in DO La Mancha. Dehesa La Granja is truly a farm setting - cheese, olive oil and chickpeas are also produced on this land. The winery is located in Castilla y Leon, and was purchased by Familia Fernández Rivera after establishing Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in Ribera del Duero, the source of the final wine in the shipment. Classically Ribera del Duero, Condado de Haza is full in body, but extremely well-rounded and balanced. It’s a display of the close relationship that Alejandro Fernandez had with the Tempranillo grape.
It is a pleasure to introduce you to these selections. They are staples of Spanish wine, and it’s amazing to bring them together in a shipment for you to taste and process. We have a surprise coming to you with this one… an accompanying olive oil produced by Dehesa La Granja, our gift to you. Thank you so much for being a part of what we are building.
~ Felix Meana
Our Wine Program Manager, Jessica Salyer visited José Luis Mateo on a recent trip to Spain. She can attest firsthand that his methodology as a grower and winemaker is highly regarded throughout the Spanish wine world. Mateo focuses on farming organically and biodynamically, and has for the past 25 years. Mateo is making a name for himself, and for Galicia’s lesser-known DO, Monterrei. Monterrei is remote, and somewhat wild, as are the grapes that grow there, such as Doña Blanca, Treixadura, Verdello, Monstruosa de Monterrei.
The importer of these wines, Olé & Obrigado, represents a collection of fine wines crafted by family-owned wineries in Spain and Portugal. A collaboration among business partners Patrick Mata, Alberto Orte and Rui Abecassis, Olé & Obrigado is a highly specialized wine import company offering the most comprehensive and well-curated collection of wines from the Iberian Peninsula available in the U.S.
If you joined the club to get your hands on small batch, hard-to-find Spanish wine, you’re in the right place. Consider this, the Cúrate Spanish Wine Club order for the August shipment is the largest PO that winemaker and proprietor José Luis Mateo has ever had from the United States, and all that wine is headed out to our members. It’s very exciting for us, and we hope for you too. As we approach our one year anniversary (in October!) The significance of the impact that we’re making on these small producers isn’t lost on us. Thank you all for being a part of it.
A signature of the Basque Country’s winemaking style, Txakoli or Txakolina is characteristically high in acid, and low in alcohol - making it refreshing and easy-drinking during the hot summer months. Ametzoi owns twenty hectares of estate vineyards, in a desirable position facing the Bay of Biscay. Views of the Ameztoi vineyards around Getaria are dramatic, with green landscapes meeting steep cliffs descending into the ocean. All of these wines pair well with seafood - clams, whole grilled fish, squid - we recommend a seafood extravaganza!
When we talk about txakoli there are a few things to know - the Basque winemaking style leaves a little trapped CO2 - so drink it young! Don’t worry about wine glasses here - try a high-sided stemless glass. Try getting a little height on the pour - bubbles are a good thing here. Make sure to chill the white and rose to cold, and put a slight chill on the red. Have a porron on hand? This is the perfect wine to put in a porron!
Lastly, here you have Ameztoi Txakolina, Rubentis and Simatum - a white, a rose, and a red. The white Txakoli employs Hondarribi Zuri, a white grape that represents about 90% of production in the area. It’s the typical varietal of Txakoli. Rubentis is a 50/50 blend of Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza, a red grape that is unrelated to the Zuri varietal and tastes quite different. The last wine, Simatum, is 100% Hondarribi Beltza, “Beltza” meaning “black” in Basque. All three are refreshing, light and perfect for this time of year.
A note from Jessica Salyer, Curate Wine Program Manager.
Here in Western North Carolina, hiking is a big part of life! Late spring is an amazing time of year when the mountain laurels are blooming, and it's time to get out and explore, forage for chanterelles, play in a mountain stream, and connect with nature. For this month's shipment, I wanted to draw a parallel with the hiking culture here, and a popular hike – actually a pilgrimage – in Spain: El Camino de Santiago. For this shipment, we're focusing on wineries along the pilgrimage route. Read more about the Camino below, and explore the wines with us! Maybe you'll be inspired to add a new trip to your bucket list!
The Camino de Santiago, or “Way of Saint James,” is a popular pilgrimage leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. Santiago de Compostela means “St James of the Field of Stars,” named for the Apostle Saint James the Great, who is believed to be buried there. This pilgrimage isn’t one particular trail, but a large network of routes that begin in different cities throughout Spain, Portugal, and France. Most popularly hiked is the Camino Francés – a nearly 500 mile trail starting in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France, crossing the Pyrenees and continuing west across Spain. People began walking these trails as early as the 9th century, though in the beginning, pilgrims’ “starting point” was their own front door! Like the Appalachian Trail that runs through WNC, Camino trails beckon explorers from all walks of life.
Be it for spiritual or recreational reasons, hundreds of thousands put their feet to the trails each year, stopping to stay in albergues (hostels) along the way. Travelers taking on the Camino will pass by some of Spain’s most famous cathedrals, medieval towns, and – lucky for Spanish wine lovers – wine country! La Rioja, Castilla y León, or Ribera del Duero are a few wine regions hikers may encounter along the way. In the Navarro region, Bodegas de Irache even has a wine fountain, where hikers can stop for a sip of red wine from the tap!
In 2019, I was invited along with a group of folks from the Spanish wine world to check out the Canary Islands in person - the first time that I had ever been! It was an eye-opening adventure in a landscape like I’ve never seen before. I’m thrilled to share some of my favorite wines from the Canary Islands with you for the May wine club shipment!
The Canary Islands or Las Canarias is an archipelago of small islands located 100 km off the Moroccan coast. It’s home to a wide variety of grapes growing nowhere else in the world. The islands themselves are other-worldly, formed by volcanoes and battered by Atlantic trade winds, helping to define some of Spain's most unique wines. Many vines are planted almost upside down, in holes that help protect them from the winds. They are knotted, gnarly and strong - signs of the toughness the maritime climate requires. In the Canary Islands, you’ll find some of the oldest vines in Spain. During the phylloxera blight in Europe in the early 1900s, they were largely protected because of their isolation.
The varietals in this shipment are most notably found in Las Canarias - you may not recognize them!
- Listán Blanco & Listán Negro: much variability in style, from rose wines to low-tannin reds
- Albillo Criollo: a white grape with a delicate fragrance and fresh, citric palate
- Malvasía Volcanica: an obscure variant only grown on the island of Lanzarote, fresh and floral followed by a slight spice and acidity
- Negramoll: universally described by winemakers as the Pinot Noir of the Canary Islands
My good friend and guide to all things Las Canarias is Jessica Gualano. She’s no stranger to Asheville - she used to run a wine shop in town called Wine Studio. Before Cúrate opened, she was kind enough to let me use the shop to meet wine reps and taste wines when I was creating our first wine list. Now, Jessica manages national sales for Bowler Wines, a small importer with a diverse portfolio focused almost exclusively on small growers, especially ones who employ a non-interventionist approach in the vineyard and cellar. Jessica has been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years, with a career spanning restaurant, retail, wine education and consultation. Bowler Wines is well-known as the most important US importer of wines from the Canary Islands.
Walking through the grocery store, you might see the word "natural" on a huge variety of items. But what does it mean in reference to wine? Natural wine is a sweeping trend in Spain at the moment. As our education through Spanish wine continues, this is one section that we can't skip over. We've discussed and tasted several regions, wine making methods from stainless steel to amphora, sparkling wines, and even Asturian cider. In March, we are diving into Spain's natural wine movement.
Natural wine is a new world for a lot of us. I will acknowledge that they have a bad reputation in some circles. We're here to break down that barrier. After all, natural wines have always been there – they're the foundation that modern wine was built on today. And, they are making a resurgence for good reason – they're intricate, interesting, and delicious. We love natural wines as well as the other styles mentioned above. There's room for everyone at the Cúrate table.
Enter, Alvaro with Selections de la Viña! My friend and partner in crime. He's bringing the best of Spain's natural wines to the US right now, and he's the guide for this journey. Alvaro chose three beautiful and highly regarded examples of natural wines for this month's shipment.
We'll begin with Cauzón, a tempranillo wine by winemaker Ramon Saavedra. Ramon believes that his terruño – his land – "speaks for itself," without much of what we think of as winemaking required. Next is MicroBio, and aromatic 100% Verdejo with a hazy sunrise color in the glass. Winemaker Ismael Gozalo has been named "El Mago de las Verdejos," or, Wizard of the Verdejos, after the way his process resembles pure sorcery! This is a winemaker that exceeds all expectations even when we think we've seen it all!
Lastly is the beautiful, golden Toledo Pampaneo Ancestral; made with a grape that we normally see in Spanish brandy, the Airén grape. The result here is an herbaceous, bubbly sparkling white.
Prepare to taste wine rooted in tradition. Grapes are handpicked, native yeasts are used alongside natural fermentation. You won't find any additives here. These wines are intact and alive! Alvaro calls them "Viños Vivos!"
February is here, and soon we will be welcoming spring in the mountains. Before that happens, we're sure to have a few more chilly nights in quarantine - February's wines will be there to warm you up!
This month, we partnered with importer Nuria Garrote i Esteve of VinºVi & Co. to bring you a selection of memorable wines! Nuria was born in Barcelona, so she's from the same area of Spain where I was born - Catalunya. Her portfolio is exciting. It's a roster of small growers and producers that are on the cutting edge of modern wine-making in Spain. All three of the wines in this shipment are harvested by hand and have small production – the 2018 ONA Penedes Blanc being the smallest at less than 500 cases! Sticking with ONA Penedes Blanc for a moment, it's bright and exceptionally clean and structured, with acidity that complements a variety of foods. Winemaker Raimon Badell Rosés makes this with 100% Xarel-lo, a native grape used primarily for cava, but used here in a still wine that’s also organic and low sulfite.
Moving on to the reds - Castell d'Encús Thalarn is a red Costers del Segre from the Pyrenees – farmed at about 2,950 feet (about the same altitude as many locations around Asheville!) This wine is made from 100% Syrah by winemaker Raül Bobet, who also makes some of the most well-received Priorat wines in Spain at the moment. If you're looking for an option to cellar – this would be great! This wine is a true “Vin de Garde,” and continues to develop with age. This wine is really unique, in Raül’s winemaking process the wine is fermented in recovered 12th century stone pools called “Lagares” in a historical monastery in Catalunya.
Lastly, Pas Curtei – a blend of Merlot, Carinyena and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine has intense red and black fruit aromas, with a medium body. Overall, it is powerful, but well-balanced, and pairs well with many of the hearty winter dishes we are enjoying this season!
Can't wait to hear your feedback on these – see you on the next virtual tasting and cooking demo, save the date for February 24th!
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