2019 Viticultor Envinate, Albahra, Vinos Mediterraneos, Almansa, Spain.
One of the most interesting and satisfying natural style red wines costing around twenty bucks, the beautiful dark black/purple Albahra Vino de Mesa (red table wine) from Envinate is a singular expression coming from a remote and unique place and from rare varietals, with this 2019, the latest release is best yet. Envinate, the gang of friends that met in college, is one of the world’s great wine success stories and known for their outstanding collection of offerings sourced from each of the friends’ region(s) of Spain, including the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands and the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, along with Estremadura and this particular wine, made in the Almansa region close to the town of Albacete near Castilla-La Mancha, influenced by the near by Mediterranean Sea. Made in a simple traditional way and made to be enjoyed young, the Albahra is made of mostly of Alicante Bouschet, the dark red-juiced grape that can be found throughout Spain, though almost never used as a primary or solo varietal, it has even found a home in Tuscany and in California where it is used mainly in Zinfandel based field blends in the Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley areas. The 2019 Envinate Albahra is a deeply hued wine that starts with a pretty floral perfume, exotic spices, earthy notes and fresh crushed briar laced blackberries that leads to a medium to full bodied palate with black fruit coating the mouth, adding plum, orange rind, minty herbs, fennel, mineral tones and a touch of chalk and cedar. There is an opulence of vine berry fruit, but at just 12.5% natural alcohol it is vibrant and with a bright tartness that gives a refreshing balance and makes this quaffable Rhone like Albahra superb with rustic cuisine from raw milk cheeses, cured meats and or grilled octopus.
The Envinate Albahra is made from about 70% Alicante Bouschet, also known as Garnacha Tintorera in Spain and 30% of Moravia Agria, an even more rare varietal that is noted for its high-acid and low alcohol tartness, which helps keep the warm climate ripeness in check in this wine with each grape getting fermented separately and blended together after aging. The Alicante Bouschet sees partial whole cluster with close to half getting stem inclusion with the hand harvested grapes foot-trodded and macerated in concrete vats with the indigenous yeast primary fermentation lasting just under two weeks and then aged on the fine lees in the cement for eight months, while the Moravia Agria is 100% de-stemmed and raised in well used French barriques without any stirring. After malos and its elevage the final blend is assembled with ultra low sulfur and bottled unfined and unfiltered to capture every nuance and its soulful expression. The grapes come from vines set on sandy clay-calcareous soils with the main parcel being head trained 30 to 50 years old up at 800 meters above sea level that allows for cool night time temps that helps fully ripen the fruit and retains acidity which gives this wine its complexity, lilac flower bouquet and zesty details. Envínate, which translates to “wine yourself”, is one of the coolest and exciting labels in Spain with Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and Jose Martínez producing these artisan and authentic efforts, which I highly recommend, especially their volcanic island Listan (Mission grape) bottlings as well as the Mencia based Ribeira Sacra series of wines, along with this Albahra of course. There is a signature transparency to all the Envinate wines, all of which are crafted from organic grapes, and a certain edgy naked rawness that is compellingly fun for the more adventurous wine lovers.
($18-26 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive