2020 Envinate, Alicante Bouschet “Albahra” Chingao Vineyards, Almansa, Castile-La Mancha, Spain.
The special edition of Envinate’s Albahra 100% Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouschet, a red-juiced grape) is from a small organic, head trained, Mediterranean influenced vineyard set on the Almansa region’s clay and calcareous soils, making for a deeply opaquely purple/ruby and seductively fruit forward and spicy red wine that is a pure joy to drink in its fresh youthful form. This 2020 vintage is distinctive in style, though has the Albahra’s ever present and expressive personality, with its whole bunches vitality and crunchy fruits, mineral tones, as well as its range of spice and subtle earthy elements. This year’s version, a little lighter in frame than the 2019, shows peppered pomegranate, Italian cherry, brambly raspberry, red peach and candied citrus, as well as racy hot cinnamon notes. This is a lively and fresh red wine, that like Beaujolais can be served with a little chill on it, and its acidity makes it great with a wide range of cuisine choices, Envinate again provides us with a wine that has tons of personality in a balanced medium bodied wine. Envínate, which translates to “wine yourself” is a trust of four very talented Spanish natural winemakers led by Roberto Santana, Alfonso Torrente, Laura Ramos, and Jose Martínez, who are four friends that met while at college, where they all studied enology at the University of Miguel Hernández in Alicante and even though they were from vastly different areas in Spain, they wanted to make wine together, which they have done with great success. This edition and the regular yellow label bottling are wines to search out, these no pretense reds are impossible not to love and perfect quaffers for this Fall season.
Interestingly, as mentioned in my prior reviews, the Alicante Bouschet or Garnacha Tintorera grape is found throughout Spain, though almost never is made into a single varietal wine, which seems incredible, when the results, especially in this Envinate example, are so delicious! The grape has made a home for itself in parts of Italy and notably in California, where it is usually found in old heritage sites and used in field blends, though again rarely is the main component in any of the wines. It has played a background role in some of Ridge’s most tasty Zinfandels, plus it is found in parts of coastal Tuscany, as well as being a minor player in Mencia based wines in the Galicia region too. Also as noted before, Envinate’s winemaking is very low intervention and natural, relying mostly on vineyard work to produce their fabulous collection of unique wines, and while the world mainly knows about their stunning set of Canary Islands and Ribeira Sacra wines, which are both marked by their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, this Chingao Vineyards Albahra bottling is one of my favorites and it is one of the greatest values in their portfolio. The Albahra Alicante Bouschet (Garnacha Tintorera), which has red pulp and juice, is all foot-trodden in vat with lots of whole cluster and sees a natural spontaneous (indigenous) yeast primary fermentation, with about 6-10 days of skin and some stems maceration, to extract all the sexy color and complex array of flavors, then wine goes through malos and is raised on fine lees in concrete vats for around 8 months. This wine, bottled unfined and unfiltered, is ultra low in sulfites (or SO2) and is always wonderfully vivid and pure, it is an easy wine to recommend, but hard to get.
($36 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive