2020 Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego Vino de Aragón 91
Founded in 2004, the Grupo Jorge Ordóñez is a group of eight wineries, all owned and operated by Jorge Ordóñez, producing wines from thirteen different denominations of origin of Spain. The project was set up with the specific goal to help preserve and broadcast the quality of Spanish native grapes and wines (something that anybody who knows me even just a little knows is a subject close to my heart and a life-long passion). The wines are made as artisanally as possible and from very old vineyards (head-trained, dry farmed). The 2020 Bodegas Breca Garnacha de Fuego Vino de Aragón is a gem. A soft, round supple, liquid gem, but a gem nonetheless, and an inexpensive one at that. The wine is made with 100% Garnacha de Aragón, reportedly the world’s oldest Garnacha biotype, grown in the Barranco de la Rambla, Cerro Verde, Cerro del Cura, El Plano, La Laguna and other vineyards, planted between 1945 and 1985. Soils are mostly iron-rich red and black slate and quartz, with a thin calcareous layer. The majority of the vineyards receive no treatments and see minimal human intervention. The winemaking is likewise kept simple, with fermentation taking place with natural yeasts in stainless steel and concrete tanks (the wine is also aged briefly in tanks of those two materials). The colour is a deep, almost impenetrable bright purple-ruby. Aromas and flavours are literally in-your-face fruity and juicy, with hints of ripe blueberries, dark plum and cherry, coffee, and enlivened by lively but harmonious acidity. The wine is soft, supple and virtually tanninless, as any self-respecting Garnacha wine will tend to be. Best of all, the wine is just a joy to drink: think of it like a dark fruit cocktail with alcohol. It may not make old bones, but who cares? It’ll probably age longer too, but go ahead, drink this beauty up over the next couple of years so as to enjoy all its gloriously plump, juicy-fruity goodness at its best. Drinking window: now-2023.
Huré Frères NV Champagne Blanc de Blancs Inattendue 94
The wine’s name is ‘inattendue”, or unexpected. Well, who am I to argue, but in fact, if you know anything about Huré Frères and their exceptionally high quality Champagnes, the gorgeousness of this Blanc de Blancs is to be TOTALLY expected (in fact, the name of the wine is due to its unexpected ability to age long and well). Originally founded as Georges Huré and now boasting fifty years of history and counting, this Champagne house located in Ludes in the Montagne de Reims is run by Raoul and his two sons Francois and Pierre. The family goal is to highlight the characteristics of their vineyards and to produce wine in as eco-friendly manner as possible, respectful of nature. The Huré Frères NV Champagne Blanc de Blancs Inattendue is 100% Chardonnay grown in Ludes and Rilly La Montagne. The wine spends four to five years on the lees and is bottled with 2-5 g/L residual sugar, depending on the vintage. It is therefore classically dry, and drier than many Champagnes carrying the Brut designation, but in fact its Chardonnay fruit is so marvelously pure, precise and ripe and creamy that the wine comes across as having a hint of sweetness though it is clearly a classically dry wine. Bright pale straw-yellow in hue with a steady stream of small bubbles, it explodes from the glass with aromas of lemon verbena, jasmine, lemon and grapefruit. In the mouth it is at once lively and creamy, with a very well delineated set of flavours that bring vanilla, lemon custard, white peaches and minerals to mind. Remarkably well balanced and seamless, the finish is long, complex and highly satisfying, lifted by a bright floral overlay. In short, its is one of the best Blanc de Blancs I have had in some time, and given how much I drink and taste, believe me, that is really saying something. So maybe there was something unexpected there, after all. Drinking window: now-2025.