September 2018 Selection

High altitude wines

September 2018 Selection

Cara Nord Negre 2015 (2 bottles)
Mirlo Blanco 2017 (2 bottles)
La Clave 2016 (2 bottles)

Normal retail price: £57.85
Club Discount Price: £49.73
You save: £8.12 (14.04%)

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About this selection...

The altitude that vines are grown at is a determining factor for the profile of a wine, influencing its aroma and taste. As is well known, at higher altitudes there are significant temperature differences between day and night which, in turn, leads to more concentrated aromas in the wines produced from these vines. Grapes ripen more slowly in higher vineyards as plants rest more at night thanks to the low nighttime temperatures. Their aromas develop more gradually and the wines thus gain in complexity. Wines from high-altitude vines also tend to be fresher than those planted at lower levels as the temperature drops by just over half a degree for every one hundred metre gain in altitude, which is clearly seen in the vertical character of such wines.

The colour of wines made from grapes grown at altitude is usually a lively one, a faithful reflection of their acidity which, in turn, also ensures the wines have a better evolution. The fruit is more expressive, influenced by the aromas of the plants and trees surrounding the vineyards. At high altitudes the soils are poorer, losing nutrients due to erosion. This forces the vine roots to go deeper searching for vital nutrients which leads to wines with a greater minerality and complexity. Other key factors in the production of high altitude wines are the wind and sunlight. The strong winds blowing high up on hillsides make for healthier plants, which also receive more sunlight, leading to more intense aromas in the wines.

The three wines we propose today all come from vines planted at altitudes between 500 and 800 metres high and are remarkable for the expressiveness of their fruit and their freshness. The Cara Nord Negre, Mirlo Blanco, and La Clave wines are wines which transmit the soil and landscape they grow in; wines truly influenced by the altitude they come from.

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Cara Nord Negre 2015 (2 bottles)

Young red Crianza. Cara Nord Conca de Barberà, Spain Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre

Bottle: £7.68 club members / £8.94 non-members


The Cara Nord (meaning 'the north face of a mountain' in Catalan) wine is a coupage of Grenache, Syrah, and Garrut (Monastrell) varieties, grown in different soils — chalky, clay, slate — combining old vines with younger ones. Most of the vines were planted in the year 2000 at a height of between 700 and 800 metres, in the area of Vimbodí i Poblet.

The grapes undergo cold maceration before fermenting at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks with native yeasts. The finished wine is then stood to age in different-sized French oak barrels for five or six months before standing in underground concrete tanks for a further five months.

Its captivating aromas remind us of eucalyptus and bay leaves (aromas which grow on decantation), soil and ash, juicy wild fruits, scrub-bush, dry flowers, and pepper; somewhat reminiscent of Rhône wines. Year after year, the more primary aromas move aside as the wine gains in complexity and depth; it becomes slightly bitter but still retains its fruitiness. Clear notes of cherry and ash mix with soothing balsamic hints, which are almost medicinal. Juicy and medium-bodied on the palate, with fine tannins and a little minerality, this wine is a very pleasant drink, and easy to interpret. The Cara Nord winery does not include the Trepat, the most well-known variety in the D.O. Conca de Barberà appellation, in this coupage but still achieve a fresh wine with sensations of cold spices.

Duck with red fruits / spicy grilled swordfish

  • Alcohol content: 14,5%
  • Optimum serving temperature: Between 14ºC and 15ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2020.

Cara Nord Negre 2015
Front and back

Mirlo Blanco 2017 (2 bottles)

Barrel Aged white. Alegre Wines & Spirits Rueda, Spain Verdejo

Bottle: £10.44 club members / £12.14 non-members


Mirlo Blanco is a white wine produced by Alegre Wines & Spirits, the new project of Toni Omedes Alegre, who belongs to the fourth generation of a family dedicated to the world of wines and spirits. The prestigious oenologist Pilar García, with 15 years of winemaking experience in Rueda, has the freedom to let her imagination run loose and develop Mirlo Blanco using her personal creativity to the full.

The history of Rueda and its most famous grape variety are expressed through this Verdejo in much the same way the family of Pilar herself is linked to this region. The vineyards used for Mirlo Blanco are in La Seca, with bush vines ranging between fifty and seventy years old planted according to a traditional staggered pattern known as tresbolillo. The plants are grouped together in fives rather like the layout on the fifth side of a dice. They grow in clay soil, covered with pebbles and sand thanks to the closeness to a river. The continental climate at this altitude of 700 m provides the grapes with their character and ensures big differences between night and daytime temperatures.

Half of the wine is fermented in 300-500 litre barrels and the other half in stainless steel tanks where the wine stands with its fine lees until March, when both wines are blended together. The wood is used to round off and give body to the wine, not to hide its flavour behind wooden aromas. In each bottle of Mirlo Blanco, whose design in white and orange colours reminds us of the plumage and beak of the bird (mirlo blanco is a white-coloured blackbird), there awaits a wine not created for the mass market but for those wine-lovers who are real fans of the Verdejo variety. It has a lush nose with an interesting combination of vegetable and citric aromas. Moderately creamy, smooth and discretely tropical, this is a fresh and salty wine. New aromas appear as you drink it, such as peach, gooseberry, or hay. It has a bitter and vegetable finish, reflecting the essence of the grape variety and rounding off a fatty but fresh wine, with hints of lime and subtle notes of anise.

Smoked eel / cheeses with herbs

  • Wine Tasting Notes:
    • Colour
      Straw yellow / clean / bright
    • Bouquet
      Fruit aromas / white fruit / citrus notes / vegetal notes
    • Palate
      Full / elegant / rounded
  • Alcohol content: 13,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: 8ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2020.

Mirlo Blanco 2017
Front and back

La Clave 2016 (2 bottles)

Young red Crianza. Raúl Pérez Viticultor Bierzo, Spain Mencia, Syrah, Tempranillo

Bottle: £6.75 club members / £7.84 non-members


The creativity and wisdom of winemaker Raúl Pérez knows no limits. Wine after wine, this oenologist and vine-grower from El Bierzo, a wine-producing region in north-west Spain, has shown us the full potential of Spanish vines. Grapes are collected from vineyards in the calcareous clay soils of Valtuille in this region to produce the La Clave wine. This land is full of character and in the right hands, its grapes and wines delight wine-lovers and swiftly become benchmark wines.

The majority of grapes used are hand-harvested Mencia (90%). These are partially separated from the stems and fermented with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks and 5,000-litre oak barrels. Maceration is carried out with regular punch-downs (pigéage) for a month to extract all the qualities of the crispy grape skins.

Following 12 months ageing in used French oak barrels, La Clave offers us a wonderful purple colour of medium intensity, with a lush nose unusual in a wine in this price range. It exudes plentiful aromas, from bay leaves and ash, to cool notes of minerals, violets, or fresh red fruit. On decanting, fine notes of smoke or sandy dust appear. Shy to start with, this wine soon becomes austere and deep, thanks to its rough tannins and fine acidity. Although it has a small amount of Syrah and Tempranillo grapes, La Clave is a clear example of what a Mencia wine is; smoky, fresh, and complex, with a good mineral background and fruit which stands well through its ageing. It has an after-taste of malt and peat reminding us of dark beer, with fine but slight hints of wood.

Grilled rabbit / smoked sausages / Gouda

  • Wine Tasting Notes:
    • Colour
      Picota cherry red / medium-high density / ruby-red glints / clean / bright
    • Bouquet
      Clean / complex / floral aromas / violets / fruit aromas / black fruit / raspberry / redcurrants / mineral notes / spicy notes / white pepper / liquorice / undergrowth notes / rosemary
    • Palate
      Full / concentrated / balanced / fresh / pleasant tannins / long finish / persistent / flavoursome / good acidity / well-integrated wood / easy to drink
  • Alcohol content: 14,0%
  • Optimum serving temperature: 14ºC
  • Drink now or keep until 2021.

La Clave 2016
Front and back

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