FINCA CASA BALAGUER
In 1740 a family of Catalan aristocrats from the village of Balaguer in Leida moved south to Alicante in search of riches, founding Finca Casa Balaguer. Centuries later, in the late twentieth century, the name was made inseparable from the burgeoning Spanish natural wine movement by a legendary figure named Rafa Bernabé. Rafa’s role in defining this region and elevating its distinct terroir and heirloom varieties brought him international renown. When his health began to take a turn for the worse, the vultures of the international wine world circled, hoping to buy the legendary estate. Instead, Rafa approached Andres Carull, son of a proud winemaking family, who had been working with Rafa for three years.
Andres and his wife Marta Ribera, along with their assistant Mick, have taken Rafa’s vision and expanded on it. Rafa always farmed organically, but Andres and company have introduced biodynamic practices. Rafa made his wines with very low sulfite additions, but today the wines are made without any added sulfite. The wines were always compelling, but now they are precise as well as lively.
This wine is a blend of 70% Alexandrian Moscatel and 30% Malvasia from La Mata. Due to the proximity to the sea, they benefit from early ripening and a long harvest period they believe to be one of the longest in the world. The grapes are fermented in steel tanks with a total of 30 days maceration before press.
The name translates as ‘a fine beak’ but is used to mean a good nose, capable of distinguishing real quality. The wine is 100% Monastrell and vinified using the Mille-Feuille technique. Layers of destemmed (but uncrushed) grapes are alternated with whole clusters until the tank is full. Aged in stainless steel.
EL CARRO DE LA MATA
Named for the old abandoned horse-cart found on the property, this is 100% Moscatel of Alexandria, made from a single plot of 50 year old ungrafted vines on sandy saline soil in La Mata. The grapes spend 30 days on the skins in amphora with 30% whole bunch and 70% destemmed but not crushed. The must is lightly pressed and then spends a further 4 months aging in locally made tinaja.
Although named for the Glasswort plant that thrives in the brackish Marshes of La Mata, the Salicornio Malvasia is from an old plot of family vines in Villena. The distance from the sea is further but the soils are marked by a high concentration of salt minerals in the bedrock left over from a time when the area was covered by sea water millenia ago. The grapes are destemmed and macerated with the skins for 5 days before pressing to concrete for the rest of fermentation and 5 months aging on gross lees under a layer of flor.