As an importer there’s a number of ways to stumble upon interesting producers.
Of course there are the exhibitions and salons, from massive events in sterile halls to rowdy gatherings in freezing caves. Or one of your winemakers turns you on to their cousin or former employee who’s working some still-obscure magic in a nearby village. Or you simply read about an interesting domain online and email them to see if they’ve got any wine left to sell.
Or, as we discovered last year, you just happen to have cool customers with equally cool friends that just happen to make unique wines in Southeast Spain.
Under the name of Cap de Nit, Josie Cleeve and Joshua Kniesel produce delicious low-intervention wines from Moscatel and Giró grapes, grown in the coastal region of Marina Alta, Alicante. Having studied enologie and viticulture in Germany and after stints and renowned estates in Chile and Spain, a few years ago the couple set up their own project in the small village of Alcalilí.
Here they vinify grapes that they either harvest themselves at or buy from traditional farmers in the area. From the start Josie and Joshua were convinced these vineyards of old, dry-farmed bush-vines could be used for making great natural wines, even though few were doing it here.
And now that all 4 cuvées have made it to Amsterdam, we can say we whole-heartedly agree! Each one a light-weight, lively and eminently digestible wine, richly textured but surprisingly relaxed on the palate. We’ve got:
Local red grape Giró, vinified into almost Pinot Noir-like delicacy through very short and careful maceration, aged 8 months in tank. Great aperitif red to be served with a light chill on the bottle.
Dry and crunchy Moscatel made with a few days of skin-contact, aged for 8 months in amphora. Beautiful integration of floral aromatics and smoky-yeasty action, and surprisingly smooth on the back-end.
Elegant but uplifting orange wine, Moscatel made with 3 weeks of skin-contact and aged for almost a year in amphora. Here the longer maceration brings out a more deeply tropical side while also adding more complex notes of musk and burnt orange. Refreshing tannins and a bit more nervy on the palate than the ‘Blanc’, gorgeous wine.
More firmly extracted but still completely free-floating rendering of Giró, aged for 12 months in amphora. Fun mix of peppery, herbaceous and lightly animalic aromas with brighter notes of ripe cherry and raspberry. Mouth-filling juice but seemingly weightless, drink lightly chilled but less so than the ‘Vermell’.