Against all odds, the natural wine movement perseveres. Even in the face of a restaurant apocalypse and a pandemic-fueled boxed wine resurgence, people continue to bang down our doors for low-intervention wines with eye-catching labels. Some are drawn by the promise of wines that eschew traditional tasting notes, jumping into the tasting lanes of, “funky,” “crunchy,” or “tangy,” while others are just eager to support the small farms and winemakers that create these unique bottles. Not sure what a natural (or, natty, as the kids say) wine is? Don’t worry, we made a podcast about it.
Luckily, we’ve recently acquired a whole new selection of these bottles from Sensus Wines, a Chicago-based importer with a wildly fun catalog of artisanal, natural wines from locations near and far. Here’s a taste of what’s (literally) in store, and don’t hesitate to put in an order right away; in true natty wine fashion, quantities on ALL of these bottles are very limited!
From Clot de les Soleres, located in Penedes, Spain, we’ve acquired a unique Pet-Nat made from 100% Macabeu ($29.99). If that sounds familiar, it’s because Macabeu is one of the “Big 3” grapes used to make Cava! Rarely bottled on its own, this wonderful pet-nat is lightly sparkling, with a palate that bursts with rich, ripe apple and candied orange peel flavors.
Also on offer from the same producer is a one-of-a-kind Cabernet Sauvignon ($32.99). When winemaker Carles Mora began replanting his vineyards to indigenous varietals, he left one patch of Cabernet Sauvignon alone that had been planted in the late ‘80s. The wine he makes from this plot is like no Cab we’ve experienced—a zingy, bright streak of tart cherry rings through the center of this wine, electrifying the edges of your mouth before settling into a classically full-bodied finish.
Nearby, in the town of Zamora, La Microbodega de Alumbro works with an equally unique patchwork of vines to craft “Malveral,” a blend of Malvasia and Palomino grapes that are allowed to ferment on their skins, yielding a wine that pours a golden amber color. Gently tannic, this “orange” wine has a dried apricot core that effortlessly pairs with a huge range of foods ($34.99).
While “light and fresh” isn’t our typical association for red wines from the Dão region of Portugal, the two bottles we’ve picked up from Quinta da Boavista are just that! These wines, with their whimsical, hand-drawn labels, will make you totally reconsider your opinion on Portuguse reds—guaranteed. “Lero-Lero” ($22.99) is made primarily from the Jaen grape (also known as Mencia in Spain, for all you grape-geeks out there) and tastes like biting into a fresh strawberry—feisty, juicy, and delicious. “Tretas” ($22.99) incorporates a more traditional slate of Portuguese grapes and shows darker blackberry flavors—imagine a full-bodied, classical Portuguese red whipped into meringue-like lightness.
Lying in the shadow of their better-known cousins from Barolo and Barbaresco, wines from the tiny hamlet of Ovada and its surrounding region—the Alto Monferrato—don’t get much love in the U.S. market. Hopefully, experiencing the wines of Rocco di Carpineto, a “radical winery” that produces its wines with maximal respect for the environment and minimal interference in the winery, will spur some interest in this underrated corner of Piedmont. Their “Aur-Oura” Dolcetto ($27.99) is a revelation, showcasing all of the beautiful dusty, dense black fruit that well-made Dolcetto can express, along with a streak of herbal lift and freshness.
Finally, we’re absolutely pumped to add two more options to our ever-growing Lambrusco section, proving once and for all that this bubbly red need not be condemned to the dumpsters of college house-parties. Ferretti Vini is a 100+ year old family operation in Emilia-Romagna, holding fast to their assertion that “the best Lambrusco is made in the vineyard, not in the wine cellar.” Their two Lambruscos, “Al Cer” ($27.99), deep-pink rosé, and “Al Scur” ($27.99), a fuller-bodied red, are stunningly dry, crisp, and utterly delicious. No sugary-sweet swill here—these are serious, yet way-too-easily-drinkable expressions of a terroir that is rarely given such a pure, well-crafted vehicle to show off in. Bravissimo!!