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What our expert thought of Escoda-Sanahuja, Nas del Gegant




the tasting

The Tasting


This cherry-coloured wine is a medium but vivid ruby-red, looking decidedly youthful for a 2013.
 
When I first opened the bottle it didn’t just smell reductive: it smelt like scrumpy!  (Though even then there were promising dark berry scents behind the cloudy cider.)  I’ve come to realise that this yeasty stink is absolutely typical of natural wines, and nothing to worry about.  Decant them, be patient, and everything will come right.
 
And so it has proved.  The nose now is heavenly, all forest fruits and dark chocolate – organic, high-cocoa dark chocolate with raisined cranberries in it.  Pure and unoaked but surprisingly complex, it has red and black cherries, dark raspberries, rose petals, liquorice and sweet spice.  There’s also a distinct scent of roast red peppers from the Cabernet Franc.
 
The forest fruits continue on the palate: sour black cherry and bramble, joined later by cassis.  There’s a hint of green peppers (Cab F again) and an intriguing flavour of bitters, like Angostura.  Notes of balsamic and earth remind me that this is Spanish.  Very fresh and fully dry, this is only medium-bodied despite the 13.5% alcohol, but it’s complex and fine.
 
Fairly firm tannins on the notably savoury finish are nicely balanced by mouthwatering acidity, so that the wine ends very dry but only slightly drying around the gums.  Still, it’s crying out for food.


Assessment


Conventional wisdom says we’re mad to feature an all-natural wine like this on Decanting Club because the process of decanting into pouches inevitably introduces some oxidation, against which the wine is defenceless without SO2.  Indeed, when I described our decanting process to one very well-respected New Zealand winemaker at a trade tasting last year, he started to calculate what he reckoned were the minimum SO2 levels our wines would need to arrive intact!
 
But my experience of well-made natural wines defies that.  They almost invariably smell weird when first opened but then they blossom with air, even though it may take up to a day for the most extreme examples to turn from ugly ducklings into swans.  I discovered this wine at an all-Spanish tasting in February, where it was my favourite red of the day.  The nearly-empty bottle smelled and tasted great, while its newly-opened replacement was disconcertingly reductive.  All it needed was air and time.
 
I think this wine is worth that little bit of patience and forward planning.  It’s rewarding and energising to drink, and just gets better as you do.  Those unusual flavours of bitters may make it taste a bit like the world’s best dry red vermouth, but I love its purity and originality.  You don’t need chemicals to make great wine!



Tasting notes

Appearance
clear medium vivid ruby, youthful for 2013
Nose

Intensity medium+, complex & fine, though at first v. reductive, like scrumpy

Aromas forest fruits, dark chocolate with dried cranberries, red and black fruit (cherry, raspberry), floral (rose), roast red peppers, liquorice, sweet spice (clove, nutmeg)

Development developing
Palate

Sweetness very dry

Acidity medium+

Body medium, despite 13.5%

Tannins medium+, quite firm

Intensity medium(+?)

Flavours forest fruits (sour black cherry, bramble), cassis on afterpalate, bitters (like Angostura), green peppers, balsamic, earth
Finish

Length medium

Flavours very savoury, nice acid/tannin balance, very dry but not too drying
Other notes
Wonderful nose, but needs lots of air. Very fresh, great energy. Pure & unoaked. A grower.


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