Villalobos Vinedo Silvestre 'Carignan' Reserve 2018
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When we say a wine is wild we usually mean it's got a rustic feel. But this wine comes from Carignan allowed to grow as actual wild vines — like, 18 feet up in the trees, wild. This is what grape vines do without humans wrangling them into neat rows, and it is so difficult and time consuming to pick grapes from vines that haven't been cultivated that I've never heard of anyone doing this before. I've heard of people with the resources and devotion to natural farming that wanted to do this but ended up throwing in the towel. Yet the Villalobos family have committed to this challenge, and it's quite a backstory. Natural wine doesn't really get much more natural than totally wild bush vines!
The wine itself is also a kind of wild, with some star anise, tapenade, barnyard, and black cherry. Though rustic, it is reigned-in enough to present as a layered, complex wine with lots of charm. The ripe, brambly fruit is complemented with crunchy earth and spice. Definitely a wine to reach for when firing up the grill. Fermented in steel and aged 18 months in neutral French oak, minimal sulfur added. Jonathan Kemp