There are a lot of unsung heroes in the natural wine world. Sure, there are superstars like Marcel Lapierre who worked hard to get things started and in the right direction, and his family name continues to receive incredible recognition for their contribution, rightly so. But, it’s also true that there are and have been many producers scatters in forgotten corners fighting the good fight who are not necessarily recognized for their hard work. I consider Bodega & Viñedo Marenas in Spain’s Córdoba one of these such producers. An ardent viticulturist and natural winemaker, José Miguel Márquez simply does everything right from the vineyards to the cellar, and his wines are somehow simultaneously both humble and serious. This month we’ll consider his most popular wine, a skin-contact white, as well as a brand new Tempranillo.
LaVeló is a new bottling, to the US market anyway, representing José Miguel’s attempt to make an interesting Tempranillo-based red for the glou-glou market. Lovers of both traditional Spanish reds and Beaujolais alike will find something to love in a class of this purity-driven Tempranillo. His fruit is sourced from his hometown of Montilla, where José Miguel has located himself in an effort to reinvigorate the local wine culture. Like all Marenas wines, the guiding philosophy here is much like that of the late, great Marcel Lapierre–wine made from 100% grapes, nothing added or taken away.
Bright red in the glass, LaVeló is exuberantly fruity on the nose, highlighting notes of fresh red plum, tart cranberry, and black pepper. Onto the palate, the wine is very fresh yet not without some tannic structure on the finish. A wine to quench thirst, it is best drunk cool and with food. Anything from Mexican fare to red meat will pair nicely.