Joan Rubió/Tiques Ancestral Xarel-lo 2019

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Penedès, Catalonia, Spain
Fermented with native yeasts, unfiltered & unfined, no additional sulphites
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Immaculate stuff as always from señor Rubio, who during his time at Recaredo became a master of sparkling wine. This is Xarel-lo given the ancestral treatment (think pet-nat), but unlike a lot of the more wild, turbid examples of this style, here Joan shows that real finesse can be achieved. His wines are always impeccably clean, with a clarity that allows the varietal fruit to be properly tasted. It's a little like a sparkling version of his sublime Essencial - the white grapes macerate for around 9 days very gently and the wine is transferred to the bottles during the first fermentation. It sits in the bottle fermenting completely dry and sitting on the lees sediment for over a year before being disgorged by hand - this results in a wine with beautifully sleek, fine-beaded bubbles, and a lovely balance of salinity against the spiky citrus fruit. Incredibly well-executed stuff - this is a producer we implore you to try!

Joan Rubió’s family, like many others in the Penedès, stopped making wine in the 80s when a handful of large Cava estates created a monopoly, undercutting all the small producers and forcing them to sell their grapes instead. When Joan was in his 20s he took over the family’s vines and continued selling grapes to the Cava houses, but with a strong desire to make wine himself it wasn’t long before he began working for Recaredo, arguably the best Cava house in the region. In his 14 years at Recaredo he not only learnt a lot but he also in turn taught them much. Joan was the driving force in convincing Recaredo to convert their entire 50 plus hectares to biodynamic. To this day the estate remains continues to farm biodynamically, thanks in large part to Joan’s hard work.

In 2014 Joan decided to begin his transition to reviving the family tradition of vinifying their own grapes, and him and his wife Angels started Tiques. All of the wines are vinified with Joan and Angels’s family’s owns grapes, all farmed biodynamically and all within 15-20km of the Mediterranean. In the cellar they practice as little intervention as possible. Only a small amount of their cuvees have sulphites added, only when needed and in very small quantities.