"In like a Lion, out like a Lamb” is a term we New Englanders hear all the time regarding the month of April. Although winter is officially over, it is reluctant to release April from its icy grip, giving us cold, wind, and if we are really lucky (insert sarcasm here), snow. As we get closer to May, winter relaxes, parting the clouds, warming the earth, and invites the flowers to bloom.
The transition from winter to spring is rocky, however, vacillating weekly or even daily from ferocious to mild. This fluctuation is the reason both "lion" wines and "lamb" wines are so à propos! April is a wild ride, for sure, but a deliciously interesting one, thanks to the diversity of wine styles that are available to us.
With all of this in mind, Cat has selected two red wines that represent the extremes of this volatile month: "The Lion & The Lamb". One is robust and brawny, while the other is lithe and graceful. Both will tantalize your palate!
2016 Bodegas Cerro Chapeu Tannat "Batovi T1"
This is an iconic wine that is powerfully structured, intense, and polished. Crafted from 100% tannat from a famous vineyard, it is celebrated as the best tannat in Uruguay.
The tannat grape is Uruguay's signature varietal and produces wines with very high levels of tannins, which are rich in antioxidants as well as high levels of procyanidins - 3 to 4 times those found in cabernet sauvignon. They are known to combat the aging of cells in the body as well as reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
Bodegas Cerro Chapeu is located on Batovi soils (hence the name, T1 being the parcel where this famous wine is grown); these are deep, red, sandy soils of low fertility, forcing the vines to do what they do best and dig deep for hydration and nutrients. These soils are considered to be among the oldest in South America, representing the perfect terroir for the tannat grape.
Plot T1 was identified years ago as the best Tannat source at the estate. T1 brings forth ultra-ripe grapes that are harvested by hand and bottled with minimal handling. As a result, a heady, complex wine is obtained, an exemplary tannat with elegant and full-bodied tannins.
2020 Sandra Bravo Sierra de Tolono Tinto, Rioja Alavesa, Rioja, Spain
Freshness. Balance. Elegance.
These are the hallmarks of the remarkable wines Sandra Bravo has made her calling card at Sierra de Toloño. Her talent has rapidly established her as one of the most exciting winemakers in the region.
Cat recently had the pleasure of meeting Sandra at an industry wine tasting. As she spoke of her career trajectory spanning various apprenticeships at wineries throughout the world and culminating in the establishment of her own winery, Sandra's reverence for terroir and passion for her craft were palpable. It was evident that she saw untapped potential in the rough terrain of her homeland; her wines reveal the realization of this potential in their authentic, terroir-driven beauty. Sandra is indeed a born winemaker.
Located high in the foothills of the Sierra de Tolono, in Rioja Alavesa, Sandra works in some of Rioja's oldest and highest-altitude vineyards, growing garnacha, tempranillo, viura, and graciano. In her small winery, she works with steel, clay, and old oak, translating the mountainous landscape into pure and expressive wines. Her delicately shaped, intensely pure wines are a revelation.*
Master of Wine Tim Atkin describes Sandra Bravo as ‘hugely talented’ and as "making 'incredible wines from extreme sites just 7 years into her solo project at Sierra de Toloño". Tim Atkin MW has awarded Sandra Bravo his ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ in his 2019 Spain Report.*