Raul Perez – Wines with a Sense of Place

Raul Perez is the official crazy guy of non-interventionist, world-class winemaking.  He reportedly never answers emails, rarely answers his phone and won’t converse in English (though like most educated Europeans, could).  He is, however, a very serious and dedicated wine-maker and is well connected and well liked in the world of Spanish wine.  He was born into a wine-making family that has been making wine in the Bierzo region since 1752.  Even with that heritage he trained academically as a wine maker and started his own winery in 2003 at the age of 31.  Among other accolades, Raul was named “Winemaker of the Year” by German publication Der Feinschmecker in 2014 and “Best Winemaker in the World” for 2015 by the French publication Bettane + Desseauve.  In the February 2018 Decanter, Master of Wine Pedro Ballesteros wrote, “Raúl Pérez is the archetype of the intuitive winemaking genius.” 

His guiding ethos has always been to produce wine that express the terroir of a locale, believing that wine is made in the vineyard, not after-picking manipulations in the winery.  He works mostly in Bierzo, and Bierzo is all about Mencia, a spicy, gamey, expressive grape which is sometimes described as a cross between Syrah and Pinot Noir.  As with most producers in the region there is always a small, added field blend mix of several other local varietals. The wines are whole-cluster fermented with stems, native yeasts and not filtered.  Before bottling the wine is kept in barrels under flor, as with sherry but unusual in winemaking, yet Perez works in such a way that no yeasty or oxidative qualities are imparted.  Perez is practicing organic and the wines are low sulpher.  Two cellar worthy Perez wines we have now are the Ulteria El Rapolao 2018 and the La Vizcaina La Gundinas 2018.  The Rapolao is only 12.6% alcohol and has a light but rustic elegance.  The La Gundinas has a full, fleshy dark fruit palate with an earthy finish.  Both will age well for the next ten years.
Raul Perez La Vizcaina 'La Gundinas' Bierzo Tinto 2018
Retail Price: $ 41.99
Sale Price: $35.97

Wine Advocate, 95 pts. - “La Gundiñas is the wine that shows the most differences between 2017 and 2018, when the 2018 La Vizcaína Las Gundiñas feels like a mini-Bonnes Mares! ... There have been ups and downs with this wine over the years, and this 2018 is clearly one of the ups... This is super elegant, a rara avis. Bravo!”

Raul Perez Ultreia El Rapolao Bierzo Tinto 2018
Retail Price: $ 77.99
Sale Price: $68.97

Wine Advocate, 96+ pts. -  “This has 12.6% alcohol and is the longer and more austere of the Rapolao bottlings. It is cleaner and longer, young and juicy . . . There is magic here . . . The difference with the 2017 is the quality of the tannins, which rounder and more elegant here, and the concentration, which is lower here, so this 2018 comes through as more fluid, fresh and elegant, with a silkier mouthfeel...”
Past Cellar Selections:
Domaine du Pelican – Burgundy Meets Jura
Viña Almaviva 2016 – #10 on Wine Spectator top 100
Vajra 2016 - Three Variations on Barolo
Beaucastel 2006 - A Chateauneuf You Don’t Have To Wait For
Montevertine – Chianti for Wine Geeks
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Meix Foulot Mercurey 2017 – Burgundy for Bargain Hunters
Giuseppe Mascarello Nebbiolo 2018
Domaine Huët 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Brunello di Montalcino 2015 – Selected Bottles
Shafer Vineyards – Relentless, One Point Five and Chardonnay
Paul Jaboulet – Majestic Wines from the Northern Rhone
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey – Magic in Burgundy
Domaine A. et P. de Villaine – Budget DRC?
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar
Castilla Ygay 2010 – at 98 pts a ‘First Growth’ Rioja
Burgundy with age from Jean Chauvenet
Cornas and Côtes-du-Rhone from Franck Balthazar
Quintessa 2016 – 98pt Bordeaux Blend from Napa

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