• Drinking outside the box – away from the Loire for once

Running our tour business means that we drink (for the most part) almost exclusively, wines from the Loire valley.  Determined to try a few other things this Christmas we settled on this very off beat Pinot Noir to accompany our Christmas Eve dish of seared scallops with creamy apple mash and chorizo.

The winemaker is José Miguel Marquez and he’s based in Montilla, Andalusia. He was the first person to plant red grapes in the region in 1988 and harvests during the night to preserve freshness in this dry, hot climate. All his wines are made without any additions and are sulphur free. So, it’s what you would call a ‘natural’ wine.

Now, I have to come clean when it comes to natural wines (if it were possible to define them properly). They are not necessarily my cup of tea (or should I say glass of wine), but, it’s important to have an open mind.  My problem with a lot of natural wines (or wines that call themselves natural) is that they lack stability and are often slightly oxidised, cloudy, fizzy and a bit volatile. You do have to approach them in a different way, appreciate them for what they truly are and accept that they are quirky, different, unique.  That’s the point.

So, about this Pinot Noir, Marina Casilla Las Flores. It’s hand harvested (goes without saying), has an indigenous yeast fermentation, is not fined or filtered and has no added sulphites.  The colour is surprising, almost a rosé in its intensity with a slightly amber pink tinge.  The nose is beguiling, big hints of rose hips and raspberries and on the palate it’s fresh and has good acidity.  There are some classic Pinot Noir notes but it’s very different.  We liked it!