Tasting day I got in an early morning run up to the Castello and to the piccolo town of Monte Melino. This is the Sanctuario Madonna de Lourdes
Is it weird this wine has gotten the Outkast song So Fresh and So Clean stuck in my head? Arcan's Albarino just smells and tastes so clean and fresh and alive and like the Atlantic that I can't help it.
Arcan is made by Adega Pombal a Lanzada: a small family winery with about 5 acres in Rias Baixas, Galicia Spain. Galicia is the rocky hilly little corner of Spain up above Portugal that sticks out into the Atlantic. The climate is cool, rainy, and rather stormy; entirely unlike the rest of Spain. Rias Baixas is an appellation right on the coast where deep inlets (Rias) make for great fishing and natural harbors. The Pombal family was actually traditionally mussel farmers, but like most families here also had some vines for making wine for themselves. At about 5 acres they actually have more land than most and so eventually made the jump to making their own wines.
The Arcan is older vine Albarino, fermented in stainless steel with natural yeast, and aged for about 6 months. 5 acres isn't much and so total production usually ranges between 1,400 to 2,000 cases per year.
Aroma: The Arcan Albarino is more aromatic than a lot of Albarinos I've had. There's lots of stone fruit: peaches and apricots, but also fresh lemon and apple blossoms. The Arcan's aroma isn't just fruit though. I feel like I can definitely smell the Atlantic in this salty oceany wet rock kind of quality the wine has.
Taste: This is fresh vivid zingy Albarino with ripe fruit (sort of white peach, lemon, green apple, and ripe cantaloupe) right off the bat. The Arcan is very "wet". What do I mean by that? I'm not sure....it's very thirst quenching and somehow the salty briney rockiness makes me think of the cold Atlantic Ocean. The Arcan is one of those wines with a juxtaposition of ripe fruit and body but also fresh acidity and dancing minerality that just pushes all my buttons! This is a fantastic wine for almost any New England seafood, ranging from salmon to mussels, oysters, or mackerel!
Noella Morantin is from Brittany originally but decided she wanted to make wine. She pursued a degree in wine making in the Loire and for three years in the early oughts she worked with Agnes and Rene Mosse. Next she spent a year working in Muscadet, and then met Junko Arai, who lived in Japan, but owned some of the former Clos Roche Blanches vineyards. Noella began working the vineyards and making the wines for Arai. Eventually the time came that Noella felt that she was ready to begin really on her own and so she bought and rented some of the former Clos Roche Blanches vineyards.
Boudinerie is 100% Gamay. I know it's not carbonic and the grapes are foot trodden, but beyond that I'm not completely sure if this is a single vineyard plot or not. It seems like it's a single vineyard wine because it has so much character and differs from normal Touraine Gamay.
Aroma: There's a surprising amount of juicy black fruit in the aroma; lots of blackberry and blackcherry. The Boudinerie smells fresh and vibrant, like you took a bunch of fresh off the vine wild blackberries and made a granita or something. I really don't smell too much of the gameyness or wild sort of spice that I associate with Touraine Gamay.
Taste: Supple dark fruit, but more pepper and some integrated tannins that dry out the finish and give the wine a more grounded serious character. The fruit up front on the palate is really lovely. It's dark, juicy, and really pretty much perfectly integrated and balanced. I'm actually sort of shocked, this is a wine with more power and structure, but also elegance. I think in a blind tasting I would take this for a lovely serious but drinkable now Bourgueil. Noella Morantin's Gamay sort of does it all: it's lovely and singingly alive but very elegant with reserve depths of flavor that will do well paired with hearty foods.