PRIORAT - SPAIN
Ester Nin and Carles Ortiz met in 2007 at a biodynamic seminar in the province of Tarragona (Catalonia). Carles was a winegrower who had been selling organic grapes in Priorat for ten years and wanted to add extra value to his crop. By then, Ester, winemaker at Daphne Glorian’s Clos i Terrasses in Gratallops, followed biodynamic principles and had been making her own wine, the red Nit de Nin, since 2003. This first encounter eventually led them to bring together their vineyards, efforts and lives. Now they are family with two children and a small company called Familia Nin Ortiz, S.L. that manages 13 hectares of vines. The ground floor of their home is packed with wooden vats, amphorae and barrels. There isn’t a great deal of separation between their work and private life!
Familia Nin Ortiz is one of the few Spanish producers who are members of La Renaissance des Appellations, the biodynamic association led by Nicolas Joly (La Coulée de Serrant) with strict quality criteria for its affiliates. Ester and Carles also promoted a group of biodynamic producers in Penedès. Ester and Carles think of wine as an organic soil-yeasts-fermentation cycle.“Only a living soil creates the conditions to obtain yeasts capable of developing fully spontaneous fermentations” they say. They plough their vines with their four mules and pick grapes in late August, which is rather early for the area. Harvest dates are set based on pH levels —their ‘top commandment’ - and they never tweak with their wines.“Rectified wines are soulless wines,” says Carles.
Planetes de Nin red is a blend of young Cariñena planted in coster (terraced slopes) with de-stemmed, amphorae-aged Garnacha also sourced from terraced vines. Part of the latter is also bottled separately as Planetes de Nin Garnatxes en Àmfora. This is the only fully de-stemmed wine made by Nin Ortiz, and is also the freshest and most approachable; it is fermented in wood containers and spends around seven months in amphorae.
The original Nit de Nit launched originally by Ester is a powerful, structured red with bright acidity and minerality which benefits from some cellaring. Grapes are sourced from Mas d’en Caçador, a 112-year-old vineyard planted with Cariñena, Garnacha and Garnacha Peluda (downy-leaved Garnacha). According to Ester, Mas d’en Caçador’s greatest virtue aside from vine age is its cooling north-northeastern exposure.
Familia Nin-Ortiz ‘Nit de Nin’ 2013
96+ points, Wine Advocate - “The 2013 Nit de Nin matured in 3,200-litre oak foudres for some 16 months, and wants to be an old-style blend of grapes from slope vineyards showcasing the typicity of Priorat. The full clusters from ancient vineyards fermented with indigenous yeasts and produced some 4,000 bottles that were filled in March 2015. I previously had the opportunity of tasting the wine just after being bottled and was somehow reduced and dizzy. Now it's a completely different story. The 16 months in bottle have polished the wine and the reductive character is completely gone. However, everything is subtler, it's not as explosive as when it is really young and shows its exuberance, there is a calmed beauty. The palate is always very refined with fantastic freshness and subtle minerality, pure and fresh, even if it's also very powerful. There are 3,200 bottles produced.”
Familia Nin-Ortiz ‘Planetes de Nin’ 2013
93+ points, Wine Advocate - “The 2013 Planetes de Nin is mostly Garnacha with some 35% Cariñena from a vineyard in Porrera that names the wine. The Cariñena was harvested at the end of August, and the Garnacha after the 20th of September. The wine matured in 2,850-liter oak foudres and 3,200-liter amphorae for some 16 months. I first tasted it one month after bottling and it was very closed because of the operation. I had the feeling that it was a superb vintage and wanted to give the wines a chance, so I waited until now to give it time to rest and breathe. Well, that reductive character has disappeared. Furthermore, they think they have found the cause for that reductive character in the wine--there was a deficiency in the soil of the Garnacha that they have fixed with a natural compost and the results are good. Anyway, back to the wine, this 2103 is superb indeed. The wine has also gained in depth and feels more Porrera, more austere. In this vintage they started with some full clusters (which in 2014 was increased to 100%) and the result shows in a "sensation" of freshness rather than in analytical data. The palate shows incredibly fine and elegant, refined with sleek tannins. There are 8,445 bottles produced.”