January often offers those in the wine trade a little bit of respite after the chaos of December, and I’m a strong believer that the devil makes work for idle hands, so I thought that I’d like to do a little deep dive into some of BLUDGE’s vegan wine offers for #veganuary!
My first deep dive is Línea Kármán Rioja Tinto (2019). I truly love Rioja wines, and it will come as absolutely no surprise to any of you that it is predominantly old vine Garnacha, and therefore I love it even more. There’s a splash (about 12%) of Tempranillo to round it out. The fruit for this wine is picked in Cardenas in Rioja Alta. This particular part of the region is influenced by the Atlantic winds, so has a cooler climate than we expect when we think of Spain. The ruddy ferrous-clay soils in this area retain a lot of water and minerals which is good in the summer months but are hard to work in the winter months, meaning a hard graft for the winemaker.
From what we’ve seen so far, 2019 was a unique vintage for Rioja. The main reports coming out of Rioja from this vintage are that the vines seemed to chill TF out a little bit this year. The vines produced smaller clusters of grapes with smaller berries – which results in a lower, more concentrated yield. The weather was also extraordinary during the harvest, even into October. My sneaky professional opinion is that we’ll see some Reservas and Gran Reservas from this vintage, so watch this space in a couple of years to see if I called it right…. However our Línea here is a mere Cosecha meaning it hasn’t spent enough time in oak or in the bottle to be considered a Crianza (which requires a minimum of 2 years aged in the winery, 6 months of which has to be in oak). Línea has spent 4 months on its lees (dead yeast cells) instead!
First of all, let’s acknowledge the label, because it’s simply great. Two little astronauts (in BLUDGE colours no less…) represent the line dividing earth and space, a reference to it’s namesake, the Karman Line, which is about 100km above the surface of the Earth.
Línea is a punchy 14.5% and is initially quite “hot” upon first sniff. I’ll admit that the nose throws me somewhat, as it smells as though there has been a good lick of oak ageing involved, but as we’ve discussed, there is none! Mocha-y, rich and warm, the nose definitely invites you in for a sip.
Have you had a sip yet? Good! On my first taste of this I’m struck by the balance of the tannins, soft yet grippy enough to be noticeable. Deep bramble notes on the baseline and black pepper on the top note, this is actually a really complex wine for its buck. Medium to full bodied, it would be a great pairing with traditional albondigas. Although… Looking at that sentence it’s not very Veganuary, so I’d suggest to our vegan friends a Paella with sunblush tomatoes and black olives. Stuffed vine leaves may also be a good shout. I’d avoid spice with this wine – the tannins are a little too present to stand up to a curry!
Lastly, Línea Kármán implements sustainable and thoughtful growing practises including hand harvesting and is moving towards its organic certification in the next few years. They are also looking to reduce the amount of sulphur used in stabilising the wines and is using more and more recyclable and reusable materials, alongside reducing its water waste footprint! All the more reason to give this banging red a go (the pink is also nice, I was just in the mood for a red!) or check out the rest of our vegan wine selection to inspire you for Veganuary!