Recently I came across an old friend, a bottle of 2012 12Volts from 4kilos Vinícola, Spain. The winery is located on Mallorca, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea.
I was electrified when I saw this wine as I had visited its winery of origin a couple of times when living in Europe. Suffice to say, I fell head over heels in love with 4kilos wines.
The bottle fell into my lap through pure chance here in McLaren Vale, South Australia. Already open for a couple of days, it was left over from a function at my workplace and happily gifted to me to take home and (hopefully) enjoy…
The 12Volts is a cuvee of Callet, Fogoneu, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Callet and Fogoneu are indigenous to Mallorca and generally have aromas of red fruits paired with a floral scent and a savoury edge. They are moderate in acidity, tannins and alcohol, with similarities to Gamay Noir.
Wines produced from Callet and Fogoneu are usually medium-bodied and very food-friendly, best enjoyed slightly chilled, especially on a hot summer’s day.
4kilos’ premium bottlings are solely made from Mallorca’s small plantings of indigenous varieties, some of which are nearly extinct. Over the past two decades these varieties have been painstakingly replanted by small producers like 4kilos.
The majority of red grapes in Mallorca are planted to international varieties. The 12Volts is 4kilos’ entry-level wine with Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah added to the mix for additional colour and structure.
Considering the 12Volts bottle I had stumbled across was 9 years-old and had been open for a couple of days, you might wonder what on earth it tasted like… On first ‘whiff’ I was immediately transported back to Mallorca in time and place, where – and when – I first enjoyed 4kilos wines in 2015. (I love it when aromas and flavours bring back beautiful emotions and memories, a priceless experience).
The wine had a slightly funky nose caused by wild yeast fermentation rather than being inoculated with a commercial yeast. This funky nose was paired with earthy and savoury aromas and a hint of dark berry and cherry fruit. This 12Volts had aged very gracefully – it wasn’t flat and was still animating. Of course, as you’d expect, after nine years the primary fruit aromas were not as powerful as when I first tasted it on current vintage release in Mallorca.
The vines are planted on the famous ‘call vermell’, a reddish-looking soil, rich in iron oxide, not unfamiliar to the ‘terra rossa’ from Coonawarra. The earth definitely contributes to 12Volts’ rustic aromatics.
The flavours brought back some lovely memories, such as when 4kilos’ then assistant winemaker Eloi Cedo gave me an intensive tour of the vineyards before we’d even done any tasting. We spent a lot of time crouching down to inspect the soil and peering closely at the gnarly and low-yielding old bush vines, almost overgrown by the co-planted vegetation, which keep the vines’ vigour and soil health in check.
Pristine and highly-concentrated grapes are the result of 4kilos’ commitment to organic viticulture and biodynamic practice, in turn the foundation of their beautiful wines.
4kilos’ pure-hearted philosophy continues in the winery – a former milk shed – where minimal intervention is key. Most wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks – and in the case of 12Volts matured for another 9 months in a mixture of large foudres and second- and third-year French barriques. The wines are made with minimal filtration and additions of sulphur, allowing them to express their terroir and aromas to the fullest.
For me, tasting the 2012 12Volts in 2021 to rediscover all these precious aromas and flavours, combined with a deeply emotional connection to place, is a great compliment to 4kilos’ wine-making philosophy and their commitment to respectful and responsible farming practice.
My visit there in 2015 was my first ever exposure to organic and biodynamic viticulture – an experience I had previously not had in Australia.
Thanks to Eloi – one of the most passionate and skilled winemakers I’ve had the pleasure to meet and listen to – and my visit to 4kilos Vinícola, when I returned to live in Australia again I was hellbent on learning more about sustainable farming and discovering wineries guided by similar philosophies, with eyes wide open…
Read more about this next part of my wine journey in my next post, here.
- Explore Elio’s new wine-making project, Sistema Vinari.
- 12Volts label art by Gary Baseman.
- Cover image: Megan Spencer
- Thanks to Alex Marchetti at Salopian Inn for the bottle!