Agusti Torello Mata, Spill the wine, D.O. Cava/D.O. Penedes

38/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava/D.O. Penedes – Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – Agusti Torello Mata – Bayanus 375 Gran Reserva 2004

Spill the wine…….,

…., but when you spill, make sure to do so in my Cava glass! Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles! During my many years in the restaurant trade, I rarely sold or recommended Cava. The Champagne was flowing and the other sparkling alternatives where not to be considered competition.

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Truth being, to much of the lower quality Cava is being sold in the world, and people rarely get to enjoy the really good stuff, and there’s plenty of the good stuff! Ok, so you’re sitting there thinking, Cava is still no competitor to Champagne! All I can say is, keep drinking your Champagne, that way there will be more Cava left for me! Thank you!

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But seriously, do the maths. Cold, unreliable climate versus warm and reliable climate, what’s better for the maturity (and flavor) of the grapes? Yepp! That’s right. For me the consistency of Cava is far beyond that of the Champagne.

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Now, the one thing the French do better and have been doing for a long time, is marketing. We were the first, we are the best, come and pay 50 euro and upwards for a bottle of bubbly! I have paid that but not any more. Fantastic Cava is to be found on the market for half that and that is some good wine right there!

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The acidity in the French stuff doesn’t allow me to drink more than a few glasses, at best. Cava, well let me tell you, that I can drink for quite some time before I get any inclination of acidity in my stomach. Todays choice is a really price-worthy Cava, only issue I’ve got with it, the bottle is way to small!

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One of the most prestigious Cava producers is Agustí Torelló Mata and they have created more prestige for the reputation of Cava, then any other winery in Penedes. Their hard work and world-renowned expertise has proven that Cava can rival the best Champagnes and sparkling wines in the world!

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Kripta, the amphorae bottle, cult Cava, is a collector’s wine. The goal has been achieved by determination, hard work and the use of fist class indigenous varietals from the best vineyards in the region. Neighboring competitors have increased the use of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while Agusti Torello Mata winery has stayed consistently true to the origins of Penedes.

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Agustí Torelló, the founding father, decided that he wanted to make a high quality sparkling wine, and so the winery was born in the mid 1950s. The winery is locate just outside Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, just about 30 minutes from Barcelona.

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Knowing that the terroir in Penedès is unique and exceptional, only thing missing was knowledge, how to best deal with the raw materials at hand. At a young age he decided not to follow in his families footsteps – who were actually tailors and musicians!

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What was then a brave endeavor with no guarantee of financial success was supported by his work in the region’s first wine analysis center, which Mata created in 1953. Supplementing his income by managing other estates, the reputation of Agustí Torelló ‘s Cava soon grew on the international stage, while the man himself established a promotional body – the Cava Guild- of which he was justifiably elected President of Honour.

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The fine reputation of the estate and Agustí Torelló’s great work continued to grow into the 21st century, today the winery is still in capable family hands, managed by is four sons: Agustí, Gemma, Alex and Lali. They have expanded their estate’s holdings to 35 ha of organic vineyards but they also buy grapes from over 100 ha to cover their requirements.

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Their range of Cavas includes dry and very dry, low dosage styles, focusing solely on growing the indigenous varies of the area with impressive results. All their Cavas are excellent, but the star of the show is undoubtedly their cuvee prestige, Kripta. The packaging is enough to cause a stir, a distinctive, amphora-shape bottle with an avant-garde label design.

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The idea behind this special vintage bottling came to Agustí Torelló Mata at the family home, Can Rossell, in 1979, when he realized that his winery should make use of the oldest vineyards in Penedès to craft something unique. Intially it was only intended for family, friends and true connoisseurs.

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The idea was to produce an extraordinary cava like none other. And as the extraordinary can not be improvised, they waited over 30 years to market it. Quality, wisdom, perseverance and enjoying something that is unique is in fact the Kripta.

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The wine is only produced in the most exceptional vintages, after an extended period of 5-6 years on its lees, Kripta emerges as a highly complex, full bodied and rich Cava. The perfect ambassador for the exceptional sparkling wines of this estate! Another one of my Mata favorites is the Grand Reserva Barrica, 100% Macabeu! More about the Kripta and Barrica in coming articles as todays hero is the Bayanus!

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Bayanus 375 Gran Reserva 2004, Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada

The Bayanus has a pale golden color with slight green reflections. Clean and bright with a persistent effervescence that forms slow and plentiful bubbles and delicate crown on the surface. Clean aromatics that are incredibly well-balanced. Toasted nuts, fine pastries, freshly baked Brioche, and roasted fruits. There are very fresh and fragrant white stone fruit aromatics, ripe white pears, and apple aromas that are all well defined along with some citric notes.

A creamy and dry palate that is full of volume and very fresh. This Cava is medium to full-bodied. Perfect acidity that is very well-balanced. Persistent finish that presents crianza ageing notes of toast, ripe fruit jams, and fine pastries. A Cava that is well-structured with a pleasant aftertaste that presents slightly bitter almond sensations.

A great Cava but not a “great” Cava, as the bottle is to small! This is a Cava to be shared and half bottle just won’t do it! But for a nice evening in front of he fire place, alone with a book, this is just right!

336 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler DeVinssi, A Little More Wine in DOQ Priorat

37/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Celler DeVinssi– Mas de les Valls 2008

A Little More Wine…….

……., I just got time for a little more wine!

The sign is small, the winery is small...., but the wines are huge!

The sign is small, the winery is small…., but the wines are huge!

Small, small, small……, when I first visited DeVinssi, about 4 years ago, I almost didn’t find the cellar. If you blink, briefly, while walking past the house where it is located, you might miss it! In the days, production was only 8.000 bottles, they have now reached 12.000 per year. Then it was the smallest commercial winery in Priorat. Now, there is one that is smaller!

This is it! Celler DeVinissi! Artisanal and personal!

This is it! Celler DeVinissi! Artisanal and personal!

Artisanal principles apply, both in the vineyards and in the cellar. Bottling, putting a cork in it and labeling is all done by hand. Just as well, as the space wouldn’t accommodate any fancy machinery.

The barrel room!

The barrel room!

In the year 2000, Josep Roca Benito founded DeVinssi, because he really likes wine! Not only does he hold the Masters Diploma in Enology and Viticulture, but he also holds the keys to one of Barcelonas best wine shops! Now, that’s love for wine.

Josep Roca opened a bottle of Rocapoll 2008 and we shared our thoughts about the wine!

Josep Roca opened a bottle of Rocapoll 2008 and we shared our thoughts about the wine!

Out of the wines they make, todays choice is Mas de les Valls. It transmits the Priorat terroir very well and at the same time, for the quality, it is a very affordable wine. I have in my small wine collection, their Vi Ranci Dolc 1963. Sorry but I am saving that for a very special occasion, at which time I will share it with you!

From the vineyards of DeVinissi the views of Gratallops are to be enjoyed!

From the vineyards of DeVinissi the views of Gratallops are to be enjoyed!

Gratallops, the village, in which you will find the Celler DeVinssi is overhanging the Siurana river, Gratallops is in the heart of a licorella (slate) basin, irrigated on the other side by the Montsant river. Gratallops is about 320 m. above sea level and about 25 km. from the Costa Daurada, as the crow flies.

Street view of Gratallops, just outside the winery!

Street view of Gratallops, just outside the winery!

Tradition says that the village was named Villanova del Pi, a long time ago. The land was property of the township of Siurana for centuries but all this ended in 1153, when the Moorish Empire declined and the Christians started to occupy the land. The Moorish Princess blindfolded her horse and jumped of a cliff, realizing she couldn’t escape!

The village of Siurana

The village of Siurana

In 1258, we find the first evidence of Gratallops being mentioned in the “Carta de Poblacion”. The Convent of Scaladei decided for the township of Gratallops to be repopulated. Some say, there was a castle built there in the 14th century but no remains are to be found today.

Escaladei Monastery Ruins

Escaladei Monastery Ruins

Vine growing became the main acitvity in the 18th century and since the end of the 1980ies, Gratallops became synonymous with Priorat, as the gang of five, established their cellars there. Today we can count up to 18 cellars in Gratallops, so what do you think people here drink for lunch?

The tram of Gratallops

The tram of Gratallops

Walking around the village is quite easy and there is plenty to see and do, even for those (why???) that doesn’t like wine!?! If you get tired of walking you can always take the tramway of Gratallops for a ride, as it is only 10 meters in length, the ride wont take that long!

Jordi is always ready to pour a glass or two!

Jordi is always ready to pour a glass or two!

Once you find Celler DeVinssi, a warm greeting will be bestowed upon you by Jordi Ustrell, the front of the winery. Tour guide, marketeer, grape picker, you name it, he does it! Jordi will look after you in the best possible way, always! And if you ever feel like adopting a grapevine, DeVinssi offers this option as a curiosity.

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Mas de les Valls 2008, Garnacha, Carignena and Cabernet Sauvignon

The color is cherry red of medium intensity with vivid purple hues. The primary aroma is that of red apples, fresh cherries, jam of berries/raspberry. As it opens up and even throughout the tasting, as it is changing,  strawberry, vanilla, floral notes, slight dates and soft wood accents. Light balsamic tones. In the palate has a balanced acidity, medium to high body, very velvety and a long finish. If you like this one the Rocapoll (by DeVinissi) should be tried as well!

337 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Vinicola del Nordest, A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine in D.O. Emporda

36/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Mollet de Peralada – Vinicola del Nordest– Covest Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine…….

….. bring me wine, make the music mine! Yesterday evening, Barcelona was calling, as the monthly wine tasting with Munskankarna was taking place! Blind tasting of four reds. As  usual we met up at Restaurant Pappa Sven in Barcelona! If you ever feel like Swedish grub, this is the place!

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We were 18 happy wine drinking souls, informed only about the country in question. Spain. Then we were hard at it trying to find grape, appellation and vintage.

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Great excercize and most of us happily agrred that it had to be Tempranillo. Not that hard really, as it is the number 1 grape in Spain and quite distinct in taste. My first impression was that we were in Ribera del Duero or Rueda, turned out to be D.O. Toro, and there the Tempranillo is known as Tinto del Toro. Didn’t guess the vintages but came close with three wines, only missed by one or two years.

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The fourth wine i misjudged totally and the discrepancy was 5 years! Not an easy exercise this! One wine stuck out and my records shouted out Pintia and it turned out to be right. Exclusion, guesswork and luck yes, but an educated guess!

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On the Pintia I thought it to be a 2007, turned out to be 2009! Quite happy with my results, considering that I am no expert and that I mostly drink Catalan Wine 365 days a year! Here comes another wine from Catalonia!

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Vinicola del Nordest Is a winery which ages and bottles wines under the D.O. Empordà. It is located in the village of Mollet de Peralada, located in the foothills of the Les Alberes, where there are around 300 hectares of vineyard.

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The wines are made in the cooperative just across the road under proper analytical and temperature control. From there, the best wines are selected to produce a range which goes from the “nouveau” style of a Vi Novell through a ranges of whites, rosés and varietals wines to the reds.

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One of the winery’s specialities is the production of naturally sweet wines, the Moscatel, Mistela Negra and Garnatxa typical of the region.

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The village of Mollet de Peralada is also registered in the D.O. Cava and the sparkling wines have been made here since the winery’s inception. There is also a small shop at the winery where other natural produce of the region may be purchased, as well as having the opportunity to taste the wines.

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Covest, 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Garnacha Negra, 2009

Clear and bright, deep ruby ​​color with violet notes on the rim. Intense aromas of black berries, slight cedar, green peppers, fruity. Palate is well structured with soft, round tannins. Black-currant, licorice, blueberries. Round and long to medium long finish. An easy going red from Emporda, well made and considering the price a really good buy!

338 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Can Ràfols dels Caus, We Have All The Time In The World, D.O. Penedes

35/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet del Penedes – Can Ràfols dels Caus – El Rocallis 2007

We have all the time in the world…….

About three years ago! Right place right time! Meet with Xavi Nolla as he was introducing me to a winery in Montsant, which I have already covered. At the time Xavi was doing wine tastings every Tuesday at Lola Tapes in Tarragona. We went a couple of Tuesdays to taste some excellent wines and great tapas.

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

At the time, the knowledge of Catalan wineries was quite limited so this excellent sommelier was a good source, recommending several cellars! One of them being Can Ràfols dels Caus! Thank you my friend for the tip!

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Only a few days after getting the insight, a phone call was placed and we were off to the massif of Garraf, a national park and protected area, southwest of Sitges, towards Vilafranca and within the D.O. of Penedes.

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Upon arrival we were well received, greeted and shown the sites by Marc Rusca Baena, the in-house sommelier. After this, the first visit, there has been additional ones! And if I decide there will be many more. Will YOU join me next time? Well, that’s all up to you, I’m always available for a visit and tasting at Can Ràfols!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

The Garraf wine-growing region is a protected area within the traditional boundaries of the Garraf National Park. The Can Ràfols dels Caus estate is situated at an altitude of 300 m, and stands on a rise between the ravines of two watercourses surrounded by vineyards growing on the terraced slopes. From some of the highest vineyards, such as “la Calma” or “el Rocallís” the sea can be seen, some 15km away.

Don't be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

Don’t be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

This situation is paramount for obtaining healthy grapes, as they are sheltered from the damp air coming in from the coastline, but are equally protected from the sporadic hailstorms in the Sierra of Ordal or the Pre-Coastal mountain range.

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The Garraf Massif has an unusual mesoclimate. The daytime is sun-drenched and hot despite the tempering effect of the sea, which sends in a cooling breeze towards the afternoon. This allows the vines to complete their growth cycle and reach full ripeness.

Automated granite "doors" leading into the winery!

Automated granite “doors” leading into the winery!

Only 50 hectares of this 455-hectare estate are vineyards, 2 hectares being used for olive groves, 1 hectare for almond orchards and the rest for woodland, scrubland and rocky terrain. The size of the single vineyards ranges from 0.15 hectares (the smallest) to 2 hectares (the largest).

Part of the winery exterior

Part of the winery exterior

Can Ràfols dels Caus has always been a forerunner and trend-setter, and some twenty-five years after Carlos Esteva started his wine venture, he decided to take a giant step forward by building a new cellar. The aim was not to squeeze in more vats, barrels and bottles, but to work better.

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

With this project, the winery’s potential for producing quality wines has multiplied, as the cellar is now geared to promoting micro-vinifications, separating batches even more and research. The cellar has been designed so that it is completely carved out of the Dolomitic limestone of the Garraf, invisible from above ground and totally integrated into the landscape.

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This would probably be the perfect location for the next James Bond movie. The scoundrel being a crazy wine maker, wanting to take over the world by making his wine so addictive he would have the whole human race in chains! Carlos is slightly crazy, like all artists, but in a good way! To see what he saw, being a visionary, in 1979, is simply “have to see to believe, based”!

Part of the winery interior

Part of the winery interior

This place is simply amazing! The location, the grounds, the mansion, the winery, the whole concept and the wines, oh the wines! Just writing about it………., I might stop writing and set of for a quick visit! Sure, I can write about it, but the only truth is, you have to sample it yourself.

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All I can say is, it will be worth your while! If we were talking Guide Michelin, this would be a 3 star, worth a trip of its own! Enough with the superlatives!

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Can Ràfols dels Caus winery produces a range of wines, most of them are great! Five whites and five reds, 3 Cavas and 2 rose.

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In time, I will cover most of them but for now the chosen wine is El Rocallis. Enjoy!

El Rocallis, 100% Incrrocio Manzione

El Rocallis, 100% Incroccio Manzoni

El Rocallis, Can Ràfols dels Caus, 2007, 100% Incroccio Manzoni

Bright and clear, clear yellow to slight pale gold. Wide watery rims and legs. Clean nose of medium  intensity. Primary aromas of butter, toast and pear. Followed up by ripe apple, cream and honey at the very end. The palate is dry with medium well balanced acidity. Nice texture, medium intensity flavors of apple, butter, tropical fruit (orange peel) and slight yeast/toast. Balanced wine with good complexity, large and long aftertaste, very fresh. Easy to drink and best enjoyed if not served to cold!

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339 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Mas Blanch i Jove, Slow Wine in D.O. Costers del Segre

34/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – La Pobla de Cérvoles – Mas Blanch i Jove – Sao Blanc Fermentat en Barrica 2011

Slow Wine……..

Wine….., slow….., food…., slow….., is there really anything in life that should be hurried? Well, maybe jumping into freezing cold water, not that I have that problem, just saying! Pace of life, should be taken seriously. It’s to short and with todays society everything is fast paced, let’s at least keep the wine and food, and the company of friends, at a very very very……., slow pace! STOP! THINK! ENJOY! Have a great day ya’ll!

You might not think so...., but this is called working!

You might not think so…., but this is called working!

In 2006 a small winery, MAS BLANCH I JOVÉ, was created in LA POBLA DE CÉRVOLES (Lleida) where quality wine is produced under the D.O. Costers del Segre. The project was however initiated much earlier by the grandparents, as in many cases here in Catalonia. This is where slow wine is the best!

Pobla de Cérvoles

Pobla de Cérvoles

The vineyards are located in Les Garrigues, on the western border of the Priorat region, a mountainous area more than 700 meters above sea level. The uniqueness of the vineyards’ soil, the low rainfall, the ample sunshine and the significant temperature differentials between day and night allow for, following the thorough and meticulous laboring of the land, to produce very well made wines.

Not even Indiana Jones would find it!

Not even Indiana Jones would find it!

Such a cool design! The winery is entwined with the mountain rocks it emerges from. Seeking to be in harmony with the surrounding landscape, to become a part of nature. To this end, they winery’s walls are overlaid with large stones, extracted from the same site, olive trees are planted on the exterior surface and adjoining areas.

Got to love the interior as well!

Got to love the interior as well!

The building is covered with earth and vegetation so as to fuse with the surrounding mountains, and the whole structure is painted in an earthy ochre tone. The electrical power is partially derived from solar energy stemming from panels located on the winery’s rooftop.

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La Pobla de Cérvoles is a town located in the region of Les Garrigues and the only municipality in this county that has been declared a protected mountainous area. There are about 250 inhabitants, while in the summer time the number increases. There are two wineries, within the village, open for visits. The Celler Cérvoles and Mas Blanch i Jove.

Make me better! As soon as I open and drink you, you'll be better!

Make me better! As soon as I open and drink you, you’ll be better!

Sao Blanc Fermentat en Barrica 2011, 100% Macabeu

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Pale yellow with green hues. Aromas of white fruit with tropical notes and slight vanilla, oak at the end. Clean and elegant. On the pallet the character is intense and creamy, with a predominance of the white fruit. Balanced finish.  Barrel fermented and aged for 6 months in new French oak barrels of medium roast. Consistent and elegant!

340 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

7 Wines, Wine Do Yer Stuff, D.O. Terra Alta

27-33/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Falset – Hotel_Hostal Sport – 7 Wines Tasted

Gimme That Wine……..

…….., cause I can’t cut loose without my juice! Ok, so kill me! The song IS cheesy but at least it has wine in the title and I for one, really like it! Good enough in my book!

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Well arranged tasting, yesterday evening at the Hotel-Hostal Sport, in Falset by Marta & Ruth! Thank you for the invite and for a great evening with friends.

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Todays entry is a covering only tasting notes for the 7 wines, no history, no winemakers and no cellars will be mentioned. Just, Gimme That Wine……. “Well those chicks look fine, but I love my wine. Now some folks like money, some like to dance and dine, But I’ll be happy If you give me that wine”.

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This was the first of 12 tastings over the year to come, covering the D.O;s of Catalonia, starting with D.O. Terra Alta. Briefly about Terra Alta, the numbers;

– Provisional D.O. since 1972, official 1982.

– 5.895 hectares planted.

– 1469 vine growers registered, 45 active cellars.

– Grape outtake 6.450 Kg/ha, 37,7 million Kg:s harvested.

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– And now some interesting stuff! Garnacha Blanca is the King of grapes in Terra Alta and 80% of all the Garnacha Blanca planted in Spain comes from this D.O. and 1/3 of the Garnacha Blanca in the whole world.

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Wine No. 1 – Barbara Fores Blanc, 2013, 100% Garnacha Blanca.

Delicate yellow straw color with gold rims. Clean and bright. Good tear. On the nose it has an average intensity, ripe white fruit and semi intense flavours with various floral, tropical notes. Some balsamic and roasted very harmonious and balanced. This white wine from the Terra Alta has a nice entrance which is soft, warm and creamy. Well-balanced fruit and wood. Good acidity that gives freshness necessary for contrast. Long and bitter point with hints of nuts and toast.

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Wine No. 2 – LaFou Celler Els Amelers, 2012, 100% Garnacha Blanca.

Pale and clean yellow straw color to slight golden. Intense nose with primary notes of citrus, grapefruit and lemon. Secondary of apricot, slight lychee and cocos. Structured, balanced and powerful with good acidity. Very dry, long lingering aftertaste with balanced acidity. Elegant and well made wine!

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Wine No. 3 – Edetaria Blanc, 2011, 85% Garnacha Blanca, 15% Macabeu (Old Vines)

Yellow ochre, platinum to coppery glow. Ripe fruit, marmalade, vanilla, arak, marzipan and it just keeps on coming! The mouth is intense, dried apricot, balanced acidity and a follow through of owen baked apples, slight spice. A complex wine with finesse and loads of expression. High class!

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Wine No. 4 – Sant Josep Wines, Llagrimes de Tardor 2010, 100% Garnacha Blanca

Bright gold/yellow glow with copper rims. The color is full. First thing that hit my nose was, Spearmint chewing-gum! Then it started talking to me. After eight chocolates, lemongrass, tropical fruits, herbs, minerals…., couldn’t get my full focus on this one, it was like it was speaking chinese and I don’t do that language. The mouth was easier to interpret, velvety with fruity notes. Fresh with a touch of bitterness and a long finish. Firm and opulent!

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Wine No. 5 – Celler Pinol, Portal N Sra. del Portal, 2011, 60% Garnacha, 15% Cariñena, 10% Merlot and 15% Syrah.

Deep cherry color with violet hue, opaque. Intense red and black berries (blackberries, currants, mineral aroma background, slight licorice and menthol. The palate is fleshy, fatty and powerful, very rounded tannins. Clearly balsamic notes and a perfect balance between fruit and acidity, toasted oak is apparent. Very elegant and long finish.

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Wine No. 6 – Alta Vins, Domus Pensi, 2008, 45% Cabernet, 30% Garnacha, 15% Syrah and 10% Merlot

Intense red color with violet hues, many layers. The nose is complex with aromas of red fruits blackberries, blueberries, prunes, raisins, hints of cocoa and roasted coffee. In the mouth it is tasty and fatty, with a smooth entry and evolution. It has a sweet tannin sensation intensified by alcohol. The aftertaste is reminiscent of cherry jam. long aftertaste. Decant before serving!

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Wine No. 7 – Celler Pinol, Josefina Pinol, Vi Dolc/Mistela, 2011, 

Deep deep cherry color. The nose is complex, jam berries, roasted coffee, cocoa and licorice. The palate is overly sweet, raisins, raisins and honey, round, concentrated sweet wine, with hardly any acidity. Not to my taste!

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And the WINNER is Wine No. 4 – Sant Josep Wines, Llagrimes de Tardor 2010, price/quality comparison is unmatched and this was a great surprise to me! Get a case or two before it’s to late! Happy wine loving days!

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341 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Edetaria, Time is on my side, D.O. Terra Alta

Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Edetaria – Edetaria Red Selection 2010

Time is on my side…….

Wonderful day ahead! During 2014 there are many more wines to be tasted. Tonight I’ll be joining 40 wine lovers in Falset at the Hotel-Hostal Sport. Initiated by the owner, Marta Domenech Tomas, we are going to do one tasting per month, each covering one D.O of Catalonia. 12 D.O:s in total, this is my home game!

Preparation for tonight's tasting. Terra Alta here we come!

Preparation for tonight’s tasting. Terra Alta here we come!

Tonight’s tasting is all about D.O. Terra Alta. Staying true to todays theme I am covering one winery, one wine, from Terra Alta as well. So far my plan is working. One wine per day for 365 days, how hard can it be?

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Awarded D.O. status in 1985, Terra Alta is the one wine region located to the very south of Catalonia, within the province of Tarragona. The region has over the years gained reputation for producing some the most interesting wines in Spain, elaborated from the native Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Blanca and Carignena. Todays wine is a red but there will be a write up on the whites from Terra Alta. Why? 80% of Garnacha Blanca produced wines in Spain, come from Terra Alta! If you do something good…….

Garnacha Blanca

Garnacha Blanca

The altitudes here are the highest in the area, with the mountain peaks reaching heights of up to 950 meters. The climate is Mediterranean/Continental, hot long summers and very cold winters. A local dry wind, El Cierzo, originating from the west (The Ebro River), is hugely important  as it moderates the temperatures, providing breezes which prevents fungicides, during the growing season.

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Edetaria is a modern style cellar, purpose build in 2003, with a mind blowing setting in the midst of the vineyards, olive groves and with the backdrop of mountains. Located in the valley of Gandesa to the sounth-west of Priorat.

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The projects is that of Joan Angel Lliberia, one of Terra Altas foremost personalities, prmoting Terra Alta on every possible occassion. His gradfather used to work the vinyerads, producing bulk wine, like most vintners did in the region in those days. The father, Angel, took over and started selling the harvest to the cooperative, during which time Angel studied in France for ten years to become a winemaker.

Father and son!

Father and son!

Terra Alta is the next big thing! A region with a long winemaking tradition, which is now trying to copy the quality and commercial success of Priorat and Montsant, and doing it quite well. Edetaria and Joan Angel, being a top producer in Terra Alta, is leading the way. Varietal expression, low yields, creativity and improvisation are some of the tools used.

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Looking at their logo, you’ll see the letter “t”, laid out horizontally. The “t” stands for terra, which in Catalan means land. Quite nifty I think!

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Being a Single Estate winery, means that they produce wine from their own vineyards. It is a matter of quality control, from grape to bottle, as the philosophy here is that the most important factor in the process is the vineyard.

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Out of the 30 hectares planted, the majority contains Macabeu, Garnacha Blanca, Garnacha Negra, Peluda and Carignena, being native varietals. There is some international varietals as well. Garnacha is the main player, with the Edetaria Edetana being in the forefront, trying to show of the best the Garnacha can offer.

Garnacha Peluda

A small part of the Garnacha Negra has mutated into Garnacha Peluda, which means “hairy”. The back of the leaf has transformed and developed hairs on the back of the leaf, thus retaining the moisture better and enhancing the acidity in the grapes.

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“In the cellar we only work with big barrels to retain the aromas of the terroir. We use only natural yeasts to show the maximum authenticity”, says Joan Angel. The grapes are collected into small crates to cover the short distance to the cellar, trying to keep the as fresh and as cold as possible.

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Fermentation tanks are small (1000 – 9000 litres), designed to keep the different terroirs and grape varieties separate during the winemaking process and fully express the qualities of all the individual plots. Ageing is carried out in 300 litre oak barrels.

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Edetaria Red Selection 2010

The wine is made from 60% “Garnacha Peluda” from a “còdols” soil, 30% Syrah from “vall”soils and 10% Carinena from “tapas” soils. Skin contact takes place for between 20 and 30 days, using both the pump over and push down methods to extract the maximum amount of character from the floating skins.  Each individual variety is then aged in 300 liters French oak barrels for 12 months before being blended and bottled to give a fully rounded and well-balanced whole.

Intense red color, slightly opaque. The primary nose is that of menthol and quite soothing. Red fruits appear, mostly cherries and raspberries there are also notes of spices, and cocoa. Very fresh and lingering nose. On the palate the attack is powerful but silky, round and well integrated tannins. Elegant and well-integrated acidity. Woks well with game and can work with cheeses.

342 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle