4/365 – Catalonia – DO Conca de Barberà – Blancafort – Atiqete Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Living in Catalonia and working with wine and wine travel has it’s perks! Sometimes the quest to find a new cellar worth while is quite demanding. Do one go by recommendation from others, and if so, what is their taste in wine? My ultimate goal is not to drink wines which have already been on the map everywhere, my objective has always been, and I hope that stays for a while, to find quality wine for a reasonable amount, not an all together easy equation. In Catalonia and its DO:s it is certainly still doable! Now consider the fact that my first year and a half, I only spent visiting cellars and winemakers all over Catalonia.
It is only now that I have started writing about the experiences gathered. Finding Jordi Llorens was certainly a fluke. I got a request from friends in Sweden, they wanted to visit a cellar in Blancafort, due to the fact that they were to meet some Catalan friends there. As I checked, never having been there previously, I realized that I didn’t want to recommend the largest producer in town. I really don’t have much affection for large producers. Not that they can’t make a decent wine, it’s just that….., it never gets personal. In a nearby village I had a contact with a olive oil producer, so I asked for some guidance. Not wanting to pass on the suggestion before trying it out myself, I set a time for a visit with Jordi.
I really like the back roads! Highways are way to fast for my SweetEasy lifestyle. I have had my best moments, and found the gems, along the slow and curvy roads. Getting to Blancafort is easy as it is positioned only minutes from the AP2 and just over an hour from Barcelona. Now, if you want to make it a day, you shoot for the smaller roads and see places which are otherwise a blur from the highway. Conca de Barbera as a wine region has so much to offer, a must as it is in the vicinity, is a visit to the mediaeval town of Montblanc, once the 4th largest settlement in Catalonia. Not far away, Monestir de Poblet/Poblet Monastery, not to be missed.
Blancafort was first mentioned in 1207 census documents in which a castle in the name of Pere Romeu y de Fitor Arnau was noted. Blancafort was part of the Dukedom of Montblanc. It was fortified in the fourteenth century. During the War of Succession it declared itself in favor of the Archduke Charles and for that reason it took some answering to the troops of Philip the Fifth. After the war, it was integrated into the township of Tarragona. During the War of Independence it was looted by troops commanded by the French General, Louis Gabriel Suchet.
The parish church is dedicated to Saint Magdalene and it was built on the remains of the ancient Roman temple. It consists of a single nave and a barrel vault cover. The façade is neoclassical. In the old cemetery attached to the temple there is an outstanding collection of preserved tombstones which are today on display in the Diocesan Museum of Tarragona.
The town retains many houses built in the late eighteenth century. Among them is the Can Minguella, better known as the Can Cavaller, from the seventeenth century. The façade shows the family coat of arms. Nothing remains of the old castle except a topographical reference in the street name del Castell.
Blancafort’s main festival, Festa Major, takes place on the fourth Sunday of August, although for the entire month of August there are activities for people of different ages. Since 1483, there is also a tradition of walking up to the Sanctuary of Tallat, also done during the month of August.
Some wineries are visited for the share design, well yes, in combination with the wine off course. Others are visited for the wine only! Does Celler Jordi Llorens fall into the first or the last category you might ask? Let me put it this way, the wine is made in the vineyards! Not that it isn’t charming as such, a narrow street with old village houses, not easy to come to by car. The parking, just by the village square and the local bar, where Jordi would be waiting for visitors, is close by.
It is a garage in a village house and it is here the magic takes place. Small? Yes! Cosy? Yes! Worth a visit? For sure!!! The visit starts by a drive up to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, where the grapes are thriving, without any major interference by the winemaker. The altitude of 600 meters allows for the grapes to mature slowly, picking up as much flavors as possible.
The climate, with hot days and chilly nights, as well as the breeze from the Mediterranean helps to protect the vines from fungicides. Jordis wines, as you might have guessed by now, are all natural! After my first visit, I have been back several times, always making sure to bring wine lovers, that know how to appreciate a natural wine.
Three wines and counting! This is a young project as Jordi only started making his own wines in 2008, carried over from his father and grandfather. The older generation used to sell the grapes to cooperative in the village, but now as Jordi has taken the rains, their own wines are gaining local fame. The varietals that grow are Macabeo, Moscatel (small grain) and Parellada, the reds are Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Syrah.
Atiqete 2009, Celler Jordi Llorens, DO Conca de Barbera, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Natural wine and clear as a whistle, slightly opaque even though best described as deep cherry colored, I have tried quite a few bottles of this wine over past 6 months and I have still not encountered a unclear wine. The nose shows great typicity, with copious ripe red fruit, some blueberry, and a meaty touch of sausage on the finish. It has clear spices and roasted notes. A powerful sensation washed over the mouth with ripe fruit and good levels of acidity. I will be going back soon as I have to restock my cellar!
361 to go!