Abadal, Love is written in the stone, D.O Pla de Bages

9/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó – Abadal – Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012

In the stone

Pla de Bages???? Yupp, one more DO in Catalonia to discover, for all you wine nerds out there. Catalonia has 12, and all of you have heard of Priorat, Cava, Penedes and most certainly of Montsant and possibly Emporda. So, only 6 more to discover. I have covered 2 out of the six in previous blogs. This time I’m sharing D.O. Pla de Bages with you!

The wine wonder of Catalonia is that it comprises a wealth of different terroirs, from the Mediterranean coastal areas to the Pyrenees, including the inland plains. In Priorat we will find the Licorella and in the Penedes a variation of soils, and then we have everything in between. Point being, is that different vine growing possibilities are present. One plus one makes six or nine! The facts above together with the grape varietals used, gives as a result a huge assortment of wines: sparkling (cava mostly),white, rosé, red, sweet, fortified.
D.O. Pla de Bages vineyard

D.O. Pla de Bages vineyard

Trying to explain what’s going on in Catalonia with regards to grapes is virtually impossible! Daily encounters shows that local, indigenous varieties are on the rise after many years of neglect when it was fashionable to plant the ubiquitous Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and/or Syrah. Now there is a quest for local character, and many wineries are looking back to traditional grapes like Garnatxa (Grenache) in its many forms, Carinyena (Carignan), Sumoll, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) for reds, and Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Parellada, Garnatxa Blanca, Moscatell (Muscat) for whites. Fortunately, lots of old vines (over 50 years old) have survived to yield excellent, if scarce, grapes used to generate many of the best and more personal wines.
Historical map of Catalonia

Historical map of Catalonia

Pla de Bages is a rather young D.O. within Spain, it became a D.O in 1995. Located not far from Barcelona, yet quite unheard off. It is certainly one of the smallest D.O:s in Spain covering only 600 hectares. A hefty part of Catalan history has to do with the Romans. Therefore it is not surprising to discover that, most likely, the name Bages, at least when it come to wine making, comes from the ancient Roman settlement of Bacassis. It is said to have been located in the area. According to an unidentified mediaeval document from the former Benedictine monastery of Sant Benet, the Roman city was named in honour of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.

Bacchus with a few of his grapes

Bacchus with a few of his grapes

Production in the area was interrupted for almost a century after the outbreak of the phylloxera at the end of the 19th century. The vineyards are mainly located in the valleys of the river Llobregat and its tributaries. There are two different types of soil in two well-defined topographies: a central basin (Pla de Bages) with clay and marl soils at an altitude of 200 m above sea level; and a peripheral area (Alt Bages, “Upper Bages”) where marl and lime bearing soils with a high carbonate content abound, at an altitude of 500 m above sea level.

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The climate is Mediterranean with strong continental influences due to its inland location quite far from the sea. Humidity is lower, summers hotter and winters colder than in other wine-producing areas in Catalonia. The average annual temperature is 13°C (max 35°C in summer, -5°C in winter) and there are considerable temperature variations between day and night as well. Average annual rainfall is between 500 mm and 600 mm.

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The traditional local grape varieties are Grenache (here called Garnatxa) and Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) for reds and Picapoll for whites, while the new authorised foreign varieties are: Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay for whites, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah for reds.

Abadal winery

Abadal winery

The newer vineyards are planted on trellises (en espaldera) to allow mechanisation of the vineyard activities, at authorised planting densities of between 2,000 and 4,500 vines/ha depending on the terrain. Most of the grape production is for the white or pink sparkling wines called Cava. The wineries of Fargas Fargas and Oller del Mas, together with others are names to keep in mind. All from Pla de Bages and all making quality wine. Abadal is one of the main wineries in the D.O. and synonymous with Pla de Bages, being one of the forerunners promoting the area to the world.

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Abadal was founded in 1983 by Valentí Roqueta in Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó, using land close to the family home, la Masia Roqueta, with more than 9 centuries of history and a long tradition in winegrowing.

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The winery boasts modern facilities where work is being carried out to restore the winemaking tradition to the Bages region, enhanced with a renewed view of the future. Grapes are selected by hand and harvested according to the different types of plots and degrees of ripeness. The winery strives to capture all the information accumulated in the fruit.

Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012. Varieties: 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Tempranillo. Four months in the cask.

Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012

Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012

I have on rare occasion seen a wine as dark and opaque as this one. The saturation is amazing. Although the black cherry, coupled with blackberry is almost overwhelming, it is far from sweet. The wine is quite straight forward, expressive and has a nice satiny feel to it. Great body and certainly to be paired with stews and even creamy pastas. I have always liked the Cabernet Franc and together with the Tempranillo it makes a great marriage. Cabernet Franc, concentrated and generous. Tempranillo, elegant and fresh. Plenty of red fruits and hints of toffee.

In the stone

357 to go!

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One thought on “Abadal, Love is written in the stone, D.O Pla de Bages

  1. Pingback: Heretat Oller del Mas, Let’s stay together, D.O. Pla de Bages | Catalan wine in a nutshell!

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