Castell del Remei, Oh Happy Day in D.O. Costers del Segre

11/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Lleida – Castell del Remei – Gotim Bru 2009

Oh Happy Day!

Another unknown? One of the next big ones, my prediction, is certainly D.O. Costers del Segre! Why? You’ll have to discover it and decide for yourself. Large, known, talked about wine growing regions excite me, but in a different way. The challenges that smaller regions and small wine makers have, make them my heros. Little knowledge when it come to marketing and sales but too small bodies for the great passion that lies within.

terra2

They are not making wine for the masses and the are not making mass produced wine. They produce what they feel is coming from the soil and the vines. Nothing new there, all wine makers have the same philosophy, difference being is the way you feel, once there.

The sub-regions of Costers del Segre are spread out!

The sub-regions of Costers del Segre are spread out!

Quick introduction to Costers del Segre – Initially it has to be mentioned that due to the inland location, far away from the sea and roads frequently traveled, the area was removed from marketing channels for centuries, resulting in wines with very local traits and characteristics.

A rolling barrel...., Costers del Segre on the move!

A rolling barrel…., Costers del Segre on the move!

Innovations in grape varieties and production methods was developed locally but this was still the first place where Catalonia introduced varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay, along with local varieties, and adopted Californian winemaking techniques.

Costers del Segre is divided into several separate sub-zones. The four original subzones created in 1988 are Artesa, to the northeast of Lleida, Valls de Riucorb to the east, Garrigues and Raïmat. In 1998 two other subzones were added: Pallars Jussà, next to the town of Tremp, 90 km north of Lleida and Segrià to the west and surrounded by the Raimat subzone.

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The climate is continental (hot summers and cold winters), influenced by the proximity of the Pyrenees, though rainfall is sparse. Average rainfall is around 450 mm though 300 mm. Average annual temperature is 15°C (max 35°C in summer, minimum below zero in winter). There are also extreme variations between daytime and night-time temperatures all year. Drought, hailstones and spring frosts are occasional risks for the vineyards.

cervoles

Even though the vineyards are dispersed geographically, most are on dark lime bearing soils, with a high lime content, low clay content and poor in organic matter. Height varies between 250 m and 700 m above sea level.

Several grape varieties, both local and foreign, are authorized in the Costers del Segre DO: for white wines: Macabeo, Parellada, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc; and for red wines: Garnacha, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Trepat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah. The grapes used for Cava production are grown mainly in the east. The older vines grow as low bushes (en vaso), while the more recently planted ones are on trellises (en espaldera) so as to allow mechanization. Maximum authorized planting density is 2,500 vines/ha. The vineyards in the west of the province use irrigation systems to mitigate the effects of the cold and the heat.

The restaurant building of Castell del Remei

The restaurant building of Castell del Remei

The Castell del Remei Estate is located in the district of La Noguera, at an altitude of about 250 m above sea level. The origins of the estate dates back to 1780. The complex consists of several buildings which include the winery, the castle and the sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin of Remedies. There is a restaurant that is open to the public and other buildings like the old oil mill, a flour mill, distillery, etc. In this privileged environment, Castell del Remei manages 140 hectares of Merlot, Trepat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ull de Llebre, Grenache, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo and Pinot Noir.

Entry to the cellar

Entry to the cellar

The winery was designed in the early nineteenth century to develop aged wines, it was the first in Catalonia to label glass bottles, the wines are aged in oak barrels. There are 6 detached buildings, a structure built of wrought iron and stone, semi buried to avoid temperature variations. Of particular interest is the main ship of aging, covered with a stunning Catalan arch. Castell del Remei can be considered a perfect cellar type, like the châteaux of France, but here traditional and authentic Catalan.

cronos1

Castell del Remei dates its origins back to 1780, the first year for which there is documentary evidence of vines planted in the estate. The wine was initially sold bulk and the estate began to sell bottled, barrel-aged wine in the second half of the 19th century. With the help of an oenologist, four grape grower families from Bordeaux began making wines and ageing them in American oak barrels, following French vinification methods. Castell del Remei was the first Catalan winery to put aged wine on the market under its own brand and the first in Spain to work with the French grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon Blanc.

Castell del remei

Castell del remei

The soil is mainly calcareous (chalky). However, there is a marked diversity of soils in the estate that contributes to the enormous wealth of nuances typical of Castell del Remei wines. All the plots are located on what was the bottom of a lake that covered a large part of the Central Depression during the Cenozoic Era.

To the south, one finds detritic rocks, typical of Catalonia. In this arid climate, the force of the elements frequently results in conditions of significant water stress, which is controlled via support irrigation in those years when this proves necessary. In the north of the estate, there is a shallow water table that creates stress for want of oxygen in the vines, preventing excessive vigour in rainy years and helping them overcome the harsh summers.
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Gotim Bru 2009. Tempranillo 35%, Garnacha 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 20%, Merlot 10% and Syrah 5%. 10 months on American and French oak. The blend is nicely put together.

Far from being the best that Costers del Segre has to offer, but I am here to share my favorites. What I get for my dime and time, is what matters.! Fist thing I noticed was the cork. Short stub of a crock but very dense. Seems to have preserved the wine just fine.

Plum with fine edging, transparent layers. Beautiful color. Cocoa and menthol as a first impression on the nose. Very fresh, grassy notes, mint and dill. Really complex nose no doubt due to the blend of five. Powerful entry on the palate. Tasty, mineral and very round. Tannins almost completely velvety. Slowly a very fresh fruity character appears, with notes of ripe raspberries, somewhat acid, but very correct and medium to long after taste.

Oh Happy day!

355 to go!

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