Suriol del Castell de Grabuac, Peel me a Grape, D.O. Penedes

17/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Font-Rubi – Suriol del Castell de Grabuac – Millessime 2006, Cava Gran Reserva, Brut Nature

Peel me a Grape….

After a grape has been peeled, is it easy or even possible, with 100% certainty to establish which variety it is? The trinity (The three Maria’s) of grapes used to make Cava are still standing strong in the D.O. of Penedes. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are coming to use more and more and that is a good thing!

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Somewhat dizzy and unfocused just thinking of the amount of choices that I have when it come to visitng cellars in Catalonia. The invitations I get to participate in wine events, tastings, fairs and launches at wine shops just keep piling up. A young coupel I got to know through FaceBook, invited me to the launch of their Cavas at a very small wine shop in Calafell.

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Suso and Sara are making smileys, only they are grapes with personality, so in effect wineys! During the event I got to taste their Cavas, I’ll be covering them in a future article. The shop owners convinced, like I neeed convincing, me to try the Millessime by Castell de Grabuac. Do I have to say I bought other wines as well?

Every year during September, there is a wine and Cava fair in Barcelona. One of many!

Every year during September, there is a wine and Cava fair in Barcelona. One of many!

Like in most wineries here, it’s all about the family at Cellers de Can Suriol. The most delicious Cavas and still wines are produced as naturally as possible, at this property they are staying true to the family traditions. “Naturally” in this case means working only with their collita propia (own vineyards) and certified organic grapes, no added commercial yeasts or enzymes, very little sulfur additions, and no dosage, or sugar addition during the bottling of their Cavas. Suriol is keeping it real!

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The family is living here and making wine in the same masia, the Castell de Grabuac, in Font-Rubí, Penedés, since the 15th century. Their 25 hectares of vineyards are divided up into some 20 different plots surrounding the masia.  Located in the Alt Penedés, the higher elevation winegrowing area of the region, the Suriol vineyards are planted at 250 to 350 meters altitude on “heavy limestone” clay-calcareous soils.

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Grapes used are Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarlel-lo to produce the Cavas and blancos, and Ull de Llebre, Cariñena, Garnacha, and Sumoll for the tintos and rosats.  It was in the early 1900’s, after phylloxera and civil war that the Suriol’s focused their efforts exclusively on grape growing.

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Originally, the family made wine for themselves and to sell to local tavernas. It was not until 1985 that, under the leadership of the patriarch Francesc, the family started working seriously to produce Cava and bottling their own sparkling wines. Their vineyards have been always worked organically, with certification arriving in 1998.

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The Suriol’s are located in the middle portion of Alt Penedés, which is the sweet spot for Xarel-lo, with Macabeo excelling at the lower elevations and Parellada at the higher elevations. The Suriol’s have a small plot of 80 year old Xarlel-lo vines called Els Bancals, which they use for grafting  their new plantings via massale selection, and also to make a small production white. The best plots of Xarel-lo are fermented and aged in large Castanyer (chestnut) barrels, an age-old tradition in the area that the family is reviving.

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Assís Suriol, the son of the family, the master of the celler is in in charge of the winemaking. All the wines are fermented –each vineyard separately- with wild yeasts in stainless steel vats. The fermented wine is racked to underground concrete tanks where the malolactic fermentation occurs over the winter without added bacteria.

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This allows the must to stabilize and clarify naturally. The wine is then racked again and bottled.  The Cavas rest on the fine lees, de-gorged only when needed on the market. In some cases, the wine can spend as much as ten years or more on the lees for the Gran Reserva wines.

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Millessime 2006, Cava Gran Reserva, Brut Nature, 20% Macabeu, 30% Xarel·lo and 50% Parellada

Yellow straw color with very fine and constant bubbles. The nose combines spices(especially pepper) with residual soft white fruits and smoky notes. Delicate, complex and silky mouth and a long aftertaste. Excellent with Iberico ham, meats, aged cheeses and hearty dishes.

350 to go!

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