Casa Gran del Siurana, The Air That I Breathe in DOQ Priorat

105/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Bellmunt del Priorat – Casa Gran del Siurana – GR-174 – 2010

The Air That I Breathe…..

… is like the wine I drink, has to be of good quality! And, not that I’ve tried, but it seems nearly impossible to find really bad wines in the Priorat. So, once more, I invite you to read about yet another Priorat winery which is producing splendid wines at a affordable price. Welcome to my world, where the air that I breathe is like the wine that I drink, unpolluted and pure!

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The farmhouse locally known as La Casa Gran can be found on the outskirts of the town of Bellmunt del Priorat, on the banks of the river Siurana. It is a building with a three hundred years old history. It was previously inhabited by the Carthusian monks from the nearby monastery of Scala Dei. In the XII century, this monastic order introduced vine-growing into this region, which has become one of the most renowned regions for winemaking in the world today.

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In the lands surrounding La Casa Gran, lands that previously bore witness to the monks’ solemn vows of silence, GR-174, Cruor and Gran Cruor, three modern and elegant red wines were born, wines that nowadays vie for a prestigious position amongst the D.O.Q. Priorat elite.

Castillo Perelada in the Emporda region!

Castillo Perelada in the Emporda region!

Some years ago Castillo Perelada made a bid for the success of quality winemaking in the Empordà. This same passion for high expression wines has guided us to Priorat, one of the most highly regarded Designations of Origin in Spain and the world, and one of the few that are recognised as being a Qualified Designation of Origin. The venture with La Casa Gran del Siurana began with the main aim of creating modern, quality wines, through a wine-making process that would control all aspects from the moment the vine is planted onwards. And I must say they have succeeded quite well!

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La Casa Gran estate covers 10 hectares of deep flat land, mainly composed of sedimentary fluvial soils from the river Siurana. The vineyard houses the Casa Gran farmhouse, which lends its name to our bodega: a building with a history of three hundred years that was the former headquarters of the Carthusian monks of Scala Dei in ancient timesOn the other hand, La Fredat estate covers 40 hectares of mountainous terrace farming land with llicorella shale soils, the typical terroir of Priorat, composed of crumbled slate fragments that allow the vines to grow deep roots to make the most of the soil’s nutrients and become more resistant to high temperatures.

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Having two terroirs with such different characteristics, in which they have planted a wide range of varieties, is crucial to the winemaking process of GR-174, Cruor and Gran Cruor: complex wines that are full of nuances

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GR-174 is the name of the lovely path that crosses Priorat. Hiking all along this track is probably the best way to feel its beauty. If you could concentrate in a bottle the ripe fruits aromas and the minerality of its terroir the result would be a wine like this. A blend of Garnacha, Carinena and Cabernet Sauvignon which was aged during five months in French oak barrels.

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GR-174, 2010, Garnacha, Carignena and Cabernet Sauvignon

The color is dark violet leaving stains on the lips. The nose shows great aromas of ripe cherry and rasinis, oak, vanilla and mocha combined with gentle hints of leather, cassis and herbs. The palate is spicy, notes of black berries, quite fruity altogether bit the acidity is a bit to high, not the best balance but it works. After a few hours it works really well. Less tannins then I would have expected.

277 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

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Clos Figueras/Cal Batllet, Come rain or come shine in DOQ Priorat

104/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Cal Batllet – 5 Partides 2009, Gratallops Vi de la Vila

Come rain or come shine….

…, happy together, unhappy together, wouldn’t it be fine? Clos Figueras winery in Gratallops hosted an event today, consisting of cellars from Priorat and Monsant, as well as there being several artisanal cheese producers from all over Catalonia. Only the weather could have been better, as it rained quite heavily all day. The rest……, wine and cheese! Can’t go wrong!

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Went to a dinner with some Dutch friends yesterday, Cava, a buffet of selected foods, nice chats amongst friends and we got to talking about todays event. They were all quite certain that the rain would be coming down heavily today, and they were right. I tried to point out that it never rains in Priorat, as it has its own micro climate! Boy was I wrong, and the Dutch friends stayed at home! I did not! And now, recalling the wines and cheeses, I’m smiling from ear to ear, it has been yet another great day!

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Catalan Wine is writing daily about one wine from one of the 12 D.O:s in Catalonia, and so far it has been one article a day, which I hope will continue for 365 days! Some articles are comprehensive with loads of details, whilst others are short and almost only covers the wine.

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Today, some pictures of wine and cheese and one tasting note of a wine that I believe will be a classic! Tomorrow, Catalan Wine 365 is visiting the Alimentaria fair in Barcelona during two days, so you can expect additional photos from that wine loving event as well!

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There were 10 cellars represented and underneath you will find the list. The ones containing a link, have been covered earlier and if you wish to read the ful story, just follow the links!

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Clos Figueras, a small to medium sized winery in Gratallops, opened their new vintages, the white was a favorite. Celler Clos 93, the smallest winery in Priorat, with their question mark and olive oil. Celler Jaume Sabate from La Vilella Baixa had the only Vi Ranci (a wine similar to sherry and using the solera principles).

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Clos Dominic from Porrera was represented by the daughter of the house, Ingrid, opening bottle after bottle of their range of three reds! Joan d’Anguera, a innovative small cellar from Montsant. Ficaria Vins from La Figuera in Monsant, Jaume and his wife were pouring their beautiful Pater and Elia wines!

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Clos Batllet, Marc Ripoll Sans, owner and wine maker was happy to get a visit by Catalan Wine! Vinyes Domenech served their Furvus! Portal del Priorat is getting a visit at their winery in the days to come, they make several wines and showed up with Gotes, one from Montsant and the other from Priorat. And finally Orto Vins, with Jordi Beltran, serving their splendid white wine and sweet wine, made me smile even more!

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Cal Batllet, 5 Partides 2009, 100% Carignena, from very old vines!

Aged for 15 months in French oak. 100% new barrels. The barrels are of 225 liters and the fermentation is carried out in open barrels at a maximum temperature of 26 º C, 4 pigiage daily, gentle extraction, long gestation and high control. Respecting the grapes fully! “Gratallops Vi de la Vila” is the new appellation for the wines produced from Gratallops, inspired by the Burgundy philosophy of village wines.

The color is dark ink but not opaque, it is more of a deep purple. Red and black fruit with an overlay of jammy blackberries and red currant. This is a complex wine and the secondary notes were a bit hard to read as they were evolving minute by minute, but ground coffee and underbrush were present most of the time, blue berries and cassis showed up to join the show as well as slight hints of cedar and spices. The mouth receives a harmonious mix of savory ripe fruit, smooth and velvety with a multitude of rich flavors endorsed by time, better by the minute. Have I found new favorite from Priorat? Yes, because they are ALL my favorites!

The name 5 Partides is due to the five selected  sloping vineyard plots, with vines of up to 100 years, located in the outskirts of Gratallops. The wine transmits the personality of the terroir of Gratallops with its mineral complexity, and maturity This is a elegant, smooth wine with a long aftertaste.

The 5 vineyards are; Camp d’en Piquer (250m, slope, E), Coma (300m, slope, NW), Capella (300m, slope, S), Mas d’en Pallarès (300m, slope, SW), Vinyals (250m, slope, S). The 2009 harvest had a hot summer which provided for a great maturity and it shows!

278 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Bodega Escoda Sanahuja, You’re all I need to get by in D.O. Conca de Barberà

103/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barberà – Llovera – Bodega Escoda Sanahuja– Els Bassotets 2012

You’re all I need to get by…….

Hectic days, past and to come, but that’s quite my cup of tea! The village has a jazz, wine and local food fair today, so it’s going be yet another day full of activities and hopefully some new encounters with interesting people. Yesterday evening was spent at a local, quite rural, restaurant where I together with some friends enjoyed a tasting menu with set wines from Sumarroca winery. The wines were versatile, to say the least, so I have to book a visit at their winery and then I’ll do a recap with the restaurant.

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My choice of the day is a small producer from D.O. Conca de Barberà, a region in which I have found several small and alternative producers. Organic, bio-dynamic and/or natural wine making is what would be called alternative, should really be the other way around!? Pesticide and herbicide usage for spraying the vineyards, should be the alternative and not the other way around! I’m happy to see that more and more small “alternative” wineries are popping up and quite a few of them in the D.O. of Conca de Barberà.

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The Conca region shows that it is evolving and changing all the time. New producers, wine makers and wines are seeing daylight on a constant basis and the appellation has the potential to claim fame, due to the excellent conditions of the terrior but also the long history of wine-making in the region. It is highly probable that wine production was introduced by the ancient Romans but by the time of the Moorish dominion of the Iberian peninsula it had all but disappeared from the Conca de Barberà area.

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As in many other wine producing regions, wine production took off again thanks to the influence of the monasteries founded in the Middle Ages, in this case the Monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet, near Montblanc which was then the third largest city of Catalonia. In the 12th century both the Knights Templar and the monks from Poblet worked the vineyards. The wine was produced in the basement of the monastery and can be visited today.

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The period from the end of the 18th century to the mid 19th century was one of expansion for the area. Wines and spirits were exported to northern Europe and to the Americas and grapes became the dominant crop. In this period terraces were built on the mountainsides to increase the area under vines as much as possible. The railway connecting Montblanc to Reus on the coast was built in order to transport wine more rapidly and efficiently.

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The arrival of the phylloxera virus at the end of the 19th century marked the end of this boom period as most of the vineyards were devastated. However the comeback was spectacular. The Conca de Barberà area was the first in Catalonia, and in the rest of Spain, to form agricultural cooperatives based on grape growing and wine production.

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Thus in 1894 the grape growers of Barberà founded a syndicate for collective wine production. Under the direction of Joan Espulgas (a vintner who had learned how to combat the phylloxera virus in France) the syndicate undertook the project of replanting all the vineyards in the Conca area, by grafting onto phylloxera resistant New World rootstock. Success ensued and in 1903 the first cooperative winery in Spain was built in the town of Barberà. Conca de Barberà attained official DO status in 1985.

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Escoda Sanahuja was founded in 1997, that’s when the farming of vineyards began. The wine making and market entry took place in 2003. The winery is hosted in a stone building situated at the foot of the Prenafeta mountain. It has 7 hectares of its own vineyard, cultivated with Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Garnacha, Cariñena and Chenin Blanc. The cultivation of the vineyards is totally biological and with bio-dynamic principles. These wines are a natural as you can get.

The co-operative of Barbera

The co-operative of Barbera

 

Joan Ramon Escoda-Sanahuja uses no sulfites either in the vineyard, nor during any part of the vinification process (if possible). To ensure that his wines are stable he puts the wines through a very long and slow maceration period under with very controlled temperature conditions a method that captures natural carbon dioxide which becomes a natural preservative to the wine and creates wines that have long and silky tannin structures with great follow through on the finish.

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The wines are not filtered, nor fined. All the bottling, vineyard management and harvest is done with the cycle of the moon – Bio-dynamic. The vineyards are of calcareous soils located at an altitude between 450 – 600m. This provides both character and elegance to the wines from its special terrain.

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Several of the wines made by Joan Ramon has become my favourites and besides the El Bassotets I am very fond of Els Bassots Chenin Blanc. I have had an opportunity to imbibe the 2006 vintage of this interesting Chenin Blanc. It has very driven aromas with pronounced vibrant fruit; lemon and apple, mixed with strong mineral accent which turns into an almost smoky character. It has a firm almost edgy quality compared to more traditional Chenin Blanc. It’s sharp, and tightly packed profile of tropical/exotic fruits together with notes of spices which compliments the mineral driven finish. Aeration to this wine is highly recommended as it needs time to develop and release all that it has to offer. 

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Els Bassotets 2012, 100% Chenin Blanc

Deep golden yellow and turbid, due to the absence of filtration. High intensity shows a complex nose full of nuances. Aromas of white fruit and very ripe yellow citrus fruits, yeast and sweet spices, lifted by a subtle wood. The palate is oily, with a silky smooth texture, superb acidity, deep, aromatic, good finish, long and persistent that puts more wood on the nose, lots of fruit and mineral notes.

279 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Bodegas 1898 Ramón Roqueta, Sway in D.O. Catalunya

102/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Catalunya – Fonollosa – Bodegas 1898 Ramón Roqueta – Bacasis Blanco Macabeo Chardonnay 2008

Sway……

….. with me…., dance with me! Once you have, danced with me, it’s time to share a glass of wine. During the last few posts, there has been a lot from Penedes and Priorat. Was a while since we visited a Pla de Bages winery. This one is a winner, both in the sense of getting acknowledged for its products but more so for the ideas and progress they are constantly achieving. Thinking ahead in this fast paced and very competitive world of wine, is crucial, if you want to reach the top but also stay there! The wines they produce are no top of the top, at all, but quality/price ratio they are good and also consistent in what they do. Steady, steady, because, let’s face it, we have days when we want to drink a wine that’s easy and affordable! Let the train keep the steam up!

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Bodegas Ramón Roqueta is the story of a winery very much in touch with its origins and its region, the Bages. The family has been dedicated to both viticulture and viniculture for generations but it was in 1898 when Ramón Roqueta Torrentó first opened an establishment in Manresa to sell his products. This became the driving force for the family’s wine business in Manresa and, as from this date, the winery’s history and future started to be written. The wines are elaborated under the D.O. Catalunya.

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Today, Bodegas Ramón Roqueta is a great example of a company renovating and adapting to the new times while maintaining the tradition and expertise garnered over the centuries. Bodegas Ramón Roqueta has always been related to the Bages region. In 1898 it set up shop in Manresa but today the winery and its vineyards are located at Fonollosa, thereby reaffirming the family’s commitment to its origins. The estate has 54 hectares of vines and the winery strives to capture all the information accumulated in the grapes.

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Wines are made under the appellation or “Denominació d’Origen” of Catalunya and fermented, according to the different varieties, in stainless steel tanks (from 1,000 to 36,000 litres), always treating the grapes with the utmost respect. The wines are then aged in the barrel room until they are bottled, giving way to the last phase in the wine’s aging process.

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The 2013 harvest at Ramón Roqueta was initially a late harvest which ultimately turned out to be normal due to the high temperatures at the end of the season. Ripening was very well balanced, especially in the late varieties. Fresh, fruity whites harvested at their optimum point of acidity. Aromatic, well-structured reds harvested at the right degree of ripeness in their skins and seeds. Yields were reasonable considering they had been low the previous harvest due to the drought. A good harvest in general, especially for the reds.

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The range is split between whites, a rose a a few mono varietal reds as well as a couple of reds containing Cabernet/Sauvignon and Tempranillo, all of which have been aged in American and French oak from 3 – 12 months, and as such offering a nice tasting session of fresh, although young wines with personality, all worth trying out. My top chihces are Ramón Roqueta Tempranillo 2012, Synera Tinto 2012, Synera Rosat 2012, Synera Blanc 2012. Two that spring to mind with a good value rating are Vinya Nostra Xarel.lo 2012 and Synera Crianza 2009.

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Bacasis Blanco, Macabeo Chardonnay 2008 

A white containing 80% Macabeo and 20% Chardonnay, aged on lees, floral, fresh and full of body. Pale yellow straw color. Bright and clear. Floral aromas floral (jasmine) and fresh fruit on a background of fine lees. Tasty, balanced and fresh.

280 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler Laurona, D.O. Montsant

101/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Carretera Bellmunt – Celler Laurona – Laurona Plini 2009

Want to meet the makers of history? Want to experience the essence of Montsant wines? Or do you just want to enjoy a quiet morning discovering yet another little winery in Catalonia? Well, in any case you are in the right place to start with, and from now on, it can only get better! Earlier today, I went to Barcelona to visit the wine fair Vinum Nature. A fair covering natural, bio-dynamic and organic wines. Around 80 small to mid sized wineries, representing about 400 wines, were present and even if I didn’t get to taste all 400, I tried my best and managed a few! Will get back to the fair in more detail during the days to come.

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The Denomination of Origin Montsant is ring-shaped, circling practically all of the DOQ Priorat area. Formerly D.O. Montsant was a part of D.O. Tarragona, but with its unique characteristics, and similarity to the wines of the Priorat area, the winemakers wanted to separate their wines from the rest of the produce of Tarragona. So, in 2002, D.O. Montsant was created, enabling the vintners to present the vineyards under one common distinction. 

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The characteristics of the DO Montsant wines are the local varieties Garnacha and Carignena which together with the qualities of the soil and climate and the contribution of other grape varieties produce excellent wines. The winery Celler Laurona is situated in the very heart of Montsant, where the wine is elaborated and carefully aged under controlled conditions. The vineyards however are located in different areas of the D.O. Montsant, in small estates in Figuera, Falset, Darmós and Masroig.
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Plini 2009 is a newly designed red wine from Celler Laurona. High quality, modern expression, high complexity, elegance, maturity and harmony are the result of picking the best grapes from the best vineyards of Garnacha, Carignena and Syrah from their own estates. After 15 months of ageing in 500 litres French oak barrels, and several months in the bottle, the launch of the first limited production of only 4.000 bottles of this exclusive vintage, was a hit!
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An excellent and peculiar soil, gives the wines from Laurona their personality with a marked Mediterranean character; soft on the palate, but with a great structure and a warm aromatic expression, fruity, fresh and complex. All its features are taken from the coupage of Garnacha from the estate of La Figuera, with the concentration from Carignena, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyards of Falset, Darmós and Masroig.

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But without any doubt, what characterizes the wines from Laurona, is the elaboration and ageing that permits the total expression of the terroir character. After caring for the vineyards respecting the environment, and a careful harvest, all the grape varieties arrives to the winery, where the artesan wine making process begins. In the Celler Laurona the whole process is performed manually, from the selection of the fruit, grape by grape, to eliminate the ones that do not fulfil the requirements of quality, then the fermentation, maceration and ageing in 500 litres French Oak barrels. 

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An excellent extraction is obtained by working in controlled temperature conditions during 30 or 40 days, and extracting the colour and taste from the grape peels, by gravity, to avoid an aggressive treatment to the wine. The ageing, always performed in the best quality French oak, makes a fine and elegant finish to the robust wine. The wine is not clarified nor filtered, in order to preserve the natural qualities, and the quality controls before bottling guarantees an excellent final product. After a second ageing in the bottle when the evolution is optimal, the wine is finally launched for consumption.

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The winery is located in an old factory dedicated to the manufacture of timber doors for gym lockers but it has been adapted perfectly for the production and aging of wines. The winemakers of Celler Laurona, René Barbier and Fernando Zamora supervise the whole production and control the quality. They are both experts on the local terroir and the possibilities of each harvest. Together with their long experience as winemakers, they guarantee the best results.

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From this patient and careful vinification, two wines are made: Laurona and 6 Vinyes de Laurona. Two wines which keeps the secrete of a good wine, and have received high ratings (always above 90 points) by the famous wine critic, Robert Parker. Laurona has also been included in two occasions on the list of the 100 most competitive wines in the world, published by the Wine Spectator magazineThese international rewards, and the great success of the terroir itself, backs up the quality of Laurona, a clearly Mediterranean wine, result of a unique talent and sensibility which makes it really magical.
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Laurona Plini 2009, Garnacha, Carinena and Syrah
Deep red colour with violet rims, showing signs that it’s still a young wine. The aromas intoxicates initially with notes of currants and blackberries being easliy distinguished, all surrounded by a dairy background. Really intense, slowly it shows the many facets of its personality. As it opens up, aromas of cinnamon, coffee and especially violets appear. The complexity grows and finally, after an hour, it shows all its properties, especially in the mouth. A truly opulent wine. Featuring a remarkable tannic concentration, structured, friendly and mature. Good acidity and structure, and the passage through the palate is surprisingly fresh and sweet. Its finish is really long, distinguishing all the aromatic complexity described above. A truly great wine that will improve over the next decade.

281 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Parés Baltà, Do Watcha Wanna in D.O. Penedes

100/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Pacs del Penedes – Parés Baltà – Mas Elena 2011

Do Watcha Wanna……

…., and watcha do, do it well, could easily be applied to the Cusiné family, managing the Parés Baltà winery in Penedes. So many wines and Cava, with so many different styles. It is almost like they wanted to do one wine per family member, so the wine could display the personality of each person. It is just like a New Orleans brass band!

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The display of wines is in fact so broad, as they also have vineyards in Priorat (Gratavinum) and Ribera del Duero (Dominio Romano), you could make do with visiting just this one winery and enjoy a spectrum of wines.

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Parés Baltà is a family owned winery in the Penedès region with traditions that goes back to 1790. In the 70’s, the Cusiné family took over the winery which is now managed by the 3rd generation. They produce high quality wines and Cava. The grapes come from 5 diffrent estates, situated around the winery and in the mountains of the Penedès. The altitude varies from 170 to 750 metres and offers a diverse mixture of soils and micro-climates, which off course, is also a reason for the multitude of styles in their wines.

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The practice of organic viticulture has always been a model they have tried to pursue and done so since 2004. They use sheep, their own, to fertilize the vineyards and bees to help with the pollination of the vines. It is, so to say, a complete ecosystem that is at work and it shows in the quality of the grapes. This is very Mediterranean, but the way it used to be. Old style!

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The wine-making tradition here at Pares Balta is rooted but not stale. Fresh and new ideas are constantly developed and it is very exploratory. The management is led by Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol who, together, guide the company into a new era of high quality wine production, with the unconditional help of their father Joan Cusiné Cusiné.

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The wine-making is in the hands of Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas, enologists and wives of Joan and Josep. Two skilled young women whose efforts are reflected in the quality of the wines that are produced at Parés Baltà; showing fine character and concentration yet with elegance and balance.

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The roots of Parés Baltà goes all the way back to the 18th century. In 1790 the first vines were planted on the estate that now surrounds the winery. Today however, more than 220 years later, almost everything is different. Joan Cusiné Hill took over the winery in 1978. Born in 1917 in Bellvei del Penedés, coming from a family of vine growers and, already from the age of seven, he helped his father to cultivate the vineyards and never stopped working. At 80 years old he even helped his grandsons to care for a part of the vineyard.

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His son Joan Cusine Cusine started to manage Pares Baltà in the eighties and released its first still white wine, “Blanc de Pacs” which is still produced today. At the end of the eighties the first red wine from the company was produced, and since then he has enthusiastically been attempting anything that could raise the quality of the wines.

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Since 2000 the management has been in the hands of the two grandsons, Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol. They have brought new and fresh ideas into the company, but have also shown respect for its tradition and guarded the heritage. The wives of Joan and Josep, Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas are the winemakers and oenologists. They have continued to develop new wines and increased the focus on quality.

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The (currently) 25 labels of the winery are constantly expanding and to get a feel for some of their products, here comes a short description;

Mas Petit (the small farm) is a rich red wine made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in Alleirs Oak for an extended period.

Mas Pons has gotten award after award at different competitions and is an oak aged 100% Chardonnay.

Blanc de Pacs is a still white wine made from the three classic Cava grapes, Macabeo, Xarel.lo, and Parellada.

Honeymoon. I love this wine, and I think it’s a case of love or hate, but try iy you must!. One of very few 100% Parellada wines.

Ros de Pacs is a rose wine made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Mas Irene, red wine with an extremely limited production of 33,000 bottles. Merlot and Cab Sauv, long ageing, extremely complex wine.

Mas de Carol is a boutique white wine, made with 100% premium Chardonnay grapes and aged in French oak. Less than 10,000 bottles made annually.

Cava Cuvee de Carol. Parés Baltà refer to this boutique Cava as “Liquid Gold”. This is an aged Cava made with 100% Chardonnay and extended oak ageing. Resulting in a bright gold-coloured Cava

For their still wines they have three different “series” – The Microcuvees, The Origen “series’ and the R-Evolution. In the latter, two reds and two white wines are part of that constellation, and one of the reds, the Mas Elena is tasted today!

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Mas Elena 2011, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc

Mas Elena has an intense dark red color with subtle blue highlights. Clean and bright. The nose perceives red fruit tinged with spicy notes, hints of licorice and cocoa and lightly toasted. A really tasty red from Parés Baltà, that won’t make much of a dent in your purse. The wine fills the mouth with a fleshy and fresh feeling. The oak is present but just slightly. Step silky, full of creaminess. Polished tannins. Very good ending.

282 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Celler Xavier Clua, The summer wind in D.O. Terra Alta

99/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Celler Xavier Clua – Mas d’en Pol Barrica 2005

The summer wind…..

Vilalba dels Arcs is one of the twelve communes of the Denominacion d’Origen (the equivalent of the French AOC) of Terra Alta, in the heart of the Ebre region in southern Tarragona. In this part of Spain the fields are surrounded by hills (the Ports and the Sierras of Caballs, Pàndols and Fatarella ) and cut by a lot of valleys and dry creeks that makes the landscape capricious and complex. This situation gives the Terra Alta a climate with both Mediterranian and continental influences with hot summers and cold winters – the annual rainfall is less than 400mm.

Vilalba dels Arcs

Vilalba dels Arcs

The high altitude and the numerous valleys increase the risk of frost in the spring. Its proximity to the Ebre river make the prevailing wind the Cers (mistral), a dry wind from inland Aragon that keeps the vines healthy, combined with the Garbi, a humid wind blowing inland from the Mediterranean. The soils are calcareous clays, with low levels of organic material, but rich in elements that favour good drainage. It is, therefore, a terroir that guarantees grapes which are ideal for a quality wine production. The vineyards are trellised to maximise the exposure to the sun, making for ideal ripening in late summer.

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The Xavier Clua wine cellar is situated in Vilalba dels Arcs, in the Terra Alta in Catalonia – a dry, sunny area where vine-growing and wine production have been a tradition since medieval times. For four generations, the name of Clua has been associated with the culture of the vineyards and the production of wine. The latest generation, led by Xavier Clua combines the experience of this viticultural tradition with university training, bringing new perspectives and techniques both to viticulture and winemaking. In 1995 the small family enterprise exchanged the production of bulk wine for a quality product, sold in bottles with personal labels. This evolution only underlined the desire keep working with a limited production to obtain a rigorous selection of the different grapes of each plot and close control of the whole winemaking process.

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More and more the products of the Cellar Clua acquire a name in the wine world and the family enterprise has grown with the addition of Rosa Domenech: Xavier’s wife and an experienced oenologist in her own right. With this growth it became more and more necessary to expand to a newer, more modern site. In 2006 this dream came true with the creation of a new infrastructure where the usability is guaranteed by a contemporary architectural construction and modern technology going hand in hand with the tradition and love for the terroir. As in the vineyard, in the wine cellar: the members of the Clua family are guided by their love of the land that, day by day, they bring to their wines.

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Today the wine cellar’s facilities are located at two sites in the village of Vilalba dels Arcs. The first of the two is situated in the heart of the village in a house in the Carrer Sant Isidre. The ground floors of this building, restored and converted for winemaking in 1995, was the home of the wine cellar for the first decade of the business. Today this old stone building has two areas: the barrel hall where our wines are aged and the tasting room. The second site was purpose-built in 2006. It is a large and modern infrastructure, situated just on the outskirts of the village on the road to Gandesa.

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Rosa and Xavier takes over fifteen years working the vineyard and imposing its mark on a balanced and sensitive winemaking. His young white Mas d’en Pol 2011 was proclaimed Best Young White Wine and also liked their Mas d’en Pol Barrel 2007 a ​​blend of black grenache (40%), Cabernet (20%), Syrah (20%) and merlot (20%) with 8 months in oak, full-bodied but the ripe fruit is well appreciated.

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Mas d’en Pol Barrica 2005,  40% Garnacha Negra, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah

Aged during 8 months in French oak barrels, followed by 12 months in the bottle. Color is intense cherry red. Emits primary aromas of ripe black fruit and toasted notes of wood and some jam. The palate shows great great acidity that gives freshness which enhances fruit flavors and the notes of aging.

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle