87/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Bonastre – Sicus, Terrers Mediterranis – Sons 2012
…., if I haven’t been shot down by now, I don’t mind being shot anytime from now. This might be the most unique wine I have ever tried. Not the best, not the best elaboration but the combination of elaboration, location, wine maker skills and the amphoras! Wine have been made in, transported in and kept in amphoras for ages, what is nice to see, is the return of such an ancient vessel, and what a return!
Massis de Bonastre 100%, Rocks! Sicus Rocks! And the winemaker, Eduard Pie Rocks! It is not only Massis de Bonastre 100% it is also 100% crazy and 100% likable, it is a massive wine and I’m fortunate, lucky and very happy to have consumed bottle number 75 out of 300 produced. This kind of wine should be forbidden! a) it is way to good, b) there is not enough of it, c) stop talking! But whatever you do, don’t enjoy this wine alone, this must be shared, that way it is twice or thrice as good. It is amazing to see how it affects people, and that sharing being done with, wine loving friends with miles and miles of wine in their veins.
Eduard Pie is the new generation wine makers in a region, Penedes, that is mostly known for its Cava. On rare, such as this, occasions both great white and reds reach the end users and they should be grateful. It can not be considered easy to go against the stream and risk generations of work, just because you want to do something different. But then again, some parents are smart enough to realize that young does not mean less passionate or less knowledgeable.
Telling people about the way Eduard makes his wines is just not possible. This is something that has to be encountered and deciphered in situ. For me it was once again local friends that opened my eyes and took me to see the crazy genius wine maker. It was something like “We’re of to see the Wizard” and “Big rock candy mountain” at the same time. I’m headed for a land that’s far away besides the crystal fountains, so come with me, we’ll go and see Sicus winery!
In the village of Bonastre with about 240 inhabitants there are 3 wineries. All alternative, all worth a visit, but for me the one that has caught my attention is the one that personifies alternative wine making and the essence of the terroir, Terrers Mediterranis, the soil of the middle sea. At the southern end of the Penedes the gentle hills of the Massif Bonastre rise from the sea, providing protection and freshness in the vineyards of Sicus. With an altitude of 170 meters above sea level and proximity of 6 km to the coast, there is a strong Mediterranean influence.
The entire estate and its vineyards show the utmost respect to the environment, without using herbicides or insecticides, and thus maintain the biodiversity of the nature that surrounds it. The calcareous soils of the vineyards are very shallow and low on organic matter, all of them rest without additional plowing or fertilizing . This means that all sorts of herbs grow there, favoring the underground life of worms and ants, and thus, reducing plant vigor, the fruit is heavy in concentration. The flavors are alive and vivid.
Sicus and Eduard are in unison with regards to understanding the practices of viticulture and the wines resulting from these practices. A philosophy that is aware of the importance of expressing terroir so dependent on biodynamic cycles and interrelated with the land as is the wine. The dedication of this winery and vineyards is concentrated in results extracted from the land, trying to reflect the personality of the whole environment in the wine itself. Sicus is the ultimate expression of the surrounding landscape, the salinity of the sea, minerality of the soil and the fruits and flowers of the forest.
Born September 9th, 1985 in Bonastre (Tarragona). Son of a farming family on his fathers side, he decides at a very young age to initiate studies of viticulture and enology. Later on complementing the same with complementing them later with an additional sommelier training and marketing of wine. In 2003 he recuperates the bulk winemaking the family had done for many years in the cellar of the family house. During the same time he is working at the historic winery of Jane Ventura in the Penedès. Combining work with studies and his own small project, bottling wine in very small numbers. It was not until 2010 that he decided to dedicate himself solely to his own project Sicus, with the primary goal of producing wines that express the terroir to the maximum.
Eduard is currently promoting indigenous varieties of the area, likethe Xarel.lo, the Monastrell and one of the greatest grapes in the Penedes, unfortunately in most cases overlooked, the red Xarel.lo. This comes from vines older than 70 years. He produces a white wine with a pink touch, achieved through the fermentation and maceration together with the skins. These wines convey fresh and expressive aromas and tastes and should be tried if the chance arises.
In addition, a while back he replanted Malvasia de Sitges, another variety that is sure to create incredible results in future wines. Using Merlot blended with Monastrell, a splendid and well-balanced rose has also been developed. The white Xarel.lo and the Monastrell are fermented in clay jars. These are porous and thus allowing micro-oxygenation of the must/wine. This allows to assert and enhance the color and structure in the same way it does in a barrel, but without providing toasted and woody aromas and thus giving maximum expression of fruit and earth.
As if this wasn’t enough, Eduard decided to burry some amphora’s in-between the rows of vine and ferment the wine right there in the vineyard. This is done both with the white and the red. Hence, it is possible to try the same wine basically elaborated in the same way, but in two different locations. One in the winery, the cellar in the family house, allowing the grapes to get in contact with additional strains of yeasts, while the one fermenting in the field has a minimum of contact, be it human or alien. What a difference a location makes!
Obviously I cannot fail to mention the other wines tasted, like the rose, red and a sweet wine (Xarel.lo). Giving of its unique aromas and taste of raw almonds. The best way to try a wine is in the vineyard where it was born and during all visits to Sicus, this is implemented. It really is amazing to be introduced to the vats, located in the cellars of the ancestral home, to relive and understand the winemaking tradition of this region.
Sons 2012, 100% Monastrell – Fermented in clay amphoras in the vineyards of Sicus.
The Sons is a wine that I intend to keep one bottle of and open it in 12 – 14 years as I am sure it can stand at-least that amount of time. The color is dark cherry, slightly bluish, pink rim with heavy and fatty tears, receding slowly. The first nose says a lot, leave me alone for a while and you shall be rewarded. A multitude of aromas evolve during the 2 hour tasting and there is a lot of fruit but also herbs and underbrush. Elegant floral aromas with intense aromas of red fruits such as mature strawberries, raspberries and currants. It is a mouthful, almost to be cut with a knife. The strain of Monastrell holds everything and concentration of the vintage gives very deep rustic shades, with cherries, raspberry, carob and chocolate. No food is needed and one glass of this bundle of joy can last forever!