Masia Serra, Desafinado in D.O. Emporda

127/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Cantallops – Masia Serra – Masia Serra INO

Desafinado……

…, tuneless??? Why would I ever start a entry with that connotation? How my mind works (or doesn’t) is not an easy thing to explain, especially when it comes to music and wine! I’d rather try to explain Einstein’s theories or why and how minerality is found in wine….., both beyond my realm of understanding, just to show how impossible all of the above, in fact, is to comprehend! But, one thing I do know……, the sweet, mouth-filling wines from today’s favorite cellar, the Masia Serra are certainly to my liking and no way are they tuneless! Otherwise this particular cellar wouldn’t appear on this blog! I hope you have had a great St. George’s Day! Or as they call it here, Sant Jordi! The wives get red roses and the husbands get books! I got two cook books! Happy Days!

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Masia Serra started producing wines within the D.O. Emporda in 1996. The history of Masia Serra begins with a small vineyard planted in 1961 with Grenache grapes.  Other French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot occupy parts of the 12 hectares that today make up the estate.

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Jaume Serra, owner and oenologist of the bodega, grew up in a traditional winemaking family.  After completion of his studies at the university Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona and of his arduous apprenticeship at Chateaux Petrus he decided to create his own wines at the bodega he founded in Cantallops. Jaume, grandson of a wine dealer and son of the also well-known oenologist Simon Serra, has   learned to   value   the   noble liquid, which   he says generates warm feelings in its surroundings.

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An austere home of the typical Catalan Masia, welcomes visitors at the western edge of the square estate, which on the north borders to the Alberas mountains which stretch to the sea of the Golf of Roses.  The southern border remains open to the Emporda plain that provides a view to the horizon.

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The tour begins in a simple but beautiful room with walls filled with poetry describing the glory of wines, the fruit of hope and love for the land, this is where the wines are tasted. We continue with a short walk through the vineyards and groves and then to view the production room, another for bottling area and the storage room, which has been excavated in the heart of a mound of solid granite. It provides shelter for a few wines that have left their fingerprints in the world of wine, and that can be found in restaurants that take extra care in offering their clients a reputed wine list.

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Only five types of wine, GNEIS, AROA, IO, INO, and a CREMANT are produced and aged at the bodega, which shelters the brews from the lights of the crisp sky. Masia Serra is a family owned bodega, the fruit of its efforts and its dreams. The nobility and constancy of its work is evident in each footstep taken amongst its vines. Cherish the moment and enjoy the drops!

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Masia Serra INO

The wines is made using the Solera type aging process, combining different harvests with 5% from the mother barrel of 1860. The name INO is used to designate this wine of extreme quality.  INO, who gave birth to the god Dionysus, just as the mother barrel of 120 liters, which dates back to 1860, did. 5% of this invaluable stock contributes to the composition of this sweet wine, produced from grapes of “Roja” Garnacha, a varietal indigenous to the Emporda. 

Medium amber colored dessert wine. Complex aromas of fruit with perceptions of oxidized metal, mellow and spices, provoked by its solera type aging process, combining different harvests with 5% from the mother barrel of 1860. Soft sherry characteristics but then the caramelized apples and baked peaches come in with honey and smoked nuts. Great acid makes this not at all cloying. The finish goes on and on. Very unique wine and a great drinking experience. That the solera goes back 150+ years adds to this great experience. An extraordinary way to finish a meal. Very good structure in the mouth, surprising in its equilibrium and complexity. The alcohol is very well constructed and preserved, due to the deposited  patience, in order to deliver the maximum expression when the wine reaches the palate. Got to love this gem!

252 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Edetària, On The Road Again in D.O Terra Alta

126/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Edetària – Edetària Seleccio 2012

On the road again…….

……, no better way to spend a Tuesday morning, just after the long Easter break, than with a visit to one of my (many) favorite wine cellars in D.O. Terra Alta. As I have, quite extensively, covered both Edetària and the D.O. of Terra Alta in a previous blog post, here comes some pictures from todays visit and a tasting note of todays preferred breakfast wine.

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My parents in law had the opportunity to meet Joan Lliberia of Edetaria during a promotional (sales) trip to Stockholm, as they were invited by the Swedish Edetaria importer for a tasting. As soon as they landed here in Catalonia they had to visit the place first hand, so we took a road trip, had as splendid time and enjoyed some great wines! Sometimes (most of the time) my line of work is quite nice.

Wine lovers and parents in law, yes...., in that order! Enjoying the Catalan countryside!

Wine lovers and parents in law, yes…., in that order! Enjoying the Catalan countryside!

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During the visit I was also very happy to meet a U.S importer of Catalan wines, trumpetwine.com. Not really blowing his own horn, but certainly trying to make Catalan wines known in the San Francisco area and I wish him great success as he is to receive his first shipment by the end of this summer! You all know by now, that my wish is that you all come over here and drink the wines in situ, but if you can’t make the journey, make sure you try the Catalan wines in one or more, of the outlets in the San Francisco area. Catalonia in California, I quite like that thought!

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Edetària Seleccio 2012, 85% Garnacha Blanca and 15% Macabeo

Edetària is made with a selection of Macabeo and Garnacha from old vines. The wine spends 8 months on new French oak barrels of 300 liters, thus giving it a complexity and unmatched elegance. It is bright straw to light golden in color. The primary nose show some white fruit but also buttery oak, rounded and nice. Floral notes and fine spices. The palate is powerful and smooth, with a long, lingering finish and a salty aftertaste. This a complex and powerful white, perfect for a special occasion, like a breakfast on a Tuesday morning in D.O. Terra Alta!

253 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Castell del Vi, Água de Beber in D.O. Montsant

125/365 – Catalonia – Falset – Castell del Vi – Wine Fair – Cooperative Falset Marçà – Etim Grenache Old Vines 2008

Água de Beber……,

…., Water to Drink at the Wine Castle? I think not! I have to remind myself over and over again, that during the difficult years, when Priorat and other regions saw their decline, co-operative wine cellars still fought on and produced wine. Maybe not the best in the world but certainly good enough for the money you would pay. Today, most co-operatives work with high technology and with some great wine makers. To some extent, the difficulty they are having, is with the bulk wines, the mechanical harvest (which makes quality selection so much harder) and timings. Due to the large amounts coming to the wineries at the same time, it is virtually impossible to give the grapes the best reception.

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Nevertheless, it is certainly possible to find great wines made by the co-operative cellars, which was proven during the small fair at the Castell del Vi in Falset the other day! Several new wines were tasted and I have firmly decided to visit some of the producers that took part. The Wine Castle is run by a foundation, which praised the conclusion of the second edition of the Fair of agricultural cooperatives of the Priorat region. It was a great showcase for the diversity and quality of the wines and oils produced by cooperative wineries of the region, some with over 100 years of history. During the day, more than 300 entrance tickets were sold, which means there were approximately 600 people participating.

The tables are set and the fair was just about to start!

The tables are set and the fair was just about to start!

This year, the Fair was attended by 9 agricultural cooperatives from the region and one guest cooperative from D.O. Terra Alta, the Cooperrative Cellar of Gandesa, considered one of the Cathedrals of Wine in Catalonia. During the day, the cooperative wineries presented their new wines in the l’Absis hall of the Castle. Wine tastings of different categories were offered, both targeted and blind. Their other products, like olive oil and cured meats and cheeses were also on display.

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This centre is based in the former Castle of the Counts of Prades of Falset, built in the 12th century after the Christian re-conquest of New Catalonia and located on a strategic hill overlooking the town of Falset. The castle which was made up of a residential quarter and a church, the existence of which can only be seen in the former exterior walls, was partly destroyed on several occasions, such as the decree of Philip the Fifth. In recent years, before it was completely abandoned, it was also used as a prison.

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The Castell del Vi takes up three floors of this former fortress. Modern infrastructure and advanced technology has meant that the centre offers visitors a very different experience based on Priorat wine culture, which is far removed from that of a traditional wine museum. By using audiovisual and interactive elements, visitors easily understand the history and the peculiarities of this wine-growing region.

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On the gorund floor visitors are introduced to the world of wine, the region of the Priorat through the use of emblematic images and suggestive decorative elements. They also receive a brief introduction to winemaking from the vineyard to the winery by use of short videos. The first floor concentrates on the region’s history and what makes the area unique. It is divided into two contrasting spaces: A grape growing Region, Visitors are greeted by a large 3D relief model of the Priorat where a short film, projected onto the model, takes us back in time. The exhibition space is complimented with fixed panels and glass cases which emphasize the idiosyncrasy and curiosities of this region.

I got to try an excellent Rose wine by Celler de Cornudella de Montsant, which was paired quite well with semi cured cheese!

I got to try an excellent Rose wine by Celler de Cornudella de Montsant, which was paired quite well with semi cured cheese!

Protagonist, Homage to the people who have contributed to the re-birth of the region. This interesting set up allows visitors to get to know some of the most important faces in this renaissance. Furthermore, a series of interviews informs visitors of personal experiences and points of views of the diverse people who were involved in this process. The second floor is called The Lookout. This open plan floor space provides visitors with splendid views over the region and invites them to go out to explore its countryside, its hidden corners and its festivals. Modules with touch screens as well as normal ones mean that nothing is missed.

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At the other end of this room, a series of touch screens offer visitors information about wine production in the region as well as in the rest of the world. Finally, special glass spheres offer visitors the opportunity to appreciate and recognize the basic aromas of Priorat wines in the form of an entertaining exercise to test our senses. If you only have limited time, once you visit Falset, because I assume you will visit Falset one day soon, then you should visit at least the Co-Operative wine cellar and the Castell del Vi!

DSC_0233Etim Grenache Old Vines 2008

Vines of more than 50 years of age offering very low outtake, vineyards with slate, clay, limestone and sand, at a height of between 350 and 500 m. Intense pomegranate, well covered with purple trim and rich in color. The nose surprises with an intense aroma of strawberry, currant and blackberries. Blueberries and blackberries dominate and there are subtle balsamic and mineral points. The aromas evolve and points towards the toasted notes of the barrel aging. The palate is elegant, lively and well balanced wine with fruit flavors, good acidity and firm, round tannins. The ending is long, the berries, vanilla and wood are felt throughout.

254 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Clos Barenys, I Am a Rock in D.O. Tarragona

124/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Vila-Seca – Clos Barenys – Anfora de Clos Barenys 2008

I am a Rock……

…., being a firm tradition in a region that has hosted wine making for centuries is what would be considered being a rock! Ten generations of the Bach family have devoted part of their lives to the art of wine-growing, working and protecting the land and learning its secrets. This devotion continues today in the indefatigable spirit of the winery’s owner, Josep M. Bach, with the close collaboration of his sons. The fruits of this long tradition are those of Clos Barenys, wines of great expressiveness and singular personality, reflecting the expertise of this winery.

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It is no coincidence that the symbol of the winery is an amphora. It is the symbol of the wine-growing tradition in Tarragona since Phoenician times, a tradition kept alive by the Bach family until today. At Clos Barenys they renovate the cycle from the ground to the wine year after year. The vineyards are located in two estates. The first, Mas Bach, is placed in the municipality of Vilaseca bordering with Cambrils and it lies on the Bach family estates and winery. It combines lands of average fertility with gravel and alluvial substrata. Its location near the Mediterranean Sea means it enjoys a temperate climate with dry mistral winds. This terroir combines the main two Bordeaux varieties Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with Syrah and Moscatel.

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The Bach family owns its second state, Mas d’en Varrà, in La Selva del Camp, set in the Priorato geological area, 300 metres above sea level. It stands out because of its marked thermal variation and the abundant presence of “licorella” (slate) in its ground, where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are cultivated. The marked mineral nature of the ground gives Clos Barenys wines their exclusive touch.

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On their estates they cultivate several different clones of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Moscatel varieties, all of them tied up, to give greater complexity and richness of aroma. They practise a manual winter pruning and a green pruning with removal of leaves, tipping and bunch cutting. The work of harvesting is done by hand, putting the bunches in boxes kept in refrigerated rooms until evening. The winery has modern facilities provided with all kind of technical advances and an underground cellar for ageing with French, Hungarian and Pennsylvanian oak barrels, to endow the wines with exclusive complexity. At Clos Barenys they attach great importance to the selection of the most appropriate woods for the ageing of their wines, which remain in the barrel for 12 months and between 12 and 24 further months in the bottle.

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Established in 1945, the appellation of origin Tarragona is the oldest in Catalonia. Although vineyards might have already existed before the Romans arrived, it was then and after the foundation of Tarraco, when vineyard began to be cultivated in the whole area. Two centuries later, the wines of Tarraco were known and very appreciated because of its quality in the whole Roman Empire. The D.O. Tarragona wine-producing area is the second with the largest surface of vineyard in Catalonia. It comprises 72 municipalities and it is divided in turn in two natural regions: the Camp de Tarragona and the Ribera d’Ebre, with differentiated geography.

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The Camp de Tarragona is characterised by low mountains, slightly undulated lands and small rivers born in the coast range. Its climate is temperate, Mediterranean, without extreme temperature changes and with an annual average of 15ºC. Rainfalls are irregular and land receives about 2.600 hours of sunlight. Their lands are calcareous and stony, where varieties such as Xarel·lo, Garnacha, Moscatel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah among others are mainly cultivated.

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Anfora de Clos Barenys 2008, Merlot and Syrah

Garnet color of great intensity, with cherry edges. Primary aromas of black fruit compote, with mineral tones and hardwood: cedar, coconut and vanilla. A lively palate, powerful, balanced, highly integrated, warm sweet tannins and long aromatic finish. A well made wine, to pair with rice dishes with meat or fish. Salami and soft cheese. Baked fish.

255 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler Cesca Vicent, É Luxo Só in DOQ Priorat

123/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Celler Cesca Vicent – Lo Piot

É Luxo Só…….

Of the wines regions in Spain only two, Priorat and Rioja, have been designated as Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca.), which is the highest quality designation awarded. In Catalonia the appelation is known as DOQ, Denominació d’Origen Qualificada. One of the oldest Priorat vineyards, dating back as far as the 15th century, is the one owned by Francesca Vicent Robert´s. Her ancestors have been producing wine in this region for centuries. With the benefit of this tradition, Cesca Vicent is today producing a range of the finest Priorat wines available.

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With the idea to study the “terroir” in depth, Cesca Vicent created a detailed soil map of her estate. This study done by Vien Asesoria SL, enterprise must be the guideline when handling the soil and the vine; because every “terroir” has its own characteristics and each grape variety expresses itself in a different way depending on what its roots have explored, and this finally results in the wine. To begin with, it is known that the estate has 11 different types of soils (gravel, slate, granite, slime…). Taking advantage of these varieties, perfectly delimitated on the soil map, Cesca Vicent has chosen the best of each grape variety to elaborate her wines. This combination gives Cesca Vicent’s wines a unique set of properties and aromas that cannot be found in any other wine from the DOQ Priorat.

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The climate in this relatively small area is one of marked contrast with daytime temperatures of 40°C falling as low as 12°C during nighttime. This, combined with the geological characteristics of the estate and a low rainfall during the summer months, produces harvests of the highest quality. In 1999 the Bodega Cesca Vicent implemented a programme of Strict Crop Science Management and since 2008, under the approval of the “Consell Català de la Producció Agrària Ecològica”, an organic production has been implemented.

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This emphasizes the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality. Organic wine is produced without using most conventional pesticides: petroleum-based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers. Organic growing methods results in not only “healthier” vines, but in wines with greater flavour and a more distinct “terroir” character. Harvesting is carried out by hand separately, with selected bunches of grapes being harvested when they are at optimum ripeness, well-balanced, to ensure the grapes are in perfect conditions.

botellasThe Francesca Vicent estate comprises 18 hectares of which 11 are planted with Garnacha Negra, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cariñena vines. The grapes ferment separately according to variety and vineyard plot. The wine is gently pumped through to spread the sediment 2 or 3 times in small steel tanks during the fermentation process. After approximately 4 months, the wine is transfered by gravity to French and American oak barrels where it remains approximately 12 months. 

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The coupage is chosen depending on the aroma and taste of the different varieties and is then bottled without any further physical processes, nor filtering, etc, in optimal temperature conditions. The wine then stays in the cellar under perfect humidity and temperature conditions until it is put on the market for consumption.

lo-piotLo Piot 2003, Garnacha Negra and Cabernet-Sauvignon

A deep cherry red with dense and attractive legs. During tasting it is full bodied and fruity, with sweet smooth spicy tannins. Potent and complex aromas with spicy hints reminiscent of clove, cacao and liquorice mixed with a sweet aroma that brings to mind mild caramel as well as tinges of Mediterranean scrub vegetation together with aromatic herbs with hints of leather and fruit preserve, rounded off with the fine sweet smoky aroma resulting from the time spent ageing in oak barrels. Meaty, slightly sweet and well rounded. It has a surprising and lingering aromatic aftertaste that evokes the terrain of its origins, the Priorat. This is for me one of the best Priorat wines, especially when price/quality is considered. A winner!

256 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Castell d’Or, What is Hip in D.O. Penedes

122/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Vilafranca del Penedès – Castell d’Or – Cossetania Crianza

What is Hip…..

….., when a wine is found, which ticks all the boxes, that’s something quite rare and it makes me feel like tower of power! Quality, price and overall experience, absolutely. The story is important too, but sometimes I can look past that fact, if the wine is hip enough. The wineries of Castell d’Or, which is the overall brand name, are co-operatives and the company as a whole has nine wine making facilities, nine different brands covering seven appellations out of the grand total of twelve in Catalonia. This is a huge company, but since it is divided you get the sense that we are talking about small producers.

This is hip....., or, did I get it wrong?

This is hip….., or, did I get it wrong?

Wines and cavas from Castell d’Or are the result of the effort made by the cooperatives that form the group. The main purpose of Castell d’Or is to ensure a high quality product and also better compensations to the members of the cooperative, to the vine-growers and their family. Thanks to the union and the joint work, Castell d’Or and the cooperatives members have up to date facilities and an accurate technical service, both in the vineyard and in the cellars. Castell d’Or is committed to the innovation and the large distribution net and commercialization of the products all over the world. The wine-elaborating cooperatives of Castell d’Or consists of; Barberà de la Conca, Bellvei del Penedès, L’Arboç, L’Espluga de Francolí, La Nou de Gaià, Solivella, Vila-rodona, Vimbodí and Vinaixa.

The co-operative cellar Vila-Rodona

The co-operative cellar Vila-Rodona

The area of Penedès was inhabited and cultivated from the 6th century BC by an Iberian tribe called Cossetans.
This wine is a tribute to a millennia of agricultural tradition in the Penedès region.

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Cossetania Crianza, Tempranillo and Merlot

The wine is aged in American and French barrels during 9 months, followed by 6 months in the bottle. The color is intense cherry-red with a hint of purple. In the nose an intense, complex and elegant aroma appears. Rich in hints of very rip fruits, aromas of different spices and licorice and crystallized/candied fruit. Very expressive aromas and flavors of the varieties employed, especially the Tempranillo stands out, blackberries, mature red berries and spice. A full-bodied wine, full of flavour and well strctured. A good balance between smothness, acidity and tannins, with a persistent ending. Aftertaste is elegant, long and full of flavor.

257 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler Cingles Blaus, Say Something in D.O. Montsant

121/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Cornudella de Montsant – Celler Cingles Blaus – Octubre Negre 2007

Say Something…..

….., taste, think, feel, say something, have an opinion! Don’t reflect on weather it’s right or wrong, sometimes you need to actually say what you think about the wine you drink, just to hear it out loud, if even just for yourself. The more you practice this approach, the more you get to understand about tasting wine and sometimes you might be “wrong” but you will never be wrong! How can you? It is after all only about you and your appreciation of what’s in the glass. You like whites? Drink whites! You like reds……., same thing. But please do me a favor and think about what it is you are drinking. I promise, that after a while, it will pay off! Happy wine days over the easter holidays!

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Welcome to step into the world of the next generation wine makers of the D.O. Montsant. Cingles Blaus will rock your world! You will have to show that you know wine, to show that you at least care about how it was made and try to understand what it tastes like, all to get into the deep end! When they say they want to democratize wine, they are just declaring their intention to see wine as a healthy and sustainable part of the everyday diet, an integral part of the Mediterranean diet and culture.

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Ever since the time wine was made by hand and drunk from clay jars in the wine consuming parts of the world, wine culture has adapted to each era of civilization. But lately the culture of wine has distanced itself from the everyday table and the reach of all people. It has become exclusive and lost some of its culture, when in fact it should be a staple. By that, I don’t mean you should over consume wine, have a glass or even two, but again (and I’m repeating), think about it and enjoy every drop.

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In the middle of the Priorat lies a vineyards, like so many here, laden with history. The Busquets family owns a country house on the estate of Mas de les Moreres, in the municipality of Cornudella de Montsant. Formerly, there had been a winery and so the family decided, a fee years ago, to start it up under the name Cingles Blaus. In 2000, Magi Baget, technician and partner of the cellar, put out the first vintage of this estate. And during 2004, an agreement was reached with the Busquets brothers, deciding to convert the country house into a cellar. ” We had the space, land, and he needed a place to expand, so we consolidated” says Joseph Busquets, partner of the winery.

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This would be the natural continuation of what Baget started, an expanding business. Magi Baget released the Cingles Blaus Selecció onto the market, as the first label of the cellar. When teamed with the Busquets family, they released the line Ocubre. It is a young wine with a semicrianza, designed for the daily market. Initially it was only the red wine, which was later followed by a white and rose. The Cingles Blaus winery also works with winemaker Eloi Milan from Vilafranca, deriving from a family of winemakers with over 500 years of tradition. The whole range of wines, although the wines are all made under the Montsant D.O. have a touch (the hands) of Vilafranca, which gives the wine a flavor different from the rest. In total, the range of wines from Cingles Blaus consists of the Cingles Blaus Selecció’, which is red; Mas de les Moreres, a red wine but they have the intention of making a white one as well, the Octubre, red, rose and white and a semisweet, made from dried grapes (raisins).

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The winery has an area of roughly ​​fifteen hectares of vineyards, planted with young vines and vineyards older than eighty years. In the beginning, it started with a production of nine thousand bottles, and year after year, it is growing. The intention is to grow, and the have the capacity, to approximately a hundred thousand bottles. The advantage of being part of the Montsant, is that they can have a high quality product on the market, priced to compete with the Priorat wines. This is definitely a winery to keep your eyes on, because I’m certain that great things are to come, not that what ‘s made there today isn’t great!

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Octubre Negre 2007, 60% Garnacha, 20% Carignena and 20% Syrah

The wine has been aged for six months in European oak barrels. The color is intense dark cherry and brilliant. The aromas on the nose are primarily those of fresh (ripe) red fruit, violet candy, balsamic and slightly mineral. The palate is balanced, fruity and fleshy, good structure, easy to drink. A nice, well made wine, with a great price/quality ratio! A wine with personality and character.

258 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle