VallDolina, Move On Up in D.O. Penedés

165/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Olesa de Bonesvalls – VallDolina – VallDolina Brut Gran Reserva Eco

Move on Up…..

VallDolina Brut Gran Reserva Eco


The finesse and elegance of this cava takes us back 48 months, when it was decided to age the bottles on their lees in the silence of the cellar, in order to pay homage to the 25th anniversary of the cellar. During this special year, they wanted to offer everyone the full expression found in a cava and now you are able to enjoy this masterpiece. The Cava has been aged on its lees for 48 months.

Straw yellow color. Primary aromas of ripe fruits with strong notes of ageing along with smoky aromas. Subtle aromas of dried fruits and hints of patisserie. On the palate: round with crisp acidity. Full and creamy with a long fruity finish. Delicate on the retro-nasal cavity that confirms the long ageing found on the nose. Ideally matched with heavy meals. This Cava is versatile and can be drunk with any dish from a starter through to dessert.
 Serve at 7-8°C

Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up (label)

….., Move On Up, take nothing less not even second best! When we want to drink bubbly…, well, yes, then we drink Cava! Don’t for a moment think that Cava is a inferior product to Champagne, it is not! There are Cavas I wouldn’t drink and there are Champagnes I wouldn’t look at twice, but there are great Cavas out there, if you just take the time and explore, you will find them.


In 1987, seduced by this familiar, yet fascinating and mysterious piece of land, Joan Badell Badell decided to bottle his first wines and to plant his first trained vines. In 1999 his son, Raimon Badell Rosés, who was then studying oenology and was a close collaborator in the winemaking process, decided to turn to ecological and biodynamical agriculture.


Since 2006, the oenologist Ferran Gil García has also been taking part in the VallDolina Viticulturists and Winemakers of Can Tutusaus project. Apart from looking after the vineyards most carefully and in a way that is ecologically sustainable, their joint efforts have made possible the production of a white wine, a rosé one, three red ones and three different types of Cava.


They only work with grapes picked from their own estate, situated between 240m and 360m above sea level, bordering the Natural Park of the Massif of Garraf. The vineyards grow on hills with calcareous-clay soil and produce, on average, some 3500l/h. The climate is Mediterranean, strongly influenced by the vicinity of the sea.


In addition to the grapes, soil and estate itself, the two man team behind the Tutusaus are Raimon and Ferran. Raimon Badell i Roses is one of those viticulturists who live on the estate, in close relationship with his vineyards and is fully aware that grapes are the main characters in the process of winemaking. When he became involved in it, he decided to do so taking into account the characteristics of the estate so that the wine produced would be enhanced not only by the unique features of the estate, but also by the utmost care with which he treats it.


His passion comes from his father, enamoured with his land. He has also inherited his father’s dedication to winemaking. As for the rest, it’s all hard work and a wish to excel. Once he finished his studies, he worked in several wine regions all over the world. These were mere steps towards making his dreams come true. Demanding and sensitive, we shall now see where his dreams take him.


The other partner, Ferran Gill i Garcia was born in the neighborhood of Sants in Barcelona, his ancestors handed him the passion and respect for the land. Through his mother’s family of the olive trees of Jaen, and father’s family side of the Terra Alta vineyards and olives of Arbeca. He finished his higher studies of Horticulture and Food industry, began his professional projection in various companies in the Penedès. After having gained experience, and finished his master’s degree in enology, he simply decided to enjoy his profession, believing at all times in what he does. At this point, the two fellow students, decided to join forces to create something together, a project where the personality, honesty, and knowledge, is found in every bottle.


214 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Mas de la Sabatera, Tighten Up in D.O. Conca de Barbera

164/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barbera – Prenafeta – Mas de la Sabatera – Mas de la Sabatera 2008

Tighten Up…..,

….., this is the music to tighten up with…., but what wine would you tighten up with or would you prefer to unwind, maybe with a bottle of red? From Conca de Barbera? If that is the case, let me suggest a Friday special, make sure to listen to the music track, sit back, pour a glass and relax! No need to tighten up, life is to short, just have a great Friday evening! With loads of lovin’ from CatalanWine 365.


Mas de la Sabatera 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo

Red wine made from the farm of Mas de la Sabatera. The 190 acres are situated in an idyllic and secluded location in the foothills of the Sierra de Prades, for this particular wine they have selected the best vineyards of Cabernet and Merlot. The vine are all older than fifteen years and at their peak in this dry environment. Located at 470 meters above sea level and enjoy a beneficial mountain climate, sheltered by the Sierra de Prades, with fresh and dry summers, which enhances the natural ripening. The grapes are picked at night, providing natural freshness and aromatic integrity. The grapes have been fermented in stainless steel tanks, keeping the fermentation temperature below 25 ° to facilitate the intensity of the fruit and to optimize the extraction of color and tannins.

The wine has a deep and vivid red color with violet edges. On the nose it is clean with high intensity, predominantly black fruit, blueberries, blackberries, some pastries and spices, like pepper. Good integration of fruit and oak. The palate is pleasing, delicate entry, medium body, soft with round tannins and a long persistence. Elegant and mature wine. A good one for a Friday evening!


“Mas de la Sabatera” is an estate of 190 hectares of vineyards and forests where 8 varieties of grapes are grown with an annual outtake of 1,000,000 Kg. The first building was erected in 1749 and this is where the winery today manages and directs the operations. The house has its own facilities, warehouses, offices for staff use, tasting area, agricultural museum and a shop for their own brand, Heretat Pallares. The property highlight is the Mirador (viewpoint) tower from where you can admire the beautiful scenery of Conca de Barbera.


The Conca de Barbera is considered a prime area for its climate and type of land, with the right mix for growing many different varieties of grapes, red and white. All vines are trellised and most are older strains of between 25 and 35 years. In a clear attempt to continuous quality improvement, over the last 10 years they have planted an additional 30 hectares of red and white grapes. In order to identify fully with the region, great care has been taken to preserve the local variety of D.O. Conca de Barbera, the Trepat.


215 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Time for Wine (Part Two), I’ll Take You There in Vilanova i La Geltru

163/365 – Catalonia – D.O. All of them! – Vilanova i La Geltru – Temps de Vi 2014 (Wine Fair) – Sot Lefriec 2004

I’ll take you there….,

I'll Take You There 1

…., not only to the Priorat, Penedes, Terra Alta and the other appellations and the more or less well know wine cellars. If you let me, I’ll also take you to Temps de Vi wine fair in Vilanova i La Geltru and tomorrow it starts! Unfortunately I won’t be there the first day but not to worry, there are two more days (Saturday and Sunday) and I’ll be reporting daily from this amazing wine fair. That would be my way of taking you there, and if you feel like joining the party next year, please let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction! One of the stands that is going to be well visited is the one of Alemany i Corrio! And today’s wine is one of their top range wines! Come to think of it….., if Tuscany can have their Super Tuscans, I hope too start a new trend of “Super Catalans”!

Sot Lefriec 2004

Sot Lefriec, 50% Merlot, 30% Carignan and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (D.O. Penedes)

The fermentation of this particular wine takes place in small tanks on wild yeasts. There are no pumps in the winery as the wines are moved using inert gas to avoid any uncontrolled oxidation. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan were harvested approximately 10 days later than usual or what would be considered normal for the varieties and region. Prefermentation maceration and alc. fermentation around 30-35 days for Merlot and Cab. Sauv. and around 25 days for Carignan , which is also longer than usual. During these periods, there are daily remontages and pigeages. Sot Lefriec 2004 has spent 23 months ageing in French oak barrels, 70% new oak. This is a super small garage producer, that works out of Vilafranca del Penedes, so if you see a bottle of Sot Lefriec on a shelve be sure to grab it fast!


Dark cherry layered with a bright purple rim and intense tears. Ripe black fruit on the nose with floral aromas and a successful soft toasted oak and vanilla aromas presenting cocoa, toffee and spices, smoked pepper, thyme and clove. Powerful and tasty tannins and balanced acidity with successful long life, clean and pleasant with great fruit that carries all the way to the end and a long lingering after-taste. This is to be considered a “Super Catalan”!!!


And as the real party is about to start, let’s share the program for the coming days! As I mentioned, the first day is a no go for me as I have to spend it with some wine lovers from California! Giving them the grand tour tomorrow! I just love it when I get the opportunity to show people what Catalonia can offer. I’m sure they won’t be disappointed. The Temps de Vi actually had some activities that started last week, like the Riedel experience which was taking place at the Victor Balaguer library in Vilanova i La Geltru, a quite cool location for a exquisite wine tasting!

Temps de vi riedel

Temps de Vi (Time for Wine) Friday, May 30th events;

The winery Can Ràfols dels Caus, Infinite Restaurant and the jazz band Nicolau Experience are together taking people on a wine and food joourney with jazz music to complement, or as the call it here “Trimaridatge”! A five course meal with selected wines from Can Ràfols dels Caus. Starts at 21.00, but should be booked in advance as I am certain it will be one of many popular events this weekend! 

Temps de Vi Can Ràfols dels Caus Infinite

At the very same time, other will book and enjoy a pairing at the Hotel Ceferino, which is hosting a joint event with Gramona, one of the major Cava producer of D.O. Penedes! Againm five courses with five amazing Gramona products!

Temps de vi gramona

Today’s chosen winery, is doing a vertical tasting at Resturant Marejol, Starts at 20.00 hours and if I could go tomorrow, this would probably be my choice! So many wines, so little time! Damn! The main event area is going to be set up with all the winery stands, offering their latest and best of their products. In close vicinity there are performance stages and on stage 2 at 20.00 hours you’ll be able to enjoy a homage to the Gerry Muligan Quatrtet! What a party! If you feel like starting of early, you should be in front of stage one at around 18.00 hours! That’s when Scarbeats start with their “Beatles Live Performance”! This is merely a selection of the many activities taking place during Friday. For the additional information and the schedules for Saturday and Sunday, pleas have a look at the official web site of Temps de Vi! Happy wine and music days!

Some wine tasting are taking place on sail boats!

Some wine tasting are taking place on sail boats!

Welcome to Vilanova i La Geltru, so that you can experience first hand, the best that Catalonia has to offer!

216 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler El Moli, Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand in D.O. Pla de Bages

162/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Manresa – Celler El Moli – La Llobeta

Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand…..,

…., cause if I hold your hand, baby, you’ll understand…., understand why you should try out Pla de Bages! The Pla de Bages is a fertile plain located in an area of mythical mountainous landscapes such as Montserrat, the mountains of Castelltallat, the Nature Reserve of Sant Llorenç del Munt y l’Obac and the massif of El Montcau. The region, which has an increasingly broad range of leisure and gastronomic activities, has important tourist and cultural attractions, such as the Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the salt mines of Cardona, the cave of Sant Ignasi in Manresa and the route of the Acequia, running alongside a medieval canal.


It is common to find ancient wine tubs and vineyard huts made of stone. The huts were used by peasants, who often had to stay all day long in the country side, to store agricultural tools and to protect themselves from inclement weather. Around 4.000 huts still survive in very good condition, most of which were built coinciding with the great expansion of vineyards in the region. Don’t drive me insane, just hold my hand as we visit Pla de Bages together!


200-largeThe El Moli Cellar cultivates two plantations in the El Bages county. One of them, which gave the cellars its name, is the El Molí plantation, located in a spot facing the Montserrat mountain range and at the foot of the Collbaix hill. The other is in Plans de la Casa Nova, in Monistrolet de Rajadell. In these two plantations of the D.O. Pla de Bages they cultivate organic wine and olive trees to create top quality wines and oil, and in doing so there is a great respect towards the natural surroundings in which they find themselves.


The county’s exceptional microclimate is ideal for the cultivation of vines and olive trees. In El Pla de Bages they enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with scarcely any rain and quite an acute annual temperature fluctuation. The land is mainly made up of loam/clay soils. Celler el Molí keeps a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. It blends in with its surroundings and it has been designed to stay faithful to their commitment to quality organic production. Therefore, the facilities are equipped with a cold store, a grape sorting table, temperature control both in the cellar and in the maturing area. All this allows them to make the most of current technologies and use innovation to maintain tradition.


La Llobeta 2008, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot

Wine of high intensity colour, ruby red with violet touches. Accentuated tear. Intense, fresh and sugar-coated wild berries, with fig and dry apricot and balsamic touches. Complex, well integrated. Good entry, wide and fresh, with a persistent and long after taste. 

217 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Perelada, Mas Que Nada in D.O Emporda

161/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Perelada – Castillo de Perelada – Gran Claustro 2006

Mas Que Nada………


Gran Claustro 2006, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Garnatxa, 20% Samsó 

This is a wine made only when the best vintages are achieved and from selected grapes from the best vineyards owned by Castillo de Perelada. It consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (20%), Grenache (20%) and Samso (20 %).  The grapes are selected and harvested by hand.This wine presents a deep cherry red colour. Its aroma reminds of ripe fruit, with fine ageing notes and some spices. In the mouth it is fresh, round, with silky tannins. This is an elegant wine, well balanced, with an enveloping after-taste and an excellent ageing potential.


At Castillo de Perelada you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy life “Mas Que Nada”, spending a couple of days here is a minimum and the best way to get here is by vintage car. If you, like me, choose a vintage Alfa Romeo, you get a bonus! If you get hold of a rare Hispano-Suiza, I’ll personally treat you to a two night stay at the castle! 150 km. to reach the Castillo de Perelada from Barcelona, but once here, you can relax and enjoy, and why not start the visit with one of their Cavas!

1924 Hispano-Suiza H6 C Dubonnet 'Tulipwood' Torpedo

Miguel Mateu was a unique person. He was born in 1898, son of Damián Mateu, himself the founder of the automobile company Hispano Suiza. He was active in many spheres of business, cultural and even political life, being at different times Mayor of Barcelona and Spanish ambassador of Spain in Paris. Thanks to all these activities, he met throughout his life a great number of international personalities, both in the political and the cultural fields. 

It is in the cultural sphere that Don Miguel’s legacy is most keenly felt, with his very wide range of artistic interests, and being an avid collector from a young age.

1904In 1923 he bought the Castle estate at Peralada, made up of the impressive fortress and palace which had previously belonged to the Counts of Peralada, as well as the buildings which had once been a Carmelite monastery. From then on, Don Miguel turned Peralada into his own private cultural centre, building up the collections which would become the castle museum which is today open to the public.

Schloss-Peralada-Provinz-GironaWine has been made at the Castillo Perelada since the Middle Ages, as shown in several documents and parchments from the period to be found in the library. When Miguel Mateu bought this ensemble of monuments in 1923, one of his primary objectives was to revitalize the wine producing tradition, a tradition that is more alive than ever these days and which has incorporated the most modern technology to create wines that that make full use of the nuances of the soils and vines of the Empordà.

1990Arturo Suqué took charge of Castillo Perelada after the death of his father-in-law, Miguel Mateu, in 1972. Today he’s still the president of the company, although the winery’s everyday life is headed by his son Javier. During these decades, Arturo Suqué has led a deep transformation based on an obsession for quality with a main goal: place Castillo Perelada among the most prestigious Spanish wineries. Being faithful to Miguel Mateu’s love for culture, Arturo Suqué and his wife Carmen Mateu started the Peralada Castle Festival, a cultural event that is today internationally recognized.

image_941721_fullThe Empordà is a small area where there is a variety of soils found in few other places in the world. Slate slopes. Sandy valleys. Fluvial sediment, clay-silt, gravel soils… Lands that have borne witness to how different civilizations cultivated the art of wine. The heterogeneity of the land on which the vines grow allows the Castillo Perelada to obtain grapes with a wide range of nuances.

The library is out of this world!

The history of winemaking in the Empordà dates back more than 2,500 years. The vineyards of the Empordá, the most ancient in the Iberian Peninsula, were introduced by the Greeks when they founded Empúries, then developed by Roman colonizers and finally settled by Benedictine monks from the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. Nowadays, a number of different sized vineyards coexist in the vineyards, representing the continuity of the experience acquired, offering a very solid selection of bottled wines.

James Bond could easily fit right in!

The history of the Empordà has been deeply influenced by the work of the vine, and also its territory, with its characteristic buildings, dry stone walls and terraces, which make up the unique landscape of the Empordà. Magical scenery, mentioned by writers such as Josep Pla and immortalised by artists like Salvador Dali, the illustrious sons of this land of the Tramontana wind. A world full of enchantments, which includes the popular “platillo” cuisine of the Empordà, and the nouvelle cuisine, as represented by chefs of great international prestige, marrying perfectly with these exceptional wines.

castillo-perelada-imbodegas3_109-size590-BODEGA1Making use of the uneven land in the area, Castillo Perelada will build a new bodega adjacent to the farm. It will consist of 14,000 m² of a new building which will house the most advanced wine production technology in order to make modern wines of the highest quality. Perfectly blended with the Empordà landscape, the new Castillo Perelada bodega will make use of the sloping land to merge the building into the natural setting as much as possible. The idea is to build a unique building with an exterior appearance that is distinctive yet blends in with the landscape. Together with the park that will surround it and the castle itself, this new construction will become a new attraction for visitors while creating a unique and distinctive image for the Castillo Perelada wines and Cavas.

Hotel and spa PereladaThe Hotel Peralada has 55 comfortable rooms with magnificent views over the golf course, the Serra de l’Albera and the town of Peralada with the Pyrenees in the background. Tranquility and an exclusive environment in a unique sitting with infinite areas where you can relax: Spend the morning looking through the morning newspapers in the library, lie back on the outdoor pool terrace or savor the wines of Castillo Perelada in the Wine Bar while you admire the sunset. There are also four different gastronomic areas serving the best cuisine of Empodrà and the Mediterranean, the freshest products on the market and wines from the cellar.

218 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Oliver Conti, A Town Called Earth in D.O. Emporda

160/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Capmany – Oliver Conti – Carlota 2008

A Town Called Earth……

Carlota 2008, 75% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon


Carlota is the name of the eldest daughter of Jordi Oliver and is also the name of one of their vineyards. With this wine they want to show the elegance of the Cabernet Franc grown here, adding 25% of Cabernet Sauvignon for that extra bit of structure and tannins, while retaining the personality.

Intense cherry colour with garnet rim. Fluid and regular tears. On the nose, there’s a medium presence of forest fruits with sweet spices, caramel toffee, lacquer, flowering rosemary and balsamic background. The palate is fleshy, fruity, frank and fresh, well integrated and there are slight notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. Background of red jam and cocoa. Rich tannins and fresh acidity with some vegetal notes.


The Oliver Conti dream started In 1991, a dream with a glow. A dream made of the Tramontana wind and hope. They choose the Empordà region because the soils and climate could give them the fruits they desired. On the slopes of the Alberes mountain range, granitic soils poor in organic life, 15 hectares of vines were plante with the varietals that would allow them to produce high quality, fruity and elegant wines. As time went by, the dream has become a reality and the Emporda region has developed as a coveted appelation, desired for the undeniable quality of its wines.


André Crespy, Professor and Doctor in Agronomy at Montpellier University, helped the Olive Conti project during the first years with his obsession to obtain the highest quality grapes. Nowadays Pepe Hidalgo, Agronomist Engineer and Ana Martin, Oenologist, are pushing them to reach the highest level of quality in the wine making process. The  vineyards has always gone together with two obsessions: aroma and elegance. Discovering that aromas can give so much satisfaction, made them work harder to keep them all along the process of harvesting, fermentation and aging. As a result, when opening a bottle of Oliver Conti, the agreeable and fulfilling sensations help to enjoy such extraordinary wines.

Jordi Oliver Conto and his new project JOC. Launching wines in the higher quality/price range!

Jordi Oliver Conto and his new project JOC. Launching wines in the higher quality/price range!

The second obsession is elegance, creating long lasting wines with a round and velvety mouth that leave extraordinary agreeable sensations and an endurable aftertaste.  Wines that don’t satiate and that the second glass is better than the first and you enjoy the third better than the second. Wines to go along with food and not just for tasting. The Upper Ampurdan offers ideal conditions for obtaining vines of high quality, thanks to its Mediterranean climate and the protection of the Alberes mountains. Until the arrival of the Oliver Conti vintners, this was a relatively unknown zone for vine growing, as the region was more oriented toward massive plantations destined for undistinguished table wines. At Oliver Conti, research has been continuous and of inestimable help in achieving their objectives.


219 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Mas Oller, Smile in D.O. Emporda

159/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Torrent – Mas Oller – Mar 2011



…., always just smile! Even though it’s aching, if you smile through your fear and sorrow…….., you’ll see the sun come shining through for you! You’ll find that life is certainly worth while if you just smile! One thing I can guarantee is that this wine is going to make you smile! Happy wine loving days my friends!


Mar 2011, 80% Picapoll and 20% Malvasia

Lovely pale yellow color showing greenish reflections. Bright and clear. This wine is aromatic with average to high power, white (peach, white soft pear) and citrus (lime) fruits predominate, very honest, clean and altogether one of those wines you want too enjoy through the nose for quite some time before you imbibe it. One in the mouth it has a very nice soft attack, and a fatty touch on the palate, elegant and sweet. It has good structure and long finish, leaving a fresh and tangy feeling, which make it easy to drink. Mar = Sea = Summer wine!


Made from hand-selected grapes grown on over 10 year old vines planted 10m. (33ft) above sea level. A short skin maceration and low temperature fermentation. Aged on the lees for 4 months in order to obtain more complexity. 
Works wonders with seafood, especially oysters, fresh prawns and griddled mussels, rice dishes such as risottos and paella, pasta, cheese, and desserts featuring white-fleshed fruit and crème.


The Empordà is a legendary wine-producing region, where the Greeks first introduced grapes back in the year 600 BC. The Empordà is situated in northeast Catalonia and Mas Oller is an old estate owned by the Esteva family. It was in Torrent, in the county of the Petit Empordà with views of the city walls of Pals and the Medes Islands, where Carlos Esteva –owner of the prestigious winery Can Ràfols dels Caus– rescued the family estate from oblivion, building a cellar in what was the old cow shed and replanting vineyards in what had formerly been the best wine-producing estate in Pals.


Nowadays, nearly 300 years after it was built, Mas Oller has become a benchmark winery in the D.O. Empordà with wines which express the essence of the area and a philosophy firmly rooted in quality. In the year 2000, Carlos Esteva decided to plant vines in order to produce new, prestigious, high-quality wines. Some wine was made from the young vines in the earlier vintages and was sold locally. Now, the vines have reached the right age for achieving the desired concentration of fruit. The first wines were launched in April 2009 and the response since then has been extremely positive.

Islas Medes

Islas Medes

The Mas Oller Estate lies between the sea and the mountains, in the   path of the strong northerly wind, the Tramontana and has a diversity of different soil types: clayey, sandy and slate. Conceptually and geographically, therefore, the Mas Oller project brings together Northern Catalonia, the Empordà and Roussillon, with wines which are both expressive and fresh. At present, the Estate has 15 Ha. (37 acres) of vineyard in production and an additional 2 Ha.(4.5 acres) of newly-planted vineyard. The three red varieties are Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and the two white varieties are Picapoll and Malvasía de Sitges.


The vineyards surround the old country house and the grapes are selected manually in the vineyard before being transported in bins to the cellar where the grapes undergo a second round of selection. All of the grape musts are macerated at cold temperatures in order to obtain themaximum expression and extraction of colour and aroma. Their philosophy is based on reviving the winemaking tradition of the Empordà with a modern interpretation. The team consistsof Carlos Esteva, owner and winemaker, Peter Schoonbrood, wine concept and project manager, Martin Cuervo, head of the vineyard and winery.


220 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle


Anguera Domenech, Travelin’ Man in D.O. Monsant

158/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Darmós – Anguera Domenech – Jove Reclot 2011

Travelin’ Man…..,


…., I might not have a pretty little senorita waiting fro me in every village in Catalonia but I’m quite certain I have a good little wine waiting in at least every other place I travel to! Many more cellars to visit and many, many, many more wines to try, so let’s get the party started baby!


Jove Reclot 2011, 45% Ull de Llebre 40% Monastrell 15% Garnatxa

Dark cherry red color. Predominant aromas of red fruit. Straightforward, fresh and quite expressive with regards to the three varieties in the blend. Mature red fruit! Intense and soft in the mouth. A mouthful of red ripe fruit, minerals and balsamic intertwined. Descent Montsant wine, price/quality is great!


Situated in the village of Darmós which has been know, throughout the ages, for its ancient wine culture. The winery of Anguera Domenech is located comfortably in D.O. Montsant, and the wine making at this small cellar comes from a long family tradition. The quality of the production is notable for a compromise between traditional processes and innovative techniques.


The elaboration of the wines begins by choosing the optimal time of maturity of each of the varieties which are always harvested manually. Fermentation takes place underground where they keep different “cups” for each of the varieties. Everything off course done with by carefully controlling the temperature and maceration. All the processes, cultivation, preparation and production is done by themselves, carried out by members of the whole family.


All their vineyards are located in the Montsant which is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, surrounded by several mountain ranges which help in isolating the effects of the sea and give a certain taste to the final product. This translates into a very important contrast between day and night temperatures, that characterizes the ripening of the grapes. Moreover, all this is coupled with low rainfall resulting in low yield vines, enhancing the quality.


The origins date back to a long family history, generation after generation, where old vines have been cultivated for more than 50 years. Growing on a clayey soil rich in minerals which transmits intense aromas and a warm tone the wines. One of the qualities of their field is the ability of retention of moisture, which ensures a good cycle of growth in the vineyards. The total area plated holds twelve acres and the varieties planted are Garnatxa (Grenache), Carignan, Ulll de Llebre (Tempranillo), Syrah, Merlot and Monastrell.

montsant 1 425

221 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Can Ràfols dels Caus, Nobody Does It Better in D.O. Penedes

157/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet del Penedes – Can Ràfols dels Caus – La Calma 2009

Nobody Does It Better….

In time, I will cover most of the wines from this gem of a winery, but for now the chosen wine is La Calma. Enjoy!

gran-caus-la-calma-2009_g_10001241-1La Calma 2009, Chenin Blanc

The  La Calma 2009 is made from the varietal Chenin Blanc. The vines were planted about 30 years ago in calcareous soils, and there is no use of insecticides or herbicides. After harvesting, which is 100% manual, the wine is fermented in temperature controlled French oak barrels for 32 days, after which it is aged for 4 months in French oak barrels. It is stylish, different, complex, seductive and almost impossible to get a hold of!

Intense golden yellow color, clean, very bright, with plenty of robust tears. Intense and complex aromas displaying ripe yellow fruit, plums and apricots, dried fruits, dried apricots, candied fruit, balsamic, slight anise and hints of pastry. Very good on the palate, strong, dense, warm, rich, long and elegant mouth with excellent acidity that refreshes. Long and persistent fruity notes, toast and minerals. Delicate and delicious.

The story

About three years ago! Right place right time! Meet with Xavi Nolla as he was introducing me to a winery in Montsant, which I have already covered. At the time Xavi was doing wine tastings every Tuesday at Lola Tapes in Tarragona. We went a couple of Tuesdays to taste some excellent wines and great tapas.

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

At the time, the knowledge of Catalan wineries was quite limited so this excellent sommelier was, and still is, a great source, recommending several cellars! One of them being Can Ràfols dels Caus! Thank you for the tip, my friend!


Only a few days after getting the insight, a phone call was placed and we were off to the massif of Garraf, a national park and protected area, southwest of Sitges, towards Vilafranca and within the D.O. of Penedes.


Upon arrival we were well received, greeted and shown the sites by Marc Rusca Baena, the in-house sommelier. After this, the first visit, there has been additional ones! And if I decide there will be many more. Will YOU join me next time? Well, that’s all up to you, I’m always available for a visit and tasting at Can Ràfols!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

The Garraf wine-growing region is a protected area within the traditional boundaries of the Garraf National Park. The Can Ràfols dels Caus estate is situated at an altitude of 300 m, and stands on a rise between the ravines of two watercourses surrounded by vineyards growing on the terraced slopes. From some of the highest vineyards, such as “la Calma” or “el Rocallís” the sea can be seen, some 15km away.

Don't be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

This situation is paramount for obtaining healthy grapes, as they are sheltered from the damp air coming in from the coastline, but are equally protected from the sporadic hailstorms in the Sierra of Ordal or the Pre-Coastal mountain range.


The Garraf Massif has an unusual mesoclimate. The daytime is sun-drenched and hot despite the tempering effect of the sea, which sends in a cooling breeze towards the afternoon. This allows the vines to complete their growth cycle and reach full ripeness.

Automated granite "doors" leading into the winery!

Only 50 hectares of this 455-hectare estate are vineyards, 2 hectares being used for olive groves, 1 hectare for almond orchards and the rest for woodland, scrubland and rocky terrain. The size of the single vineyards ranges from 0.15 hectares (the smallest) to 2 hectares (the largest).

Part of the winery exterior

Can Ràfols dels Caus has always been a forerunner and trend-setter, and some twenty-five years after Carlos Esteva started his wine venture, he decided to take a giant step forward by building a new cellar. The aim was not to squeeze in more vats, barrels and bottles, but to work better.

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

With this project, the winery’s potential for producing quality wines has multiplied, as the cellar is now geared to promoting micro-vinifications, separating batches even more and research. The cellar has been designed so that it is completely carved out of the Dolomitic limestone of the Garraf, invisible from above ground and totally integrated into the landscape.


This would probably be the perfect location for the next James Bond movie. The scoundrel being a crazy wine maker, wanting to take over the world by making his wine so addictive he would have the whole human race in chains! Carlos is slightly crazy, like all artists, but in a good way! To see what he saw, being a visionary, in 1979, is simply “have to see to believe, based”!

Part of the winery interior

This place is simply amazing! The location, the grounds, the mansion, the winery, the whole concept and the wines, oh the wines! Just writing about it………., I might stop writing and set of for a quick visit! Sure, I can write about it, but the only truth is, you have to sample it yourself.


All I can say is, it will be worth your while! If we were talking Guide Michelin, this would be a 3 star, worth a trip of its own! Enough with the superlatives!


Can Ràfols dels Caus winery produces a range of wines, most of them are great! Five whites and five reds, 3 Cavas and 2 rose.



222 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle


Standing in Catalonia! I love living here!

156/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Alella – Alta Alella – Cava Bruel

Standing In………

Cava Bruel, 100% Pansa Blanca

This is a organic product of high standards, like most products made by Alta Alella. It has a minimum of 15 months on lees in the bottle, methode champenoise, which makes it a reserva and with no added sugar it is a brut nature. Pale yellow color and fine bubbles. It demonstrates perfect  floral aromas and green almond flavors. It is a a light Cava, very soft on the palate, fresh and  medium persistent. This is a Cava to be enjoyed during a lovely, warm, spring evening, maybe overlooking the Mediterranean sea?


Catalonia is a land of immense beauty with no less that 11 geographically unique wine districts awarded with the D.O. status, denomination or designation of origin, and is also the main producer of the Spanish sparkling wine Cava, which with its own D.O. makes for 12.


During one day it’s possible to combine a hike in the mountain, a dip in the sea, and a walk through the vineyards. The Catalan nature offers the most stunning sceneries; from the sandy beaches of Costa Daurada to the steep hills of the Priorat vineyards, from the lush and billowing Penedès region, to the emblematic Monserrat Mountain.


The weather is suitable for tourism throughout the year. The winter is mild and dry, and the almond trees are in blossom already in February. The spring and autumn may come with a day of rain, but mostly the sun is shining from a sky as blue as the cornflower. In March, life slowly returns to the vineyards, and the young leaves paint them a fresh pale green.

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September is a busy month in the vineyards when the grapes are ready for harvest, and in October the colour symphony ranges from green to yellow, and from orange to red. In November it’s time for the olives to be picked, and for the end of the farmers’ year to be celebrated with the harvest feast in most rural villages.


In Catalonia’s diverse wine regions, more and more producers are making exceptional wines, using sustainable methods both in the fields and in the cellars. Most acclaimed internationally are the intense and fruity red wines from Priorat, the result of a dry and hot climate, the slate based soil and labour-intense farming methods.


In Penedès, the queen of the wines is the sparkling Cava, made of local grapes, and in it’s best versions it’s a crisp dry Brut Nature. But more regions are reaching the international market with interesting wines, and each region offer it’s own unique reason for a visit.


The Catalan cuisine is very complex and sophisticated, ranging from the seafood from the coastal areas, with the mushrooms of the forests, and meat from wild pigs and rabbits. Catalans are known for a brave mixture of taste and ingredients, and have come up with the sea-and-mountain style cooking, “mar i muntanya”, where meat and seafood come together in a delicious combination.


Dried fruit and nuts are commonly used both in sweet and savoury dishes, and olive oil is a must in almost any recipe. Garlic, tomatoes, and peppers are staples, and bough fresh from the vegetable markets in the local village. In the mountainous interior, pork is turned into a wide variety of cold cuts and salamis, genetically referred to as “embutidos”, and to the local sausages like “longanissa” and “fuet”.


Welcome! Benvingut!

223 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle