143/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Baix Penedes – Llorenc del Penedes – Wine Fair ViGralla – Jane Ventura, Finca els Camps 2005
Ao Meu Redor…..,
…., it is present all around me, wine! Catalonia is the place to be, now more than ever. So dynamic, so affluent and with a sense of a great future for the Catalan wine and wine tourism. That was proven today, as the ViGralla (wine fair of Llorenc del Penedes) started with a round table get together, for wine tour operators and the wine cellars of Baix Penedes! First tasting tonight, at the castle of Llorenc, we’re doing wine, chocolate and gralla (local flute music). I bet it’s going to be a nice one. You really should be here, so you too could be all around me! Ao Meu Redor….
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.
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”.
Jane Ventura, Fincas els Camps 2005, 100% Ull de Llebre
This wine is the perfect example that the Mediterranean area can make a great wine with a widespread native variety in Catalonia. The Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) is a very versatile variety that thrives in the local terroir of Baix Penedes. It is a wine of extraordinary depth and character, providing power and scope. The vineyard is located in the Joncosa Montmell mountains, at an altitude of 400 m. Their vineyards are trellised to the hight of 2 meters to provide more leaf surface. Soil of calcareous structure, with abundant carbonate nodules that give character.
Cherry red colour with high layers. The nose shows abundant ripe fruit (red and black fruits, currant) accompanied by spicy notes of undergrowth, lavender, fennel … , rose petals and nicely integrated fine wood. The palate has great structure, mature and elegant tannins. It is a wine that maintains a great balance with a great taste intensity and elegance. Just wish I had more!!!
236 to go!