241/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Xavier Clua – IL·LUSIÓ 2013
IL·LUSIÓ 2013, 100% Garnatxa Blanca
Bright yellow colour with green highlights. Notes of Mediterranean herbs (lavender and thyme), ripe white fruits with touches of citrus. Some green apple but just slightly and a hint of some fruit, ripe peach. In the mouth it is full bodied and characteristically Mediterranean, the ageing on the lees giving the wine additional volume. The clay soils give a hint of minerality together with the acidity which should give the wine the potential to age and further develop in the bottle for some months to years. This wine captivates through its delicate fruits, harmony and distinctive character. A very well made Terra Alta white Grenache. It not just an illusion!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 I also liked their Mas d’en Pol Barrel 2007 a blend of red Grenache (40%), Cabernet (20%), Syrah (20%) and Merlot (20%) with 8 months on oak, full-bodied but the ripe fruit is well present and easy to appreciate.
140 to go!