274/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Vendrell – Jane Ventura – Sumoll 2009
The whole year! 2014, we’re celebrating during the whole year! You don’t celebrate a birthday, you celebrate the birth year! At least if you are Catalan! You invite family, friends, known and unknown, everyone is welcome and that’s what makes it a party! There are several occasions during this year during which Jane Ventura winery are going to make sure that as many as possible get to know that they have turned 100! Yesterday evening was one of those occasions and I for one were happy to be there! The wines they brought out for everyone there to taste, were not run of the mill!
Some of the wines were from the standard range, others were brought our from the cemetery, so we were able to do some historical vertical tastings, and others still were totally experimental and I wonder if I’m ever going to taste them again! In brief I can point out that the Malvasia de Sitges is getting a star treatment and the Xarel.lo Amfora wine is something that I really agreed with. I hope that some of them don’t only stay at the experimental stage but get released on the market! Some pictures from the party is what you get and my notes with regards to one of my constant favourites from Jane Ventura, their Sumoll! Have a great Tuesday evening and don’t forget to uncork something nice tonight!
Cherry red colour. Hints of jammy red berry and mature fruit (cherries, raspberries), mineral notes and touches of scrub herbs (thyme, lavender). Very full and unctuous on the palate, enveloping and fresh at the same time. Very lingering. The grapes are sorted manually berry by berry after de-stemming. Fermentation and maceration in open 300-litre French oak casks. Aged in second-fill French oak barrels for 8 months. 60-70 year-old vines located in La Bisbal del Penedès and Aiguamúrcia. They have also grown the Sumoll at Mas Vilella since 2009. The Aloe, on the label, symbolises the experimental character of this wine: it is a plant that dies once it has flowered, before being born again.
Mas Vilella 2009, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Nice cherry dark cherry with garnet edges and violet reflections. Clean and bright. Good intensity with a significant fruit load, lots of ripe red fruit, spice, hints of undergrowth, leather, licorice and mineral background. The palate is powerful with a good structure and excellent acidity. Firm and long finish, persistent tannins. The retronasal reminds me of compotes and red fruits appear as well as toasted notes.
Apparently it is with some difficulty one tries to decide to visit the wineries in the vicinity. So many great producers just around the corner from where we live and yet, most of the time we go to Priorat, Montsant, Terra Alta and so on. Living in Penedes means there are choices and choices when it comes to wine and Cava producers. As you will discover with time, I am going to cover all the DO:s of Catalonia and hopefully it is going to be 12 DO:s, 365 wines and Cavas during 2014. I will be writing about D.O. Penedes several times, this is just the first in a row of many. First out is Jane Ventura and out of all their wines and Cavas I have chosen the Cava Do to start with. I am sure I will, over the year to come, have to revisit and cover some of their wines as well.
Almost all of our SweetEasy guests stay at Gimenelles, a wonderful rural hotel, with lovely owners. They had been telling us over and over again, that we should visit Jane Ventura and so one day, it just happens! A quick call to the owner/winemaker Gerard Jane and of we go.
Now, as I mentioned above, we live really close to Jane Ventura winery and even closer if we want to visit their vineyards and old rural estate, Masia as it is called in Catalan. The name of their Masia is Mas Vilella and it is normally here they start their visits, all for us to be able to understand where the grapes grow. The Masia is located in a very scenic place, which is not the case with the winery. At the Masia, a tour of the estate, the vineyards and then the obligatory tasting of almost all of the products. Barrel tasting occur if Gerard realizes that wine lovers are visiting. Our village is Llorenc del Penedes, in the lower Penedes, and about 10 minutes from El Vendrell where the winery is located. All this, only one hours drive from Barcelona. Trains and busses also come to El Vendrell, so it is quite convenient to get here.
To really understand and appreciate the wines and Cavas of Jane Ventura, one has to visit both the old Masia as well as the winery in town. The vineyards are located around and not to far from the old Masia, although there are some vineyards located at higher altitudes as well. As such, this is where the grape reception is taking place, de-steaming and fermentation, vinification as well as barrel aging of red wines, production still whites and base Cavas.
Overall philosophy of Gerard Jane is a little bit tricky to convey in writing. Meeting him is really the only way to understand the full extent of his love for the soil and grapes, but there is more. Music is a huge part of the whole concept. The labels of the Reserva de la Musica are said to be interpreting or transferring the pentatonic musical scale.
The design of the label for the Gran Reserva de l’Orgue 2006 is inspired from the original sketch made by the organ maker L. Scherrer in 1775. Each bottle has been personalised so that it carries the name of one of the organ pipes, which are also illustrated on the cylindrical case. After the first visit to Jane Ventura there has been many more. Not only visits to the wineries but also to events hosted by Gerard. Again, music playing a pivotal role. The Cava Do, which I am covering in this blog, was launched at thePau Casals museum in Sant Salvador, during a wonderful cello concert and subsequent Cava tasting.
Another event combined three musical pieces, each composed for three different Jane Ventura wines, as well as pastries. All three elements said to enhance each other. Piedra seca, dry stone walls, is another passion that Gerard holds close to his heart. So, the only way to really understand this man, is face to face and with plenty of time.
Cava Do is my preferred house Cava!
Cava Do de Jane Ventura, Gran Reserva Vintage 2008, D.O. Cava from Penedes, Xarel.lo 60%, Macabeu 26% and Parellada 14%
Let’s start by explaining that the holy trinity in Cava-making consists, traditionally, by using the grapes Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada. The coupage depends, as in many cases, on yield, quality, varietals of the winery and grower and ultimately decision of the winemaker, what he wants to use. The Xarel.lo brings stronger flavors to the blend and certainly carries more aromatic sensations than the other two varietals.
The Macabeu (catalan spelling), Macabeo or Viura as it is also known, has traditionally been used to produce young, and hence acidic, still wines of not so high quality. Being a grape that grows easily, it is abundant here in Penedes and it has given yields of up to 6-8 kg per vine. Now, this little princess of grapes is being used more seriously by producers that are willing to prune hard. This way the grape can evolve in the best way possible and reach its potential with 13% as to show the character and aromas that it can carry. A good quality Macabeu grape sometimes is used 100% for wines that can age well.
Parellada! My new found love. I find it difficult to find Parellada wines, at least if it is to be 100% Parellada. That’s a shame as I over recent months have encountered wonderful wines made of this tasty grape. I promise to cover Parellada in more detail in the future and suggest some nice Parellada wines. Parellada is widely planted in Penedes and preffered sites are located at high altitudes. It imparts a green-apple character on the wine it helps to produce and marries well with the body of Macabeo and the earthen flavors of Xarel-lo.
My notes, and I have done a few for the Cava Do, tell me that I am inconsistent in my observations. But nevertheless I’ll try to give a fair understanding of this fresh Cava, suitable for any party.
Sur lie for a minimum of 36 months and 5% of the wine is barrel fermented in French oak for 45 months.
Yellow straw color with slight gold reflections and fine, constant bubbles. Has a clean average nose and clean bouquet. Delicate and very pleasant with outstanding fruity aromas, floral notes and herbs in the back of the mouth with hints of minerals and intensive citrus notes. It has an extensive and direct taste, it is marked by excellent acidity, defined and deep, giving it a freshness and a soft carbon. Long and persistent.
110 to go!