The winery of Parés Baltà, Red Beans and Rice Parade, D.O. Penedes

281/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Pacs del Penedes – Parés Baltà – Calcari 2012

Red Beans and Rice Parade………,

188747_labelCalcari 2012, 100% Xarel.lo

A not so pale white wine, it’s more to the slightly lemon to golden and grayish reflections. Bright, clean, and with visible density. The nose is very fresh and marked by its varietal character. It provides loads of ripe pear, almost candied, banana, and good creaminess gained from the aging process on it lees. In addition, there is slight minerality which makes the nose very refreshing. The entry is very fresh, with some silkiness. It passes the palate as a big wine would, with great flavors, and a medium-strong aftertaste. Pear Tarte Tatin with Creme Anglaise comes to min!. The retronasal  passage is brimming with ripe pear sensations being transferred from the palate into the nose, with a background reminiscent of English cream cookies. An elegant organic wine that is silky with good minerality, which I have enjoyed over and over again, when it comes down to price/quality, this is a winner!


This lovely wine is made of 100% Xarel·lo from vineyards grown by means of organic agriculture on the estate of Finca Parés Baltàm at 254 metres above sea level, within the prestigious D.O. Penedès. The fermentation of the must took place in stainless steel deposits at a controlled temperature. Parés Baltà Calcari 2012 was aged for 4 months in the same deposits, always on its lees.

The Cusiné family, is owning and managing the Parés Baltà winery in Penedes. So many wines and Cavas, with so many different styles are produced here. It is almost like they wanted to do one wine per family member, so the wine could display the personality of each person. It is just like a New Orleans brass band!


The display of wines is in fact so broad, as they also have vineyards in Priorat (Gratavinum) and Ribera del Duero (Dominio Romano), you could make do with visiting just this one winery and enjoy a spectrum of wines.


Parés Baltà is a family owned winery in the Penedès region with traditions that goes back to 1790. In the 70’s, the Cusiné family took over the winery which is now managed by the 3rd generation. They produce high quality wines and Cava. The grapes come from 5 diffrent estates, situated around the winery and in the mountains of the Penedès. The altitude varies from 170 to 750 metres and offers a diverse mixture of soils and micro-climates, which off course, is also a reason for the multitude of styles in their wines.

PAres 1

The practice of organic viticulture has always been a model they have tried to pursue and done so since 2004. They use sheep, their own, to fertilize the vineyards and bees to help with the pollination of the vines. It is, so to say, a complete ecosystem that is at work and it shows in the quality of the grapes. This is very Mediterranean, but the way it used to be. Old style!


The wine-making tradition here at Pares Balta is rooted but not stale. Fresh and new ideas are constantly developed and it is very exploratory. The management is led by Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol who, together, guide the company into a new era of high quality wine production, with the unconditional help of their father Joan Cusiné Cusiné.


The wine-making is in the hands of Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas, enologists and wives of Joan and Josep. Two skilled young women whose efforts are reflected in the quality of the wines that are produced at Parés Baltà; showing fine character and concentration yet with elegance and balance.

pares 4

The roots of Parés Baltà goes all the way back to the 18th century. In 1790 the first vines were planted on the estate that now surrounds the winery. Today however, more than 220 years later, almost everything is different. Joan Cusiné Hill took over the winery in 1978. Born in 1917 in Bellvei del Penedés, coming from a family of vine growers and, already from the age of seven, he helped his father to cultivate the vineyards and never stopped working. At 80 years old he even helped his grandsons to care for a part of the vineyard.

pares 5

His son Joan Cusine Cusine started to manage Pares Baltà in the eighties and released its first still white wine, “Blanc de Pacs” which is still produced today. At the end of the eighties the first red wine from the company was produced, and since then he has enthusiastically been attempting anything that could raise the quality of the wines.

pares 6

Since 2000 the management has been in the hands of the two grandsons, Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol. They have brought new and fresh ideas into the company, but have also shown respect for its tradition and guarded the heritage. The wives of Joan and Josep, Maria Elena Jimenez and Marta Casas are the winemakers and oenologists. They have continued to develop new wines and increased the focus on quality.

pares 7

The (currently) 25 labels of the winery are constantly expanding and to get a feel for some of their products, here comes a short description;

Mas Petit (the small farm) is a rich red wine made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in Alleirs Oak for an extended period.

Mas Pons has gotten award after award at different competitions and is an oak aged 100% Chardonnay.

Blanc de Pacs is a still white wine made from the three classic Cava grapes, Macabeo, Xarel.lo, and Parellada.

Honeymoon. I love this wine, and I think it’s a case of love or hate, but try iy you must!. One of very few 100% Parellada wines.

Ros de Pacs is a rose wine made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Mas Irene, red wine with an extremely limited production of 33,000 bottles. Merlot and Cab Sauv, long ageing, extremely complex wine.

Mas de Carol is a boutique white wine, made with 100% premium Chardonnay grapes and aged in French oak. Less than 10,000 bottles made annually.

Cava Cuvee de Carol. Parés Baltà refer to this boutique Cava as “Liquid Gold”. This is an aged Cava made with 100% Chardonnay and extended oak ageing. Resulting in a bright gold-coloured Cava

For their still wines they have three different “series” – The Microcuvees, The Origen “series’ and the R-Evolution. In the latter, two reds and two white wines are part of that constellation, and one of the reds, the Mas Elena is tasted today!

mas_elenaMas Elena 2011, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc

Mas Elena has an intense dark red color with subtle blue highlights. Clean and bright. The nose perceives red fruit tinged with spicy notes, hints of licorice and cocoa and lightly toasted. A really tasty red from Parés Baltà, that won’t make much of a dent in your purse. The wine fills the mouth with a fleshy and fresh feeling. The oak is present but just slightly. Step silky, full of creaminess. Polished tannins. Very good ending.

103 to go!

Coma Romà, Rumba Catalana in D.O. Penedes

280/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Sant Pau d’Ordal – Coma Romà – Coma Romà Xarel·lo Macerat 2012

Rumba Catalana……,

Coma Romà Xarel·lo Macerat 2012

Coma Romà Xarel·lo Macerat 2012, 100% Xarel.lo

A noble and not so soft spoken wine! Fine yellow straw colour, bright and clean, dense tears that slowly flows down the inside of the glass. Aromas of ripe white fruit (pears and apples, candied fruits), banana peel, soft milky notes (yoghurt mousse) balanced creaminess and floral notes, aromatic herbs, fennel and a gentle balsamic background, a slight touch of wet stone. The palate has a very good entry, very tasty ripe white fruit, good acidity, light citrus touches that appear after a while, very palatable, intense, broad, soft notes of spice (white pepper), and pleasant persistence. Long finish, white fruit and slightly smoky aftertaste.

The Xarel.lo grapes, from vines that are older than 70 years, is skin macerated before juice extraction and subsequent fermentation in new French oak barrels, under temperature control. The wine stays in the same barrels for about 5 months and in contact with its lees. Production is limited to 900 bottles. Get a bottle now!

104 to go!

Celler El Masroig, Remember D.O. Montsant

279/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – El Masroig – Celler El Masroig – Les Sorts Jove 2013


Jove 2013Les Sorts Jove 2013,  40% Samsó (Cariñena), 30% Syrah, 20% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) and 10% Garnacha Negra

Cherry red color with violet edges, bright and medium high layer. Due to the carbonic maceration this wine shows intense fruitiness in the nose. It features notes of red fruits and berries with hints of spice and a slight dairy touch. It is a young wine and some alcoholic notes are surfacing. The palate is very fresh and fruity, light and easy to go. Consistency is typical of wines subjected to carbonic maceration. Demonstrating medium acidity and round, although, light body. Nice mid-length aftertaste. A wine from D.O. Montsant at this price, is great value for the money! It is a very fruity, fresh and expressive wine, pleasant and easy to drink. My recommendation is to get it down to about 14 – 16 degrees to get to enjoy it at its best. Nice everyday wine!


Founded in 1917, this is one of the most important wineries in the Priorat county. It encompasses approximately 500 hectares of vineyards, all under the Montsant Denomination of Origin, and is one of the largest wineries within the DO. Today the winery looks to the future with a determination to continue the path of improvement and transformation started in recent years. The winemakers of “Celler el Masroig” are sons and daughters of this land. They are the children of men and women who have built upon the techniques of a thousand year-old tradition, applying technology developed to meet the quality demands of today’s customers. Taking a glass of wine to the lips is much more than just tasting a product. You explore the character of a landscape and culture which is reflected in each of the notes that give the wine body.


Harvest is 2.5 million kg, spread between the grape varieties of Carignan, Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah. The ground is predominantly of red clay, an important factor that influences the quality of the vintage. The light of the sun reflected by the red earth around the grapes contributes importantly in the ripening of the fruit. The dryness of summer, the poor fertility of the terrain, the mountainous landscape and the Mediterranean climate are all key influences.


The Denomination of Origin Montsant is ring-shaped, circling practically all of the DOQ Priorat area. Formerly D.O. Montsant was a part of D.O. Tarragona, but with its unique characteristics, and similarity to the wines of the Priorat area, the winemakers wanted to separate their wines from the rest of the produce of Tarragona. So, in 2002, D.O. Montsant was created, enabling the vintners to present the vineyards under one common distinction. 


The characteristics of the DO Montsant wines are the local varieties Garnacha and Carignena which together with the qualities of the soil and climate and the contribution of other grape varieties produce excellent wines. The winery of Masroig is situated in the very heart of Montsant, where the wine is elaborated and carefully aged under controlled conditions. The vineyards however are located in different areas of the D.O. Montsant, in small estates.
OliThis is a huge player in Montsant, with an impressive range of wines in different price categories. They produce several reds, whites and roses as well as their Mistelas, made using the Solera system and only using Carignena. From the surrounding olive trees, they churn out Arbequina olive oil and for some of the world markets they have also decided to produce some bag in box wine, they how ever won’t be covered on Catalan Wine 365, not because they’re bag in box, simply because I prefer to write about bottled wines. Have a great Sunday wine lovers, now it’s time for a visit to the wine fair in Barcelona!

105 to go!

Vinyes d’en Gabriel, September Song in D.O. Montsant

278/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Darmós – Vinyes d’en Gabriel – Mans de Samsó 2009

September Song…….,

mans_de_samsoMans de Samsó 2009, 100% Carinyena

Bright and clear color with intense violet hues. The nose is intense, and if you’ve had Montsant wines before, you could clearly tell this too is a wine from this region, carries a lot of the soil and terroir. Presence of balsamic and aromas of pine tree. Touches of liquorice notes, anise and minerals, with hints of fennel and cherry. The palate is seductively moreish, full-bodied and well structured. It is a quite complex wine, has a lot of character and with after tastes of mineral notes, canned fruit and berries. Hands of Carignena, certainly shows of the best that this variety can offer!

This is a wine of very limited production, only about 800-900 bottles, made exclusively from Carignan grapes (known in parts of Catalonia as Samsó), the vines are between 80 and 100 years old. The good work of Vinyes d’en Gabriel does not surprise anyone who has had the opportunity to taste their wines with a slightly more affordable price, but with this varietal their efforts have been recognized with a maximum score given by Guia de Vins de Catalunya in the 2012 issue. The tastings for this guide are done blind. A delicious Carignan, full of aromas and flavors of wild berries, with mineral notes that transports us to the landscape that gave us this wine. The D.O. Montsant!

Vinyes d'en Gabriel1

This is a story that begins over 150 years ago, from the day that the grandfather, Joan Rofes planted the first vines at Casa Gabriel in Darmós, with a dream that has been passed down to his descendants. To explain this long story we have to go back to the nineteenth century: there we have Grandfather Joan Rofes, who inherited Casa Gabriel in Darmós and began the winegrowing tradition by planting his own vines one by one and then making the resulting wine on the lower floor of his own home.


Grandfather Joan was a strong, hardworking man who was convinced of the qualities of the soil that would nurture his vines and their fruit, generation upon generation. Even back then he was cultivating the land organically, following natural cycles and with the firmly held belief that to get the best results all you had to do was listen to what the land and the vines were telling you. His descendants have held true to this belief over the passing of the years and the growth of the winery as it moved from the house itself to a larger space in Darmós.

vineyes d en gabriel

Over the course of the bodega’s 150-year history, no chemical products have been used to treat or boost the production of the vines. The result is the vigorous, healthy, wise soil that is treated today, with the same respect that it was shown in the early days of Casa Gabriel. These painstaking efforts have proved valuable: in the twenty-first century, Josep Maria Anguera, part of the fourth generation, has create today’s Vinyes d’en Gabriel bearing in mind the foundations of the old bodega. The spacious and modern new facilities are in the spirit of the old house.


This is a dream underpinned by perseverance, daily work in the field, and harmonious dialogue with the land, combining to enable Vinyes d’en Gabriel to offer you these honest, expressive and utterly genuine wines. Welcome to Montsant!

106 to go!

International Garnacha Day! The Drunkard Song in D.O. Montsant

277/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Marçà – Acustic Celler – Auditori 2010

The Drunkard Song………,

auditori-2010-etAuditori 2010, 100% Garnacha

Pure pleasure, and as the top wine of Acustic Celler it displays and conveys the elaboration and terrior to perfection. Grapes from three old Garnacha vineyards, all 70 years and older. A full-bodied sensual sensation, with well ripened red fruits, cherry is clear. I distinguished some licorice  and a little spiciness  with clear oak as it progressed. Medium long finish. Nicely integrated tannins. Could easily stay in my cellar for another 5 – 10 years. The downside…….., not enough bottles on the market!


The third Friday of September is celebrated as the International Day of Grenache. Coinciding with this important day for all wine lovers, events are organized today and during the weekend to come. This is the fourth year of this initiative, a series of activities for everyone that enjoy a glass or two of Garnacha, Grenache or Garnatxa, as it is referred to in Catalonia. I’ve chosen to open a bottle of Auditori from Acustic Celler! What could possibly go wrong with that choice?


Grenache is a variety of Mediterranean origin and one of the most cultivated worldwide. In Catalonia, it is estimated that there are about 5,000 hectares planted. Many wines are made with the help of this great grape variety, either as a mono-varietal or blend. It transmits the identity of a region and the expression of a landscape in a perfect way, picking up the different soils and microclimates of the regions in which we can find it: Montsant , Priorat Emporda, Terra Alta Alella, etc. Over centuries, the Grenache vine has produced colour mutation vines with berries of all range of colors, and also the hairy Grenache, in Catalonia called Garnacha Peluda The latter is a clone, originating from the Tarragona region. Grenache can be made with a variety of fruity wines and good acidity from youth to sparkling whites, and also sweets. Grenache Noir is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. Characteristic flavor profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavors (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note. Grenache wines are highly prone to oxidation with even young examples having the potential to show browning (or “bricking”) coloration that can be noticed around the rim when evaluating the wine at an angle in the glass. As Grenache ages the wines tend to take on more leather and tar flavors.

As for sharing favourites……, well I guess that’s what I do all days! But just for the heck of it, some of the Garnacha wines I wouldn’t mind having on a a more regular basis could, but not be limited to, be the following; Espectacle 2010,Teixar 2010, Trossos 2011, Cerverola 2011, LLuna Vella 2010, Cims de Porrera GX 2006, Raret 2011 and Mas Plantadeta 2008.

There’s a lot going on in Catalonia to celebrate the Grenache, as well as the Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya, which starts tomorrow in Barcelona, a fair covering Catalan wines and Cava, and does so during four days, 20th to 24th of September. A few players that have dedicated activities to the International Grenache Day are;

Vinyes Domenech

Vineyes Domenech, one of the wineries in Catalonia that promote Grenache. They organizes collaborations with chefs and sommeliers in different restaurants and speciality shops during the Day. Among them, the restaurant Dos Cielos, la Cuina del Guinardó, el Hoffman, Divi i el Colmado Quilez de Barcelona, the restaurant at the Club del Cep d’Arenys de Mar, the Cellar Montserrat de Mataró and the Cellar Florida de Barcelona, Cal Feru de Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Bodega Jordà de Tarragona, Can Bosch de Cambrils, etc. If you feel for a drive through the countryside, you are certainly welcome to visit Vineyes Domenech, to see for yourself how the Grenache is treated in situ.

Vila Viniteca
Vila Viniteca, a well renowned wine shop in Barcelona, celebrate Friday evening with a tasting of 25 wines made from the variety, including the Tros Negre 2011 (Montsant), Cabrida 2010 (Montsant), Brunus Rosat 2013 (Monsant), L’Equilibrista Garnatxa 2012 (Catalunya), Quike Rosado 2013 (Catalunya), Gamberro Garnatxa Blanca 2011 (Terra Alta), Gotes Blanques 2013 (Montsant), Masia Serra Ino (Empordà), Pansal del Calàs 2010 (Montsant), etc. This tasting is free of charge. Living and working here has its perks, as I have pointed out many times before.



In addition to the above activities, The Celler Edetària, has posted a contest on their official Facebook page, called the “Grenache Challenge 2014“, where you have a chance to win one of their wines. Enjoy Wine Barcelona are tasting Grenache wines from DO Empordà at The Santa Caterina Market in the Born area of Barcelona, and this is where they normally have their wine tasting activities, Grenache day or not. Now all that remains is to enjoy the day and appreciate the Grenache variety to its fullest! Enjoy!


107 to go!

Celler del Pont, Bridge in DOQ Priorat

276/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – La Vilella Baixa – Celler del Pont – Lo Givot 2006


Lo Givot 2006Lo Givot 2006, 32% Garnatxa 33%, Carinyena 25%, Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah

This is a wine of considerable delicacy, great aromas and flavours, with the characteristic strength of Priorat wines. Visually, the wine expresses clarity and intense colour. In the nose, its fruity character predominates with aromas of concentrated cherry. There’s also spices and light aromas of vanilla and toast that go well together without any of them taking over. As the wine opens the secondary aromas offer menthols and balsamic aromas. On the palate it registers a strong attack, well-balanced acidity and a long and persistent finish. Delicate and fresh, it demonstrates good tannins and structure, which suggest improvement in the bottle over the coming years. Retro-nasally it finishes with subtle layers of dark chocolate.

celler del pont botella

The climate offered extremely dry conditions throughout the entire growing season. A cold winter with less rainfall than normal, so, there were very little reserves of water in the soil as the vines began to bud. Modest rainfall during the spring was badly distributed and the situation was not helped by an extremely hot summer. Between March and August total precipitation was only 40 l/m2. Given these extreme conditions, the vines produced fewer grapes, but these were of higher concentration and quality. In September, the rains slowed the ripening of certain varieties, up until the first week of October.


The winery by the bridge! Celler del Pont is located in La Vilella Baixa D.O.Q. Priorat. The winery was established in 1998 by a group of people living in or with family ties to the Priorat. The company was created with the desire to produce high quality wines. The families of several of the partners own vineyards in and around the town of La Vilella Baixa. This guarantees supplies of grapes and also allows them to select the best vineyards and control of the growing cycle. Three of the partners have extensive professional experience in viticulture and winemaking. The vineyards selected cover about 5 hectares in different parts of the La Vilella Baixa. 50% are old vines of over 50 years. The traditional varieties in this area, are worked on steep, shale hillsides (costers de llicorella) following traditional Priorat methods. The remaining vines of between 11 and 17 years are situated on terraces, and include newer varieties, which have been introduced into the area. Yield per hectare varies between 1000 and 5000 kg. depending on grape variety and the age of the vine.

del pont celler

The winery is located on the ground floor cellar of an old house in the centre of La Vilella Baixa. The building, traditionally a winery, was restored, respecting as much as possible its original character. The first harvest was in 1998, the year the firm was set up. Every year in September and October, selections of grapes of the Garnatxa (Grenache), Carinyena (Carignane), Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are fermented in stainless steel tanks. Once fermented, the wine is transferred to barrels of French (90%) and American (10%) oak and aged for between 12 and 14 months. Blending is carried out in accordance with the results of tastings and the wine is held in stainless steel vats for subsequent bottling. Bottles are laid down for 6 months to round out the wine. These are marketed under the name Lo Givot, the name of one of the oldest vineyards.


Priorat is a magic corner of the world, lost between the mountains of southern Catalonia. After many years in hibernation it has woken to become a unique experience of landscape, gastronomy, culture and world renown wines. The quality of Priorat wines is the result of the special terroir and climate. The vines produce extremely low yields of very high concentration. The “Llicorella” or slate rock soil, contributes to the high minerality of these wines and is one of its principal characteristics. If you would like to learn more about Priorat and the wines of Lo Givot, do it the SweetEasy way! Stefan Lismond, at the Cellar del Pont will be delighted to introduce you to the whole process, from the oldest vineyard to the ageing room, where we will taste and enjoy this extraordinary wine.

celler del pont



108 to go!

Celler Comalats, What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits in D.O. Costers del Segre

275/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Ametlla de Segarra – Celler Comalats – Comalats Without Sulphite 2010

What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits ……..,

ComalatsComalats Without Sulphite 2010, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Intense cherry red colour with a magenta rim. Open and expressive nose, with intense red fruit aromas, currant, jammy strawberry, some wild flowers, acacia, A slight hint of bell pepper.  The background shows a layer of spicy notes. The palate has a soft entry, oily, greedy. Acidity is balanced, quite moderately expressed, giving a nice freshness. The balance between alcohol, tannins and aromatic load fills the mouth surprisingly, being a wine of great body. A warm pleasant aftertaste, spicy, without being astringent. A complete wine!


The winemaking tradition of the Bonet family goes back many years, but it was during the later half of 1989 when Jaume Bonet decided to start the project of developing their own wine. Currently, Comalats is a family business with twelve hectares of vines and produces red and rose wines under the Designation of Origin Costers del Segre, also being certified as organic with the Catalan Council of Organic Farming. Wine making is done in a very traditional way, in a cellar close to the vineyards. The process of maceration and fermentation of the wines is made in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. And finally, the maturing and aging of Comalats wines is done in the old cellar of Cal Bonet, the family house in Ametlla de Segarra, using American oak as well as Bordeaux barrels.



Comalats wines originate from the region of La Segarra, more concretely from the Ametlla de Segarra, a small rural town which is staying alive due to its agricultural traditions. It is located at about 715 meters altitude. The twelve hectares of vines consist of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, which has been perfectly adapted to the particularities of the soils of the area, as well as the altitude and climate of the region. It is precisely this atmosphere which allows the grapes to ripen slowly and provide a very refined wine, powerful and with a very mature structure and colour, normally carrying a level of between 13 and 14,5 degrees of alcohol.

Comalats vinyas

Comalats is the historical name of the geographic area between the Serra de Forés and Cervera, a rather unique field because it is formed by a set of parallel mountains and valleys stretching from east to west. Each valley is called a “coma” and a succession of valleys, a “comalada”, this is where the name of the wines derive from. Many years ago, all the names of the surrounding villages ended with the suffix “lada” or the phrase “of Comalats” and now the only village that stays true to that tradition is the neighbouring town of Guardia-lada.

Comalats EcoThe grapes used to produce the wines of Comalats come from their own harvest, from the vineyards of La Coma, the Tros de les Figueres, the Basella and the tros de l’Era. All being farmed organically. Due to the location of the vineyards, the altitude and the micro climate, it allows for organic farming as many pests and diseases can not develop, there is no industrial pollution and the nearest major road is twenty kilometres away. All the wines have the qualification of organic wines given by the Catalan Council of Ecological Agricultural Production.


The Wine Route of Lleida is a tour, which presents local cuisine, culture and the geography of the Lleida region, with an absolute focus on the wineries. An enologic trip exploring traditional and new wines that make up a landscape where the past, the present and the future magically merge. Discover Catalan Wines!

109 to go!