326/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Piñol Winery of Terra Alta – Raig Raïm Red 2011
This Is Halloween……..,
….., or is it? Halloween is celebrated in Catalonia, and even though the children go trick or treating and make Jack O’Lanterns etc. the Catalans have their own tradition as well, eating Chestnuts in amazing quantities. It is known as The Castanyada, celebrated in Catalonia and Galicia respectively, mainly on All Saints’ Day. Like Halloween or the Celtic Samhain, its origins are in an ancient ritual festival of the dead.
“In Catalonia consists of a meal of chestnuts, panellets, sweet potato and preserved fruits, typically with moscatell to drink. Around the time of this celebration, it is common for street vendors to sell hot toasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper. In many places, confectioners often organise raffles of chestnuts and preserved fruit.
It seems that the tradition of eating these foods comes from the fact that during All Saints’ night, the night before All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, bell ringers would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning. Friends and relatives would help with this task, and everyone would eat these foods for sustenance.
Other versions of the story state that the Castanyada originates at the end of the 18th century and comes from the old funeral meals, where other foods, such as vegetables and dried fruit were not served. The meal had the symbolic significance of a communion with the souls of the departed: while the chestnuts were roasting, prayers would be said for the person who had just died. The festival is usually depicted with the figure of a castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant’s clothing and wearing a headscarf, sat behind a table, roasting chestnuts for street sale. In recent years, the Castanyada has become a revetlla of All Saints and is celebrated in the home and community. It is the first of the four main school festivals, alongside Christmas, Carnestoltes and St George’s Day, without reference to ritual or commemoration of the dead.“
Cherry red color, bluish hues. Clean and bright. Medium-high layer. Lovely blend from Terra Alta. Primary nose of mature red berries, Mediterranean herbs and some underbrush. It is a well defined wine with notes of light toast, smoky aromas and some floral elements, keeping it simple and really pleasant. Soft entry, with a silky and fresh feel, adding nice depth to the whole experience. Good balance, good acidity and a medium to long finish, a bit too sweet for my taste but certainly well made. Price/quality is excellent!
When visiting the different D.Os of catalonia it is hugely important to be organized. As they are quite spread out, I always try to book at least two or more wineries during the same trip. When I visited Terra Alta the last time I managed to visit Altavins winery in Batea and at the same time todays entry. The article about Altavins got a bit specific and I got into the details of Terra Alta, so if you want to know more about Terra Alta, you should read the “body and soul” article.
The Terra Alta is more know for the wonderful whites they produce and this too has been covered, when I wrote about the Terra Alta D.O. tasting in Falset at Hotel-Hostal Sport. This time I decided to go for two reds, reason being……, they also, in some cases, manage to create amazing reds!
Now don’t just continue reading….., it is after all Friday evening and Halloween, so you should open a nice bottle of wine, to get into the sentiment of the story. By the time you have finished your bottle, my article will be so well written, you will be thinking Hemingway is alive. Me? I’m enjoying a red, with rhythm, from Priorat! Very red and very tasty! Cheers!
Terra Alta is quite unknown, but certainly know for wines of great value! Keep this in mind, Terra Alta is going to be discovered as Columbus discovered India! The Celler Piñol exports 85% of its production to 25 countries! Someone beat Columbus, and found the holy grail but it is not to late. Once here, staying at the B&B of the winery, is the right way to enjoy the hospitality of the family.
Being that this was the first winery in Terra Alta to offer wine tourism it can’t go wrong. Celler Piñol operates four fully-equipped apartments, one that includes a large Jacuzzi in which you can enjoy vinotherapy, all of them perfect for soaking up the wine culture and an unforgettable experience.
The most southern region of Catalonia is characterised by a sprinkling of small towns and pockets of great beauty, retaining a charmingly medieval appearance. The countryside also has a timeless constancy, with dramatic mountains providing a sharp contrast to the plains, where crops of ancient Mediterranean stock (vines, almonds, olives) dot the landscape, as they have done throughout generations.
Piñol L’Avi Arrufi 2007, Garnacha (30%), Cariñena (60%) and Syrah (10%)
This is a well made wine and i love the blend, where the Cariñena gets to carry the wine! The color is dark cherry to ruby, almost opaque. The nose contains black fruit with high complexity and toasty notes. Secondary gives off currant, plums and some spicy, peppery indications. On the palate I got a hint of cacao and slight leather. It is full bodied with good acidity and some balsamic notes. Powerful, well structured and medium ling aftertaste.
62 to go!