348/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Garnatxa Solera Marià Pagès
…. once again, Hostal-Sport hosted a tasting of wines from one of the 12 appellations in Catalonia. Yesterday it was time for D.O. Empordà. Professional, enthusiastic and always smiling….., Laura Masramon Grau, sommelier and highly knowledgeable when it comes to the Empordà, was in charge and showed us what Empordà is all about! If you ever feel like visiting the Empordà, you should definitely get in touch with Laura, as she will show you the soul of the region! The next tasting, and last for the year, is on the 7th of December, covering DOQ Priorat, Vi de Vila producers! I expect some real gems and I for one am not going to miss it!
Empordà is a landscape of contrasts, situated in the far north east of Catalonia. The Pyrenees, to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea, to the south, form natural boundaries. The breathtaking Costa Brava setting makes Empordà a truly unique place, linking the coast to the mountains, influenced by the famous northerly Tramontane wind. Empordà is a landscape of great natural beauty, with several natural protected areas and an awe-inspiring coastline of beaches and coves. It also boasts a great cultural and historical heritage: menhirs, megaliths, Gothic architecture, Romanesque art, charming small villages, the surrealist art of the genius Salvador Dali… all making the area highly attractive, even more so if the people and fine gastronomy are also considered, especially the Empordà traditional dishes and the nouvelle cuisine, headed by figures such as Ferran Adrià. All of which are complemented beautifully by Empordà DO (Designation of Origin) wines.
There is no doubt that the wine culture and the knowledge of the wine trade reached Catalonia around the 6th century BC. The area was then the most important Greek colony in Spain, and Emporiae was the Greek city that later gave its name to the district of Empordà. Four centuries later, archaeological and documental evidence exists to demonstrate that the wines of the lands of Emporiae and other areas of the Tarraconensis were known in the domestic markets of other provinces of the Roman Empire and in the metropolis itself.
In the Middle Ages, when vines were grown near abbeys and monasteries, the terraced vineyards cultivated by the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes covered the slopes of the Rodes Mountain range. It is here that the winemaking monk Ramon Pere de Noves is believed to have excelled in the art of winemaking and have written a treatise on the subject. There is also evidence to show that the Monasteries of Sant Quirze de Colera and Santa Maria de Vilabertran also owned vineyards in Empordà.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the vines demonstrated their colonising capacity and became a symbol for the agricultural growth that fuelled significant demographic growth in the production area. A unique landscape of cypress trees with dry stone terraces, walls and cottages was shaped. The phylloxera plague first appeared in Catalonia in 1879, in a vineyard in Rabós d’Empordà. It brought a ruinous end to this thriving era for Empordà wines. The recovery was tough. The vineyards never recovered all the land they had occupied prior to the plague.
The cooperative bodega movement was initially promoted by the Mancomunitat of Catalonia, and later by the Republican Generalitat around 1930. This was the start of a new era of improved winemaking processes; new bodegas were built and sales networks were extended. In addition to these developments, private initiatives were underway and the result was that the quality of wine of Empordà gained fame and popularity in many markets.
Intense lovely amber color with a mahogany hue, thick and rather slow tears, unclear, slightly veiled. The nose is somewhat reduced as a result of its aging, oak notes of old wood and varnish, nuts (walnuts and almonds), soft licorice notes, nice scents of Mediterranean herbs (lavender and thyme), soft honey notes, marzipan and soft background of dried apricots and figs. Soft on the palate with a slightly sweet touch, lovely presence in the mouth with good balance, good acidity, soft touches of liquor, dried orange peel, great volume, fine texture, slightly smooth and gentle persistence. Long and persistent aftertaste of dried figs. Powerful, sweet and fruity! My favorite of the evening!