355 & 356/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Font-Rubi – Cal Raspallet Viticultors – Improvisacio 2013 & Nun Vinya dels Taus 2013
Moment of Truth………,
….., makes me know that he (Enric Soler) had the right idea from the beginning and he just needed to maintain his focus and elevate, update the formulas, in the way he makes his wines, making sure there´s always a message involved. First of December 2014, Monday, is going to be a day to remember. Today I took the time to once again leave the office and explore another exemplary wine maker in Catalunya and this time once again in the Penedes region. A man of Xarel.lo, interpreting the terroir and variety in his own way! This was for me, the Moment Of Truth! Would it be everythingI had heard, would it be as good as I had imagined? I am pretty sure you won´t be disappointed, especially Burgundy lovers will be fond of theses wines. If I had tried them under different circumstances and maybe during a blind tasting, I would probably not have ventured to guess that these wines are from Penedes, they just don´t make any sense and they confuse me, but what is more important, they make my senses work for their money.
Pretty pale straw yellow color. Bright, clean and fine glyceric tears. An array of aromas, impressive, intense and seductive. The primaries are those of white fruit, lemon zest and light spicy notes, slightly floral. In needed quite some aeration to develop into a everlasting flow of aromas which seemed as if they would go on for ever. Ripe white fruit gained in intensity, opening up tropical fruit noted intermingled with good toasted, creamy and a floral touch. Light mineral background. The entry is very nice, seductive, elegant. A mature wine with fruit and well balanced oaky notes together with a crisp acidity. Very aromatic. Creamy texture. Long finish that leaves a mouthful of smoky sensations. Certainly a gastronomic wine and one of the better whites I have tasted this year.
One of the most elegant and impressive wines, all categories, I have and the good fortune to try this year. Attractive yellow color with delicate gold reflections. Clean and bright. Glyceric tears. My first impression was that of indecisiveness, I couldn’t get my senses to interpret what was going on in the glass, as there was too much information that came too fast. Very complex sensations, hard to put in words. After a while I got my head around it. Very elegant, very fresh and seductive aromas. Intense ripe white fruit and citrus aromas and fresh flowers. Some vegetal notes but in a good way. Herbs, sage, fennel and soft menthol. All interspersed with the creaminess given by the oak. Once in the mouth it is very present, taking over and claiming the mouth as its own. Long travel, very deep, intense and concentrated. Excellent acidity which gives loads of freshness throughout its path. Elegant, long and persistent finish. This is a Super Catalan!
Enric Soler, Spanish sommelier champion, inherited a small vineyard in the Penedès by his grandfather in 2003. The vineyard is called Vinya dels Taus, and it was planted in 1940 after the Spanish civil war which ended in 1939. Prior to that the location of the vineyard served as an airfield for the republican forces. Today, it is a healthy 74 year old plantation of probably some of the best Xarel.lo in the world, with the help of which Enric set out to make the best white wine of Catalonia. In achieving this, he brought in the knowledge of the extremely talented wine maker Esther Nin. She in turn saw her chance to make white wine under ideal conditions. 2004 was the first vintage. It was difficult, as the vines at the time, still didn’t produce good enough grapes. The conversion to organic farming took time, and the year 2005 was the first to completely fulfill biodynamic principles. The year of 2006 received good response throughout the wine industry when the knowledge of the terroir started to fall into place for the duo making the wine. Since 2007, the wines are more or less constantly sold out and it was not easy to acquire a case to bring home, but I guess I do have some convincing skills.
Cal Raspallet is the name of this typical Catalan farmhouse, of the late nineteenth century where magic happens, and it maintains more or less the same structure as it did during the days of Enrics grandfathers rein. To find it, even though I had the coordinates, was not all that easy. No signs to indicate where it was and I actually passed it twice before asking a local older gentleman for directions. Finally there, Enric emerged from the house in which he lives with his family but which also serves as the wine making facility, to great us. We were taken to the vineyard of Vinya dels Taus, which is a piece of vineyard of 0.89 hectares situated in the Alt Penedès, at the end of Torrelavit. It is a unique and varietal vineyard with great diversity of clones. The intention and philosophy is to bring the vineyard to a logical balance for the production of small clusters. Once the grapes reach the cellar, the philosophy is non-interventionist, allowing the wine to develop as they please. The arrangement of the barrels on one level and on a gravel soil improves compensation of temperature and humidity.
This is not a cellar that has a visitors centre or that, under normal circumstances, receives visitors. But, off course, there are always exceptions and in my case it is only due to my close friendship with one of Enrics former sommelier students that made the visit possible. This guy is a though nut to crack, and even though I on several occasion tried to get him to accept small groups that I ‘d like to bring, it was not an idea that really appeal to him. But let’s see what happens in the future? I’m not quite ready yet to give up on sharing this gem of a cellar with other wine lovers!