Oops Upside Your Head, Cava and 12 grapes!

427/365 – Catalonia – Happy New Year – Time for Cava & Grapes – Kripta Cava Gran Reserva 2007

Oops Upside Your Head……,

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I don’t know how you celebrate New Years Eve but for me the choice is easy. One of my favorite Cavas is going to flow, the Cava which made me understand that there’s more to Catalan Cava than the mass produced bubbly sold cheap all over the world! Tonight a minute before midnight, I am celebrating what has been and christening the New Year with yet another bottle of Kripta. It was only four and half years ago I got to try it the fist time and since then it has been a returning companion and always present in my wine cellar. I would  also like to introduce you to the tradition of 12 grapes. In Spain, Portugal, and South America people celebrate new year’s eve with Cava and 12 grapes. By midnight, each time the clock chimes, you have to put a grape in your mouth – and eat it. By the time the clock has finished chiming, you have to have finished your grapes! It’s said eating all 12 grapes for new Year’s Eve will bring you luck and happiness for the new year! Make sure the grapes you are about to eat are not too big!Eating-12-Grapes

With this I wish all of you a wonderful New Years Eve and a fantastic 2015 with, hopefully, many great wines and lots of laughter with good friends. I also hope to see you here in Catalonia so that we might be able to share a glass or two together. HAPPY NEW YEAR and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR FOLLOWING MY BLOG!

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Kripta Cava Gran Reserva 2007, 45% Macabeo, 20% Xarel•lo and 35% Parellada

Straw yellow with golden reflections. Elegant, fine and persistent bubbles. Intense, clean and honest. Nose of good intensity with very refreshing initial citrus notes (lemon peel) accompanied by ripe white fruit (sweet pear), hints of apricots, fresh herbal notes of thyme and lavender, milk and fine yeast, with memories of fine pastries, candied fruit and pine nuts and a light floral background. The silkiness is enhanced by the foam which transmits a background of vanilla, ripe fruit and light toast. Long and complex aftertaste, as the aromas of the nose and mouth are repeated, emphasizing vanilla, butter and toast as a legacy of its long aging. Happy Days, Lovely Days and frequently repeated! A Cava with body and soul that goes Oooops Upside Your Head! Happy New Year my wine loving friends!

Then there was none! And that’s how you write a blog  about Catalan Wine during 365 days, consecutive!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Apostrophe and 15 Selected Cava to finish the year!

397 – 411/365 – Catalonia – 15 Selected Great Cavas

Apostrophe………,

…. just lean back  and chill, can’t go wrong with Zappa and Cava! The year only has another 2 days to go, so it might be time to get some Cava to celebrate what has been and what is coming. I wish you all a fine ending to the old year and a great 2015! With todays entry I have selected some of my favorite Cavas, as I did with the whites the other day and this time again, in no particular order! Enjoy!

be14Bertha Siglo XXI Gran Reserva, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo and 10% Chardonnay

Minimum maturation sur lies, 36 months, which produces a great aromatic complexity. Bright yellow color with fine and steady bubbles. Intensive and extensive aromatic range, white fruit and flowers perfectly conjugated with lees aging: confectionery, brioche, smoked, dried fruits. Very elegant nose.  The entrance of this Cava is fresh, creamy and elegant. The bubbles are subtle, fine and very well built, durable and with an original personality. Its aftertaste is very long and delicate. If you need a food Cava, this is the one, not that I mind enjoying it as is!

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Intense Rosat Brut Nature 2009, Pinot 77%, Monastrell 23%

Intensive deep pink colour with abundant slow rising medium size bubbles. On the nose red fruits are perceived together with very refreshing balsamic sensations and a slight mineral background. The palate is dominated by red fruit nuances, it has a good balance and acidity. Candied red fruit, light floral notes and fine toasty notes provided as a background. Very fresh with integrated carbon, spicy touch at the very end. Persistent minerality. This is, like all Recaredo Cavas, is a Brut Nature but due to the fruitiness perceived as sweet. Has a great personality!

agusti-torello-mata-cava-barrica-brut-nature-2007Cava Agusti Torello Mata, Reserva Barrica 2007

Pale yellow with golden reflections and fine and abundant bubbles. The nose is a festival of flavors, starting with candied fruit, baked apple and floral notes that are slowly giving way to notes of aging. Pastries, yeast, vanilla, oak, candied sugar and nuts. The palate has a fresh entry with a fairly potent carbon, excellent acidity and a really long finish, with hints of parenting and a citrus and bitter twist at the end. Another piece of Iberico works well with this one!

1523015_1440203786197413_1940330730_oMas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature Seleccio, Parellada/Macabeu

This is a well structured, balanced, fresh and fruity Cava. The crianza is well done which has led to a nice integration of the carbon dioxide, resulting in a soft and pleasant experience. The color is clear yellow straw with a light green hue and steady and fine bubbles. The aromas are subtle, complex and expresses a touch of yeast, brioche and white fruit. Dry, tasty and elegant notes. Good acidity, gives of a medium long finish.

 

GramonaGramona Gran Reserva Brut 1999, 70% Xarel.lo and 39% Macabeu

Bright yellow with a bright gold hue, clean with fine and steady bubbles. Great intensity on the nose with a predominance of pastries and bread, dried yeast, toasted brioche thin and freshly baked croissants, lactic and creamy notes with pleasant memories of baked cakes or pastry with cream or apple compote (Apffelstrudel), candied orange, almonds and toasted pine nuts, tart dried figs that give it a sweet touch, outstanding aromatic intensity that is accompanied by a marked mineral background at the very end. The palate has a huge input, a creamy grand tour with ripe fruit (candied orange, white fruit and somewhat syrupy candied fruit and some dried apricots), excellent acidity, at times reminiscent of the profile of Amontillado sherry with the ageing notes and oxidation, roasted nuts, slightly sweet, good texture and impressive structure that appeals to all the senses, majestic persistence. Long long after taste of ripe fruit and some sweetish after taste of yeast and fine pastries. A Cava that leaves you speechless! This is a true Super Catalan Cava!

Alta Alella Opus Evolutium

Alta Alella Opus Evolutium, Organic Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

All Cavas made in Catalonia are presumed, more or less to contain Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada. Chardonay and Pinot Noir are not mainstream, but when they are used, AA Opus Evolutium can happen! According to the regulations all of the five varieties mentioned above are allowed. Historically the indigenous grapes are the ones used mostly. Right or wrong, sticking to imported grapes can make all the difference. This Cava is kept on French oak for 4 months and a minimum of 36 months sur lies. The color is intense with greenish tones. The bubbles are plentiful, small and constant, elegant with a persistent crown. Intense color and greenish tones. Primary aromas of white fruit, pear. well balanced in the mouth and medium structure. Very tasty, aromatic and persistent.

564Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, 67% Macabeu and 33% Parellada

This premium Cava is one of the best in its class! The balance between elegance, ripe fruit and the aging being its distinctive features. The vinous, distinctive flavor, full aroma and a delicate finish put it on a level of quality Cavas which can only be referred to as Super Catalan Cava. Bright golden color with fine bubbles. Complex on the nose, aroma of lees, nuts and herbs. Powerful entry, rich in the mouth and a great acidity. Fine bitter ending. Food Cava of the best kind presented in a very special bottle.

anne-marie1Anne Marie Cava Brut Nature Reserva, 40% Macabeo, 40% Xarel.lo and 20% Parellada

Straw yellow colour with green tones. Fine, slow rising bubbles, forming strings of pearls and a lovely crown of mousse. Delicate aging aromas with diary notes of fresh butter against a backdrop of ripe fruit. Pleasant and fresh during entry, opening up fully over the palate. Well-integrated carbon dioxide. The light aging aromas merge with ripe fruit and hints of toast and dried fruit and nuts. Full with good length and long-lasting flavours. Elegant, subtle Cava with great sensitivity, conveying the personality of its creator. With a well-designed, sober and distinguished presentation, this very special Cava cries out to be enjoyed. The Anne Marie comes as Brut and Semi Sec as well. I prefer my Cava dry so I tend to go for the Brut Nature.

CarlesAndreuRosatBrutBarricaSM_logoTorre de L’Homenatge 2003, 50% Xarel.lo, 25% Macabeu and 25% Parellada

Golden color with soft bright reflections, clean, good and fine bubbles, slow rising. The nose gives off intense aromas highlighting a multitude of pastries, brioche, toast, creamy with white fruit and a slight citrus presence, nuts appear along the way. Secondary gave orange peel and slightly bitter nutty overtones. The acidity is not overwhelming, but rather well equilibrated. Creamy entry, candied sugar, toffee. Broad and vivid, long aftertaste of candied fruit with notes of nuts. This is a a true vintage Cava, only released in 1999, 2003 and 2005. 4.000 – 5.000 Bottles unleashed. The 2003 vintage was a year with hot and dry climate, with a difficult harvest, giving low volume.

DSC_0968Cristina Gran Reserva Extra Brut 2006, 10% Macabeo, 35% Xarel·lo, 35 %, Parellada and 20% Chardonnay. 5% of the Xarel·lo is barrel fermented and the Cava has had a minimum period of 60 months sur lies.

This brut cava was selected by the Cava Regulatory Board to be served at the Infanta Cristina’s wedding banquet. To rise to the occasion of this great honour, the Cristina Gran Reserva was created as an exceptional signature Cava. For this special edition, blends of the best vintages, most suited for the long aging periods characteristic of Mas Tinell Cavas, have been used. Intense golden color with fine bubbles. Aromatically complex, showing ripe fruit, like peach, apricot and apple. Fresh and sweet at the same time. Unctuous mouth, balanced  and structured. Nice notes of toast and a final presence of aniseed. Long aftertaste, fresh and glyceric sensations.

castellroig-reserva-familiar-brut-nature-cava-catalonia-spain-10438583Castellroig Reserva Familiar Brut Nature 2005

Bright golden yellow colour with very fine bubbles that form a delicate bubble chain. Great set full of aromatic complexity. Fresh fruit is perceived among its good toasted aromas, its abundant notes of spices, its intense touch of nuts and its light buttery notes of brioche on a subtle herbal background. A great Cava! Its intensity is noticed from the attack. It shows the complexity provided by its long aging with creamy notes and toasted aromas. Its elegant acidity balances the set. It has a very tasty and very long finish.Very elegant and very serious Cava.

20100630214755-1Titiana Pinot Noir Rosé 2012, Brut 

Dark salmon pink with flashes of light ruby and grenadine around the edges, clean and very elegant. The nose is pure raspberry and aromas or ripe berries such as blackberries and blueberries. The palate is round, tasty and very long. Fresh yet subtle, this wine stands well against creamy and mildly spiced food. A great alternative to everyday wines, the only thing that might bring the overall impression down, is the price. Mouthfilling, delicately but richly flavoured, and exceptionally long.

rosaeCava rosae, 100% Pinot Noir

Attractive pale and soft salmon pink color. Fine and persistent bubbles forming a dense crown. Fresh and highly complex aroma with very smoky tones, subtle nose, red fruit finish. The palate is balanced, broad, savoury, rich and elegant, its evolution shows varietal character, ending with a very long and elegant palate with great sensations. This is an elegant and dynamic Cava, which asks you to either love it or hate it. It is NOT a Cava to enjoy just as it is, because it does demand some food to go with it. I tried it with Jamon Iberico, Bellota and it worked wonders. I do believe it would work well with grilled food as well, both meats and fish, as the smoky character it possesses would be enhanced by a summer bbq! I consider this one to be a Super Catalan Cava!

carles-andreu-cava-reserva-barrica-brut-nature-75cl-do-cavaCava Reserva Barrica Brut Nature, Macabeu, Parellada and Chardonnay

Clear and golden straw colour, with a thin and consistent rosary of bubbles, it presents itself during the tasting as a very fruitful Cava and with a fine fusion between the wine and the barrel. In the mouth it is smooth with a good structure and some notes of wood in the background, fresh and persistent, with an explosion of little bubbles that gives a nice tickling feeling. This Cava is made using a meticulous selection of base wines from Macabeu, Parellada and Chardonnay, grapes from vines with a balanced yield. After separate vinification of the three varieties, the final “coupage” is prepared and the wine is then aged in French oak barrels for around six months before the second fermentation in the bottle. The second fermentation is carried out very slowly with these Cavas, at a constant temperature of 14ºC. The ageing period is prolonged to twenty-six months.

Recaredo Turó d‘en Mota 2002Recaredo Turó d‘en Mota 2002, 100% Xarel.lo

Straw yellow colour, very bright and clean. The bubble rise steadily forming a very thin crown. Surprising with its great intensity, expressiveness, complexity after such long ageing. Very cool, with lots of ripe fruit, especially citrus, interspersed with soft and delicate roasted nuts. Subtle mineral background.  A seductive Cava. A Cava which fills the mouth with total expression, intensity, elegance. Very thin, with a long dry run, nuanced and very fresh. Carbonic perfectly integrated. Full harmony, lively, very nice. Extraordinarily long after taste.

Turo d’en Mota represents the elegance of simplicity: a single vineyard, single variety per each vintage and very limited production. It is a champagne terroir in the broadest sense, ie, with the expression of limestone, Mediterranean microclimate and Xarel·lo from vineyards planted as a single farm in 1940. The first fermentation in oak barrels and the it gets to rests in the bottle for more than 100 months. Very limited production, not exceeding 3,000 bottles. Recommend opening few minutes before serving and please, please, please…….., don’t serve it to cold, around 12 to 14 degrees Celsius should do the trick . Only for special occasions! One of the great ones and certainly to be considered to celebrate New Years Eve with a very special someone!

2 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Jamon and Cava, The Ultimate Marriage On Days Like These!

396/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava & D.O. Jamon – Jamon and Cava – Mont-Ferrant Blanes Brut Nature

On days like these….

mont-ferrant-blanes-brut-nature-264433Mont-Ferrant Blanes Brut Nature, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo

Golden yellow color of medium intensity, very vivid and brilliant intensity, with remarkably fine bubbles. On the nose the complexity is huge, given its long time sur lees. Aniseed notes, toasted bread, a touch of yeast and even a fruity background. The palate is lively, with good acidity, tasty but not heavy, leading to an outstanding finish. An excellent choice together with a lovely plate of Jamon Iberico! Agustí Vilaret founded the Mont-Ferrant cellars in 1865 in Blanes. During 1872 they presented their production at the Concurso Exposición de Barcelona. This presentation demonstrates, in a documented way, that Mont-Ferrant is the oldest Cava producer among all the companies in the current sector. They define their customers as a legion of friends who they constantly want to please, offering them a wide taste palette so they can decide which kind of Cava goes best whit the occasion at hand, for me any day is good enough for a glass of good Cava and great Jamon Iberico.

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Besides writing I also have the obligation, and interest, to follow wine bloggers around the world to see what they are up to. Amazed by the ability they have at churning out piece after piece! Wow! Tonight! Writers block! What is that? A real thing or just a way for those claiming to write something, anything, to have an excuse! Well, if you ask me it’s something true. Then again, excuses are the nails that hold failure together.

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Had a, one in a million, bad wine cellar visit today, threw me off bunds and I haven’t quite bounced back yet! My thought was to write a cover for the producer visited, but can’t find myself doing Catalonia, the land of wine, that misfortune.  Has to be the Italian job! Yes, there are bad wine producer and less god wines here as well. My point is to give you the ins and outs when it come to the ones you should visit, not the ones you shouldn’t.

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However, all that may be, here I am and writing ahead, thanking my friend, my help and inspiration for the night, for that! Having had a long conversation over the FB, I got talked into a starting point, and here it is. Not what you might expect, but nevertheless an article! Parings! The perfect marriage is when you experience an excellent wine with a mouthwatering meal, and the two together make a unity worth repeating and sticking to.

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Fish and shellfish with white or bubbly, juicy tender red meats with heavy reds, sweet and fortified with cheeses and glorious desserts! All works for me. Pairing Cava and ham, Jamon Iberico to be exact, two quality products that harmonize perfectly, is something that I discovered living here, take the custom as it is. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!

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It is little known that one of the most interesting pairings for the palate is the combination of a good Cava with delicious dried ham. I say this because Iberian ham, Iberian pork or ham from the white pig, goes really well with a good Cava. So I will propose replacing the red wine, a classic, with a sparkling like Cava, not Champagne mind you! Doesn’t exist in my book! The nuances of the ham will enhance the Cava and vice versa.

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First of all, it’s known that in one small piece of ham different flavors ca be extracted. Remember also that the taste of a thin slice cut is different from a thicker slice. It is essential to cut the ham into perspective. This itself can make us appreciate the flavor and aroma which is conducive to the different ham D.O:s Another key factor is the serving temperature. Too cold ham loses many of its organoleptic qualities. The factors mentioned so far can be controlled. Learning to cut the ham or serve it at the right temperature and knowing the differences between different parts of each piece is hugely important.

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Additional factors to have in mind are; pig breed, Iberian or white. Fodder. Climatology. Manufacturing process (salting and curing times). Fodder is one of the most important factors, so I would like to dwell a little longer on this. Because fodder texture, taste and aroma of ham vary substantially, leading us to choose the type of Cava for pairing. The type of food in the fattening phase (last few months before slaughter) is distinguished by:

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Iberian pig , with a natural diet based primarily on acorns and grass from the meadow (Iberian acorn palettes).

White or Iberian pig fed mainly cereals such as barley and wheat (hams and Iberian bait).

In the different D.O:s, these factors are controlled by the Regulatory Council of each, so that the resulting product is always fairly homogeneous. Generically, let’s look at the qualities of aromas and flavors of all the ham D.O:s of Spain.

IBERIAN PIG .

Ham D.O. Pedroches . Pleasant and intense aroma with a slightly sweet flavor.

Ham D.O Guijuelo . Delicate and fragrant aroma with a slightly salty taste.

Ham D.O. Huelva. Delicate and exquisite aroma with an intense and persistent flavor.

Ham D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura. Intense, enjoyable and nuanced aromas with a little salty , intense and persistent flavor.

WHITE PIG .

Ham D.O. Teruel. Soft, pleasant and evocative aroma with a delicate flavor and slightly salty .

Ham D.O. Trévelez . Soft and penetrating aroma with a taste considered the sweetest on the market.

Now let’s look at the Cava!

Well-cut ham is very important, serving Cava in at the right temperature, equality important. Try to achieve 5 to 8 º C before serving.

To achieve this temperature, do not use the freezer. A rapid change in temperature can affect the characteristics of Cava. Better cool it for a few hours in the refrigerator. If there has been an oversight and we have Cava at room temperature and urgently need to open a bottle, I recommend putting it in a ice bucket for about 20 minutes.

After various hams and Cava tastings, I have come to the following conclusion. The Cava pairs perfectly with ham and enhance its flavor, generally the dry ones!

In conclusion, no need for strawberries, a festive occasions or shellfish! Bring out the ham and the Cava! More importantly, tonight’s Catalan wine! Enjoy!

3 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Vins i Caves de Finca Orioll Rossell, C(ava)hampagne and Wine in D.O. Cava

370/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – La Gornal – Finca Orioll Rossell – Cava Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010

C(ava)hampagne and Wine……,

Gran Reserva Oriol RossellCava Brut Nature Gran Reserva 2010, Xarel.lo and Macabeu

Pale straw yellow colour with golden highlights, clean and crisp, with fine and slow rising bubbles. The aromas are elegant and complex, with plenty of pleasant and powerful notes of aging, great level of mature white fruits. All these fragrances come together during the first mouthful and the tastes are balanced, providing the sensation of richness and of a very high complexity helped by extremely fine and well integrated bubbles. The finish is long and there are noticeable toasted and dried fruit aromas. Simply, a great Cava!

Coming together at the Masia (Chateau in this case) of Oriol Rossell, is nothing less than feeling the beat of history. Truly charming place to visit! It is a fully working winery but also a home. The set up was initiated by a very good friend and sommelier, Agustin Palome Garcia, who has been trying to get us to visit this producer for quite some time and finally there was no going back. I was fortunate to meet Agustin during one of his wine/food  pairing events at Loidi restaurant in Barcelona and since then we have been in touch frequently.

This guy knows how to pair excellent food with great wines! Thank you Agustin Palome Garcia!

Sun was shining, as it usually is in Penedes and already some vintners are complaining that it’s to dry. But what can you do, farmers/growers always complain, they are like fishermen, the fish is never the right size and that’s if they catch any! Standard here is, that it’s okay to be a bit late, and so was my friend, but that’s not a worry since it’s always expected.

A part of the very welcoming inner courtyard at Oriol Rossell.

Days are laid back, visits are not following the clock and the visitors are greeted and looked after as where they old friends, asking questions, getting answers and stories are told. Time is forgotten, no stress, just the way it should be. You can’t stress wine or Cava, it should have the time it needs to develop, whether it’s sur lees or in the barrel, that same feeling is transmitted and felt at Oriol Rossell, when you visit!

Salvi, Agustin, a friend of theirs and Yolanda.

The wine maker, Salvi, together with Yolanda Oriol Rossell, the wife of the current owner Toni, were the ones to receive us and take care of us during the coming three and a half hours. Taking us for a walk in the vineyards, which are all surrounding the winery (Chateau), making it feel very French. There are very few wineries here that can offer the same type of visit and I for one believe that this dimension adds to the whole experience.

The main building (mansion) is occupying the central part of the inner courtyard.

Cal Cassanyes is the name of the Estate where the vineyards of Oriol Rossell are located and the wines and Cavas are all made from the grapes surrounding the Estate. The total is 85 hectares of vine, covering parts of both Alt Penedès and Baix Penedès. The fact that the Estate is surrounded by the Prelitoral mountains to the North and coastal mountains to the South, as well as being a few kilometres from the sea, results in a very special microclimate which gives character to the wines. 

One of many vineyards, this one, an old Xarel.lo.

Xarel·lo is the most planted white grape variety as there is no better place for the cultivation of this variety in the area. Other whites grown are the traditional ones, such as Macabeu and Parellada. The red varieties are Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. Oriol Rossell had two passions in his life, viticulture and castellers, he formed the first castellers team in Vilafranca del Penedes and the strength and unity needed to build “human towers” is evident in the wine, structured and potent!

In the mansion, the walls of an entire room are covered with castellers memorabilia.

The Castellers de Vilafranca is a cultural and sporting association whose main objective is to build castells (human towers). It has the status of a public-interest association. The group was founded in 1948 in response to the increased interest in human tower building in Vilafranca del Penedès, a Catalan tradition that has evolved since the 18th century Ball de Valencians, a dance from Valencia. The best way to experience the human towers is to visit Catalonia during the time of the fiesta major, celebrated in different towns over a number of days.

Castellers in Vilafranca del Penedes building a human tower.

Nowadays, the Castellers de Vilafranca have about 400 active human tower building members of all ages, with no discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, sex or social status. They share the common goal of building human towers, democratic values, cooperation and team work, a constant desire to surpass themselves, and a will to maintain a lead over a select and competitive group of rival human tower associations. The passion and soul of Oriol Rossell live on, both in his wines and also in the human towers.

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The soil on the Estate is mainly a sandy-clay soil, ideal for the production of fine delicate wines. Even though the Estate is unified, there are a wide variety of soils: to the North lie the poorer and finer soils while the most fertile are in the centre. The most gravelly soil is found in the South, ideal for white wines while giving structure and colour to the red wines. The content of organic matter and nitrogen in the soil is very low but the level of magnesium is high which ensures good acidity and sugar levels at harvest time.

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Cal Cassanyes is an old, ancestral manor house, dating back to at least the 17th century (the date “1637” is found engraved on a stone as you enter the main mansion). The wine cellar, in Art Nouveau style, was built in 1908. Wine growers and producers for centuries, they have been producing cava for the last thirty years, always endeavouring to obtain  the maximum quality cava following time-honoured traditions.  

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Many cellars, producing Cava, in both Sant Sadurni d’Anoina and other parts of Penedes, are claiming to use pupitres for the remuage. Most of them are having old pupitres and are happy to show them, however, the whole process is done with the help of the gyropallette. Nothing wrong with that, it was just so surprising that there still are wine makers out there that go for strict tradition. Labor intensive but probably, as the wine maker Salvi explained, the difference is not noticeable in the Cava but it is certainly known in the heart.

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Once the secondary fermentation is complete, the bottles undergo remuage or riddling, a process of collecting the sediment created during the fermentation at the tip of the bottle. This is either done en pupitre or on a gyropallette. A pupitre is a pair of heavy, hinged rectangular blocks, each containing 60 holes cut at an angle. This allows the bottle to be held by the neck in any position between horizontal and vertical with the neck pointing downward. The bottles start in a horizontal position and the pupitreis gradually moved by hand over roughly three weeks until the bottles are fully upside down. A gyropallette is a computerized pallet that holds over 500 bottles and completes the process in about eight days.

The folder to the right presenting the latest range of fruity and modern vintages. The Xino-Xano (Step by Step) series.

After the tour, we sat down to try a few, since it is a working day we didn’t try the whole range, of their products. In total they make five Cavas and 6 still wines of different levels, aging and styles. Sparkling, white, rose and reds are all represented with their own unique personality.  If you feel like visiting a manor, with a French chateau feel to it, this is the place. Not only for the historic feel but also for some very well made wines!

15 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Clos Lentiscus, Take Me As I Am in D.O. Penedes

365/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – St. Pere de Ribes – Clos Lentiscus – Sumoll Reserva Familia Brut Nature

Take Me As I Am………,

V462_V658Sumoll Reserva Familia Brut Nature, 100% Sumoll

Amazing golden colored body with faint pinkish reflections and a delicate rosary of fine bubbles which rise slowly forming a nice crown. Delicate aromatics of red berries. Fragrant and ripe strawberry notes together with a background of harmonious fruit aromatics that are followed by subtle aging notes. This sparkling wine has divine pastry aromas, some toasted notes, and nuanced dry herbs. As the label says Brut Nature, dry sensations are to be expected and this is a dry and crisp Cava. Delicate fruit taste, raspberries, strawberries and some mature apple, leaning towards the taste of  a great cider. There is a creamy and fine effervescence that is accompanied by a perfect and well-balanced acidity. The finish is silky and persistent with subtle mineral touches. This Blanc de Noirs has an incredibly well-structured palate. You want a great Cava for Christmas? Look no further! Price is great and you can easily combine it with a number of dishes, from fish to meat or why not as a aperitif?

Click on the photo to see more pictures from Clos Lentiscus! Enjoy!

Click on the photo to see more pictures from Clos Lentiscus! Enjoy!

This Cava has been crafted from the red grape varietal Sumoll. The Sumoll grapes were harvested off of grapevines that were planted in 1939 at the La Torrentera vineyards in the mountains of the Massís del Garraf Natural Park. These grapevines are planted on soils with low fertility and high levels of minerals. All of the Sumoll grapes used to produce this Brut Nature Reserve Cava were harvested by hand. The harvest was done at dawn when the grapes were still cool. The grapes were then delicately pressed at the winery to avoid the must from receiving pigmentation, making this a Blanc de Noir. During the vinification, local yeasts were added. The very brief alcoholic fermentation took place in oak barrels. The second fermentation, (Methode Traditionnelle) lasts a minimum of 30 months.

Wine Lovers hang-out at Clos Lentiscus this Sunday, the 14th of December! I will be there, why not come and try some great wines and Cava?

Wine Lovers hang-out at Clos Lentiscus this Sunday, the 14th of December! I will be there, why not come and try some great wines and Cava?

20 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Winery of Mas de la Bassrola, Idle Time in D.O. Cava

358/365 – Catalonia – D.O Cava – El Pla de Manlleu – Mas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature

Idle Time……..,

0b24e5d21f297892bcb194d9c6fd9e84fa0d3127Mas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature, Macabeu and Parellada

Pale yellow color with greenish reflections, crystal clear tones with fine and integrated bubbles which emerges slowly forming a nice crown. The nose is presented with good aromatic notes, very fresh and fruity intensity with some notes of aging. The fruit, white pear, peach and candy and especially the Parellada are predominating. Well structured on the palate, smooth and balanced. The retronasal sensations are clean. A likable Cava for a couple of coins!

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Magic does happen! At least in El Pla de Manlleu together with friends, a really well prepared Calcotada and a glass of great Cava, or two, or three! El Pla de Manlleu is not Barcelona, Vilafranca or Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. In the village of El Pla de Manlleu is where real Catalan life is happening on a daily basis.

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To discover and enjoy true hospitality of the region, this is where you have to go. Very dear friends, from Amsterdam, have set up camp here. And when I say camp, I really mean that they have found a Catalan Masia.

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To get out of the rat race, this is where they have decided to move, in the very near future, to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, enjoy life and grow old.

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Fortunate to have friends like that, allows for additional discoveries of wineries which I otherwise might not find. The village is slightly remote, although if you know how to get there, easily accessible.

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The village is in the municipality of Aiguamúrcia, Alt Camp. Located at the eastern end of the county, on the right bank of the Marmellar stream, a tributary of the river Foix and north- east of the Sierra Montmell.

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It had 146 inhabitants, the last time I checked, with an additional two moving there soon. In one of the houses there is a wine & Cava cellar and another house is dedicated to rural tourism. You will find a bar/restaurant, the Casa Social (also a bar and the local hangout), a baker, a butcher and that’s it! What more do you need?

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Southwest of the town, in the woods, the Romanesque chapel of San Miquel, from the thirteenth century, can be visited.

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Part of El Pla de Manlleu families inhabited the now abandoned hamlet of Selma, not far from the village. Selma was the headquarter of a Templar order following the dissolution of The Knights Hospitaller. In this village you can find the ruins of the old castle and the Gothic church of Sant Cristòfol.

The Knights Hospitaller

Mas de la Basserola winery, is located not far from the village. Now, I could tell you where exactly but then I’d have to find you and kill you! No, no, this little gem is a secret only shared if and when you come to visit!

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The old Masia has been there since 1843 and mostly the work has consisted in working the land. As the vineyards are located at high altitudes, it is ideal for Parellada. The coupage of their Cavas is therefore containing more Parellada than you’d normally find in the Catalan Cavas. In addition to the Parellada the only use Macabeu.

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The grapes are farmed organically with a low yield and high extraction of earth tones and great harmony between sugar and acidity. The harvest is quite late, due to the altitude of 560m above sea level and harvested manually. An area that marks a qualitative difference due to the microclimate.

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Parellada is one of my favorite grapes! Lucky me as I’m encountering more and more single variety wines made with Parellada, and more are coming. Besides the Cava I am covering in this article, Mas de la Basserola also produces a light (Parellada 100%) still wine.

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It is a white grape variety of Catalan origin. Being one of the three traditional varieties used to make Cava, which is primarily produced in Catalonia. Parellada is also used in blended still wines as well as a handful of varietal wines. They tend to be gentle wines, with a delicate floral nature and low alcohol levels. 

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It has good acidity and freshness which makes these wines extremely suitable for aperitifs. A prime example of this is the micro-distilled Obsello Absinthe which, in addition to being produced in the same region, uses the wine of these grapes in its base spirit. It performs best at higher altitudes, where the growing season is longer and cooler, allowing the grape’s trademark acidity and citrus flavors to develop fully.

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It is widely planted grape in the Penedes region of Catalonia, though less extensively than its Cava partners Macabeo and Xarel-lo. 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. Parellada is also used in blended still wines as well as a handful of varietal wines.

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Mas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature Seleccio, Parellada/Macabeu

This is a well structured, balanced, fresh and fruity Cava. The crianza is well done which has led to a nice integration of the carbon dioxide, resulting in a soft and pleasant experience. The color is clear yellow straw with a light green hue and steady and fine bubbles. The aromas are subtle, complex and expresses a touch of yeast, brioche and white fruit. Dry, tasty and elegant notes. Good acidity, gives of a medium long finish.

27 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Rimarts Cava, I’m a believer in D.O. Cava

353/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – Cava Rimarts – Cava Uvae

I’m a believer……..,

uvae-rimartsCava Uvae, Xarel·lo and Chardonnay

Brilliant gold color. Fine persistent bubbles, excellent and everlasting rosary of beads ascending in the glass. Nose of baked products, Danish come to mind, spices, ripe red cherries with hints of All Spice. Light efervescent tones of the same flavors. Flavors balanced by a light acidity and a very pleasant evolution. A smooth, long, pleasant and lasting finish. Nice Cava to enjoy with a good friend or with a good book. Not really a food Cava.

DSC_0421During the summer of 2014 I got to spend quite some time in Sweden, with family and friends, enjoying the Swedish summer, great food and……., Catalan wine. I brought a truck load of wines with me. As I wanted to share the experiences, I have (what come bottled) had during the past few years, with my loved ones. One of the many wines that survived the journey, was the Rosae from Rimarts, which I wrote about in June this year. Now, I have also had the opportunity to try their Uvae! Hope you like it as much as I did!

rosaeCava Rosae, 100% Pinot Noir

Attractive pale and soft salmon pink color. Fine and persistent bubbles forming a dense crown. Fresh and highly complex aroma with very smoky tones, subtle nose, red fruit finish. The palate is balanced, broad, savoury, rich and elegant, its evolution shows varietal character, ending with a very long and elegant palate with great sensations. This is an elegant and dynamic Cava, which asks you to either love it or hate it. It is NOT a Cava to enjoy just as it is, because it does demand some food to go with it. I tried it with Jamon Iberico, Bellota and it worked wonders. I do believe it would work well with grilled food as well, both meats and fish, as the smoky character it possesses would be enhanced by a summer bbq! I consider this one to be a Super Catalan Cava!

Portada - Rimarts

33 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours