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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Mas Garcia Muret, Misty in D.O. Costers del Segre

263/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Llimiana – Mas Garcia Muret – Muriac 2011

Misty……..,

MURIAC 2011

Muriac 2011, Syrah

Dark, opaque red colour, ink is the word.  A very aromatic nose, not to overwhelming on the vanilla, more like infused and accurate vanilla notes. Toasted nuts. Way too easy to drink and if I had more patience with wine, I should have saved this one for a few more hours, not to say, that I should have opened it in a few years and not today. I have to say that it is beautifully polished and extends its strength as a liquid showing of delicately creamy and tasty flavours. There is an interesting contrast between the creamy notes, perhaps dairy and powerful tannins. There’s also fruit, loads of fruit, such as fruit juice and ripe raspberries, smooth and pleasant. I have to get a few more bottles, put them in the cellar and forget they exist!

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Muriac means Bat in the Pallares dialec. I am certain that Batman drinks wine, and most likely this one! The name was given to this Syrah wine to honour the way in which it reflects the intensity and character of the land of the Pallars. The grapes were harvested by hand and transported in small boxes to the winery for processing, preserving the integrity of the fruit. The ageing is done in stainless steel tanks, temperature controlled during ten days, further ageing in French and American oak for 12 months.

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The winery Mas Garcia Muret is located on the family premises of Doctor José Luis García Ubis, its founder. The house is located in the municipality of Llimiana, near the Terradets water reservoir, in the county of Pallars Jussà, a unique and characteristic part of the country. Dr. José Luis was born in la Rioja, a land with a strong wine-making tradition, so this winery fulfills his dream of having his own wine brand. What at first was a hobby, in just a few years has become a first class wine cellar surrounded by 70 hectares of land, from which 19 are planted with vineyards and the rest are full of almond and olive trees and cereals. The winery runs the production of high quality wines. When the grapes have reached its peak of ripeness they are manually harvested and quickly transported to the winery, where they are processed in the best way for each type of grape, thus creating a perfect bond between modernity and tradition in a house built in 1756.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

121 to go!

Winery Vinya els Vilars, Blue Bossa in D.O. Costers del Segre

249/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Arbeca – Vinya Els Vilars – Gerard 2009

Blue Bossa………,

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Gerard 2009, 100% Merlot

Concentrated wine, bright purple in colour with violet edges. Intense aromas of ripe red berries and black berries, accompanied by balsamic and spicy nuances and with a spicy finish. Lovely delicious sweetness and velvety feel which carries a long way. The liquorice notes of the fruit are linked to the smooth minerality, with a spicy finish. A long, juicy, elegant finish that clings to the palate. As it has not undergone any cold stabilisation, natural sediments may appear. To see it at its finest, Id’s say, decant it half an hour before drinking.

Always happy with wine, (so the Blue Bossa works)! Not only happy for the beverage as such but all what it brings. New experiences, travel, meeting with interesting people and off course sharing a bottle with friends, together with a good meal and some nice music. Not much more is necessary to enjoy life. It is Sweet and Easy! Happy Days!

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The culture of the local wine, and its production, is the best way to discover the D.O. Costers del Segre. The wines here are characterised by the quality of their elaboration and production in cellars full of charm that are located in beautiful natural settings.

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Discoveries that combines the gastronomy, culture and geography of Lleida. These can be experienced through the cellars and by enjoying the local gastronomy, discovering the area’s natural and cultural resources and taking part in complementary activities.

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Like its wines, Lleida’s cuisine is rich and varied, which is based on natural products produced locally, zero kilometers: fruits, vegetables, olive oils and meats. This is a legacy that coexists with the new cuisine and which is reinvented every day with eyes set on a “delicious” landscape.

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The vinicultural tradition of the Lands of Lleida stretches back to the times of the Iberians, as shown by the first seeds of Vitis Vinifera, found at the Iber settlement of Els Vilars de Arbeca. However, it was during the Romanisation of the Terres de Ponent (western territories of Catalonia) that grape growing and wine production really became properly established.

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By the 19th century, the grape had become one of the most important crops in the territory, which boasted a total of 119,000 hectares of vineyards. But the subsequent appearance of the phylloxera later caused a drastic reduction in this wine-growing area to 15,000 hectares.

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Despite this lamentable misfortune, the wine producing activity of Lleida was soon revived by the entrepreneurial initiatives of wineries such as Castell del Remei and Raimat. These cellars decided to replace the vines affected by the phylloxera and to establish new plantations, introducing innovative varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Their efforts helped to create the D.O.Costers del Segre and to establish its reputation for using the latest, highest quality technology and the most innovative wine production techniques.

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Vinya Els Vilars is a young initiative, incorporating Merlot and Syrah, which is quite unusual. The results are low quantity, high quality wine. The production is only around 15.000 liters per harvest and the efforts are meticulous, making sure that the end result is never neglected.

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In early 2002 the first vines of Merlot and Syrah were planted, imported from southern France. Over time it was clearly established that the type of terrain and climate were favorable and the vines were thriving. This is one of the great secrets of Vinya Els Vilars, and they opted for a reduced production. The first harvest was in 2003, only 1.000 bottels produced which were never marketed. In the 2004 season there were some 10,000 bottles, and those were quickly sold.

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Leix 2008, 100% Syrah

The malolactic fermentation takes place in barrel. It spends 8 months in French oak barrels, 70% new and 30% one year old. I highly recommend decanting, because of aeration but also, there might be natural sediments. Intense, deep red cherry color, slightly bluish, with red middle layer and edges. The nose is sweet, with hints of mineral and terroir and chocolate background with with well integrated oak.  Fresh on the palate, easy to drink, good acidity and toasty notes. Slightly balsamic with powerful and long aftertaste. This is a winner!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

134 to go!

Celler Casa Patau, Needle In The Hay in D.O. Costers del Segre

247/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Menàrguens – Celler Casa Patau – Patau 2004 Crianca

Needle In The Hay……..,

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Patau 2004 Crianca, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 6% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo)

Intense ripe cherry red colour with garnet edges. Very correct primaries with notes of wild black berries, brambles and forest berries, some herbs. Intense attack on the palate, with a feel of fruit liquor, licorice, leather and some earthiness.  A quite mature wine with character. Full bodied and powerful but without being overwhelming. 12 months on French Allier barrels. Hand harvested and organic farming. Fresh, elegant and fruity wine which I recommended pairing with
game birds, blue fish and entrées with vegetable base.

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Casa Patau is a family run property, by the two Ros brothers, Josep and Santiago.It is located close to Menàrguens, in the region of La Noguera, between the towns of Lleida and Balaguer and falls under the D.O. of Costers del Segre within the sub-zone of Artesa de Segre.

Celler_Casa_Patau_patauSince 2001, Casa Patau produces wines from its own vineyards: Currently there are nearly 9 hectares of vineyards planted with the varieties Macabeo, Grenache, Merlot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil consists mainly of limestone and they are enjoying a continental climate, with a huge amount of sun hours and thermal contrasts, cold winters and hot summers, which once it all comes together allows for some quality wine making.

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All agricultural practices carried out in the cultivation of their vines, are environmentally friendly as they don’t use herbicides or chemical fertilizers. And to achieve a higher quality still, they harvest by hand and do the selection in the vineyards, choosing only the very best grapes. The winery Casa Patau currently has a capacity of 900 hl and they have their dedicated cellar where they keep their French and American oak barrels.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

136 to go!

L’Olivera Cooperativa, Better Together in D.O. Costers del Segre

245/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Vallbona de les Monges – L’Olivera Cooperativa – Naltres 2013 ECO

Better Together…….,

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Naltres 2013 ECO, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Negra, Trepat and Touriga Nacional

All the vineyards are Ecologic and all the grapes for this wine are hand harvested and placed in boxes of 10 to 12 kg. They are all deposited together in steel tanks, except for the Garnacha Negra which is aged for 8 months on oak. Ruby colour of medium intensity with violet tones. Good clean nose, good intensity. Notes of ripe red fruit (raspberries, blackberries), vegetable touches (oven roasted peppers) and some sweet spices (cinnamon). Huge entry and a balanced palate that is quite fresh. Sweet and ripe tannins that combine harmoniously with the good acidity. Memories of red fruit jam. Lingering and pleasant finish.

Naltres is a local word used in western Catalonia meaning ‘us’. Naltres symbolises everything they have learned together at L’Olivera through more than 20 years of seeking to produce products faithful to the land that yielded them. Naltres is their first red wine to bear the Costers del Segre designation of origin (subzone of Valls del Riu Corb).

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The beginning of love for a wine and winery, is when you realize that there are wine makers out there trying to make a difference of significant impact in the lives of others. How? Help the community, the less fortunate, and at the same time help me as a wine lover to experience some well made wines, while at the same time I am buying the bottle I know, that I too am making an effort to help out. This is certainly the beginning of a beautiful friendship and l’Olivera is going to be visited over and over again. Read the full story here! Catalan Wine 365 writes about wines from the amazing wine making regions of Catalonia, one wine a day for 365 days during 2014! Certainly Better Together!

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The history of Vallbona is defined by the presence of the oldest Cistercian convent in Catalonia. The Cistercian order was founded in Burgundy and is dedicated to combining spiritual activity according to the Rule of St Benedict with agricultural development and regional planning. Vallbona is a land of ridges and small valleys that reflect the erosive power of water, which left its mark and shaped the landscape. It is a place of deep soil, with hillsides supported by dry-rock retaining walls. These structures, along with numerous cabins, speak of the area’s more populous, productive past. The retaining walls are a key factor in keeping the soil fertile and using water efficiently; and the knowledge and hard work built up over generations permit us to enjoy an impressive landscape that is now seriously endangered.

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The area has an inland Mediterranean continental climate, with nights cooled by the sea breeze, and with minimal rainfall (around 350 mm per year). The altitude (450-700 m) allows for a mild, long ripening period, which is a limitation for certain crops. The natural vegetation is Mediterranean and can be found along the old retaining walls, the ridges and in the abandoned fields.

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L’Olivera was born in 1974 when a group of people decided to move to Vallbona de les Monges, in the south of the Lleida region of Catalonia, to work in two areas: providing support for the integration of people with psychiatric disabilities into society, especially those in disadvantaged social situations; and considering productive economic solutions based on local values. Since the beginning this has always been a cooperative formed by multidisciplinary people focusing on local social objectives and economic development.

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Right from the start, social action has been at the core of the project. In addition to the production activities and activities for integration into employment, they also organize community activities with the people that they work with, who are mainly people with psychiatric disabilities, especially those in more disadvantaged situations. These people are just as much a part of the cooperative as anybody else and can become full members if they wish. Since 2000, an occupational therapy service has also been in place. This group of eight people organise activities for the development of personal and social skills and work therapy (gardening, environmental maintenance, etc.). There is also a residential home open all year round with accommodation for up to 16 people. Built in 2004, the home has seven members of staff.

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Another step forward in the cooperative’s social action was creating the Olivera Foundation. The Foundation was the fruit of 31 years of action, the consolidation of the production project and the new social objectives that has been set over the years. At the Annual General Meeting held in April 2003 it was decided to create the Olivera Foundation alongside the cooperative as a means of ensuring the long-term continuation of the organisation’s work and fostering new initiatives for the social and occupational integration of people with disabilities or at risk of social exclusion in rural areas. So far the Foundation has participated in funding the completion of the residential home and the purchase of an adapted minibus.

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The Foundation is also responsible for managing 0.7% of the cooperative’s turnover, which goes into social projects that L’Olivera has some kind of direct contact with in the third and fourth world. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, this part of the cooperative’s turnover will be spent on a new building for people with sensory disabilities at El Mina school in Noukchott (Mauritania). If you love wine, you probably love people, because without people, there would be no wine! In this case, you know you’re enjoying twofold! Make sure your next glass of wine contains one of l’Oliveras wonderful products!

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Vallisbona 89, 100% Chardonnay

Vallisbona (Campomonalium de Vallisbona) is the name used on some old documents to refer to the village of Vallbona de les Monges. Vallisbona’89 is the embodiment of the experience since they began producing white wines in 1989. Each year they select the best vineyard parcels and selectively harvest the very best grapes. The wine is then carefully produced in the cellar, where the must is fermented in new French oak barrels and the wine is aged on the lees. The wines from the best barrels are blended and then bottled in a very limited number.

The wines has a subtle yellow color with green hues. A complex nose with notes of tropical fruit, citrus fruits and toast. A delicate palate that grows in intensity. The smoothness is balanced by the acidity and freshness of the raw material. A lengthy, lingering finish. Pairs well with shellfish and traditional Mediterranean dishes such as cannelloni.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

138 to go!

Celler Analec, Autrefois in D.O Costers del Segre

244/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Nalec – Celler Analec – Analec La Romiguera 2009

Autrefois………,

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Analec La Romiguera 2009, 50% Tempranillo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah

Red wine from the cluster of Romiguera, a centenary vineyard situated at an altitude of 550m in the Vall del Corb, an area (valley) with very calcareous and clayey soils and some rocky parts. It is fermented at 26-28ºC. In contact with the skins between 15 and 20 days and spends around 12 months on French and American oak. It has a light, transparent, cherry-red color. Fresh aroma of red fruits, not too sweet and not transmitting hot climate. Slightly mineral in the mouth, floral notes and cocoa. On the palate it is fleshy with a very balanced acidity.

Analec Winery

Not many year ago, the small family run cellar of Analec was created in the town of Nalec, D.O. Costers del Segre. The vineyards are located in the Vall del Corb and the name Analec itself was chosen due to the fact that it was the ancient name of the town during the middle ages. They have around 22 hectares of vineyards but only a small part of the harvest is used to produce their own labels, as most is sold to other wineries.

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The enologist and co-owner is Xavier Figuerola Mulet, a guy that knows full well that the chemical and physical properties of the land influences, in a determinant way, the quality and characteristics of the wine and that’s the reason why their winery takes great care in respecting and preserving the environment. They believe in the potential of their territory, the Vall del Corb, and work to promote the culture of wine, stemming from this sub-zone of the Costers del Segre.

Analec Grapes

The grape varieties of their vineyards are: Macabeu and Parellada for the three Cavas produced. No Xarel.lo is being used, as would be common in Cava production in most parts of Catalonia. The Macabeu is also being utilised for the production of their still and sweet white wines. The Trepat is used 100% for their rose Cava. Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon for the rose still and for the reds.

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The climate is Continetal Mediterranean, with a rain ratio lightly above  400 mm, with very cold winters and hot and dry summers, but tinted by the daily presence of the breeze from the southeast (The Marinada) that smoothens the temperature and increases the levels of dampness. This fact, together with the altitude, provides a long and slow period during which the grapes have plenty of time to ripen. All of this helps to support the bouquet in the wines and to provide the base for the quality of their  wines. They have old and young vineyards, which are placed in Nalec, Rocafort de Vallbona and Verdú, with altitudes that start at 450 meters, the Valley of the riu Corb, and up to 550 meters, which is the Romiguera.

Analec Outside Wines

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

139 to go!

Cercavins, Thunderstruck in D.O. Costers del Segre

229/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Verdu – Cellers Cercavins – Guilla 2009

Thunderstruck……..,

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Guilla 2009, 100% Macabeo

This aged Spanish Macabeo, from Costers del Segre, has blunt and crisp aromatics. There are fragrant fruit aromas with a complexity that is nearly jammed as if the fruits were roasted in an oven. There are very enticing peaches and apples, and all the fruits present are very ripe. These sensations are present around a background of hardwoods and oaks, nuts, and very fresh and pleasant tobacco. There are subtle aniseed and balsamic notes in the background as well. This wine ageing on its lees has given it delicate and fresh pastry aromatics. The wine has an enveloping entrance onto the palate that is very big, potent, and fresh. The passage is full of enticing fruits, mostly tropical fruits. Especially ripe pineapples with hints from apricots. The palate is well-structured and silky, with harmonized acidity that lends great freshness. It is almost impossible to notice the 13.5% alcohol content in this wine. The finish is persistent and elegant. Great complexity! Great wine!
555-largeCosters del Segre is a geographically disperse D.O. with different zones that have three main things in common: its location on the basin of the Segre river (Costers del Segre may be translated as Banks of the Segre river): the soils, largely calcareous and with a healthy dose of sand; and the comparatively greater distance from the sea, offering better conditions for cold climate varieties. One could describe this D.O., as the more Continental one of the Catalan D.O.s.
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There are seven sub zones that show some difference in terms of altitude and climate. Raimat and Segriá are the ones with more continental climate, with extreme differences of temperature between day and night and foggy winters. Les Garrigues, Valls del Riu Corb and Urgell  are drier and sunnier, more adequate for strong red wine but with a winery with excellent whites: L’Olivera. Artesa de Segre and Pallars Jussà are starting to climb the slopes of the Pyrenean foothills, with colder and longer winters; excellent conditions for some Central European grape varieties.
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The short-term history of Costers del Segre is chiefly determined by Raimat, a very large winery owned by the Raventos family of Codorniu, that invested heavily in the lands and winery a century ago. Still now, Raimat is the largest operation by far, focused on high volume production, with mechanized processes like grape harvest. Another historic player is Castell del Remei, a winery built at the end of the 19th century in the style of a French Chateau and one of the pioneers in the introduction of foreign grape varieties. The rest of the D.O.’s wineries are generally smaller.
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Costers del Segre is one of the Catalan D.O.s with a lower proportion of local grape varieties in its wines. Allowed whites are Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada, Chardonnay, Riesling, Garnatxa blanca, Gewürztraminer, Malvasia, Moscatell d’Alexandria, small berry Moscatell, and Albariño. Allowed reds are Garnatxa negra, Carinyena or Samsó, Ull de Llebre, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Monastrell, Syrah, Trepat, and Pinot Noir.
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With this range there is production of white and red wine mainly. A few rosé and sweet wines and a quality sparkling with second fermentation in the bottle with features and quality comparable to Cava. Raimat produces mainly monovarietals, while the other wineries tend to favour coupages, especially in the reds.
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 Some excellent wines are to be found in Costers del Segre, especially among the smaller wineries (Raimat aims more to the middle segment). There is potential to produce great wines, but they lack personality: with their international grape assortments it is difficult to taste one of them and identify it as a Catalan wine, let alone a Costers del Segre, and that is for me the true test for the great wine zones.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

152 to go!