Celler Jaumandreu, Take A Chance On Me in D.O. Pla de Bages

374/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Fonollosa – Celler Jaumandreu – Més Que Paraules Negre 2012

Take A Chance On Me……..,

Mes Que ParaulesMés Que Paraules Negre 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sumoll

Intense dark cherry color with a bright garnet rim and violet reflections. High layers. Very bright and abundant tears. Good intensity with a wide range of aromas: lots of red fruit, somewhat jammy, ripe wild berries and floral fragrances, especially violet stands out. When opened, sweet spices appear together with balsamic and dairy. A touch of resin and thee secondaries reveal cinnamon, bitter cocoa and fresh scent of tobacco. It goes on and on. Elegant mineral background. Good entry, powerful and warm. Tasty, full of fruit, creamy toast and spices. Balanced acidity providing a good freshness. Sweetish and integrated tannins. Long and persistent presence balanced with fruit and toast. This is a killer wine!

More than words…..,

…., ¨mes que paraules¨ in Catalan, is a wine by Jaumandreu. And indeed no words are needed, not only for this wine in particular, but in many instances, for many wines out there. Sometimes it’s just enough to sit there, with a nice glass of wine in hand, listen to a good song and enjoy. More than words!. You don’t have to say you love me, cause I already know. Hold me close, don’t ever let me go!

Jaumandreu is a surname with great tradition within wine making of this region. From the twelfth century, the finca (estate) of Jaumandreu, in the D.O. Pla de Bages, has created history and bottled it with excellent results, even though the history in this case is a brief one. Several different generations of professionals working together in magnificent conditions offered by this land for cultivation of vineyards.

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The estate includes a traditional Catalan farmhouse set in a unique environment, among gentle hills, where silence reigns and you can get lost in knowing that this is, in more ways than one, an unique experience. Sometimes, this is all it takes to fall in love with a region, a winery or a wine.

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The winery was founded in 2004 by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in food, marketing, communication and food production, carrying out a project that has already give its first offshoots, wines being accomplished, reflecting their personality but also aesthetics with a sleek and attractive image that refers to the elements of nature that surrounds the property.

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The Jaumandreu project has, within the Pla de Bages, recovered 60 hectares of vineyards with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and local Picapoll. The philosophy is forward thinking, trying to incorporate the best of what the wine world as a whole has to offer. Authenticity, creativity, passion and working together with a modern mindset in this project, that is Jaumandreu!

S6300227-111 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas de Sant Iscle, Left Coast Boogaloo in D.O. Pla de Bages

331/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Sant Fruitós de Bages – Mas de Sant Iscle – Sal.la 2011

Left Coast Boogaloo……..,

vi_negre_salaSal.la 2011, 60% Ull de Llebre 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Bright cherry red color throughout. The nose is full of ripe plum, blueberries and light notes of licorice in the background. Medium-high aromatic intensity, very clean nose and frank with a very fruity feel. Smooth entry and slightly greedy in the mouth, but it quickly displays its youthful vigor, with tannins that are a bit too dry but not too aggressive. Meaty, good tannic feel, with a well balanced acidity that gives the wine freshness and vivacity. It is easy to drink and it has good persistence, I especially like that it produces the same taste as the nose indicates, loads of ripe plum! A very nice wine, well crafted and affordable.

At the Mas de St. Iscle they have been producing wine since the early nineteenth century under the leadership of the Vilanova family, now in its fourth generation, with a special emphasis on the local varieties, the white and red Picapoll.

Mas de Saint Iscle is one of the oldest properties in the Pla de Bages region. This medieval hamlet is documented since the year 950, once the Muslim were expelled  it has been inscribed within the Marca Hispanica under the authority of Charlemagne, at the same time a monastery, founded by St. Benedict Mon Bages, was erected and became the cradle of wine culture in the region.

The Mas de St. Iscle became a shelter and resting point for travelers. Monks, peasant and nobles alike. You could basically view it as todays roadside hotels. Located along the old road that people traveled  from Barcelona to Cardona, laying in the midst of the irrigation canal, an impressive feat of medieval engineering during the fourteenth century that involved the construction of a canal to bring water from the Llobregat river through Balsarenys, and ending in Manresa.

The cultivation of vine has been a constant in this place. At the beginning of the century, a century after the region recovered from the phylloxera that ravaged the Bages, Jaime Vilanova a renowned winemaker from the Ancient Valley of Cardener acquired the estate of Mas San Iscle, with 70 acres of planted vineyards, olive and cereals around the Romanesque church of Sant Iscle and Santa Victoria de Bages. The rest of the history still remains to be heard!

57 to go!

 

Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés, Lullaby of Birdland in D.O. Pla de Bages

272/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Artés – Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés – Picapoll Joven Artium 2013

Lullaby of Birdland………..,

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Picapoll Joven Artium 2013, 100% Picapoll

Straw yellow colour, clear and transparent with green hues, brilliant. The nose is pleasant, fruity and fresh. White notes, tropical fruit and citrus with floral notes which appear in the background. Easy entry, fruity and pleasant in the mouth. Tasty, creamy and with medium acidity that adds just the right amount of freshness. Mineral touches with a salty point. Short aftertaste. This is a single varietal of the Picapoll from the D.O. Pla de Bages. This small appellation is based in the district of Manresa and the total number of cellars is 12. Most of them are small family farms. The wine is a young white which is made with Picapoll grape variety, which is native to this area, fermented in stainless steel tanks at 18 ° C for 25 days. It is a white that is easy to drink, light and fruity. Great value for money!

Picapoll is a local grape which is to a high degree being replanted or grafted to existing rootstocks. While often confused with Picpoul, this grape has been grown in the area since Roman times, being referenced in the writings of Pliny the Elder. Picapoll berries are small, oval and thick-skinned; though there are larger berried clones used as a table grape. The grape requires a lot of attention in the vineyard as bunches tend to grow smaller, “shoulder” clusters which need to be pruned off for proper ripening. The vines are very resistant to arid conditions and almost never shows over-ripe aromas. For maximum expression of the wine, skin contact, reductive winemaking and lees aging are essential.

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Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés put great care in making all their wines and Cavas, paying meticulous attention to all stages of the process from monitoring the ripening of the grapes in the vineyards to final bottling. With each stage requiring specific skills and its own time. Not all wines follow the same process: some are young and ready to drink now, while they are young and fresh; others are enriched, matured and patiently aged in oak casks selected for each wine’s style, variety and vintage. However, in all cases, the winemaking process only begins after careful selection of the grape varieties required to give the desired type of wine.

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After harvesting the grapes, Picapoll and Macabeu for white wines and Cabernet Sauvignon, Ull de Llebre, Merlot and Sumoll for red wines, the grapes are de-stemmed to obtain the must for the red wines. The grapes used for white wines are not de-stemmed. The grapes are then gently pressed, followed by debourbage at low temperatures. The juice is then fermented(the natural process by which the sugar in the must is converted into alcohol) in modern tanks equipped with cooling systems. The duration and temperature vary depending on the type of must. For white wines, fermentation lasts for 13 days at temperatures below 18ºC; for rosé wines, 2 weeks at 16-17ºC, and for red wines, 10-15 days at 26-29ºC.

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After alcoholic fermentation, the red wines that will be aged need a few more days of maceration to extract the polyphenols (anthocyanins, aromas, extracts and tannins), which will play a vital role in the aging of the wine both in the barrels and in the bottles. After a certain period of maceration, a second (malolactic) fermentation is carried out. This is the process in which lactic bacteria break down the malic acid and convert it into lactic acid. This process is very important because it softens the wine, an essential step in the process of obtaining a true quality wine. To make rosé wines, the must only stays 24 hours with the skins; white wines are fermented without the skins. Aging in oak casts and subsequent maturing in the bottle are essential for red wines to enhance their fragrance and obtain optimal quality. White and rosé wines are drunk young. Some whites such as Picapoll are also aged and are fermented in new oak casks for 3 months.

Celler Cooperatiu d'Artés

112 to go!

Fargas-Fargas, Let’s Have a Party in D.O. Pla de Bages

176/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Sant Salvador de Guardiola – Fargas-Fargas – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2001

Let’s Have a Party……,

Where a river runs through, La Frezelle, both village and river. Lovely landscape and friendly people!

Where a river runs through, La Frezelle, both village and river. Lovely landscape and friendly people!

…. since we ended up in a small village, by the name of La Frezelle, due to the car breaking down on our way to Sweden, we have had a party each night! The hotel owners and their local friends know how to treat visitors and the wine has been flowing, the food has been great and we have had a genuinely wonderful time. Will come back upon our return, going back home to Catalonia. I am also very happy that the bottles of Catalan wine I had in the car have been well received by the French, apparently they can enjoy wines that are not locally produced. Now, we are waiting for the garage to deliver on their promise that the car is going to be repaired by tomorrow!

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Fargas-Fargas Tempranillo 2007

The Fargas Fargas Tempranillo comes from the vineyards of the Cross. The winemaking includes a one year aging in barrels of American oak. It has a very dark cherry color. Aromas of black currant and a symphony of spices such as laurel and even oregano, with a background of leather and cocoa and a well integrated barrel ageing.
The palate is discrete at first, but as it passes it becomes intense and powerful, the ending being balanced and friendly, nothing heavy with this one and maybe way to easy to consume?

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At Fargas-Fargas it is so, that during the last days of August, the harvest begins. Everything does not take place during one sole day, or week even. Each rootstock, each variety and in some cases each bunch of grapes reaches their perfect balance of sugar and acidity on different days, so ongoing controls of the evolution is done regularly. When the desired balance is achieved, they start the harvest and so it continues. The grapes are then received at the cellar in small batches, variety by variety and vineyard by vineyards, always at the optimum moment of ripeness. After careful selection, and depending on the grape variety, the wine maker decides which type of process the wine will receive.

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The white grapes are pressed in barrels and fermented for a period of three weeks at a controlled temperature of around 14 degrees. All this to preserve the flavors of the fruit, as to obtain fresh, lively, fruity and cheerful young wines ready for consumption. Traditionally they have made rose wine every year by using predominately two grape varieties. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. To prepare them they remove the large stems and putt all the pasta in a stainless steel tank. After the expected colors has been delivered, the skins are removed and it is left to ferment for three weeks at around 15 degrees.

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The grape for the red wines, are destemmed and the mash is fermented for about 10 days at 28 degrees. As we know, the skins provide both color and aroma to the final product as well as the highly desired tannins. During fermentation the skins and seeds float to the surface, creating a hard cap. To make sure the skins are well integrated it is important to break this cap, stirring it once or twice a day, as to mix the paste with the grape juice. Once the wine rests in wine barrels or stainless steel tanks, the second fermentation takes place, the malolactic.

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If everything goes as planned, the reds are then laid to rest, filling up barrels so that it can age as intended. After a while, the wine interacts with the barrel and shows the direction in which it is going, by then the decision is being made with regards to how long it is going to be barrel aged. The wooden cask, the barrel, is not hermetically sealed, so it breathes and provides oxygen to the wine, softening it and adding the sweet aromas enhancing the natural proprieties of the wine, making it more enjoyable.

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All wines can be aged in barrels but at Fargas-Fargas they have decided to use only Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Tempranillo varieties for their aged wines. Excluding predominance of wood in the wine and as such giving the natural aromas of the wine more space. The Tempranillo get along fine with American oak, the vanilla flavor of the wood is perfect for a wine like this, fruity and full of life. Short barrel time for the fattier tannins of the Merlot is enough to create an elegant wine which is still rich in texture and aromas. Cabernet being very tannic, is well of spending time in the barrel as to provide it with rounded features, as well as mixing up the floral and vegetal aromas with the intensity of the oak, and then followed by the necessary bottle aging.

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And this, my friends, is how it’s done at Fargas-Fargas! And you thought it was complicated to make great wine? Try it, why don’t you? This coming autumn I am going to give it a try, still thinking about which grape variety to go with? I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

205 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Time for Wine (Part Two), I’ll Take You There in Vilanova i La Geltru

163/365 – Catalonia – D.O. All of them! – Vilanova i La Geltru – Temps de Vi 2014 (Wine Fair) – Sot Lefriec 2004

I’ll take you there….,

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…., not only to the Priorat, Penedes, Terra Alta and the other appellations and the more or less well know wine cellars. If you let me, I’ll also take you to Temps de Vi wine fair in Vilanova i La Geltru and tomorrow it starts! Unfortunately I won’t be there the first day but not to worry, there are two more days (Saturday and Sunday) and I’ll be reporting daily from this amazing wine fair. That would be my way of taking you there, and if you feel like joining the party next year, please let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction! One of the stands that is going to be well visited is the one of Alemany i Corrio! And today’s wine is one of their top range wines! Come to think of it….., if Tuscany can have their Super Tuscans, I hope too start a new trend of “Super Catalans”!

Sot Lefriec 2004

Sot Lefriec, 50% Merlot, 30% Carignan and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (D.O. Penedes)

The fermentation of this particular wine takes place in small tanks on wild yeasts. There are no pumps in the winery as the wines are moved using inert gas to avoid any uncontrolled oxidation. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan were harvested approximately 10 days later than usual or what would be considered normal for the varieties and region. Prefermentation maceration and alc. fermentation around 30-35 days for Merlot and Cab. Sauv. and around 25 days for Carignan , which is also longer than usual. During these periods, there are daily remontages and pigeages. Sot Lefriec 2004 has spent 23 months ageing in French oak barrels, 70% new oak. This is a super small garage producer, that works out of Vilafranca del Penedes, so if you see a bottle of Sot Lefriec on a shelve be sure to grab it fast!

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Dark cherry layered with a bright purple rim and intense tears. Ripe black fruit on the nose with floral aromas and a successful soft toasted oak and vanilla aromas presenting cocoa, toffee and spices, smoked pepper, thyme and clove. Powerful and tasty tannins and balanced acidity with successful long life, clean and pleasant with great fruit that carries all the way to the end and a long lingering after-taste. This is to be considered a “Super Catalan”!!!

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And as the real party is about to start, let’s share the program for the coming days! As I mentioned, the first day is a no go for me as I have to spend it with some wine lovers from California! Giving them the grand tour tomorrow! I just love it when I get the opportunity to show people what Catalonia can offer. I’m sure they won’t be disappointed. The Temps de Vi actually had some activities that started last week, like the Riedel experience which was taking place at the Victor Balaguer library in Vilanova i La Geltru, a quite cool location for a exquisite wine tasting!

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Temps de Vi (Time for Wine) Friday, May 30th events;

The winery Can Ràfols dels Caus, Infinite Restaurant and the jazz band Nicolau Experience are together taking people on a wine and food joourney with jazz music to complement, or as the call it here “Trimaridatge”! A five course meal with selected wines from Can Ràfols dels Caus. Starts at 21.00, but should be booked in advance as I am certain it will be one of many popular events this weekend! 

Temps de Vi Can Ràfols dels Caus Infinite

At the very same time, other will book and enjoy a pairing at the Hotel Ceferino, which is hosting a joint event with Gramona, one of the major Cava producer of D.O. Penedes! Againm five courses with five amazing Gramona products!

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Today’s chosen winery, is doing a vertical tasting at Resturant Marejol, Starts at 20.00 hours and if I could go tomorrow, this would probably be my choice! So many wines, so little time! Damn! The main event area is going to be set up with all the winery stands, offering their latest and best of their products. In close vicinity there are performance stages and on stage 2 at 20.00 hours you’ll be able to enjoy a homage to the Gerry Muligan Quatrtet! What a party! If you feel like starting of early, you should be in front of stage one at around 18.00 hours! That’s when Scarbeats start with their “Beatles Live Performance”! This is merely a selection of the many activities taking place during Friday. For the additional information and the schedules for Saturday and Sunday, pleas have a look at the official web site of Temps de Vi! Happy wine and music days!

Some wine tasting are taking place on sail boats!

Some wine tasting are taking place on sail boats!

Welcome to Vilanova i La Geltru, so that you can experience first hand, the best that Catalonia has to offer!

216 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler El Moli, Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand in D.O. Pla de Bages

162/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Manresa – Celler El Moli – La Llobeta

Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand…..,

…., cause if I hold your hand, baby, you’ll understand…., understand why you should try out Pla de Bages! The Pla de Bages is a fertile plain located in an area of mythical mountainous landscapes such as Montserrat, the mountains of Castelltallat, the Nature Reserve of Sant Llorenç del Munt y l’Obac and the massif of El Montcau. The region, which has an increasingly broad range of leisure and gastronomic activities, has important tourist and cultural attractions, such as the Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the salt mines of Cardona, the cave of Sant Ignasi in Manresa and the route of the Acequia, running alongside a medieval canal.

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It is common to find ancient wine tubs and vineyard huts made of stone. The huts were used by peasants, who often had to stay all day long in the country side, to store agricultural tools and to protect themselves from inclement weather. Around 4.000 huts still survive in very good condition, most of which were built coinciding with the great expansion of vineyards in the region. Don’t drive me insane, just hold my hand as we visit Pla de Bages together!

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200-largeThe El Moli Cellar cultivates two plantations in the El Bages county. One of them, which gave the cellars its name, is the El Molí plantation, located in a spot facing the Montserrat mountain range and at the foot of the Collbaix hill. The other is in Plans de la Casa Nova, in Monistrolet de Rajadell. In these two plantations of the D.O. Pla de Bages they cultivate organic wine and olive trees to create top quality wines and oil, and in doing so there is a great respect towards the natural surroundings in which they find themselves.

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The county’s exceptional microclimate is ideal for the cultivation of vines and olive trees. In El Pla de Bages they enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with scarcely any rain and quite an acute annual temperature fluctuation. The land is mainly made up of loam/clay soils. Celler el Molí keeps a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. It blends in with its surroundings and it has been designed to stay faithful to their commitment to quality organic production. Therefore, the facilities are equipped with a cold store, a grape sorting table, temperature control both in the cellar and in the maturing area. All this allows them to make the most of current technologies and use innovation to maintain tradition.

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La Llobeta 2008, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot

Wine of high intensity colour, ruby red with violet touches. Accentuated tear. Intense, fresh and sugar-coated wild berries, with fig and dry apricot and balsamic touches. Complex, well integrated. Good entry, wide and fresh, with a persistent and long after taste. 

217 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Time for Wine (Part One), Let’s do it Again in Vilanova i La Geltru

149/365 – Catalonia – D.O. All of them! – Vilanova i La Geltru – Restaurant Marejol – Temps de Vi 2014 (Wine Fair) – Porcellànic Dolç Natural

Let’s do it Again…..,

… if something is done right, why not do it again? I am amazed that the initiative take by two young guys three years ago, has grown and grown to the extent that it almost has outgrown the town of Vilanova i La Geltru! Wine fairs in Catalonia are fourteen on the dozen and most of them are excellent opportunities to get acquainted with the appellations, wineries and wines of Catalonia. Most of the fairs are small and there’s nothing wrong with that, in my opinion every small village should have one. But to see this one grow the way it has done is just out of this world. Let’s do it again……, let’s get together and feel al-right!

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Yesterday’s event at the Marejol Restaurant in Vilanova I La Geltru, is just the beginning of a wine fair to be remembered! Temps de Vi is the name of the wine fair in this coastal town, a place that sometimes is overlooked because of the nearby Sitges. Those that dare wander away from the cities and the known places, will soon be aware of a gem in its own right.

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But, this is after all a blog about wine, so let’s stick to the theme at hand. Temps de Vi, “Time for Wine”. And then I ask myself, when is it not? I’d say, and you that know me will agree, always! The name they have chosen is nevertheless to my liking! Very catchy and I don’t think there is a similar wine fair anywhere in Catalonia. The fair is taking place during the 30th and 31st of May and the 1st of June 2014. As opposed to many local fair in Catalonia, this one offers access and invites wine makers and cellars from all the appellations of Catalonia. Big difference! Benefit for us wine lovers? During three whole days we get to taste amazing wines without having to drive.

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This is the third edition and it will be set in the centre of town, not far from the local market. It will be starting from the Plaça de les Neus and carrying on to the old main road. The former location, the Main Boulevard, has been outgrown by the fair, which is quite pleasing for the two-man team Oscar Villagarcia and Carlos Carbonell, the guys putting this whole thing to work! Forty-two wine cellars have already confirmed participation and they will be occupying some 12,000 square meters.

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The fair does start, officially, on the 30th of May but many tastings and events are to take place, starting from the 22:nd of May. The museum of Victor Balaguer hosts the Riedel Experience and after that the days are going to be filled with wine, wine and more wine! Loads of tastings and related activities, if you are a wine lover this is certainly a fair not to be missed.

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The inaugural tasting, yesterday evening, was led by winemaker Oriol Guevara, from Vilanova and the wine makers present, sharing their wines. The wines presented were all conceived in an organic, ecological or bio-dynamic way. Some of them described as natural wines. Yes, yes, I know, if we call them natural wines, what do we call the rest of all wines made? Let’s agree then to call them “wine with nothing added” or “wine with nothing added or removed”?

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The fact is, during the last four years, the vineyard area devoted to organic farming has tripled. Some say, and I’m not referring to The Stig, that future wines will all be organic. Bold statement I agree, but certainly not that distant. Oriol Guevara, pointed out that the event yesterday was “A great presentation of Temps de Vi”. And it was!

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There were some seventy souls present, awarded with the unique experience of tasting some of the best wines in the categories above. If this was the inauguration, I can only imagine what the actual Temps de Vi wine fair will be like! The show started with a short, but to the point introduction of the fair, by both the organizers, Oscar Villagarcia and Carlos Carbonell. After which there was a longer elaboration on organic and natural wine making by Oriol Guevara and Ramon Francàs Martorell, a well know Catalan wine writer, blogger and sommelier.

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We all got to enjoy some very limited edition wines from the nearby area of ​​Penedès, actually called zero km. wines. Juan Rubio introduced the 2013 Can Creedo, a Xarel.lo wine. The winemaker Marta Casas presented the unique and new Xarel.lo, Amphora 2013 by Parés Baltà. Renowned wine maker Laurent Corrio, a Frenchman living and making wine in a garage in Vilafranca del Penedes, showed up with his limited edition (250 bottles), Despullat, a 100% Carignena.

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The winemaker Manel Aviñó also from Vilanova presented his Xarel.lo Clos Lentiscus 2013. And so the evening carried on, one wine maker after the other, sharing and explaining, all in Catalan and that’s not my strongest language but I endured, all for you and the wines!

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El vesper de la Gloriosa, a sweet sparkling white, 50% Xarel.lo and 50 % Macabeu, made the ancestral way, was about to conclude the tasting and then after nine wines tasted, Ton Rimbau presented his very scarce Porcellànic Dolç Natural, made from 95% Macabeu and 5% Xarel.lo. This is the first part of many to follow, covering the wine fair Temps de Vi! Now, let’s do what we normally do and finish it of with a proper tasting note! Hope to see you in a few days time and then we could share a glass or two!

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Porcellànic Dolç Natural

A deep amber colour, rich and fatty tears. First thing that hit my nose was the sense that this might be a sherry, which I knew it wasn’t, but nevertheless, some notes were obvious. Aromas of fruit compote of pear and yellow apple notes danced around for quite some time. Intense and elegant taste and a long finish where notes of bitter orange left me wanting more. Worth the money, I wouldn’t know, as I don’t know the price, but knowing the rest of the wines from this wine maker, I’d say…….., let’s do it again!

230 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle