Clos i Terrasses, I’ll Be Home For Christmas in DOQ Priorat

380/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Clos i Terrasses – Laurel 2012

I’ll Be Home For Christmas……….,

0001692_H

Laurel 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah

Dark cherry color with cardinal red reflections. Clean and bright, abundant tears. High intensity nose, expressive, full, concentrated and enjoyable. Ripe black fruit dominates and gives way to floral notes, spicy, toasted (which after a while become roasted) and deep minerals. The palate has a powerful entrance with a lot of volume. It is a fleshy red wine, with great weight deriving from the fruit, tasty, unctuous step, with excellent acidity and ripe tannic sensation. Balanced, long finish and very persistent. Laurel 2012 comes from the small winery Clos i Terrasses, led by Daphne Glorian, creator of the legendary and excellent Clos Erasmus. Laurel 2010 is a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, aged for 15 months in second year barrels, in which the Clos Erasmus was aged. Recommend decanting about two hours. Another true Super Catalan!

Clos i Terrasses

This fantastic creation by Daphne Glorian takes its name from the Laurel tree, the Bau Laurel, which is present all over the Catalan countryside and certainly one of the major Mediterranean herbs. Laurus Nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel, sweet bay, bay tree (esp. United Kingdom), true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus Nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture.

laurus_nobilis*Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called “bay” or “laurel”, generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae. Laurus nobilis is a widespread relic of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, Canary Islands and in Madeira.

* Source – Wikipedia

5 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Celler La Perla del Priorat, I Waited For You in DOQ Priorat

379/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – El Molar– La Perla del Priorat – Noster 2005

I Waited For You………,

Noster2005frontcutflatNoster 2005, 55% Garnacha and 45%  Cariñena

Intense cherry red in colour, with garnet nuances. Notes of red fruits evolving to jam fruits, plums and figs, chocolate and vanilla. Great aromatic complexity with perfect balance between varietal aromas like candied fruit, licorice and from the aging; coffee, cocoa and a touch of balsamic. Very nice volume in the mouth, glyceric, with persitant and round tannins. The palate is round with gentle tannins leading to a broad aftertaste with fruity notes. A very elegant wine with personality. Suitable for pairing with game, grilled meats, cured cheese. 50% of the assembly goes through french oak barrels for 12 months. The other half remains in stainless steel tanks in order to keep some freshness in the wine. After 12 months, the two varieties are assembled. In this blend, one half will express the complexity and elegance of an oak aged wine and the other half will provide the fruitiness and freshness of a “fruit forward” wine.

In the past few years, so very much has changed in the region of Priorat, with regards to the wine making philosophies, the knowledge influxes, the multitude of wine styles and the economy. Economy, unfortunately, plays a huge role in every aspect of wine making. Should we be looking at it from the aspect of art, there would be subsidies from the department of culture and/or art, for the sake of making wine without having to be concerned with the figures. Is wine art?

Abstract Wine Art By Fidostudio Painting

Change is constant and necessary but what if wine makers were free to do what ever they wanted to? What would the wine be like then? Some do just that, without giving the financial aspects another thought, brave people, conquer or die! Some have been forced to add younger wines to the market, making them their money cow and reducing the number of bottle of their higher quality wines. One of the cellars in the Priorat, that haven’t changed their focus is La Perla del Priorat, and what a winery this is!

kit-la-perla

La Perla Del Priorat’s vineyard is composed of 70’000 vines planted on 22 hectares. It is located just outside the south-west wall of the “Mas Dels Frares”, on a very particular hill. The stone soil of that hill is called “Llicorella” (porous schist rich in iron, typical of the Priorat). The density of “llicorella” is not the same on every side of this hill, as there is more clay on the north side than on the south side.

monks-drinking-wine-at-bu-001

This particular hill was chosen by the monks of Scala Dei who wanted to grow a vast vineyard in the south of Priorat. In the 12th century, after establishing their capital in the village of Scala Dei (situated 28 km to the north), a group of monks were sent here to build the “Mas Dels Frares” and grow vines, olive trees, almond trees, and produced fruits and vegetables in order to provide wine and food to the capital of Priorat. Because of the quality of the fruits that were grown here, the monks and people of Priorat renamed this land “La Perla Del Priorat”. The first written proof of this name goes back to the 18th century.

image_02

In 1998, Yves Pirenne, owner of the “Mas Dels Frares” and 102 hectares of land (including the hill called “La Perla Del Priorat”) decided to replant this vineyard that had vanished about 100 years before. Back to life, the vineyard counts today 70’000 vines of 5 main varieties, and it remains on the hill chosen by the monks five centuries earlier and renamed the “Pearl” of Priorat for at least three centuries. La Perla Del Priorat is one of Priorat’s oldest wineries. Founded in the 15th century by the carthusian monks of Scala Dei under the name of “Mas Dels Frares” (House of the Friars), it used to be an important monastery of Priorat.

42_b

It was surrounded by a huge vineyard (up to 90’000 vines). As the fame of the wines blended in the “Mas Dels Frares” grew quickly, it was named “La Perla Del Priorat” since the beginning of the 18th century. On the eve of the 20th century, the land of Mas Dels Frares was abondonned by the monks. In the whole region, farmers stopped working on their lands and left to work in the silver mines. It was the end of regional traditional farming, and the beginning of the industrial era.

36_b

Almost one hundred years later, Count Pirenne bought the Mas Dels Frares along with more than 100 hectares of land around it. All of this land is situated within the Priorat. Convinced of the potential of this particular area of Priorat, he founded the winery “La Perla Del Priorat SL” in 1998. The same year, 70’000 vines were planted on 22 hectares of the lands of Mas Dels Frares. About 1’000 vines of 25 year old Cabernet Sauvignon were allready there.

67_b

La Perla Del Priorat SL blended its first wines in 1999 from grapes that were bought from selected old vines of Priorat. Then, only 10’000 bottles of “Comte Pirenne” and “Clos Les Fites” were produced. Today, with a 10 year old vineyard in full production, La Perla Del Priorat SL limits it’s production to maximise the quality of it’s four wines (“Comte Pirenne”, Clos Les Fites”, “Clos Les Fites Blanc” and “Noster”). Grapes from very old Grenache and Cariñena vines are still bought outside the property to blend “Comte Pirenne”.

60_b

The philosophy of La Perla Del Priorat SL is based on two principles: respect and quality. The respect aims the local tradition of winemaking, the environment, and the human beings. Making quality wines is their way to respect the history of “La Perla Del Priorat” as well as their customers. The fact that the vineyards are not irrigated serves both ecology and quality: each vine produces a maximal average of 1.1 kg of excellent quality grapes with high mineral and sugar levels, and no water is spoiled in the process.

31_b

To limit the production and optimize the quality of the wines, during July they do what is called a “verema verda” (“green harvest”). By removing between 30 and 50% of the grapes off each vine, they manage to concentrate the vine’s energy on the few grapes that are left for a perfect maturation. Doing this, they also reduce the vine’s “stress” due to the exceedingly hot summer and enable the plant to regenerate and stabilise it’s production year after year.

65_b

Pruning and harvest are entirely done by hand. When harvesting, every grape is controlled twice: once in the field, and once on the “table of selection” in the cellar. Only the grapes that succeed are vinified. The Priorat is one of the driest regions of Spain. The average rainfall is 300 mm per year. With no irrigation, the vines are obliged to seek for water deep into the stone soil, especially during the summer.

Comte Pirenne Selección 2000, La Perla del Priorat

The soil is called “Llicorella”. This typical mineral soil of Priorat is composed of layers of porous schist that are very rich in iron. It makes no obstacle to the penetration of the vine’s roots, thus enabeling the plant to find humidity tens of meters underground. In these conditions the vines have a very limited production of grapes: about 1.1 kg per vine.

38_b

The north-east dry wind coming from the center of Spain provides great benefits for the maturity of the grapes. It prevents all diseases that could affect the grapes in a humid environment, especially during the harvest. Therefore, they are able to avoid unnecessary chemical treatments on the vines.

6 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Maius Viticultors, What’s New in DOQ Priorat

378/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – La Morera de Montsant – Maius Viticultors – Maius Assemblage 2011

What’s New………,

maius11_174x241Maius Assemblage 2011, 65% Garnacha, 20% Cariñena and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon

Brilliant surface, a cherry red color with violet tones. Clean, bright, intense with high layer. The smell of ripe red fruit stands out together with the subtlety of wood, spices and toast. Aromas of high intensity. Stresses intense red and black fruit juice, light floral notes, spicy aromas, subtle and refreshing balsamic feel. The wine provides an elegant entry, following a challenge with volume, it presents a journey marked by spectacular soft and fleshy taste. It is a concentrated red wine, fleshy, subtle and elegant. Long, fruity and persistent finish. A must buy wine, especially when it comes to price, quality and pleasure!

The grapes were harvested by hand and brought into the winery in small cases of 15 kilograms. The Garnacha grapes were harvested during the first week of October, the Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were harvested during the second week of October. After crushing and destemming, the grapes were placed in stainless steel deposits for pre-fermentation at 14 degrees Celsius for 3 days to accentuate the aromatic expression before proceeding to the fermentation. The alcoholic fermentation took place at a temperature of maximum 26 degrees Celsius. The bleeding of the partially fermented must took place after aproximately 10 days. A good maceration permitted to extract a good dosis of tannin structure as well as anthocyanins. The wine received daily pigeage plus two remountings using a pump. About 20% of the wine was aged for 8 months in wooden barrels and then mixed with the other 80% of the wine. Subsequent aging in stainless steel deposits before bottling.

Maius ViticultorsThe winery of Maius Viticultors is located at the site called “Barranc de la Bruixa” which means Cliff of the Witch, in the municipality of La Morera de Montsant in the DOQ Priorat. The property is south oriented, the soil is a mixture of calcareous stone, gravel, rocks and of course licorella. The vineyard is composed by low yielding old vines, narrow trunks and elevated circus which need less irrigation and gives a very special character to the wine. In the very middle of the location lays the cellar, integrated in the environment, working with solar energy and rainwater. 85% of the property is underground so this helps to stabilize the interior temperature, keeping it at 15º. The wooden doors, concrete walls and flat cover made of stone, are all materials that will age nicely and they are fully integrated in the landscape.

7 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas Doix, This Is The Life in DOQ Priorat

377/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Poboleda – Celler Mas Doix – Salanques 2006

This Is The Life……..,

md_331706_535aaa5d7a8112b2394740a4b0d16210Salanques 2006, 65% Garnacha, 20% Cariñena, remaining 15% is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot

Cherry red color with garnet rim and dense tears that stains the glass. Medium-high layers. Delicate aromas of red fruit, cherries, spices, licorella and pepper. As secondary there was toast, dairy notes, some licorice and balsamic. Marked minerality and hints of herbs with a background of black fruit. The palate has a fresh entry with good body, silky tannins, good acidity and a fairly persistent aftertaste with hints of fruit jam and minerality. WOW, what a delicious wine!

Heaven, I’m in heaven……, how can I not be, true enough that wine is not always wine but sometimes, like today, it is so much more. When it chooses to transmit a feeling that elevates you to heaven, you know it’s something above a red colored beverage, made from grapes!

DSC_0079

But the again, who brings pizza to a wine tasting? I’ll tell you who and let me rewrite that, not pizza, Catalan coca! Something different, offering delicious produces on a owen baked dough. Pizza? Call it what you wish, I want more! Valenti Llagostera, wine maker and owner of Mas Doix starts us of with the wine tasting of the younger wines together with coca. He is slightly late as he had to stop at the local coca-place to pick up the two versions of coca, available this day.

Valenti and two friends in the vineyards, the Montsant mountain in the background!

After a well needed breakfast intake of, wine and coca we continue to the vineyards, which are amongst the oldest in the Priorat. When in Rome….

DSC_0241

Later, we would continue to try the aged reds at a local restaurant, Porta del Priorat, just outside the village of Poboleda, to enjoy hearty stews as that is what’s considered to accompany the wines best. And the Coca (pizza), yes I will have that again and yes it works well with the wine!

The barrel room at Mas Doix!

Five generations of the owners’ family have had ties with viticulture and wine making, Mas Doix is not the new kid on the block! But it was only in 1998 that Josep María Doix and his cousins, Ramón and Valentí Llagostera, decided to create the bodega while harvesting grapes in centuries-old vineyards.

The wine graveyard at Mas Doix, all the vintages produced. Have to come back one dark night.....

With this effort, the new era of the family tradition was reborn, taking up the hard to follow accomplishments from the 19th century when the wines made by Jaume Extrems Doix won Gold and Silver medals in Barcelona and in Paris during the World Fairs in the 1870s.

DSC_0298

The Phylloxera plague dealt a severe blow to the business, but staring the evil bug in the eye, the family was able to quickly replant the vineyards with native rootstock of Garnacha and Carinena.

DSC_0304

The grapes were taken to the Poboleda co-operative and made into wine up until 1999 when the new bodega’s first vintage was released. Currently, the family members, who are all very aware as well as extremely proud of their inheritance, divide their time between vineyard husbandry, winemaking and marketing.

DSC_0250

Mas Doix is still a small and modest bodega, whose philosophy is based on the utmost respect for the region’s winemaking tradition, and whose aim is to transmit the true essence of Priorat via its wines.

DSC_0118

The vineyards are located at 350 to 600 metres above sea-level, unfold at the foot of the sierra del Montsant on steep slopes with poor slate soils (called locally ‘llicorella’) in a region dominated by dry, rigorous microclimates.

DSC_0136

However, their location also benefits from the fresh north-westerly breeze, which lowers temperatures and gives rise to a slower ripening process and, in turn, to a late harvest. Low-yield vines lead to limited production, yet the wines made at the bodega are fresh, balanced and elegant, with the subtle mineral charge typical of DOQ Priorat.

461796_376535239030800_1656395303_o

Valentí Llagostera explains that: “They are distinguished wines, made to be enjoyed, to share with friends and serve as a starting point for good conversation – wines which are an essential part of a certain way of life”.

461796_376535225697468_103988386_o

The lunch was memorable but the wines were heavenly and never to be forgotten. Got to try the Les Crestes 2009, the Salanques 2006 and the Mas Doix 2008. Each with its own personality, and if they were to be tried separately, without comparing them to each other, all would have superlatives written all over them.

DSC_0322

DSC_0317

8 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

11th D.O. at Hostal Sport, Nothing But A Miracle in DOQ Priorat

366/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Vall Llach Porrera Vi de Vila 2010

Nothing But A Miracle…….,

576_1401435412650_Vall_Llach_Porrera_vi_vila_2010_horitzVall Llach Porrera Vi de Vila 2010, 70% Carignena and 30% Garnacha

Lovely, lively purplish color, medium intensity, with ruby edges. The primary aromas are those of mature fruit, very concentrated and intense. Ripe plum, not too jammy, more like a mix of violets and plum. The secondary aromas show a story that is intricate, developing into a range of aging notes, toasty notes, cedar wood and tobacco. Once on the palate it divulges its true color, great balance, sweet and fresh. Good acidity, not at all aggressive and with a great body. Very delicate and elaborated in the best possible way, the alcohol content, which is within the ¨normal standard¨ for the region, is not perceived at all. Very easy to drink and a huge and long finish! Complex, evolving and elegant!

DSC_0637Of the six wines tasted the past Sunday at Hotel Hostal Sport in Falset, I had to pick the Vall Llach. All the wines were superb but if had to made due with only one, this would be it. Always following my personal taste compared to the content of my wallet. So yes, there were other wines at this fine tasting that are, in one way or the other, better than the above mentioned, but quite frankly I don’t believe they were worth the buck! Another day, another tasting. This one marking the 11th of the 12 that were planned, only one remaining, covering Montsant will take place in January. Looking forward to that while I continue to discover more excellent wines from Catalonia!

The purpose of the tasting was to show the possibilities and differences that the DOQ Priorat offers. As the villages within the appellation have their own microclimates and that certainly affects the grapes and it was demonstrated in the best possible way, through tasting wines from different villages. Therefor all the wines have the addition of Vi de la Vila or Vi de Vila on the label. The Vall Llach is from the village of Porrera and the other five wines were;

From La Morera de Montsant, Conreria d’Scala Dei, Black Slate Vi de Vila ¨La Morera¨Blanc 2013,  91% Garnacha Blanca and 9% Pedro Ximénez

From Torroja del Priorat, Cal Batllet Marc Ripoll Sans, Vi de la Vila Torroja, Roncavall 2011, 100% Carignena

From La Vilella Alta, Bodegas Mas Alta, Vi de Vila Les Bassetes Collita 2012, 100% Carignena

From Bellmunt del Priorat, Cellers Fuentes, Vi de Vila Gran Clos 2003, 54% Garnacha, 33% Carignena and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon

From Gratallops, Clos Mogador, Vi de Finca Qualificada Clos Mogador 2012, 49% Garnacha, 25% Carignena, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Syrah

DSC_0619

With todays wine I am passing the 365 marker but there are still some days remaining of the year, so I’ll continue another 19 days before it’s time to take a break. The idea to write about wines from Catalonia came to mind during October 2013 and since then I started planning. The plan has worked out well so far, and if it hadn’t been for the initial time spent traveling, visiting cellars and tasting wines; none of this would have been achievable. So how does it work in reality, and what do the numbers mean? During my first year and a half here in Catalonia, I travelled a lot and visited numerous cellars, met with winemakers, Catalans in general, and I tasted, tasted and tasted a whole lot of wine. I took notes and I took photos.

wine tasting notes

During the 346 days that I have been writing so far, I have also continued to drive crisscross through the Catalan countryside and the different appellations. I have visited fairs, gatherings of wine lovers and I have continued with receiving groups and individuals from all over the world to show the magic of the world of wine in Catalonia. Once a month I try to participate in a selected tasting of wine from one particular appellation. I have learned so much, about Catalonia. Not only about the wines, but also the history, the food, and the wonderful small villages and regions of this, in my opinion, amazing land.

catalan-wine-365-new11

The number 366/365, indicates how many wines I have tasted and written about. In reality I have, during 2014, tried more than 1.200 wines. That might sound a lot, but I know professionals that taste that number during a couple of months. Look at it this way. If you during a weekend visit a wine fair with, let’s say 50 producers and each display, in average, 4 wines, you are able to, in theory, try 200 wines. That’s one weekend and there are 52 in a year! Sure, you’ll have to have some off days as well, just sayin’. But there’s certainly time enough to taste wine! Off course, not all the wines that I have tried have been to my liking, but I have kept it simple and decided to only write about the ones that I do like. Hope you have enjoyed this attempt to share the beauty of Catalonia and Catalan wine, and let’ see what happens next year?

19 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Celler Sao del Coster, O Morro Nao Tem Vez in DOQ Priorat

363/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Sao del Costers – ¨S¨ 2013

O Morro Nao Tem Vez………,

vino-s-sao-del-coster¨S¨ 2013, Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah

Cherry red color with garnet rim. The nose is equilibrated, has loads of fruit, ripe red fruit, light floral and herbaceous notes. Balsamic and some licorice, light spice with medium mineral character. The palate is powerful, but very cool, is not a typical Priorat, has some warmth, the fruit in the nose has a strong presence, pronounced tannins but well polished, just hit the market but it will be even more enjoyable in a few years. Few wines from Priorat provide so much pleasure for such small buck.

DSC_0158

The past weekend has been full, over the brim, with wine tastings and visits to cellars which I have intended to visit for some time now. Finally the time was ripe and what’s better than visiting a winery? Visiting a winery together with family! Over the days to come you’ll get to know where I have been the past few days. Sao del Coster was visited on Saturday morning. We met with Michi Negron from the winery and she took us around the vineyards, the cellar with a tasting of the ¨S¨, Terram, 04 and the ¨Carignena¨. Got to taste some of the new brews, still in the barrels and the new Pim Pam Poom. The last edition Pim Pam Poom was tasted earlier this year and you can read about it here. After tha tasting we continued to the Quinoa restaurant in Falset, for a much needed lunch! A great day with great people and the perfect host in Michi! Check out the photos here!

22 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas Martinet, Show and Tell in DOQ Priorat

359/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Falset – Mas Martinet – Els Escurçons 2010

Show and Tell…….,

escur10_174x241Els Escurçons 2010, Garnacha and Syrah

How much soul can a wine have? After trying Els Escurçons I´d say, unquantifiable! This is a wine with a beautiful dark cherry color, garnet rim and medium high layers. Bright and clean. The nose, after a while of areation, is spicy with creamy aromas, slightly oaky, ripe and complex. It is very expressive showing varietal fruit notes, like mature black berries. Mediterranean herbs, like thyme, fennel, rosemary and even a slight scent of lavender. Complex, in terms of the roasted notes found, chocolate and balsamic.It is powerful and elegant on the palate with a broad and intense entry, good acidity and polished tannins. It has a long finish with aromatic retronasal memories of spice, red fruit, herbs, wildflowers and light toast. Soul in a bottle! Love this Super Catalan!

Els Escurçons takes its name from the estate it comes from. A vineyard planted at an altitude of 600 meters, within the DOQ Priorat and surrounded by mountains which are full of herbs typical of the Mediterranean ecosystem. The vineyards consist of mostly Grenache and Syrah and some are planted on licorella soil.

IMGP3014This wine from Mas Martinet Viticultors, made by Josep Lluís Perez and his daughter Sara, is fresher and more aromatic than the rest of their range. Harvesting is done manually. Once in the winery, the grapes are transferred into wooden vats, cement tanks and open barrels where it ferments with its own yeast for about 28-32 days. Subsequently, the wine is aged in 300 liter barrels for 12 months and before bottling it gets to rest in a large wooden fudge to finish of the wine, making it rounder.

26 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours