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

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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

Partida Creus, Slow in D.O. Penedes

364/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Bonastre – Partida Creus – Partida Creus Garrut 2010

Slow……..,

partidacreus_garrut-e1372523071760Partida Creus Garrut 2010, 100% Garrut

Dark cherry color, somewhat ¨dirty, opaque. Pungent aroma of black fruits, blackberry and mature blueberry, accompanied by wet forrest aromas and mineral notes, delightful creamy sensations of toffee and some carob, balsamic and sweet herbs. The palate is medium bodied, with lively tannins and good acidity, fresh and balanced. Pleasant and persistence aftertaste. A unique wine from Partida Creus and the Italian connection! One of my newly found favorites.

IMG-20111002-00177-800x600Slow food, slow wine, slow life………, Antonella and Massimo have found the perfect life for them and the time is ripe to share the experiences with likeminded food and wine lovers. Is it the village of Bonastre that makes people that come here behave in a certain way? Is it a magical place that collects crazy wine and food artists? I don´t know the answer to those questions, but what I do know is that every single product coming from this small village in the Massis de Bonastre, is well made and, during its infancy, given great care. Ecological, organic, biodynamic and natural is what you can expect if you’re ever so lucky to experience this little piece of heaven!

DSC_0303Bonastre, a small town located in the area know as Baix Penedès but more importantly, and as people from the village make sure to point out, within the Massis de Bonastre. Here, remarkable things take place as it has become a Mecca for small artisan wineries, making amazing wines without impacting the environment. Over the past few years several small cellars have made their mark in the wine loving community of Catalonia and slowly, the world is following. I have in a couple of earlier posts made you aware of Sicus, from the same village, now it is time for Partida Creus and soon to follow, Cal Lluisot!

DSC_0304Partida Creus is a small artisanal winery touching the very border of Bonastre. Here they have a limited production of wines, made exclusively by using grapes which have been organically cultivated. This is the initiative of two Italians, Antonella Gerosa and Massimo Marchiori. Besides adhering to the philosophy and methods of preparation based on respect for the nature, the main asset of this winery is its contribution to recover a wine heritage that was practically extinct. Massimo is constantly on the lookout for vineyards that have been abandoned, in most cases consisting of traditional local varieties, locating the owner and convincing him/her to leave it in the hands of Massimo to make wine.

DSC_0313Most likely, the Garrut grape variety would be considered the most special one and if you hear Massimo talk about it, you’ll notice how his eyes smile the whole time! The Garrut is a sub-varietal of the Monastrell/Mourvedre or, depending who you ask, a direct synonym. This is a Mediterranean variety well adapted to dry and warm climates. The preparation of the grapes undergo a maceration during four days. The fermentation is done with indigenous yeasts and the resulting wine remains on its lees in stainless steel tanks for three months, to promote greater structure and creaminess, it is clarified by decantation and bottled unfiltered.

DSC_0315This wine is a very personal project of Massimo and Antonella, and weather you like it or not, you will have a opinion. It is a wine that makes people talk, to each other and about the wine. A wine that needs time to open up, being sweet and easy to drink, quite distinct, offering more than enough density and thus (with the tannic structure it has) certainly being a wine to keep for a few years. This is an alternative (if you are looking for a different wine) to many ¨conventional¨ wines, a character of its own and a story that is movie material. The Italian couple of Bonastre will in any case make you feel right at home and you will be charmed by their personalities and broad smiles. Got to love Bonastre and the Italian connection!

DSC_031721 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.

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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

Celler Credo, Bats, Bats, Bats in D.O. Penedes

360/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Sant Sadurní d’Anoia – Celler Credo – Ratpenat 2013

Bats, Bats, Bats………,

image0031Ratpenat, 100 % Macabeu

There are plenty of wines that are made with Xarel.lo but I have personally tried very few made only with Macabeu, this is one of them and I am very happy I did try it, especially knowing that most of the turnover goes to a great cause!  It has a lovely golden yellow color with density and volume. The nose is fruity containing loads of apple notes. In the mouth it is fresh, round, with good acidity, fruity and highly drinkable. It doesn’t have a long aftertaste but leaves a good mouthfeel. A great way to get acquainted with the Macabeu varietal.

22581-cute-bat-1920x1200-animal-wallpaperMucielago, The Bat, enigmatic and secretive, but absolutely necessary for the balance of the ecosystem. The bat is the only flying mammal that exists on Earth. Their biology, highlighted by the longevity (it can live over 40 years) and a radar system that allows them to fly at night, and of course for them it is night all the time as they are blind. The white wine Ratpenat (bat) was born out of the compromise between Celler Credo and the Natural Science Museum of Granollers to defend the environment and the creatures that inhabit it. 60% of the benefits of this wine are used for projects that aim to publicize the importance of bats in the ecosystem and conservation of this mammal in the vineyard environment and as a natural and very efficient insectivore.

Celler-Credo-Vinya-de-la-Pedra-Blanca_03Ratpenat is made exclusively from old vines planted in 1950 from the estate of Pedra Blanca, in the Alt Penedès. The vineyards are cultivated following the principles of organic and biodynamic agriculture. They work with spontaneous vegetation cover (essential to fluff the soil and regulate water retention and drainage in a rained crop, as is the practice) and apply treatments with herbal medicine (phytotherapy) to monitor the presence of fungi and thus reinforce strains in a totally natural manner. Harvesting is done by hand to ensure the excellent quality of the grapes. Both the vinification and bottling are performed at the property. During the development of Ratpenat, maceration is done with the skins and stems for a few hours. Fermentation takes place in old oak barrels and then remains in the same barrels for a period of approximately three months. This wine can contain natural sediments.

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

Enric Soler, Moment of Truth in D.O. Penedes

355 & 356/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Font-Rubi – Cal Raspallet Viticultors – Improvisacio 2013 & Nun Vinya dels Taus 2013

Moment of Truth………,

….., makes me know that he (Enric Soler) had the right idea from the beginning and he just needed to maintain his focus and elevate, update the formulas, in the way he makes his wines, making sure there´s always a message involved. First of December 2014, Monday, is going to be a day to remember. Today I took the time to once again leave the office and explore another exemplary wine maker in Catalunya and this time once again in the Penedes region. A man of Xarel.lo, interpreting the terroir and variety in his own way! This was for me, the Moment Of Truth! Would it be everythingI had heard, would it be as good as I had imagined? I am pretty sure you won´t be disappointed, especially Burgundy lovers will be fond of theses wines. If I had tried them under different circumstances and maybe during a blind tasting, I would probably not have ventured to guess that these wines are from Penedes, they just don´t make any sense and they confuse me, but what is more important, they make my senses work for their money.

DSC_0042Improvisacio 2013, 100% Xarel.lo

Pretty pale straw yellow color. Bright, clean and fine glyceric tears. An array of aromas, impressive, intense and seductive. The primaries are those of white fruit, lemon zest and light spicy notes, slightly floral. In needed quite some aeration to develop into a everlasting flow of aromas which seemed as if they would go on for ever. Ripe white fruit gained in intensity, opening up tropical fruit noted intermingled with good toasted, creamy and a floral touch. Light mineral background. The entry is very nice, seductive, elegant. A mature wine with fruit and well balanced oaky notes together with a crisp acidity. Very aromatic. Creamy texture. Long finish that leaves a mouthful of smoky sensations. Certainly a gastronomic wine and one of the better whites I have tasted this year.

DSC_0053Nun Vinya dels Taus 2013, 100% Xarel.lo

One of the most elegant and impressive wines, all categories, I have and the good fortune to try this year. Attractive yellow color with delicate gold reflections. Clean and bright. Glyceric tears. My first impression was that of indecisiveness, I couldn’t get my senses to interpret what was going on in the glass, as there was too much information that came too fast. Very complex sensations, hard to put in words. After a while I got my head around it. Very elegant, very fresh and seductive aromas. Intense ripe white fruit and citrus aromas and fresh flowers. Some vegetal notes but in a good way. Herbs, sage, fennel and soft menthol. All interspersed with the creaminess given by the oak. Once in the mouth it is very present, taking over and claiming the mouth as its own. Long travel, very deep, intense and concentrated. Excellent acidity which gives loads of freshness throughout its path. Elegant, long and persistent finish. This is a Super Catalan!

DSC_0033Enric Soler, Spanish sommelier champion, inherited a small vineyard in the Penedès by his grandfather in 2003. The vineyard is called Vinya dels Taus, and it was planted in 1940 after the Spanish civil war which ended in 1939. Prior to that the location of the vineyard served as an airfield for the republican forces. Today, it is a healthy 74 year old plantation of probably some of the best Xarel.lo in the world, with the help of which Enric set out to make the best white wine of Catalonia. In achieving this, he brought in the knowledge of the extremely talented wine maker Esther Nin. She in turn saw her chance to make white wine under ideal conditions. 2004 was the first vintage. It was difficult, as the vines at the time, still didn’t produce good enough grapes. The conversion to organic farming took time, and the year 2005 was the first to completely fulfill biodynamic principles. The year of 2006 received good response throughout the wine industry when the knowledge of the terroir started to fall into place for the duo making the wine. Since 2007, the wines are more or less constantly sold out and it was not easy to acquire a case to bring home, but I guess I do have some convincing skills.

DSC_0045Cal Raspallet is the name of this typical Catalan farmhouse, of the late nineteenth century where magic happens, and it maintains more or less the same structure as it did during the days of Enrics grandfathers rein. To find it, even though I had the coordinates, was not all that easy. No signs to indicate where it was and I actually passed it twice before asking a local older gentleman for directions. Finally there, Enric emerged from the house in which he lives with his family but which also serves as  the wine making facility, to great us. We were taken to the vineyard of Vinya dels Taus, which is a piece of vineyard of 0.89 hectares situated in the Alt Penedès, at the end of Torrelavit. It is a unique and varietal vineyard with great diversity of clones. The intention and philosophy is to bring the vineyard to a logical balance for the production of small clusters. Once the grapes reach the cellar, the philosophy is non-interventionist, allowing the wine to develop as they please. The arrangement of the barrels on one level and on a gravel soil improves compensation of temperature and humidity.

DSC_0005This is not a cellar that has a visitors centre or that, under normal circumstances, receives visitors. But, off course, there are always exceptions and in my case it is only due to my close friendship with one of Enrics former sommelier students that made the visit possible. This guy is a though nut to crack, and even though I on several occasion tried to get him to accept small groups that I ‘d like to bring, it was not an idea that really appeal to him. But let’s see what happens in the future? I’m not quite ready yet to give up on sharing this gem of a cellar with other wine lovers!

DSC_006330 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours