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

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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 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.

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

Celler Aixalà i Alcait, Superfly in DOQ Priorat

349/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Torroja del Priorat – Celler Aixalà i Alcait – Destrankis 2012

Superfly……..,

destrankis-2012Destrankis 2012, 80% Garnacha and 20% Cariñena

Bright red cherry color with violet tones, middle layer. The nose is full of fruit, light touches of menthol, green leaves and pine. Good combination of fresh red fruit, herbs, thyme, rosemary and mineral notes. The palate shows some minerality. This is a fresh and balanced wine. Licorice, balsamic and butter, with a slight touch of camphor. The palate is light but persistent, with a subtle mineral background showing where it comes from. If you like Grenache, this is a wine for you!

205_1351770410650-pardalasses-les-Clivelles-2010-vertThe grapes come from two farms owned by the Aixalà family and their small family cellar is located in the village of Torroja del Priorat. The cultivation of the vines is done through sustainable viticulture, without herbicides or pesticides, while respecting traditional or biodynamic principles. The wine has been aged for 9 months in new and almost new barrels of French and American oak, followed by 6 months in bottle. 4000 bottles were produced.

pardelasses-232104The Aixalà i Alcait is a small wine cellar, a micro bodega would be the correct description, in the sense of vineyard size, yield and bottles produced. They make well defined wines and considering that the work is done by mule, as that is the only way to access the vineyards, and grapes are being hand harvested, the price for their wine is very very reasonable.  The main challenge is to make sure that their level of English is at par, as most of their production is sold outside the country. Aixalà and Alcait are trying to, as far as it is possible, work with organic principles, respecting nature and tradition and making sure they express the personality of the terroir.

CostersAlzina3Currently, they produce four labels, Pardelasses, Destrankis, El Coster de l’Alzina and Les Clivelles de Torroja. You have to get your hand on at least one of these! Superfly wines!

38 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Finca Mas Rodó, Evenin´in D.O. Penedès

347/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedès – Sant Pere Sacarrera – Finca Mas Rodó – Mas Rodó Montonega 2011

Evenin´……….,

MRMontonega 2012Mas Rodó Montonega 2011, 100% Montonega

The kind of yellow color you´d find in a ripe pear, bright and clean. Pleasant nose and cool intensity with aromas of white fruit (pear), light citrus, herbaceous notes with hints of fresh, slightly wet, gras, very fragrant with floral touches. Nice and cool entry, long journey with fresh citrus notes (lemon) and soft white fruit (golden apple), herbaceous, good acidity, very refreshing and quite easy to drink, light and persistent. Long aftertaste of citrus. A must try for those of you that haven´t yet tried a Montonega mono-varietal wine!

Some say that the Montonega variety and the Parellada are the same, but though they are genetically interlinked, there are differences. If you have to opportunity to try mono-varietal wines made using theses two grapes, I am quite sure that you´d agree. The Parellada offers quite candy like aromas and taste, almost artificial, but off course depending on vilification and the Montonega is all freshness and citrus. Montonega is a pink-skinned grape variety grown in minute quantities in the region of Penedes. Here, vineyards are planted at altitudes of up to 810m. For decades, Montonega has been steadily losing ground to Parellada, the much more common variety to which it is genetically linked, mostly because of the low yields it produces. However, its grapes can result in wines that have an excellent intensity. Small berries and thick skins combine to add a good mouthfeel, supported by excellent acidity. The aromatic profile of Montonega wines tends to be fresh and citrusy.

We all know the difficulties involved in the development of mono-varietal wines and the complexity it carries, year after year, to maintain its quality. But taking on this challenge can mean that the wine lovers of the world get to enjoy the authentic flavors and aromas of the grapes vinified under these criteria. Finca Mas Rodó is located in the Alt Penedes region at 500m altitude, they only produce wines based on their own crops, grown on slopes. The farm offers three types of soil: stony, calcareous and argillaceous. With these features and looking for water stress, meaning that the roots have to go deep to find water, the ultimate expression of mineralization and soil is found in the wines. There is minimal intervention in the cultivation and no herbicides are being used. All this allows them to produce varietal wines with typicity marked by the climate of the area, its altitude and terrain types. Those are wines with distinct “terroir” character.

40 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Castell d’Age, Man Smart Women Smarter in D.O. Cava

343/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – La Beguda Baixa – Castell d’Age – Anne Marie Cava Brut Nature Reserva

Man Smart Women Smarter……..,

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

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

Origens-2The history of Castell d’Age is tied to three generations of women: grandmother, mother and daughter. Catalan by birth. Swiss in spirit. And their symbol is the griffin. The griffin was a mythological creature, half eagle and half lion. King of the sky as well as the land. And now the symbol of Castell d’Age. Therefore, this is a story of women and gods…

origensGods who decided to place Castell d’Age in the Alt Penedès. On the southern slope of the mysterious, sacred mountain of Montserrat. In the small village of La Beguda Baixa. A very special land, destined to uphold the long-standing traditions of their ancestors. Yet, at the same time, open to new initiatives. With a single objective: to produce exceptional wines and Cavas.

Back-Cava-Aurelia1

 

It was all started by Aurèlia Figueras. A woman ahead of her time. An intelligent woman, she knew how to breathe life into the lands that had belonged to her family for over 50 years. Anne Marie Comtesse was the inspiration behind the creation of the cellars, located in an 18th Century country house, at the end of the 1980’s. Champion of products from the land. A fighter. Committed to the environment. She pioneered the introduction of organic farming. Olivia Junyent is the daughter and granddaughter of two exceptional women. Respecting the family ethos of doing things the traditional way. A fighter. Along with her siblings, she represents current trends in the field of organic viticulture.

205_1321347803Essencia_de_Xarel.lo Three remarkable women producing remarkable wines and Cavas. This top-flight producer of dry, long-aged Cava is a superb discovery. With several geographically diverse parcels to work with, the resemblance to Champagne is suggestive. This is Cava with attitude from a woman-run estate that pioneered organic viticulture in Pénédes and is now fully committed to bio-dynamism is well worth a taste and certainly a visit to the cellar is recommended.

44 to go!