Satisfy My Soul and 15 Delicious Reds from Catalonia!

412 – 426/365 – Catalonia – 15 Delicious Reds

Satisfy My Soul……….,

I haven’t quite decided what to write about tomorrow and I can’t really say what I am going to do with the blog in 2015. That it will continue, in one way or the other, is clear and I am thinking that I might post once a week and then only do videos, as to change the theme somewhat. As for New Years Eve…., there will be wine, that’s for sure and there will be Cava, no Champagne! So, I’ll either do a piece on a good red or a Cava, or why not both? Catch me tomorrow and you’ll see, but whatever it is, it will Satisfy My Soul and hopefully yours as well! Thank you Bob! And now for some of the great reds from Catalonia! Enjoy!

a_7_177La Llopetera, 100% Pinot Noir

Just the fact that Sanahuja makes this wine using Pinto Noir gives me chills! And how they have managed to give it utmost care is to be admired. I really, really, want you to try this wine! I’m sure you’ll be intrigued and positively surprised whit regards to what can be produced here in the Conca de Barbera, if the wine maker is skilled. This wine has been made without any filtration or clarification, fermented with natural yeasts from the vineyard. As a result, the wine has virtually no sulfur. The aging is 6 months in French oak barrels. The Escoda-Sanahuja winery practice ecologic viticulture and to some extent biodynamic as well. This wine has been made using biodynamic principles.

Light ruby color. The nose shows a lot, a virtual dance (samba?) takes place. Berries in masses, Mediterranean forest, fresh cut fennel, underbrush, chalk……. The palate is delicate, easy, wide and quite fleshy. The wine has clear varietal and mineral character, which include fine notes of red fruits on light backgrounds of wood. Super fresh and elegant. It will get even better with time, my guess is that should have been drunk now, as it is still unruly and young. Will age slowly improving in character and elegance, give it another few years and I’m sure this will be a great one!

DSC_1083L’Antana 2009, 100% Merlot

This wine displays the benefits of slow, even ripening during a mild growing season. Though there is fullness and a lush character to this Merlot, there is also restraint and elegance. Promising aromas of cherry, red plum, raspberry, and dried herbs lead to a clean fresh entry with impeccably balanced acidity suporting intense red fruit flavors of cranberry, plum and raspberry. Round, supple tannins provide an enticing framework for the flavors and contribute to a lingering finish. Age a few more years and you won’t be disappointed!

1980213_1473071126244012_988613148_oTerra Remota Usted 2009, Garnacha and Syrah

Splendid garnet red colour with light reflections of tile. A wine with finesse that I dare call opulent and big. Smoked bacon, cherry and truffles are the aromas that are primary and easily detected. Caramel, liquorice and tobacco are present but all intertwined in the most stylish way. A silky and smooth entry, classy and elegant with silky tannins. Toasted almonds, mineral notes and lingering soft spices. The after-taste is long almost chewy but the tannins are soft.

DSC_0802Sons 2012, 100% Monastrell – Fermented in clay amphoras in the vineyards of Sicus.

The Sons is a wine that I intend to keep one bottle of and open it in 12 – 14 years as I am sure it can stand at-least that amount of time.  The color is dark cherry, slightly bluish, pink rim with heavy and fatty tears, receding slowly. The first nose says a lot, leave me alone for a while and you shall be rewarded. A multitude of aromas evolve during the 2 hour tasting and there is a lot of fruit but also herbs and underbrush. Elegant floral aromas with intense aromas of red fruits such as mature strawberries, raspberries and currants. It is a mouthful, almost to be cut with a knife. The strain of Monastrell holds everything and concentration of the vintage gives very deep rustic shades, with cherries, raspberry, carob and chocolate.  No food is needed and one glass of this bundle of joy can last forever!

93-ceps93 Ceps, 100% Sumoll (one of my favorite, Catalan, red grape varieties)

As the name indicates, 93 Ceps, (93 vines), the Sumoll grapes come from only 93 vines! The vineyard is 60 years old and located in Santa Maria de Martorelles. The harvest was carried out during the first two weeks of October, collected in boxes of 15 kg. The harvest is de-stemmed and tread lightly and led throughout by gravity, without the use of pumps. The wine is fermented and macerated in stainless steel tanks of 1000 liter. 21 day resting period with 3 pigeages daily. Malolactic fermentation is done in barrels of 225 liters of various backgrounds and different levels of toast. Aged for 14 months in new French Allier oak barrels. Production below 1,000 bottles.

Medium cherry red color, shiny and bright, clean. The nose has good intensity, expressive and crisp varietal definition. Fresh red fruit (cherries, strawberries, plums) are dominating. Menthol, with notes of Mediterranean forest (thyme syrup , rosemary) are nicely laid out and carries the wine further to a second dimension. There are marked aging notes (aromatic cacao, lactic, smoked and curious notes of oriental spices (turmeric, curry leaves, cardamom) and a hint of graphite pencil lead. Intense spicy finish. A wine with a great personality.

brao-vinyes-velles-2011_g_577Braó 2011, selection of vines, 60 years of age to almost centenarian plants of Garnacha, Garnacha Peluda and Samsó (Carignan)

Braó was widely used as a word for strength and courage. These are the words that best define these very old and wonderful vineyards, which against all possible odds have offered rare and unique grapes. Bright cherry colour, intense, clean and bright with violet hues. Abundant slow-falling, dark tears staining the glass. Nose of ripe fruit, sweet spices, expressive, complex, elegant. Tasty, fruity, ripe tannins. Powerful, bulky attack. Slow, concentrated, silky and tasty in the mouth. Some intense tannins, a little bit rough but compensated with a very refreshing and defined acidity. Long and persistent finish with fruity notes. A serious wine full of life and joy!  12-13 months French oak. Powerful wine, structured, deep but with great elegance and finesse to drink now or store for many years.

DSC_0054Cal Batllet, 5 Partides 2009, 100% Carignena, from very old vines!

Aged for 15 months in French oak. 100% new barrels. The barrels are of 225 liters and the fermentation is carried out in open barrels at a maximum temperature of 26 º C, 4 pigiage daily, gentle extraction, long gestation and high control. Respecting the grapes fully! “Gratallops Vi de la Vila” is the new appellation for the wines produced from Gratallops, inspired by the Burgundy philosophy of village wines.

The color is dark ink but not opaque, it is more of a deep purple. Red and black fruit with an overlay of jammy blackberries and red currant. This is a complex wine and the secondary notes were a bit hard to read as they were evolving minute by minute, but ground coffee and underbrush were present most of the time, blue berries and cassis showed up to join the show as well as slight hints of cedar and spices. The mouth receives a harmonious mix of savory ripe fruit, smooth and velvety with a multitude of rich flavors endorsed by time, better by the minute. Have I found new favorite from Priorat? Yes, because they are ALL my favorites!

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!

Sot Lefriec 2004Sot 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!

DSC_0036Negre de Negres 2012, Garnacha Tinta, Carignena, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah

Down and down I go, round and round I go, like a leaf that’s caught in a tide….., Black Magic is found in abundance in this Super Catalan that Alfredo Arribas had created by most probably using magic? This is a wine that shouldn’t exist, at least not in this region, because it defies all sensory logics when it comes to what the Priorat region equals and what wines from here in general are all about. Even the price is magical, an absolute value for money! And that, my friends, is why it is a Super Catalan.

Bugader-400x400Bugader 2006, Syrah 85%, Garnacha 15%

Cherry color with violet borders, high layers. Fine and elegant nose, floral notes, red and black fruits and a hint of wood. Its evolution is insatiable, pastries, balsamic, elegant wood, herbs, butterscotch, chocolate, cocoa, coffee….. What I have in the glass, is a great wine, very well put together (produced) and well balanced, harmonious and amazing nose. It is one of those wines that puts everything in perspective, primary, secondary and tertiary aromas dancing together as one at the end! Once in the mouth it is elegant and polished. Large and round, not tired or exhausted, very long and sweet. Very elegant balance. Make sure to decant at least half an hour and make sure to get two bottles when you buy this one, you’re gonna need them both!

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!

DSC_0461Sileo 2013, 80% Garnacha and 20% Samsó

This IS the color of dark cherry! Some purple hues, clean and clear. Thick and abundant tears. The nose is clean and honest aromas of red and black fruit appear, strawberries and blackberries on a slightly spicy background which highlights the vanilla and coconut and light smoky notes. The palate is fresh, satiny, with sweet tannins and well integrated with the alcohol. It is a powerful, elegant and expressive wine, which blends red fruit with notes of pastry and fine woods. Long aftertaste where the fruit blends with notes of wood. Got to love this one!

0001692_HLaurel 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!

Ay de mi 2010,Vins del tros,Terra Alta,Spain,vino-vi.com,-400x400Ay De Mi 2010, Garnacha Negra and Syrah

Oye Como Va, means “Hey how’s it going”….., Ay De Mi translates to “Oh My!”. And f I was a lazy bugger, which I admit to being at times, I would simply conclude the tasting with just that….., Oh My!!! Aromatic, well made and tasty are words that immediately come to mind! But let me be a bit more specific. The color is cherry red with purple edges. Tears that stain the glass. Primaries of black fruit with hits of spices, cinnamon and vanilla. Delicate notes of aromatic herbs and licorice at the background. Ample and rich on the palate with high presence of very ripe fruit, red sauce, ground pepper, cinnamon and caramel latte. Polished tannins and earthy feeling to end. The Garnatcha Negra and Syrah for this cool wine comes from the D.O. of Terra Alta. From vines growing at 400 meters in elevation with significant temperature fluctuations from day to night, this is a cool and balanced wine. It has aged for 12 months in barrels 50% newer and 50% older. Try with savory roasts, braises, and rich, meaty fare.

And then there was only 1 to go, tomorrow is the last day of 365 in a row!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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8 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Laurona, Cry To Me in D.O. Montsant

372/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Carretera Bellmunt – Celler Laurona – Laurona 6 Vinyes 2006

Cry To Me………,

laurona-6-vinyes-694399.pngLaurona 6 Vinyes 2006, 60% Garnacha and 40% Carignena

Its colour is deep, almost opaque, and intensely red, with some bluish tones. Its rich, complex and with subtle aroma which initially evokes blackcurrant, plums and figs blended with oaky notes. As the wine aerates, it becomes concentrated, unctuous and powerful, with clear balsamic notes. Intense, complex and changing. Very clear aromas of plums and ripe figs, complemented by a subtle background of vanilla and cinnamon.
Extremely ripe tannin feel immediately fills the palate, saturating it with vivid and persistent sensations. A truly great wine that will remain alive for the next decade. A delicious wine to be enjoyed with friends and if you don’t have any friends? Well, in that case you’ll have to enjoy it yourself!
6 Vinyes by Laurona is produced with the intention to represent the authentic winemaking tradition of the region. This is why 6 Vinyes is is made only with Grenache and Carignan varieties, from the oldest vines of six very unique estates, selected for their ideal soil and climatic conditions.

The essence of Montsant in a bottle! Is that what Laurona is about? Want to meet the makers of history? Want to experience the essence of Montsant wines? Or do you just want to enjoy a quiet morning discovering yet another little winery in Catalonia? Well, in any case you are in the right place to start with! And you are always welcome to call or write and set up your own little wine adventure in Catalonia, the Sweet & Easy way!

wine-tasting (1)The Denomination of Origin Montsant is ring-shaped, circling practically all of the DOQ Priorat area. Formerly D.O. Montsant was a part of D.O. Tarragona, but with its unique characteristics, and similarity to the wines of the Priorat area, the winemakers wanted to separate their wines from the rest of the produce of Tarragona. So, in 2002, D.O. Montsant was created, enabling the vintners to present the vineyards under one common distinction. 

montsantdomapThe characteristics of the DO Montsant wines are the local varieties Garnacha and Carignena which together with the qualities of the soil and climate and the contribution of other grape varieties produce excellent wines. The winery Celler Laurona is situated in the very heart of Montsant, where the wine is elaborated and carefully aged under controlled conditions. The vineyards however are located in different areas of the D.O. Montsant, in small estates in Figuera, Falset, Darmós and Masroig.

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 Plini 2009 is a red wine from Celler Laurona. High quality, modern expression, high complexity, elegance, maturity and harmony are the result of picking the best grapes from the best vineyards of Garnacha, Carignena and Syrah from their own estates. After 15 months of ageing in 500 litres French oak barrels, and several months in the bottle, the launch of the first limited production of only 4.000 bottles of this exclusive vintage, was a hit!
Celler LauronaDO MontsantPriorat, TarragonaAn excellent and peculiar soil, gives the wines from Laurona their personality with a marked Mediterranean character; soft on the palate, but with a great structure and a warm aromatic expression, fruity, fresh and complex. All its features are taken from the coupage of Garnacha from the estate of La Figuera, with the concentration from Carignena, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from the vineyards of Falset, Darmós and Masroig.

1011-laurona_547But without any doubt, what characterizes the wines from Laurona, is the elaboration and ageing that permits the total expression of the terroir character. After caring for the vineyards respecting the environment, and a careful harvest, all the grape varieties arrives to the winery, where the artesan wine making process begins. In the Celler Laurona the whole process is performed manually, from the selection of the fruit, grape by grape, to eliminate the ones that do not fulfil the requirements of quality, then the fermentation, maceration and ageing in 500 litres French Oak barrels. 

oakbarrel500An excellent extraction is obtained by working in controlled temperature conditions during 30 or 40 days, and extracting the colour and taste from the grape peels, by gravity, to avoid an aggressive treatment to the wine. The ageing, always performed in the best quality French oak, makes a fine and elegant finish to the robust wine. The wine is not clarified nor filtered, in order to preserve the natural qualities, and the quality controls before bottling guarantees an excellent final product. After a second ageing in the bottle when the evolution is optimal, the wine is finally launched for consumption.

ep001750_1The winery is located in an old factory dedicated to the manufacture of timber doors for gym lockers but it has been adapted perfectly for the production and aging of wines. The winemakers of Celler Laurona, René Barbier and Fernando Zamora supervise the whole production and control the quality. They are both experts on the local terroir and the possibilities of each harvest. Together with their long experience as winemakers, they guarantee the best results.

elaboracion-vinoFrom this patient and careful vinification, two wines are made: Laurona and 6 Vinyes de Laurona. Two wines which keeps the secrete of a good wine, and have received high ratings (always above 90 points) by the famous wine critic, Robert Parker. Laurona has also been included in two occasions on the list of the 100 most competitive wines in the world, published by the Wine Spectator magazineThese international rewards, and the great success of the terroir itself, backs up the quality of Laurona, a clearly Mediterranean wine, result of a unique talent and sensibility which makes it really magical.

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 Laurona Plini 2009, Garnacha, Carinena and Syrah
Deep red colour with violet rims, showing signs that it’s still a young wine. The aromas intoxicates initially with notes of currants and blackberries being easliy distinguished, all surrounded by a dairy background. Really intense, slowly it shows the many facets of its personality. As it opens up, aromas of cinnamon, coffee and especially violets appear. The complexity grows and finally, after an hour, it shows all its properties, especially in the mouth. A truly opulent wine. Featuring a remarkable tannic concentration, structured, friendly and mature. Good acidity and structure, and the passage through the palate is surprisingly fresh and sweet. Its finish is really long, distinguishing all the aromatic complexity described above. A truly great wine that will improve over the next decade.

13 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

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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.

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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

Vermunver, Hot Damn! in D.O. Montsant

357/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Marçà – Celler Vermunver – Vinum Domi 2012

Hot Damn!…….,

vinum-domi

Vinum Domi 2012, 50 % Garnacha 40 % Cariñena and 10 % Merlot

This young wine from the Genesis cellar, or more commonly know as Vermunver, is probably one of the ten best buys this year, quality/price comparison, and having in mind that this is a ¨drink it now wine¨and from the Montsant region. Clear and bright, cherry red color. It displays raw freshness but without sacrificing the typical body of the wines of the region. The nose offers an attractive combination of red fruits, raspberries and cranberries. An honest wine with some licorice notes that follows the fruit. The entry is fresh and I find it to be a wine that shows some minerality while still being easy to drink.

botella_varietal_2011Genesis Varietal 2011, 100% Carignena

Cherry colour with a garnet rim, very intense, Gènesi Varietal is a high complexity wine. On the nose there are loads of black mature fruits, toffee, spices and forest with a balsamic touch. On the palate it is a wine with great terroir expression, wide, fleshy and a touch odd acidity that fills it with freshness. It has also an elegant tannic structure that indicates a good evolution in the bottle. The Genesis Varietal consists of Old Carignena (also known as Cariñena or Samsó) from Vernet-Muntané family’s vineyards in Marçà. Vines are between 60 and 80 years old, soils are mainly clayey and calcareous, that gives complexity to the wines. Alcoholic fermentation is made in stainless steel wine tanks during 28 days under controlled temperatures between 25-27 degrees; malolactic fermentation is also done in stainless steel, once it has finished, the aging takes part in French and Hungarian oak barrels, over a period of 12 months.

VermunverCeller Vermunver is a small, family-run company situated in the village of Marçà. It is part of the D.O. Montsant, one of the two ‘Denominations of Origin’ (wine appellations) in the administrative (but also wine appellation) region known as the Priorat. Some members of the Vernet-Muntané family make up the company. Roger Vernet Muntané deserves a special mention because he is the oenologist (winemaker).

Vermunver 2In 2004 they began working on the idea of launching the company of Celler Vermunver – a long-cherished ambition, which would mean they would finally make their own wine. This task, although daring, was well justified given that they could count on the excellent primary product, readily available to them, and the shared vision for the project. The starting point for this shared vision was to complete Nature’s circle: from the vineyard to the wine glass. The company’s environmental policy is based on recycling and making use of the waste materials generated in the production of wine. In this way, residual water which is not contaminated is used on an area of the vineyards destined exclusively for this use and all organic waste is used as an environmentally friendly fertilizer on the land. The cellar is located beneath an historic building in the village, Cal Nolla, a construction that dates from the end of the 19th C. The plan is to marry tradition and quality, creating a hand-crafted product without leaving aside new technologies and the advances that these have brought.

Vernmunver11Because we are speaking of a small quantity of wine, they are able to maintain personal control of all the elements within the production process; closely following the progress of the vine during its entire growth cycle, during the harvest when the grapes are brought to the cellar, until the final process of bottling the wine. All their vineyards are to be found within the municipal boundaries of Marçà, in the south of the Priorat region. They are divided between various locations within this area, all with different orientations. In total, there are 23 hectares of vines, some grown on land owned by the company, others on rented plots.

vermunver12The vines are mainly of the grape varieties known as ‘Garnatxa’ (Grenache) and ‘Carinyena’ (Carignan), local to the region. The majority, around 75%, are vines of between 70-80 years old, with a ‘Lot’ root stock, and grafted with the best shoots of the local vines of the area. They also have a small quantity of Merlot and Syrah varieties about 20 years old. The soil is slightly calcareous and the placing of the vines, planted by the grandfathers in the twenties and thirties, was magnificently done.  The total production of Celler Vermunver is around 70,000 kg from which small amounts are carefully selected from the different sites.

Celler-Vermunver

An anecdote relating to the selection of these plots is that on the municipal map of Marçà they form a figure that resembles the constellation of Orion, and for this reason they are called the ‘Vineyards of Orion’. With an annual production of around 5,500-6,500 kg, the cellar has created as the first product of the winery, Génesi Selecció.

28 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours