L’infernal, Combier, Fischer y Gerin, Mama Roux in DOQ Priorat

357/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Torroja del Priorat – Trio Infernal – L’infernal Fons Clar 2012

Mama Roux……,

fons_clar_linfernal1L’infernal Fons Clar 2012, 100% Cariñena

Purple red color with dark cherry red edge. Lovely, seductive and elegant nose of mature red and black fruit. Black fruit jam, nice roasted notes, balsamic and Mediterranean herbs. Mineral and spicy background. In the mouth it is juicy, concentrated, but quite soft. Greedy and persistent. Good structure. Very pleasant and highly drinkable. 100% Carignan from vines aged between 10 -12 years, planted on slopes facing west. at an altitude of between 300-500 meters above sea level. Aged for 12 months in oak barrels.

…., if you haven’t watched Treme, the series, you should! Likenesses in the culture of New Orleans, the food and the music can be, with imagination, related to the Priorat wines. They carry the same kind of Ooh Poo Pah Doo, makes your body want to move and dance. When watching an episode of this very fine series, there should always be a open bottle of Priorat red available, makes it so much better! Trio Infernal wines are highly suitable for these occasions. Thanks Bacchus it’s Tuesday, let the good times roll!

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The village of Torroja del Priorat is located in the heart of the Priorat and is the place where the headquarters of the Regulatory Council of the DOQ Priorat is located. The environment of Torroja has a very irregular topography, the presence of slate there is widespread and summer time here is more pronounced in terms of contrast, than n other parts of the Priorat. These features make the wines from Torroja very characteristic, so it is no surprise that some of the best/heaviest (read different) wines come from this place.

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The name comes from the Red Tower, a watchtower built by the Arabs in the tenth century and first mentioned in 1270. The document in question is the certificate issued to the population of Poboleda, in which the term Torrogia is mentioned, and in the days part of the Carthusian priory of Escaladei.

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The parish church is dedicated to St. Michael. It is a building consisting of three ships built in the eighteenth century. It is in neoclassical style with Baroque elements. The body of the temple was built in 1800 by Joan Pere Cavaller in French romantic style, with Catalan elements. Very few parts of the old fortifications remain. There are small traces of the Saracen tower that gave name to the village. The door and a gate of an antique prison are also visible. Torroja celebrates its festival on September 29, the feast of St. Michael. One of the best days to visit Torroja!

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The main economic activity is agriculture. Highlights the growing vines , almond , hazelnut and olive. Agricultural cooperative has existed since 1934. How many people live here? 134! How many of them drink wine? 135! Some of the wine drinkers also tend to be wine makers! Surprise, surprise!

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The movie, Le Trio Infernal, is based (loosely?) on a true story about the attorney Sarret. Making the acquaintance of two lovely german sisters Philomene and Catherine Schmidt, Sarret seduces them both. He then invites the sisters into his latest scam: marrying and murdering gullible men and women, then cheating their insurance companies. You just can’t trust the French….., unless they make wine in Priorat! I have no clue whereas the winery Trio Infernal has any such scams going, what I do know is that their story is 100% true!

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THE TRIO INFERNAL is a project set up in the Priorat duirng 2002 on the initiative of three renowned vintners of the french Rhone Valley. It is based on twenty year friendship and the desire to create a common project in a new viticultural region known for having the potential to grow great wines. The vintners are Laurent Combier (Domaine Combier, Crozes Hermitage), Peter Fisher (Chateau Revelette, Aix en Provence) and Jean-Michel Gerin (Domaine Gerin, Cote-Roite). Fascinated by this region, they decided to settle in the heart of this valley, in Torroja del Priorat.

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Their wines showcase the delights of Priorat’s signature grape Garnacha, alongside Carignena (the trio coming from Rhone, that makes sense!) and sum up the virtues of contemporary Spanish winemaking; They are Old World (French) in the soul, tradition-bound wines, yet at the same time they are innovative and provocative. They combine the flamboyant, fruit-forward excitement of modern winemaking with the complexity and power of old vines.

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But it is so much more and exemplefies the Priorat very well! The whole wine making wolrd is gathered here, from the start there was Rene Barbier, Alvaro Palacios, Carles Pastrana, Daphne Glorian etc. etc. And it just continues, everybody want s too make Priorat wines and for some it’s like shooting a elephant in a very small room. A can’t miss siutation, or that just might be what they and everybody else thinks!?!

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Jean-Michel Gerin saw the old vine terraces on this one-of-a-kind property in Priorato and he thought it was his native Cote Rotie — with one difference. Down on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, the sun always shined, the Grenache and Carignan reached optimal ripeness year after year. In Cote Rotie, each vintage was a crapshoot. When Peter Fischer saw Trio Infernal, he looked at the rugged soils, the gnarly vines, tasted the sweet berries just before harvest and wondered why things weren’t this easy back in Provence. And when Laurent Combier first laid eyes on these magical terraces 10 hours — or a three-hour prop plane ride — from Crozes Hermitage, he just thought, “C’est trop facile (It’s too easy).”

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Only five years later, the Trio was recognized as the leading producer in Priorat. Raving reviews, article in every noteworth wine magazine and top scores all over the board. By 2007, Clos Erasmus, Clos Mogador, and Alvaro Palacios found their match in Combier, Fischer and Gerin. The same year they even considered expansion. It was the gold rush era in Priorat and the Frenchies were carving it day by day. Then…., the bubble bursted. The crisis hit hard throughout Spain and Priorat was no exception. But it is only the man without the plan that suffers, the Frenchmen had a backup plan.

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Sensing or knowing the crisis would hit, as is the case historically, they had a backdoor. Setting aside part of their, by the time, well renowned 1/3 series and focusing on their “crisis management” wine. The Riu was born out of hardship and blended with the, during that time, hard to peddle 1/3 series. The old vines from the 1/3 giving body, charisma, muscle tone and the younger wine the makeup, the combo worked just fine. A very different Priorat and affordable!

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Trio Infernal Riu 2010, 33% Carignena, 33% Garnacha and 33% Syrah (1% French touch)

Cherry to slight purple color with great tears. Loads of fruit, intense aromas of black fruits. Slight vegetal but only hints. Licorice and some floral notes. Secondary, after quite some time, gives off a mineral feel as well as balsamic and spiciness. The palate is rich, structured, with length and supported by a great acidity and powerful but gentle tannins. More balsamic aftertaste than in the nose. Fruity aftertaste, hints of violet and licorice. A concentrated, elegant and fresh Priorat.

29 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Vinyes d’Olivardots, M’Agrada in Empordà

354/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Capmany – Vinyes d’Olivardots – Finca Olivardots Vermell 2011

M’Agrada……….,

finca-olivardots-11Finca Olivardots Vermell 2011, 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan

Ruby red color with dark ruby edge. Intense and bright. Elegant, aromatic and intense aroma of fresh, floral fruit with great expression of Syrah. Violets, blueberries and cassis, all supported by balsamic notes, herbs and a light background vanilla and some lactic sensation. In the mouth it displays freshness. Opulent attack, nice and velvety in the mouth. Soft, balanced input with volume and creaminess and fine tannins. Like the nose, the wine is very expressive, emitting fruit and balsamic sensations: blueberries, plums and cassis, seems everlasting!

viticultura01The Syrah and Grenache grapes come from vineyards which are between 10 to 15 years old and the Carignan grapes come from old vines with an average of 50 years of age. All of them are situated in the flattest land of the region at an altitude of 90/100 meters above sea level where the soil is formed by pebbles, sand and granite. Manuel harvest in crates of 10 Kg, carrying out a first sorting in the vineyard and a second one, grape by grape, in the cellar. Cold soak (2-4ºC), alcoholic fermentation of each variety is done separately in small stainless steal tanks at controlled temperature of around 26ºC. The aging process is 6 months in used French oak barrels. Bottled in May 2011 without fining or filtering.

celler01On a gresa soil, in the middle of rolling hills, where silence reigns and the view is lost sighting the vines, Vinyes d’Oivardots was born. Carme Casacuberta, a graduate of chemical sciences and oenologist,together with her husband Antoni Pena, industrial engineer, both passionate about wine, with a great love for nature and moved by the illusion of creating their own wine, made the dream come true in 2002. They purchased the estate Olivardots and planted the first vineyard in the term of Capmany (Alt Empordà), in the north east corner of Catalonia at the east side of Serra de l’Albera. A stunning landscape surrounded by 4 hectare of vineyards, where they in 2006 built the cellar in a simple but modern building. The design makes it possible to work with the aid of gravity and combine the recent advances in technology with the traditional wine-making.

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The vines grow on different soil types, found in the Empordà, highlighting granite soil, acidic and poor in organic matter.

Gresa Soil: Mixture of sand and grey granite. It is the Olivardots estate soil from which the first wine took its name. This soil brings elegance and aromatic complexity to the wine.

Slaty Soil: It is located in the higher part of the Empordà surface area, about 200 m above sea level. It adds mineral complexity to the grapes.

Sandy Soil: Where they have the oldest plot of Carignane vines, which are about 100 years old. It provides delicacy and elegance to the wine.

Gravelly Soil: Located in the flattest part in the center of the region, slightly tilted toward the southeast. It is a land formed by pebbles, sand with loamy texture. Here lie the vineyards of the white varieties.

dsc_003132 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

The winery Vinicola del Nordest, Get Ready for D.O. Emporda

350/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Mollet de Peralada – Vinicola del Nordest – Garrigal 1999

Get Ready…….,

exactGarrigal 1999, 35% Garnatxa 35% Samsó 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot

Ruby red color, terra-cotta colored rim and a  middle layer. Powerful aromas of red and black fruits with a background of spices and toast, from the aging. The palate is round, fleshy and structured. The acidity is very fresh and the tannins are very round, giving the impression of creaminess. It has an excellent balance with a good palate and long finish. It is a wine with a strong personality. It is a wine that has a pleasant mouthfeel and a long aftertaste. It got to spend a year on American (70%) and French (30%) oak.

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Vinicola del Nordest Is a winery which ages and bottles wines under the D.O. Empordà. It is located in the village of Mollet de Peralada, located in the foothills of the Les Alberes, where there are around 300 hectares of vineyard.

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The wines are made in the cooperative just across the road under proper analytical and temperature control. From there, the best wines are selected to produce a range which goes from the “nouveau” style of a Vi Novell through a ranges of whites, rosés and varietals wines to the reds.

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One of the winery’s specialities is the production of naturally sweet wines, the Moscatel, Mistela Negra and Garnatxa typical of the region.

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The village of Mollet de Peralada is also registered in the D.O. Cava and the sparkling wines have been made here since the winery’s inception. There is also a small shop at the winery where other natural produce of the region may be purchased, as well as having the opportunity to taste the wines.

covest-cabernet-sauvignon-378745Covest, 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Garnacha Negra, 2009

Clear and bright, deep ruby ​​color with violet notes on the rim. Intense aromas of black berries, slight cedar, green peppers, fruity. Palate is well structured with soft, round tannins. Black-currant, licorice, blueberries. Round and long to medium long finish. An easy going red from Emporda, well made and considering the price a really good buy!

36 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas de l’Abundància, Treasure in D.O. Montsant

350/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – El Masroig – Mas de l’Abundància – Flvminis 2012

Treasure……..,

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Flvminis 2012, 55% Grenache, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Carignan

Intense red color with bluish tones. High viscosity. On the nose it shows high intensity, frank and clean. Expressive. Loads of fresh red fruit and mature blackberries. On the palate, the entry is fresh and good performance due to the concentration of tannins which are soft. The whole experience is very enjoyable and the wine has a nice flow to it and a long finish. High freshness, dominated by red fruits. The balsamic notes appear after a while together with chocolate and vanilla resulting in a long and intense aftertaste!

The word that best defines the year of 2012 is “dry”. 2012 was marked by a lack of regular rainfall during the growing season. The year started with a mild winter, with only a few days of frost. Spring brought some rain during April that helped sprout the vines, however this was the only rain until October. As usual in the area the summer was typical, with high temperatures and extremely limited rain. With little rain and a warm summer, the vineyards had a very high level of water stress, which led to wastage in production and highly concentrated fruit. In October it finally rained again which helped to improve the ripening of the varieties that had not yet been harvested like the Cabernet and the Carignan.

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Mas de l’Abundància is located in the region of Priorat (Tarragona) and belongs to the D.O. Montsant. Up until the disentailment, in the 1830s, it belonged to the Prior of Scala Dei (the property still has three magnificent landmarks with the same boundaries of 1790). It had previously belonged to the Dukes of Cardona and Entenza, who gave it to the Prior on the 27 January 1727. It was always a self-sufficient estate, with planted vines, olive trees and a vegetable garden that allowed for its own subsistence.

The soil type is “llicorella” (Tertiarycoal) and alluvium from the Quaternary; it has its own spring water and is located between the Siurana River and the old village of Les Pinyeres, a place of country worship, where from immemorial times the virgin of the same name is revered. The current winery was created in 2002 by the del Rio Mateu family, with the dream of returning to the origins and follow an family tradition, which hash´t been broken for generations, with a desire to produce a wine of the “terroir”. From the beginning the objectives were to implement effort, faithful dedication to the cultivation of the vine and extreme care in wine-making.

Since 1995, when the project began, the two mottos are: “You can be humble but you should be excellent” and “Not only well made, but also pretty“. For me, all that remains now is to visit the cellar, and hopefully I´ll get to taste their white wine, de Calpino, which I have heard is something spectacular, but that´s a story for another day!

37 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

Sota Els Àngels, Angels in D.O. Emporda

342/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – La Bisbal d’Emporda – Sota Els Àngels – Desea 2009

Angels…….,

botella-vino-desea-tinto-2009Desea 2009, 40% Carmenère, 32% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Carignan and 6% Syrah

Cherry red color with a garnet rim, medium layer. Overwhelming aromatic intensity but still kept together and I wouldn’t call it complex, balanced noted of sweet spices, a mix of mature black fruit and herbs. It need quite some time to wake up properly, seems to be a slow riser that likes to sleep in. Tones of toffee, sweet cocoa and licorice comes along as secondary notes.  The mouth is silky with a easy entry, quite spicy, structured and elegant. It is followed by a great tanic structure combined with a light fleshy feel and good acidity. Balanced and long! I tried the Flow 2013 from Sota Els Àngels at a wine fair and had to get the Desea as well, and I have to say it was what I hoped for!

principal-portada-1A Mediterranean cork forest surrounds the magical setting of Sota Els Àngels. The organic control and the biodynamic care given to the vineyards allows for the extraction of the soul of each grape variety and at the same time it improves the balance and harmony of the environment. Here, Under The Angels they live and work searching tirelessly for a fluid and familiar relationship with the natural environment. From terroir to heaven, The Angels came down!

noticia01The winery and vineyards of Sota Els Àngels are located in the centre of the north face of The Gavarres mountain range, in the municipality of Cruïlles-Monells-Sant Sadurní de l’Heura. This is a very special place, an ancient massif of rounded forms in which Josep Pla saw “elephants”, populated by oak trees (exploited in traditional and artisan cork industry), which shine between a pure sky and a floor with bushes of heather and arbutus. At the foot of the mountain, Sota Els Àngels, secluded, quiet soto, rests peacefully, caring for the grapes they have chosen to take care of. The property comprises of eight acres of a lush green, beautiful vines. It is densely planted with the red varieties; Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena and Carmenère,  and the whites; Picapoll and Viognier. It is a soulful place where they grow excellent quality grapes and make wines infused with the nuances of their terroir.

46 to go!

 

Alfredo Arribas, That Old Black Magic in DOQ Priorat

339/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Priorat – Clos del Portal – Negre de Negres 2012

That Old Black Magic……..,

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Negre 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.

Lovely, intense, dark cherry color. Clean and Bright. Nice slow tears. Intense and fresh aromas. A great background with notes of herbs and carob, it displayes an expressive minerality with a wide range of red and black, juicy and fresh fruit and abundant balsamic notes. After it opens up, elegant toasted notes appear, a lot of very creamy and spicy notes and chocolate that stands out. Negre de Negres (“Black of the Blacks”, referring to the red grape varieties being used) is a wine that is powerful on the palate, but gentle and kind at the same time. It has a silky and very tasty entry, sweet but with a freshness that is present at every level. In the mouth it reflects the same aromas which are found in the nose with a perfect harmony between fruit, toast, creamy balsamic and expressive minerality. Excellent acidity in perfect balance. Ripe tannins. Long finish with good persistence. If you are out to get something different from Priorat, you should keep this one in mind! Enjoy, enjoy and enjoy!

Maybe there are better ways to live life? I just feel good about the way I am living mine. Sun, great food, walk with the dogs and wonderful wine, not to mention the wonderful wife! Had a truly enjoyable wine tasting yesterday with a great bunch of wine lovers in Barcelona. Some of the usual suspects were there, together with some new prospects!

1507857_771783372838930_463148591_nOne of the new members is a passionate host within the community of EatWith! People with a passion for food and wine, cooking at home and inviting, in most cases, total strangers and preparing a dining experience in their own home. Yes, you’re right, couldn’t but join in and am now contemplating my own hosting of such an event! Let the passionate cooking begin!

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The work of Alfredo Arribas begins in the DOQ Priorat during 2001. The Clos del Portal, estate wines project is located in the heart of Priorat, between the villages of El Lloar and Bellmunt, rising from the valley of the Siurana River to the foothills of the Sierra del Montsant.

Alfredo Arribas, architect come wine maker!

Throughout the years they have been recovering abandoned coster terraces, working with the diversity of grapes and clones present on these sites and outlining an advanced model of viticulture.

The architecture of the cellar integrates it nicely into the landscape!

Before long, their estate wines have managed to stand out as a clear example of the latest generation of Priorat wines, in pursuit of elegance and subtlety. Made with meticulous perfectionism, interpreting the extreme terroir, austere soil and climate, showing the way of the future for this wine growing area. Alfredo Arribas runs the winery with the support of Joan Asens.

One of Celler Clos de Portals many vineyards!

Clos Portal has 40 ha. of small plots. All of them bordering with each other, out of which 14 ha. are vineyards, half of the vineyards are coster and the remaining are terraces. The importance of the mineral soil, licorella slate base with subtle variations of different soil components that confer complexity to the whole, is the key factor of great harmony of these treasured wines made from different varieties and vineyards.

The label designs are amongst the coolest I have ever seen!

Grenache, Carignena, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Monastrell are the grapes grown along with some experimental varietals. They work on the basis of organic viticulture and are in the process of conversion to organic farming altogether. Estate wine meaning that all wines are produced with their own grapes, harvested manually, rigorously selected, cluster by cluster in the vineyard and not buying additional grapes.

The full range of wines from Alfredo Arribas, Portal del Priorat

49 to go!