Jamon and Cava, The Ultimate Marriage On Days Like These!

396/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava & D.O. Jamon – Jamon and Cava – Mont-Ferrant Blanes Brut Nature

On days like these….

mont-ferrant-blanes-brut-nature-264433Mont-Ferrant Blanes Brut Nature, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo

Golden yellow color of medium intensity, very vivid and brilliant intensity, with remarkably fine bubbles. On the nose the complexity is huge, given its long time sur lees. Aniseed notes, toasted bread, a touch of yeast and even a fruity background. The palate is lively, with good acidity, tasty but not heavy, leading to an outstanding finish. An excellent choice together with a lovely plate of Jamon Iberico! Agustí Vilaret founded the Mont-Ferrant cellars in 1865 in Blanes. During 1872 they presented their production at the Concurso Exposición de Barcelona. This presentation demonstrates, in a documented way, that Mont-Ferrant is the oldest Cava producer among all the companies in the current sector. They define their customers as a legion of friends who they constantly want to please, offering them a wide taste palette so they can decide which kind of Cava goes best whit the occasion at hand, for me any day is good enough for a glass of good Cava and great Jamon Iberico.

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Besides writing I also have the obligation, and interest, to follow wine bloggers around the world to see what they are up to. Amazed by the ability they have at churning out piece after piece! Wow! Tonight! Writers block! What is that? A real thing or just a way for those claiming to write something, anything, to have an excuse! Well, if you ask me it’s something true. Then again, excuses are the nails that hold failure together.

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Had a, one in a million, bad wine cellar visit today, threw me off bunds and I haven’t quite bounced back yet! My thought was to write a cover for the producer visited, but can’t find myself doing Catalonia, the land of wine, that misfortune.  Has to be the Italian job! Yes, there are bad wine producer and less god wines here as well. My point is to give you the ins and outs when it come to the ones you should visit, not the ones you shouldn’t.

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However, all that may be, here I am and writing ahead, thanking my friend, my help and inspiration for the night, for that! Having had a long conversation over the FB, I got talked into a starting point, and here it is. Not what you might expect, but nevertheless an article! Parings! The perfect marriage is when you experience an excellent wine with a mouthwatering meal, and the two together make a unity worth repeating and sticking to.

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Fish and shellfish with white or bubbly, juicy tender red meats with heavy reds, sweet and fortified with cheeses and glorious desserts! All works for me. Pairing Cava and ham, Jamon Iberico to be exact, two quality products that harmonize perfectly, is something that I discovered living here, take the custom as it is. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!

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It is little known that one of the most interesting pairings for the palate is the combination of a good Cava with delicious dried ham. I say this because Iberian ham, Iberian pork or ham from the white pig, goes really well with a good Cava. So I will propose replacing the red wine, a classic, with a sparkling like Cava, not Champagne mind you! Doesn’t exist in my book! The nuances of the ham will enhance the Cava and vice versa.

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First of all, it’s known that in one small piece of ham different flavors ca be extracted. Remember also that the taste of a thin slice cut is different from a thicker slice. It is essential to cut the ham into perspective. This itself can make us appreciate the flavor and aroma which is conducive to the different ham D.O:s Another key factor is the serving temperature. Too cold ham loses many of its organoleptic qualities. The factors mentioned so far can be controlled. Learning to cut the ham or serve it at the right temperature and knowing the differences between different parts of each piece is hugely important.

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Additional factors to have in mind are; pig breed, Iberian or white. Fodder. Climatology. Manufacturing process (salting and curing times). Fodder is one of the most important factors, so I would like to dwell a little longer on this. Because fodder texture, taste and aroma of ham vary substantially, leading us to choose the type of Cava for pairing. The type of food in the fattening phase (last few months before slaughter) is distinguished by:

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Iberian pig , with a natural diet based primarily on acorns and grass from the meadow (Iberian acorn palettes).

White or Iberian pig fed mainly cereals such as barley and wheat (hams and Iberian bait).

In the different D.O:s, these factors are controlled by the Regulatory Council of each, so that the resulting product is always fairly homogeneous. Generically, let’s look at the qualities of aromas and flavors of all the ham D.O:s of Spain.

IBERIAN PIG .

Ham D.O. Pedroches . Pleasant and intense aroma with a slightly sweet flavor.

Ham D.O Guijuelo . Delicate and fragrant aroma with a slightly salty taste.

Ham D.O. Huelva. Delicate and exquisite aroma with an intense and persistent flavor.

Ham D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura. Intense, enjoyable and nuanced aromas with a little salty , intense and persistent flavor.

WHITE PIG .

Ham D.O. Teruel. Soft, pleasant and evocative aroma with a delicate flavor and slightly salty .

Ham D.O. Trévelez . Soft and penetrating aroma with a taste considered the sweetest on the market.

Now let’s look at the Cava!

Well-cut ham is very important, serving Cava in at the right temperature, equality important. Try to achieve 5 to 8 º C before serving.

To achieve this temperature, do not use the freezer. A rapid change in temperature can affect the characteristics of Cava. Better cool it for a few hours in the refrigerator. If there has been an oversight and we have Cava at room temperature and urgently need to open a bottle, I recommend putting it in a ice bucket for about 20 minutes.

After various hams and Cava tastings, I have come to the following conclusion. The Cava pairs perfectly with ham and enhance its flavor, generally the dry ones!

In conclusion, no need for strawberries, a festive occasions or shellfish! Bring out the ham and the Cava! More importantly, tonight’s Catalan wine! Enjoy!

3 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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Rimarts Cava, I’m a believer in D.O. Cava

353/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – Cava Rimarts – Cava Uvae

I’m a believer……..,

uvae-rimartsCava Uvae, Xarel·lo and Chardonnay

Brilliant gold color. Fine persistent bubbles, excellent and everlasting rosary of beads ascending in the glass. Nose of baked products, Danish come to mind, spices, ripe red cherries with hints of All Spice. Light efervescent tones of the same flavors. Flavors balanced by a light acidity and a very pleasant evolution. A smooth, long, pleasant and lasting finish. Nice Cava to enjoy with a good friend or with a good book. Not really a food Cava.

DSC_0421During the summer of 2014 I got to spend quite some time in Sweden, with family and friends, enjoying the Swedish summer, great food and……., Catalan wine. I brought a truck load of wines with me. As I wanted to share the experiences, I have (what come bottled) had during the past few years, with my loved ones. One of the many wines that survived the journey, was the Rosae from Rimarts, which I wrote about in June this year. Now, I have also had the opportunity to try their Uvae! Hope you like it as much as I did!

rosaeCava Rosae, 100% Pinot Noir

Attractive pale and soft salmon pink color. Fine and persistent bubbles forming a dense crown. Fresh and highly complex aroma with very smoky tones, subtle nose, red fruit finish. The palate is balanced, broad, savoury, rich and elegant, its evolution shows varietal character, ending with a very long and elegant palate with great sensations. This is an elegant and dynamic Cava, which asks you to either love it or hate it. It is NOT a Cava to enjoy just as it is, because it does demand some food to go with it. I tried it with Jamon Iberico, Bellota and it worked wonders. I do believe it would work well with grilled food as well, both meats and fish, as the smoky character it possesses would be enhanced by a summer bbq! I consider this one to be a Super Catalan Cava!

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33 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

 

Mont Marçal, That’s Amore in D.O. Cava

332/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Castellví de la Marca – Mont Marçal – Extremaruim Brut Nature Reserva

That’s Amore…….,

extremarium_nature_buenaExtremaruim Brut Nature Reserva, Chardonnay, Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada

Bright pale yellow with fine and bubbles which are rising steadily creating a perfect mousse. The nose is clean and fresh, producing toasted notes like coffee, combined with  vanilla, soft notes of fruits such as peach and grapefruit, some mineral tones and white flowers. The palate is fresh, fruity, creamy and light, the body showing that it has been in contact with the yeast for quite some time, fine mousse and very pleasant on the palate with hints of raw almonds and hazelnuts. This Cava has been made by adding Inspiration, Instinct and Passion! Each variety is picked and fermented separately. The grapes are destemmed, cooled to 12°C, pressed pneumatically at a pressure of 0.2kg, selection of the juice/most, clarification by gravity and alcoholic fermentation at 14-16°C, the Chardonnay is fermented in barrels of French oak for 8 weeks. Works great with, for example, Ossobuco, fritters and desserts with a base of chocolate and dried fruits and nuts. 

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The cellar at Mont Marçal Vinícola was founded in the year 1975 by Manuel Sancho who, after dedicating many years to the world of music, directed his activity towards a new art: that of the world of wine and Cava. It is Blanca Sancho, the founder’s daughter, who now runs the cellar together with a team of young professionals that have managed to blend the original philosophy of the cellar with the restless spirit of the new generations and adapt this, in all its fields, to the needs of today’s markets. Mont Marçal makes quality wines in the “Denominaciones de Origen” Penedès, Catalunya and Cava.

Originally from the XIV century, the lovely farmhouse that houses the cellar is located in the heart of the Penedès, 220 metres above sea level. With the floor plan of a basilica, brickwork has been used to frame the windows and the dividing lines of the floors, this gives the house a unique character. It was modified at the end of the XIX century to become a convent of the order of the “Barefoot Carmelites”, and it still retains the charm of the original structure.

The estate has 40 hectares of its own vineyards which comprises the indigenous varieties such as Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada and Tempranillo, in addition to other varieties that have adapted perfectly such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. At the same time, to be able to achieve the actual production, Mont Marçal collaborates with other estates in the Penedès, from which the buy the additional grape quantities needed.

56 to go!

 

Celler Mas Vicenç, In The Jungle The Mighty Jungle, D.O. Tarragona

324/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Celler Mas Vicenç – Cabra del Camp – Dent de Lleó 2011

In The Jungle The Mighty Jungle………..,

mv_dent_lleoDent de Lleó 2011, 100% Chardonnay

Pale yellow color, clear and bright. Very original in its style, maybe too French for my liking but still a Tarragona Chardonnay. Exiting and intriguing! Doing things differently can sometimes be real good, just like In The Jungle. Its elegant combination of flower aromas such as orange tree and acacia flower sets it apart from the rest. There’s butter, green pear, apple and some chamomile. It also has notes of cinnamon and brioche. Smooth entry, very balanced with great acidity. The palate is very creamy, delicate and persistent. I could describe it as a wine full of sensations. Limited production of 2000 bottles of 75 cl. Mas Vicenç elaborated an aged white wine inspired by the sensitivity of the flower dandelion and based on the quality of the selected grapes. It is perfect for wine lovers who decide to discover a complete wine to enjoy in a calmed atmosphere. Well done!

Sometimes, and sometimes way to often, I manage to find a wine that checks all the boxes. One I haven’t heard about previously and as such not tried before. One that is tasty, one that is affordable, one that is white, one that has a really nice label and one that is from Catalonia, well, the last tick is frequently the case. At least during the last few years.

No working during drinking hours

Having started a chapter, in Barcelona, of a non-profit wine club that originated in Sweden in the 1950ies, I have plenty of opportunities to try wines from countries all around the world. It is the within the statues of the club, to educated oneself and the members, and to do so in a way that promotes wine in a sensible manner. The additional bonus is my work, which is wine travel. Since my company is based in Catalonia, it is not strange that I have to try lots of Catalan wine, and I enjoy that part of my day to day, very much! Now that is what I call the SweetEasy Lifestyle!

Discovering new wines at tastings

After a full day of adventures, winery visits, cultural explorations and sometimes even a Segway tour it feels like luxury to sit down for a proper dinner together with friends. Even though every winery visit and every professional tasting is looked forward to, because they all share their dreams and visions with me, I need the down time. Now, it really varies what that can consist of. A good book in front of the fireplace, with a glass of Port. Movie time, classic black and white, with a glass of tasty Priorat or simply a five course meal with some like minded wine lovers and a few glasses of some new wines.

Best way to enjoy wine, is with like minded wine lovers!

The important thing is to feel that one doesn’t have to work constantly. The wineries I visit are found in different ways. Recommendations are received all the time, sometimes bad but mostly really good and some of the gems I have found come through such channels. Internet search, of course. Way impersonal but work is work! Fairs off course, personal but a little bit stressed feel to it. Restaurant visits, check the wine list and make sure you don’t pick a wine you have had before and preferably from a denomination of origin whit less wines tasted in the notebook.

Our wine club in action!

So, this wine was tasted for the first time at a really nice restaurant in Tarragona after a full day of activities!

Whoops, long intro to lead to Mas Vicenç Celler. The cellar of Mas Vicenç is located at the North of Alt Camp in the D.O. of Tarragona. Here the Mediterranean weather provides highly favorable conditions for growing vineyards.

Mas Vicenc Celler

Vicenç Ferré bought a traditional Catalan house in 1953 which was named afterwards as Mas Vicenç. Since then, four generations have already passed through the vineyards, each of which have taken on important roles in the cultivation and winemaking.

The good old times!

In modern time, more effort has been put into the winery, even though the heritage form the basis set in the history of the company. By 2005 it was the older son of the fifth generation, the also named Vicenç Ferré, that took over the rains. His studies and experience in the region of Priorat and the South-east of France cultivated a passion towards the wines that was later transformed to the project of Mas Vicenç. Young, enthusiastic and passionate family feel to the place, and that shows in the wines.

Vicenç Ferré Morató

Vicenç Ferré Morató was born in Tarragona and grew up in Cabra del Camp. He is the son of a family dedicated to the vineyard’s cultivation and he learned what is required to look after the vineyards. In 1999, Vicenç began his specialised studies at the School of Enology in Falset, Priorat. During his studies, he worked at the Cooperative of Falset-Marçà (D.O.Montsant), the winery Fuentes (D.O. Priorat) and Concavins (D.O.Conca de Barberà).

Once the academic course of enology ended, his professional life continued in France. For a duration of nine months, Vicenç was working in Chateneuf du Pape next to the revolutionary and well-known winemaker Michel Tardieu. In May of 2004, at the age of twenty-one, the young winemaker began to lead the prestigious winery and vineyards of Bodegas Mas Alta in the region Priorat. A year later, he decided to combine the management of Bodegas Mas Alta with the start of his own project, Mas Vicenç in Cabra del Camp.

In 2009, Vicenç decided to leave the project in Priorat to concentrate solely on his winery, where he develops his creativity and applies his experience. Nowadays, Vicenç manages the family company Mas Vicenç being in charge of the technical and commercial departments.

The modern good times!

In total the production consists of three whites, three reds and one olive oil. A lot of wine producers find their style, both when it comes to the actual wine but also when it comes to the design of the labels. Creating identity that is easily recognizable is the key. Mas Vicenc has chosen an alternative approach. Just by looking at the labeling it is not easy to conclusively say that all the wines come form the same winery. Tasting the wines just enhances the first impression. Good or bad? I’d say, different! And for me, different is good!

64 to go!

The winery of Ca N’Estruc, My Ideal in D.O. Catalunya

316/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Catalunya – Esparreguera – Celler Ca N’Estruc – L’Equilibrista 2012

My Ideal……,

equil12_anv800L’Equilibrista 2012, Syrah, Carinena, Garnacha

This wine has the intense  and dark red color of a ripe cherry. The nose has the concentration of toasted oak that seems to cover the fruit, which is present behind the oaky notes. After a few minutes the presence and freshness of the red berries take over the show, exclaiming that this is indeed a fruit bomb! It is a complex wine, even if the fruit is present at a high degree. The secondary aromas reveal citric notes, aniseed, cedar and vanilla.  The entry is creamy and sweet. Flavors of mature black fruit and chocolate. Good structure. The mouth is filled with tannins which provide the volume and a tasty and pleasant finish reminiscent of strawberry lollipop. An interesting wine that should be taken seriously!

One dream, one soul, one prize, one goal. One golden glance of what should be. It’s a kind of magic. What Francisco Martí is creating under the appellation of Catalunya might be considered juts that! The farm Ca N’Estruc is located on the mountainside of Montserrat, in Esparreguera (Barcelona) and the wine making here is rooted in the world of wine since 1548.

Montserrat-aire

The Montserrat mountain and the national park by the same name would in a poetic world be reason for how and why the vineyards are happy here, but I don’t do poetry. So, briefly, for all of you out there, just to understand just what the Montserrat is, here goes nothing.

Agulles Montserrat

This multi-peaked mountain is located near the city of Barcelona. It is part of the Catalan Pre-Coastal Range. The main peaks are Sant Jeroni (1,236 m), Montgrós (1,120 m) and Miranda de les Agulles (903 m). The mountain is the namesake for the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Montserrat is sometimes referred to as “tall”, or “la cuchador” (the spork).

Montserrat Monistry

It is well known as the site of the Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth. “Montserrat” literally means “saw (serrated, like the common handsaw) mountain” in Catalan. It describes its peculiar aspect with multitude of rock formations which are visible from a great distance. The mountain is composed of strikingly pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock. Montserrat is Spain’s first National Park.

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The Benedictine Abbey can be reached by road, by the Aeri de Montserrat cable car, or by the Montserrat Rack Railway. The lower stations of both the rack railway and the cable car can be reached by Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya train from Barcelona’s Plaça d’Espanya station. From the abbey, the Funicular de Sant Joan funicular railway goes up to the top of the mountain, where there are various abandoned hovels in the cliff faces that were previously the abodes of reclusive monks, whilst the Funicular de la Santa Cova descends to a shrine.

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The highest summit of Montserrat is called Sant Jeroni (Saint Jerome) and stands at 1,236 meters (4,055 feet) above sea-level. It is accessible by hiking trails which connect from the top entrance to the Sant Joanfunicular, the monastery, or the base of the mountain. The Cavall Bernat (1 111 m) is an important rock feature popular with climbers.

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Francisco Martí has dedicated his life to the cultivation of 26 ha. of vineyard. The vineyard is 165 meters above sea level, and it has a specific microclimate and is sheltered from the cold north winds by the mountain of Montserrat. Due to this protection the vineyards enjoy cool summers and warm winters with a average annual temperature of 14.1 º C.

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Plantations are perfectly designed to optimize the effect of the sun, each plot has been studied in detail so that the perfect match in terms of variety got planted. The oldest vines are redirected to trellises in globelé system (typical of the Rhône). New plantings are aligned north to south, on trellises and conducted on the first wire 80 cm of the soil to promote better ventilation and to avoid most pesticide treatments.

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The winery is in the center of the property, which allows for very fast transportation of the grapes. Small deposits of 2,500 L stainless steel tanks and temperature controlled vinification makes it possible to separate musts of different vineyards, both classified by age and by variety and elaborated separately until the final assemblies. Aged in French oak barrels, by Dargaud & Jaegle, Boutes and Seguin Moreau. New plantings of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Tannat are being phased into production to bring greater complexity to the wines. They also buy grapes from selected growers in the area.

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Idoia Blanc Fermentat en Bota 2012, 70% Xarel·lo, 12% Garnacha Blanca, 12% Macabeu and 6% Chardonnay

A white with an unusual blend: 70% Xarel.lo grapes, from vines between 20 and 40 years of age, perfectly assembled with Chardonnay, white Grenache and Macabeo. Fermented and aged in oak barrels. Aged for 6 months in new French oak barrels, lightly toasted Allier. Nice golden yellow color of medium intensity and with extraordinarily bright golden reflections. On the nose subtle aromas of vanilla, nutmeg and coconut, with some extra freshness provided by the lime caramel, aniseed, bay leaves and hay, and at the very end a slight sweet aroma of ripe banana. In the mouth it is intense, quite fatty and great longevity. Long and fresh with round tannins which carries to the very end. Good balance and intensity.

75 to go!

Tasting 8 Wines, The Usual Suspects D.O. Costers del Segre

307-314/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Falset – Hotel-Hostal Sport – Tasting 8 Wines

The Usual Suspects…..,

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… they came, they examined, they sniffed, they sipped and they spat, or should I say most of them did! Was expecting a well arranged tasting with some nice wines from D.O. Costers del Segre. At yesterdays tasting I got that, and more! According to the invitation from Marta and Ruth, Hotel-Hostal Sport in Falset, who were arranging the tasting, we were supposed to taste 6 wines, which is some kind of standard for these types of tastings. Final number was 8! And the wines they make in the Costers del Segre, Yes! The Usual Suspects is one of my absolute favorite movies and so is the soundtrack and main theme. The usual suspects also refers to the sommeliers, wine makers and wine lovers in general that visit the well arranged tastings at Hotel Hostal-Sport, once a month. There’s a bunch of people that always come to these tastings and I am happy to be amongst them! We have Emporda, Montsant and Priorat to look forward to!

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As always Marta, owner, manager and in house sommelier at Hotel Hostal-Sport, started of by introducing the representative from the D.O. and in this case I have to say I totally missed the name but I have to say that when it comes to wine and especially to the specifics of Costers del Segre, she knew what she was on about! It was a pleasure to listen to her.

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This was the ninth of 12 tastings over the year to come, covering the D.O:s of Catalonia. These tasting are a way to promote Catalan wine and the Catalan D.O:s at the symbolical price of 5 Euro per tasting, so, if you want to know more about the wines from the regions of Catalonia, make sure to get to Falset and enjoy some really good wines together with other wine lovers! Can’t wait for the next DO-tasting!

A little bit about the characteristics of D.O. Costers del Segre before we get going with the tasting notes!

The vineyards are spread out throughout the northeastern interior of Catalonina, with the region of Pallars being the most northern one. It is not an appellation with one border, as the growing areas are spread out like a multitude of vineyards. The vineyards are located in the sub-areas of Artesa de Segre, Urgell, Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, Segrià and Valls del Riu Corb. The D.O. as such was created in 1986, so it is one of the younger appellations of Catalonia. Currently there are 588 wine growers and farmers, working on a grape producing areal of 4.197 ha. Total number of plots is 2.667 and wine producing cellars (commercial) are 42! Small numbers but big wines! 

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The different sub-zones have very varying geological and climatic features. The link is the middle basin of the River Segre, between the Pyrenees and the Ebro. They are all located in the interior and have quite dry conditions, away from the maritime influence and marked by high insolation, low rainfall and persistent moisture mists during the winter. The vineyards are located between 200 and 400 m. altitude. The soil is calcareous sand coated with a great uniformity throughout the denomination.

The Artesa and Pallars subzones are the most northerly, with their vineyards at a higher altitude and Pyrenean influence. Raïmat at the eastern end, has a gentle relief and continental climate. The sub-area Segrià on the plain of Lleida, is characteristic of rain-fed lands. Les Garrigues and Valleys Riucorb have dry soils, to be considered drylands.

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After the phylloxera, the vine cultivation decreased substantially. In this way, starting during 1909 the new vines grafted on American rots (Americanos) resistant to phylloxera, provided the province of Lleida with 15,161 hectares, of which 13,343 were replanted phylloxera resistant vineyards and 1,818 were lands that were previously not used for vine growing. The 102,920 hectares not reconstituted are mainly devoted to the cultivation of olive trees. In the western area, the varieties destroyed by the phylloxera were: Pinós, Samsó, Sumoll and Garnacha. The varieties grafted on American stocks: Monastrell, Macabeo, Trepat, Grenache and Sumoll. At the same time some French varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon were imported.

The grape varieties recommended by the regulatory body are; Garnacha Negra, Tempranillo (Ull de llebre), Cabernet Saugvinon, Merlot, Monastrell/Morastrell, Trepat, Mazuela/Samsó, Pinot Noir and Syrah with the recommended addition of white grapes; Macabeu, Xarello, Parellada, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandria, Malvasia/Subirat Parent, Gewurztraminer and Albarinho.

Llabustes Wine No. 1 – Vila Corona, Llabustes Chardonnay 2013, 100% Chardonnay

Pale yellow straw color, elegant green reflections. Clean and intense aromas of  flowers, acacia and a hint of rose. Yellow and white fruits, a lot of pineapple, apple and pear are quite subtle, banana is also there but fading in the background. No mineral and no notes of aging. On the palate, it is a dry wine with moderate acidity, noticeable alcohol but without being intrusive. It has a integrated body. Taste of citrus, exotic and white fruits, slight touch of almonds. You won’t find a better Chardonnay from Costers del Segre, the value is amazing!

Anima de RaimatWine No. 2 – Raimat, Anima de Raimat 2013, Chardonnay, Xarel.lo and Albarinyo

Straw to slightly golden color with greenish reflexions, showing the youth and freshness. Complex.  Intense nose with primary notes of tropical and citrus fruits, round and clean nose. Expressive to complex, secondary of currant, elderberry, peach and some white fruit, pear and melon. Structured, well balanced with good acidity. Dry, medium long after taste with balanced acidity. Well made and simply a very pleasant wine!

OnraWine No. 3 – Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011, 70% Garnatxa Blanca and 30% Sauvignon Blanc

Brilliant and golden yellow color. Clean nose with heavy aromatic complexity. Some coconut, but mainly I noted white fruit meat, pear and apple. Smoky notes and cedar came along nicely in the background. Slight perfume, or aftershave, or if it was just the guy next to me? With aeration, lemon, pineapple and peach continues to add dimensions to the experience. Good entry, slightly salty. It is filling the mouth with sensations of white fruits, herbs and a buttery feel. Mature, quality, long and fresh finish.

Petit GrealoWine No. 4 – Vinya l’Hereu, Petit Grealo 2010, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Transparent ruby red color with violet hues. Red and black fruit, light smoke, herbs like lavender, rosemary and fennel. Nice touch of white pepper and balsamic. Medium intensity, medium and balanced tannins. Smoke again, leather and coffee. Candied fruit. Potent wine, persistent and refreshing. A pure, fresh character of clay!

oda castell de remeiWine No. 5 – Castell del Remei, Oda Negre 2009, 55% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Ull de Llebre and 5% Garnatxa

Cherry color, with a bright cherry colored edge. Colorful tears and dense. High intensity. Aromas of barrel and cedar, aromatic coffee came as secondary after quite some time. Balsamic. Marmalade, blueberry jam. Sweet and voluptuous entry. The tannins are mature, integrated and the acidity is fresh, enhancing the persistency. Loved the finale with the sweet fig carrying the wine a long way.

bru de verdu 2012

Wine No. 6 – Celler Cercavins, Bru de Verdu 2012, Ull de Llebre, Syrah and Merlot

Dark cherry color with garnet rim. Clean and bright. Slow and slightly tinted tears. It has a clean and intense nose with outstanding very fruity aromas, ripe black fruit and licorice intermixed with subtle spices and lightly toasted. Mild vegetables and balsamic background appears after a while. The entry is powerful, fleshy and dry, marked by intense roasted notes, light spices and a delicate mineral touch. Good acidity that refreshes and distinctly tannic. Persistent finish that leaves roasted and fruity sensations.

vilosell 2012

Wine No. 7 – Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011, Ull de Llebre and Syrah

Beautiful cherry color with violet edges. Very bright and thin legs. Nice aromatic complexity with a  wide range of aromas. Vegetables, red fruits, hot spices and licorice give way to ripe fruit, sweet spices and chocolate. Subtle floral background. Intense and spacious volume. Silky and full of juicy fruit, blackberries, accompanied by toast and mineral notes and subtle hints of licorice. Mature and well polished tannins. Good acidity. Long and persistent finish that leaves fruity sensations. A round, tasty and very friendly wine!

Bui del sort negre 2013

Wine No. 8 – Batlliu de Sort, Biu de Sort Negre 2013, 100% Pinot Noir

Unclear, light purple to ruby color. Ops, not a favorite. Primary of sewer and rotten eggs, like I haven’t experienced that before! Swirl, swirl, swirl and here we go…, raspberry, unripe cherry, slight coffee aroma and some green beans. Light entry, dry, fresh acidity, light tannins, violet, salinity, green bell-pepper. Different, interesting even though we got of to a bad start. Would actually enjoy an additional glass of this wine

And the WINNERs are (had to go for two this time) Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011 and Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011.

77 to go!

And The Grapes Are, Save Your Soul in D.O. Cava

301/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Torrelavit – Segura Viudas – Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

Save Your Soul……..,

564Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, 67% Macabeu and 33% Parellada

This premium Cava is one of the best in its class! The balance between elegance, ripe fruit and the aging being its distinctive features. The vinous, distinctive flavor, full aroma and a delicate finish put it on a level of quality Cavas which can only be referred to as Super Catalan Cava. Bright golden color with fine bubbles. Complex on the nose, aroma of lees, nuts and herbs. Powerful entry, rich in the mouth and a great acidity. Fine bitter ending. Food Cava of the best kind presented in a very special bottle.

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Let’s take a moment and have a look at the specifics of Cava, Cava making and the grapes that are used and of course, allowed according to the rules of the appellation. The origins of Cava are associated with the splendour of Catalan wine production during the mid-nineteenth century and the fame of Champagne at the end of the eighteenth century. The fermentation process that Louis Pasteur developed in his microbiological studies was adopted as part of the second fermentation in the bottle, while the discovery that cork preserved the bubbles was made during this stage. This was the birth of the traditional production method.

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During the nineteenth century, several families in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia started researching this new production technique and applied it to crops in the zone. As a result of their studies and trials, linked to the prestigious Instituto Agrícola Catalán Sant Isidre, they used this on autochthonous white grape varieties. This was the birth of Cava, which has a specific identity that makes it different from all other top-quality sparkling wines.

During the twenties, Cava became established in the Spanish market, achieving high growth in the sixties and its international consolidation in the eighties. Nowadays it is one of the most dynamic, prosperous wine-producing sectors, producing more than 200 million bottles every year for consumers all over the world. This sparkling wine is produced using the traditional method that has created its own identity through the decades as a result of factors such as the use of autochthonous grapes and the mild climate of the growing region. Its personality has been so successful that Cava is currently sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The term Cava is derived from the Catalan word for the caves (or cellars) where it is traditionally aged and stored.

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The Penedés wine-producing region, 40 kilometres south of Barcelona, is where 95% of the total Cava production takes place. Cava’s specific characteristics originate in the traditional historical zone in terms of classic viticulture and production conditions. However, Cava is also produced in other regions of Catalonia (Girona, Lleida and Tarragona), as well as some areas in the Autonomous Regions of La Rioja, Aragon, Navarra, the Basque Country, Valencia and Extremadura. In total it is produced in 159 municipalities from around 32,000 hectares of vines. 

Because of its geographical and orographic diversity, the traditional zone of the Penedès has a large variety of soils. Wines are grown in the central zone, far from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and protected by the mountains of Montserrat. Soils are calcareous, with a medium permeability. The climate is typically Mediterranean, luminous and sunny. Winters are mild and summers are not too hot. All this, together with moderate rainfall spread out throughout the year, produces an optimum microclimate for cultivating the vine and ripening the grapes.

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The wine makers around the corner prefer to make the Brut Nature, without adding expedition liqueur, as the local market prefer this type of Cava. But the Brut as well as the Semiseco have over the past few years increased in production, mostly because of the demands from the export markets. The levels of added expedition liqueur or sugar are as follows; Brut Nature: no added sugar, Extra Brut: up to 6 grams of sugar per liter, Brut: up to 15 grams of sugar per liter, Extra Seco: between 12 and 20 grams per liter, Seco: between 17 and 35 grams per liter, Semiseco: between 33 and 50 grams per liter and finally Dulce: more than 50 grams per liter. There’s a Cava for every taste!

The main grape varieties are: Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada together with Chardonnay and Subirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana and two varieties of red grapes: Garnatxa Tinta and Monastrell. Only two red varieties are authorised for producing rosé Cava: Pinot Noir and Trepat.

xarel-lo1Xarel·lo is a round, white grape with a thick skin. The taste as it grows on the vine is semi-sweet. It has a natural acidity which provides fresh fruit aromas of apple, grapefruit and lemon to the wine. It is one of the primary grapes in Cavas grown in the following Designations of Origin: Alella, Penede`s, Tarragona and Costers del Segre. I’d call this baby “The Body of Cava”.

macabeuMacabeu is one of the most widely planted white grapes in the North of Spain, where it is usually referred to as Viura. It is responsible for the floral notes in Cava wines, very resistant to oxidiation and has a low acidity. In addition to being a primary varietal in Cava, it has also seen great success in Rioja and Southern France. Also spelled Macabeo in Castilian/Spanish. “The Soul of Cava”.

VARIEDADES UVA 09 036Parellada is the least planted of the traditional Cava grapes. This varietal brings acidity and fresh fruit characteristics, at times very candy like and almost always some kind of banana, in comparison to the more prevalent Macabeu and Xarel·lo. While it grows best on higher altitudes, yielding bright, crisp wines, Parellada produces a softer wine in the vineyards situated on valley floors. One of my favorite grapes. This would be “The Makeup of Cava”.

1280px-ChardonnayChardonnay is the most widely planted variety in the world and one of the most important grapes for sparkling wines, its inclusion into Spanish sparkling wines in the early 1980’s is still controversial since it is not one of the traditional three Cava grapes. It adds body and toasted, creamy notes to the wine, and also takes on characteristics of the oak, if used, during the aging process.

640px-Malvasia_grapesSubirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana is one of Spain’s most characterful white varieties, it can be found in many regions including Rioja and Valencia. In Catalonia it is known as Subirat Parent and it is mostly used in D.O. Alella and D.O. Penedes, as well as being certified for Cava making. There are extensive plantings in the Canary Islands where the veriety is used for a wide range of styles. One of its attributes is longevity; the variety often plays a supporting role in Rioja’s white blends when a period on oak is needed.

trepatTrepat is a red grape variety that is grown primarily in the Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre DO:s of Catalonia. Ampelographers believe that the grape is likely indigenous to northeast Spain and today there are approximately 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of the variety used mostly for light rosé. It has the potential for fine red wines, but is primarily used to add light, subtle characteristics and color to rosé Cava. Over the years Trepat has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Bonicaire, Embolicaire, Parrel, Trapat, Traput and Trepan.

DSCF0323Mataró/Monastrell is commonly known as Mourvèdre, tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, adds structure and color to Cava. The variety was probably introduced to Catalonia by the Phoenicians around 500 BC. The French-adapted name Mourvèdre likely came from Murviedro (Mourvèdre in Catalan, nowadays Sagunt) near Valencia while the Catalan name Mataró likely came from Mataró, near the modern-day city of Barcelona.

GarnatxaGarnatxa/Garnacha/Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It is a variety that requires hot, dry conditions which makes it ideal for growing in DOQ Priorat. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acidity, tannin or color, so it is typically blended with other grapes to add body and a sweet fruitiness to Cava.

Pinot_Noir_Grape_VinePinot Noir produces some of the finest wines in the world, but also very delicate and difficult to produce due to its sensitive nature. Compact grape clusters and thin skins make the Pinot Noir susceptible to different diseases. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. It provides Cava wine with great floral aromatics and for the rosé Cava it lends its color.

83 to go!