Can Ràfols dels Caus, Nobody Does It Better in D.O. Penedes

157/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet del Penedes – Can Ràfols dels Caus – La Calma 2009

Nobody Does It Better….

In time, I will cover most of the wines from this gem of a winery, but for now the chosen wine is La Calma. Enjoy!

gran-caus-la-calma-2009_g_10001241-1La Calma 2009, Chenin Blanc

The  La Calma 2009 is made from the varietal Chenin Blanc. The vines were planted about 30 years ago in calcareous soils, and there is no use of insecticides or herbicides. After harvesting, which is 100% manual, the wine is fermented in temperature controlled French oak barrels for 32 days, after which it is aged for 4 months in French oak barrels. It is stylish, different, complex, seductive and almost impossible to get a hold of!

Intense golden yellow color, clean, very bright, with plenty of robust tears. Intense and complex aromas displaying ripe yellow fruit, plums and apricots, dried fruits, dried apricots, candied fruit, balsamic, slight anise and hints of pastry. Very good on the palate, strong, dense, warm, rich, long and elegant mouth with excellent acidity that refreshes. Long and persistent fruity notes, toast and minerals. Delicate and delicious.

The story

About three years ago! Right place right time! Meet with Xavi Nolla as he was introducing me to a winery in Montsant, which I have already covered. At the time Xavi was doing wine tastings every Tuesday at Lola Tapes in Tarragona. We went a couple of Tuesdays to taste some excellent wines and great tapas.

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

At the time, the knowledge of Catalan wineries was quite limited so this excellent sommelier was, and still is, a great source, recommending several cellars! One of them being Can Ràfols dels Caus! Thank you for the tip, my friend!

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Only a few days after getting the insight, a phone call was placed and we were off to the massif of Garraf, a national park and protected area, southwest of Sitges, towards Vilafranca and within the D.O. of Penedes.

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Upon arrival we were well received, greeted and shown the sites by Marc Rusca Baena, the in-house sommelier. After this, the first visit, there has been additional ones! And if I decide there will be many more. Will YOU join me next time? Well, that’s all up to you, I’m always available for a visit and tasting at Can Ràfols!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

The Garraf wine-growing region is a protected area within the traditional boundaries of the Garraf National Park. The Can Ràfols dels Caus estate is situated at an altitude of 300 m, and stands on a rise between the ravines of two watercourses surrounded by vineyards growing on the terraced slopes. From some of the highest vineyards, such as “la Calma” or “el Rocallís” the sea can be seen, some 15km away.

Don't be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

This situation is paramount for obtaining healthy grapes, as they are sheltered from the damp air coming in from the coastline, but are equally protected from the sporadic hailstorms in the Sierra of Ordal or the Pre-Coastal mountain range.

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The Garraf Massif has an unusual mesoclimate. The daytime is sun-drenched and hot despite the tempering effect of the sea, which sends in a cooling breeze towards the afternoon. This allows the vines to complete their growth cycle and reach full ripeness.

Automated granite "doors" leading into the winery!

Only 50 hectares of this 455-hectare estate are vineyards, 2 hectares being used for olive groves, 1 hectare for almond orchards and the rest for woodland, scrubland and rocky terrain. The size of the single vineyards ranges from 0.15 hectares (the smallest) to 2 hectares (the largest).

Part of the winery exterior

Can Ràfols dels Caus has always been a forerunner and trend-setter, and some twenty-five years after Carlos Esteva started his wine venture, he decided to take a giant step forward by building a new cellar. The aim was not to squeeze in more vats, barrels and bottles, but to work better.

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

With this project, the winery’s potential for producing quality wines has multiplied, as the cellar is now geared to promoting micro-vinifications, separating batches even more and research. The cellar has been designed so that it is completely carved out of the Dolomitic limestone of the Garraf, invisible from above ground and totally integrated into the landscape.

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This would probably be the perfect location for the next James Bond movie. The scoundrel being a crazy wine maker, wanting to take over the world by making his wine so addictive he would have the whole human race in chains! Carlos is slightly crazy, like all artists, but in a good way! To see what he saw, being a visionary, in 1979, is simply “have to see to believe, based”!

Part of the winery interior

This place is simply amazing! The location, the grounds, the mansion, the winery, the whole concept and the wines, oh the wines! Just writing about it………., I might stop writing and set of for a quick visit! Sure, I can write about it, but the only truth is, you have to sample it yourself.

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All I can say is, it will be worth your while! If we were talking Guide Michelin, this would be a 3 star, worth a trip of its own! Enough with the superlatives!

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Can Ràfols dels Caus winery produces a range of wines, most of them are great! Five whites and five reds, 3 Cavas and 2 rose.

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222 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Ferré i Catasús, Granada in D.O. Penedes

128/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – La Granada – Ferré i Catasús – Somiatruites 2012

Granada….,

…, the Pomegranate can be related to Granada (the city in the south of Spain) by the Sierra Nevada, but they hardly grow any vine there, so in fact, the Granada (Granada meaning Pomegranate) in question is small village not far from Vilafranca del Penedes and Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. Quite the setting, with vineyards all around and very easy to reach from Barcelona for a day trip. Plenty of sightseeing to be done in the area and several great wineries to visit, if that’s you cup of tea. tumblr_inline_mh6j48M3Oq1qi77y6Ferré i Catasús is the materialization of a project pursued for many years. It was the hopes and wishes of a man called Josep Maria Ferré i Catasús and a woman called Sònia Serrano Quetglas, who both wanted to mark a new horizon in wine culture. It all started in the 30s, when Lluís Ferré Pascual, Josep Maria Ferré i Catasús’s father, and his mother, Maria Catasús Demenech, got married in secret. This impossible love entailed the loss of the inheritance that belonged to them by birthright. Between the 60s and 70s, Josep Maria Ferré was an important businessman devoted to the food trade in Barcelona. DSC_0449This fact was the prelude to the return to his origin in Penedès.

In the 80s, together with Sònia Serrano, Josep Maria Ferré obtained several properties in Alt and Baix Penedès and he began to produce grapes for other wineries. However, he was not satisfied because he wanted to do more by creating a brand and a line of products that represented the essence of his project and that took the wine culture to all the different aspects of everyday life. At the end of the 90s, Ferré i Catasús returned to the land of his birth and where his ancestors had already developed a winemaking task: La Granada (Alt Penedès). At that moment, he thought that his son, Lluís Ferré, could continue his dream and together they decided to launch the Ferré i Catasús’s winery. sumollJosep Maria Ferré i Catasús and Lluís Ferré built Masia Gustems, the old family house, where they installed the latest and most advanced technology and machinery for the production of wine andcava. They also reorientated the production of their lands so that Ferré i Catasús could completely self-produce their wines and cavas, from the vineyard to the final product. In 2001, the winery launched its first products: Merlot, Xarel•lo and Carbernet, among others. Ferré i Catasús’s wines were born (in honour of its founder). 1551632_633856963328887_299596038_nSince then, Ferré i Catasús entrusted the management of the project to his son. Lluís Ferré has changed Ferré i Catasús into a lively and growing company, where each and every department works in order to rediscover “good wine” and to create a new wine philosophy. Every member of the Ferré i Catasús team, starting with Lluís Ferré, is motivated by curiosity, the spirit of self-improvement and by a fierce instinct to innovate in each new product. And so, Ferré i Catasús has received the recognition of experts and has won prizes in important international wine contests due to the daily work undertaken in the cellar by the whole team. 1374998_580234398691144_125776905_nThe estate called Corral d’en Rafeques is located in Castellet i la Gornal (Baix Penedès). It is the largest piece of land, with a total of 25.66 hectares of crops: Cabernet Sauvignon (9.17 Ha), Chardonnay (4.57 Ha), Tempranillo (2.64 Ha), Xarel.lo (4.58 Ha), Syrah (1.98 Ha), Merlot (2.72 Ha). La Granada is Ferré i Catasús’s spiritual centre and this is where we find Masia Gustems. It has been equipped with facilities for the reception and vinification of the grape, with an area of 3.10 hectares. Chenin blanc (2.08 Ha), Red grenache (0.53 Ha), Facilities (1 Ha) 1374890_578901748824409_699876872_nThe estate of Cal Escudé is located in Guardiola de Font Rubí (Alt Penedès). It has 17.08 hectares and is dedicated to the following grape varieties: Macabeu (3.85 Ha), Merlot (3.36 Ha), Syrah (3.68 Ha), Sauvignon blanc (1.62 Ha), Muscat of Alexandria (1.90 Ha), Parellada (2.67 Ha). All Ferré i Catasús’s wines and cavas are born as Estate wines, a qualification which includes a set of vineyards in a specific area and a particular microclimate, providing exceptional quality of vines, which has been achieved thanks to a meticulous study of the soil of the estates owned by the winery. terraLluís Ferré has invested all his efforts in preparing this exhaustive soil map, a working tool that provides a broad knowledge of the land and that allows winemaking teams to obtain the best yield from the crops. The study of the land can be found at the vinification plant of the cellar. somiatruites-442879Somiatruites 2012, Chenin Blanc, Moscatel, Sauvignon Blanc, Xarel.lo and Chardonnay

Made using grapes from vines aged between 10 and 40 years old. Yellow in colour with greenish hues, it exudes tropical fruit aromas complemented by citric and floral notes, and shows complexity on the nose, lychee, banana, pineapple and more! The palate is broad and silky with a lingering acidity that gives freshness and length throughout and it is certainly full-bodied on the palate, it displays a tropical fruit flavor on the aftertaste. Very drinkable!

251 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Bodega Escoda Sanahuja, You’re all I need to get by in D.O. Conca de Barberà

103/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barberà – Llovera – Bodega Escoda Sanahuja– Els Bassotets 2012

You’re all I need to get by…….

Hectic days, past and to come, but that’s quite my cup of tea! The village has a jazz, wine and local food fair today, so it’s going be yet another day full of activities and hopefully some new encounters with interesting people. Yesterday evening was spent at a local, quite rural, restaurant where I together with some friends enjoyed a tasting menu with set wines from Sumarroca winery. The wines were versatile, to say the least, so I have to book a visit at their winery and then I’ll do a recap with the restaurant.

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My choice of the day is a small producer from D.O. Conca de Barberà, a region in which I have found several small and alternative producers. Organic, bio-dynamic and/or natural wine making is what would be called alternative, should really be the other way around!? Pesticide and herbicide usage for spraying the vineyards, should be the alternative and not the other way around! I’m happy to see that more and more small “alternative” wineries are popping up and quite a few of them in the D.O. of Conca de Barberà.

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The Conca region shows that it is evolving and changing all the time. New producers, wine makers and wines are seeing daylight on a constant basis and the appellation has the potential to claim fame, due to the excellent conditions of the terrior but also the long history of wine-making in the region. It is highly probable that wine production was introduced by the ancient Romans but by the time of the Moorish dominion of the Iberian peninsula it had all but disappeared from the Conca de Barberà area.

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As in many other wine producing regions, wine production took off again thanks to the influence of the monasteries founded in the Middle Ages, in this case the Monastery of Santa Maria de Poblet, near Montblanc which was then the third largest city of Catalonia. In the 12th century both the Knights Templar and the monks from Poblet worked the vineyards. The wine was produced in the basement of the monastery and can be visited today.

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The period from the end of the 18th century to the mid 19th century was one of expansion for the area. Wines and spirits were exported to northern Europe and to the Americas and grapes became the dominant crop. In this period terraces were built on the mountainsides to increase the area under vines as much as possible. The railway connecting Montblanc to Reus on the coast was built in order to transport wine more rapidly and efficiently.

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The arrival of the phylloxera virus at the end of the 19th century marked the end of this boom period as most of the vineyards were devastated. However the comeback was spectacular. The Conca de Barberà area was the first in Catalonia, and in the rest of Spain, to form agricultural cooperatives based on grape growing and wine production.

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Thus in 1894 the grape growers of Barberà founded a syndicate for collective wine production. Under the direction of Joan Espulgas (a vintner who had learned how to combat the phylloxera virus in France) the syndicate undertook the project of replanting all the vineyards in the Conca area, by grafting onto phylloxera resistant New World rootstock. Success ensued and in 1903 the first cooperative winery in Spain was built in the town of Barberà. Conca de Barberà attained official DO status in 1985.

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Escoda Sanahuja was founded in 1997, that’s when the farming of vineyards began. The wine making and market entry took place in 2003. The winery is hosted in a stone building situated at the foot of the Prenafeta mountain. It has 7 hectares of its own vineyard, cultivated with Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Garnacha, Cariñena and Chenin Blanc. The cultivation of the vineyards is totally biological and with bio-dynamic principles. These wines are a natural as you can get.

The co-operative of Barbera

The co-operative of Barbera

 

Joan Ramon Escoda-Sanahuja uses no sulfites either in the vineyard, nor during any part of the vinification process (if possible). To ensure that his wines are stable he puts the wines through a very long and slow maceration period under with very controlled temperature conditions a method that captures natural carbon dioxide which becomes a natural preservative to the wine and creates wines that have long and silky tannin structures with great follow through on the finish.

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The wines are not filtered, nor fined. All the bottling, vineyard management and harvest is done with the cycle of the moon – Bio-dynamic. The vineyards are of calcareous soils located at an altitude between 450 – 600m. This provides both character and elegance to the wines from its special terrain.

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Several of the wines made by Joan Ramon has become my favourites and besides the El Bassotets I am very fond of Els Bassots Chenin Blanc. I have had an opportunity to imbibe the 2006 vintage of this interesting Chenin Blanc. It has very driven aromas with pronounced vibrant fruit; lemon and apple, mixed with strong mineral accent which turns into an almost smoky character. It has a firm almost edgy quality compared to more traditional Chenin Blanc. It’s sharp, and tightly packed profile of tropical/exotic fruits together with notes of spices which compliments the mineral driven finish. Aeration to this wine is highly recommended as it needs time to develop and release all that it has to offer. 

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Els Bassotets 2012, 100% Chenin Blanc

Deep golden yellow and turbid, due to the absence of filtration. High intensity shows a complex nose full of nuances. Aromas of white fruit and very ripe yellow citrus fruits, yeast and sweet spices, lifted by a subtle wood. The palate is oily, with a silky smooth texture, superb acidity, deep, aromatic, good finish, long and persistent that puts more wood on the nose, lots of fruit and mineral notes.

279 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle