Celler Jaumandreu, Take A Chance On Me in D.O. Pla de Bages

374/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Fonollosa – Celler Jaumandreu – Més Que Paraules Negre 2012

Take A Chance On Me……..,

Mes Que ParaulesMés Que Paraules Negre 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sumoll

Intense dark cherry color with a bright garnet rim and violet reflections. High layers. Very bright and abundant tears. Good intensity with a wide range of aromas: lots of red fruit, somewhat jammy, ripe wild berries and floral fragrances, especially violet stands out. When opened, sweet spices appear together with balsamic and dairy. A touch of resin and thee secondaries reveal cinnamon, bitter cocoa and fresh scent of tobacco. It goes on and on. Elegant mineral background. Good entry, powerful and warm. Tasty, full of fruit, creamy toast and spices. Balanced acidity providing a good freshness. Sweetish and integrated tannins. Long and persistent presence balanced with fruit and toast. This is a killer wine!

More than words…..,

…., ¨mes que paraules¨ in Catalan, is a wine by Jaumandreu. And indeed no words are needed, not only for this wine in particular, but in many instances, for many wines out there. Sometimes it’s just enough to sit there, with a nice glass of wine in hand, listen to a good song and enjoy. More than words!. You don’t have to say you love me, cause I already know. Hold me close, don’t ever let me go!

Jaumandreu is a surname with great tradition within wine making of this region. From the twelfth century, the finca (estate) of Jaumandreu, in the D.O. Pla de Bages, has created history and bottled it with excellent results, even though the history in this case is a brief one. Several different generations of professionals working together in magnificent conditions offered by this land for cultivation of vineyards.

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The estate includes a traditional Catalan farmhouse set in a unique environment, among gentle hills, where silence reigns and you can get lost in knowing that this is, in more ways than one, an unique experience. Sometimes, this is all it takes to fall in love with a region, a winery or a wine.

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The winery was founded in 2004 by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in food, marketing, communication and food production, carrying out a project that has already give its first offshoots, wines being accomplished, reflecting their personality but also aesthetics with a sleek and attractive image that refers to the elements of nature that surrounds the property.

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The Jaumandreu project has, within the Pla de Bages, recovered 60 hectares of vineyards with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and local Picapoll. The philosophy is forward thinking, trying to incorporate the best of what the wine world as a whole has to offer. Authenticity, creativity, passion and working together with a modern mindset in this project, that is Jaumandreu!

S6300227-111 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas de Sant Iscle, Left Coast Boogaloo in D.O. Pla de Bages

331/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Sant Fruitós de Bages – Mas de Sant Iscle – Sal.la 2011

Left Coast Boogaloo……..,

vi_negre_salaSal.la 2011, 60% Ull de Llebre 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Bright cherry red color throughout. The nose is full of ripe plum, blueberries and light notes of licorice in the background. Medium-high aromatic intensity, very clean nose and frank with a very fruity feel. Smooth entry and slightly greedy in the mouth, but it quickly displays its youthful vigor, with tannins that are a bit too dry but not too aggressive. Meaty, good tannic feel, with a well balanced acidity that gives the wine freshness and vivacity. It is easy to drink and it has good persistence, I especially like that it produces the same taste as the nose indicates, loads of ripe plum! A very nice wine, well crafted and affordable.

At the Mas de St. Iscle they have been producing wine since the early nineteenth century under the leadership of the Vilanova family, now in its fourth generation, with a special emphasis on the local varieties, the white and red Picapoll.

Mas de Saint Iscle is one of the oldest properties in the Pla de Bages region. This medieval hamlet is documented since the year 950, once the Muslim were expelled  it has been inscribed within the Marca Hispanica under the authority of Charlemagne, at the same time a monastery, founded by St. Benedict Mon Bages, was erected and became the cradle of wine culture in the region.

The Mas de St. Iscle became a shelter and resting point for travelers. Monks, peasant and nobles alike. You could basically view it as todays roadside hotels. Located along the old road that people traveled  from Barcelona to Cardona, laying in the midst of the irrigation canal, an impressive feat of medieval engineering during the fourteenth century that involved the construction of a canal to bring water from the Llobregat river through Balsarenys, and ending in Manresa.

The cultivation of vine has been a constant in this place. At the beginning of the century, a century after the region recovered from the phylloxera that ravaged the Bages, Jaime Vilanova a renowned winemaker from the Ancient Valley of Cardener acquired the estate of Mas San Iscle, with 70 acres of planted vineyards, olive and cereals around the Romanesque church of Sant Iscle and Santa Victoria de Bages. The rest of the history still remains to be heard!

57 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!

Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés, Lullaby of Birdland in D.O. Pla de Bages

272/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Artés – Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés – Picapoll Joven Artium 2013

Lullaby of Birdland………..,

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Picapoll Joven Artium 2013, 100% Picapoll

Straw yellow colour, clear and transparent with green hues, brilliant. The nose is pleasant, fruity and fresh. White notes, tropical fruit and citrus with floral notes which appear in the background. Easy entry, fruity and pleasant in the mouth. Tasty, creamy and with medium acidity that adds just the right amount of freshness. Mineral touches with a salty point. Short aftertaste. This is a single varietal of the Picapoll from the D.O. Pla de Bages. This small appellation is based in the district of Manresa and the total number of cellars is 12. Most of them are small family farms. The wine is a young white which is made with Picapoll grape variety, which is native to this area, fermented in stainless steel tanks at 18 ° C for 25 days. It is a white that is easy to drink, light and fruity. Great value for money!

Picapoll is a local grape which is to a high degree being replanted or grafted to existing rootstocks. While often confused with Picpoul, this grape has been grown in the area since Roman times, being referenced in the writings of Pliny the Elder. Picapoll berries are small, oval and thick-skinned; though there are larger berried clones used as a table grape. The grape requires a lot of attention in the vineyard as bunches tend to grow smaller, “shoulder” clusters which need to be pruned off for proper ripening. The vines are very resistant to arid conditions and almost never shows over-ripe aromas. For maximum expression of the wine, skin contact, reductive winemaking and lees aging are essential.

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Celler Cooperatiu d’Artés put great care in making all their wines and Cavas, paying meticulous attention to all stages of the process from monitoring the ripening of the grapes in the vineyards to final bottling. With each stage requiring specific skills and its own time. Not all wines follow the same process: some are young and ready to drink now, while they are young and fresh; others are enriched, matured and patiently aged in oak casks selected for each wine’s style, variety and vintage. However, in all cases, the winemaking process only begins after careful selection of the grape varieties required to give the desired type of wine.

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After harvesting the grapes, Picapoll and Macabeu for white wines and Cabernet Sauvignon, Ull de Llebre, Merlot and Sumoll for red wines, the grapes are de-stemmed to obtain the must for the red wines. The grapes used for white wines are not de-stemmed. The grapes are then gently pressed, followed by debourbage at low temperatures. The juice is then fermented(the natural process by which the sugar in the must is converted into alcohol) in modern tanks equipped with cooling systems. The duration and temperature vary depending on the type of must. For white wines, fermentation lasts for 13 days at temperatures below 18ºC; for rosé wines, 2 weeks at 16-17ºC, and for red wines, 10-15 days at 26-29ºC.

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After alcoholic fermentation, the red wines that will be aged need a few more days of maceration to extract the polyphenols (anthocyanins, aromas, extracts and tannins), which will play a vital role in the aging of the wine both in the barrels and in the bottles. After a certain period of maceration, a second (malolactic) fermentation is carried out. This is the process in which lactic bacteria break down the malic acid and convert it into lactic acid. This process is very important because it softens the wine, an essential step in the process of obtaining a true quality wine. To make rosé wines, the must only stays 24 hours with the skins; white wines are fermented without the skins. Aging in oak casts and subsequent maturing in the bottle are essential for red wines to enhance their fragrance and obtain optimal quality. White and rosé wines are drunk young. Some whites such as Picapoll are also aged and are fermented in new oak casks for 3 months.

Celler Cooperatiu d'Artés

112 to go!

Fargas-Fargas, Let’s Have a Party in D.O. Pla de Bages

176/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Sant Salvador de Guardiola – Fargas-Fargas – Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2001

Let’s Have a Party……,

Where a river runs through, La Frezelle, both village and river. Lovely landscape and friendly people!

Where a river runs through, La Frezelle, both village and river. Lovely landscape and friendly people!

…. since we ended up in a small village, by the name of La Frezelle, due to the car breaking down on our way to Sweden, we have had a party each night! The hotel owners and their local friends know how to treat visitors and the wine has been flowing, the food has been great and we have had a genuinely wonderful time. Will come back upon our return, going back home to Catalonia. I am also very happy that the bottles of Catalan wine I had in the car have been well received by the French, apparently they can enjoy wines that are not locally produced. Now, we are waiting for the garage to deliver on their promise that the car is going to be repaired by tomorrow!

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Fargas-Fargas Tempranillo 2007

The Fargas Fargas Tempranillo comes from the vineyards of the Cross. The winemaking includes a one year aging in barrels of American oak. It has a very dark cherry color. Aromas of black currant and a symphony of spices such as laurel and even oregano, with a background of leather and cocoa and a well integrated barrel ageing.
The palate is discrete at first, but as it passes it becomes intense and powerful, the ending being balanced and friendly, nothing heavy with this one and maybe way to easy to consume?

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At Fargas-Fargas it is so, that during the last days of August, the harvest begins. Everything does not take place during one sole day, or week even. Each rootstock, each variety and in some cases each bunch of grapes reaches their perfect balance of sugar and acidity on different days, so ongoing controls of the evolution is done regularly. When the desired balance is achieved, they start the harvest and so it continues. The grapes are then received at the cellar in small batches, variety by variety and vineyard by vineyards, always at the optimum moment of ripeness. After careful selection, and depending on the grape variety, the wine maker decides which type of process the wine will receive.

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The white grapes are pressed in barrels and fermented for a period of three weeks at a controlled temperature of around 14 degrees. All this to preserve the flavors of the fruit, as to obtain fresh, lively, fruity and cheerful young wines ready for consumption. Traditionally they have made rose wine every year by using predominately two grape varieties. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. To prepare them they remove the large stems and putt all the pasta in a stainless steel tank. After the expected colors has been delivered, the skins are removed and it is left to ferment for three weeks at around 15 degrees.

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The grape for the red wines, are destemmed and the mash is fermented for about 10 days at 28 degrees. As we know, the skins provide both color and aroma to the final product as well as the highly desired tannins. During fermentation the skins and seeds float to the surface, creating a hard cap. To make sure the skins are well integrated it is important to break this cap, stirring it once or twice a day, as to mix the paste with the grape juice. Once the wine rests in wine barrels or stainless steel tanks, the second fermentation takes place, the malolactic.

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If everything goes as planned, the reds are then laid to rest, filling up barrels so that it can age as intended. After a while, the wine interacts with the barrel and shows the direction in which it is going, by then the decision is being made with regards to how long it is going to be barrel aged. The wooden cask, the barrel, is not hermetically sealed, so it breathes and provides oxygen to the wine, softening it and adding the sweet aromas enhancing the natural proprieties of the wine, making it more enjoyable.

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All wines can be aged in barrels but at Fargas-Fargas they have decided to use only Merlot, Cabernet-Sauvignon and Tempranillo varieties for their aged wines. Excluding predominance of wood in the wine and as such giving the natural aromas of the wine more space. The Tempranillo get along fine with American oak, the vanilla flavor of the wood is perfect for a wine like this, fruity and full of life. Short barrel time for the fattier tannins of the Merlot is enough to create an elegant wine which is still rich in texture and aromas. Cabernet being very tannic, is well of spending time in the barrel as to provide it with rounded features, as well as mixing up the floral and vegetal aromas with the intensity of the oak, and then followed by the necessary bottle aging.

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And this, my friends, is how it’s done at Fargas-Fargas! And you thought it was complicated to make great wine? Try it, why don’t you? This coming autumn I am going to give it a try, still thinking about which grape variety to go with? I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

205 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler El Moli, Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand in D.O. Pla de Bages

162/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Manresa – Celler El Moli – La Llobeta

Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand…..,

…., cause if I hold your hand, baby, you’ll understand…., understand why you should try out Pla de Bages! The Pla de Bages is a fertile plain located in an area of mythical mountainous landscapes such as Montserrat, the mountains of Castelltallat, the Nature Reserve of Sant Llorenç del Munt y l’Obac and the massif of El Montcau. The region, which has an increasingly broad range of leisure and gastronomic activities, has important tourist and cultural attractions, such as the Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the salt mines of Cardona, the cave of Sant Ignasi in Manresa and the route of the Acequia, running alongside a medieval canal.

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It is common to find ancient wine tubs and vineyard huts made of stone. The huts were used by peasants, who often had to stay all day long in the country side, to store agricultural tools and to protect themselves from inclement weather. Around 4.000 huts still survive in very good condition, most of which were built coinciding with the great expansion of vineyards in the region. Don’t drive me insane, just hold my hand as we visit Pla de Bages together!

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200-largeThe El Moli Cellar cultivates two plantations in the El Bages county. One of them, which gave the cellars its name, is the El Molí plantation, located in a spot facing the Montserrat mountain range and at the foot of the Collbaix hill. The other is in Plans de la Casa Nova, in Monistrolet de Rajadell. In these two plantations of the D.O. Pla de Bages they cultivate organic wine and olive trees to create top quality wines and oil, and in doing so there is a great respect towards the natural surroundings in which they find themselves.

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The county’s exceptional microclimate is ideal for the cultivation of vines and olive trees. In El Pla de Bages they enjoy a Mediterranean climate, with scarcely any rain and quite an acute annual temperature fluctuation. The land is mainly made up of loam/clay soils. Celler el Molí keeps a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. It blends in with its surroundings and it has been designed to stay faithful to their commitment to quality organic production. Therefore, the facilities are equipped with a cold store, a grape sorting table, temperature control both in the cellar and in the maturing area. All this allows them to make the most of current technologies and use innovation to maintain tradition.

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La Llobeta 2008, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot

Wine of high intensity colour, ruby red with violet touches. Accentuated tear. Intense, fresh and sugar-coated wild berries, with fig and dry apricot and balsamic touches. Complex, well integrated. Good entry, wide and fresh, with a persistent and long after taste. 

217 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Time for Wine (Part One), Let’s do it Again in Vilanova i La Geltru

149/365 – Catalonia – D.O. All of them! – Vilanova i La Geltru – Restaurant Marejol – Temps de Vi 2014 (Wine Fair) – Porcellànic Dolç Natural

Let’s do it Again…..,

… if something is done right, why not do it again? I am amazed that the initiative take by two young guys three years ago, has grown and grown to the extent that it almost has outgrown the town of Vilanova i La Geltru! Wine fairs in Catalonia are fourteen on the dozen and most of them are excellent opportunities to get acquainted with the appellations, wineries and wines of Catalonia. Most of the fairs are small and there’s nothing wrong with that, in my opinion every small village should have one. But to see this one grow the way it has done is just out of this world. Let’s do it again……, let’s get together and feel al-right!

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Yesterday’s event at the Marejol Restaurant in Vilanova I La Geltru, is just the beginning of a wine fair to be remembered! Temps de Vi is the name of the wine fair in this coastal town, a place that sometimes is overlooked because of the nearby Sitges. Those that dare wander away from the cities and the known places, will soon be aware of a gem in its own right.

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But, this is after all a blog about wine, so let’s stick to the theme at hand. Temps de Vi, “Time for Wine”. And then I ask myself, when is it not? I’d say, and you that know me will agree, always! The name they have chosen is nevertheless to my liking! Very catchy and I don’t think there is a similar wine fair anywhere in Catalonia. The fair is taking place during the 30th and 31st of May and the 1st of June 2014. As opposed to many local fair in Catalonia, this one offers access and invites wine makers and cellars from all the appellations of Catalonia. Big difference! Benefit for us wine lovers? During three whole days we get to taste amazing wines without having to drive.

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This is the third edition and it will be set in the centre of town, not far from the local market. It will be starting from the Plaça de les Neus and carrying on to the old main road. The former location, the Main Boulevard, has been outgrown by the fair, which is quite pleasing for the two-man team Oscar Villagarcia and Carlos Carbonell, the guys putting this whole thing to work! Forty-two wine cellars have already confirmed participation and they will be occupying some 12,000 square meters.

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The fair does start, officially, on the 30th of May but many tastings and events are to take place, starting from the 22:nd of May. The museum of Victor Balaguer hosts the Riedel Experience and after that the days are going to be filled with wine, wine and more wine! Loads of tastings and related activities, if you are a wine lover this is certainly a fair not to be missed.

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The inaugural tasting, yesterday evening, was led by winemaker Oriol Guevara, from Vilanova and the wine makers present, sharing their wines. The wines presented were all conceived in an organic, ecological or bio-dynamic way. Some of them described as natural wines. Yes, yes, I know, if we call them natural wines, what do we call the rest of all wines made? Let’s agree then to call them “wine with nothing added” or “wine with nothing added or removed”?

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The fact is, during the last four years, the vineyard area devoted to organic farming has tripled. Some say, and I’m not referring to The Stig, that future wines will all be organic. Bold statement I agree, but certainly not that distant. Oriol Guevara, pointed out that the event yesterday was “A great presentation of Temps de Vi”. And it was!

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There were some seventy souls present, awarded with the unique experience of tasting some of the best wines in the categories above. If this was the inauguration, I can only imagine what the actual Temps de Vi wine fair will be like! The show started with a short, but to the point introduction of the fair, by both the organizers, Oscar Villagarcia and Carlos Carbonell. After which there was a longer elaboration on organic and natural wine making by Oriol Guevara and Ramon Francàs Martorell, a well know Catalan wine writer, blogger and sommelier.

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We all got to enjoy some very limited edition wines from the nearby area of ​​Penedès, actually called zero km. wines. Juan Rubio introduced the 2013 Can Creedo, a Xarel.lo wine. The winemaker Marta Casas presented the unique and new Xarel.lo, Amphora 2013 by Parés Baltà. Renowned wine maker Laurent Corrio, a Frenchman living and making wine in a garage in Vilafranca del Penedes, showed up with his limited edition (250 bottles), Despullat, a 100% Carignena.

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The winemaker Manel Aviñó also from Vilanova presented his Xarel.lo Clos Lentiscus 2013. And so the evening carried on, one wine maker after the other, sharing and explaining, all in Catalan and that’s not my strongest language but I endured, all for you and the wines!

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El vesper de la Gloriosa, a sweet sparkling white, 50% Xarel.lo and 50 % Macabeu, made the ancestral way, was about to conclude the tasting and then after nine wines tasted, Ton Rimbau presented his very scarce Porcellànic Dolç Natural, made from 95% Macabeu and 5% Xarel.lo. This is the first part of many to follow, covering the wine fair Temps de Vi! Now, let’s do what we normally do and finish it of with a proper tasting note! Hope to see you in a few days time and then we could share a glass or two!

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Porcellànic Dolç Natural

A deep amber colour, rich and fatty tears. First thing that hit my nose was the sense that this might be a sherry, which I knew it wasn’t, but nevertheless, some notes were obvious. Aromas of fruit compote of pear and yellow apple notes danced around for quite some time. Intense and elegant taste and a long finish where notes of bitter orange left me wanting more. Worth the money, I wouldn’t know, as I don’t know the price, but knowing the rest of the wines from this wine maker, I’d say…….., let’s do it again!

230 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Celler Abadal, You Don’t Know Like I Know in D.O. Pla de Bages

138/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Avinyo – Celler Abadal – Abadal Seleccio 2006

You Don’t Know Like I Know…..

….., the dust in Falset is just about to set, as the last day of the annual wine fair is coming to it’s end. For me, the tasting and writing continues but I also have to start focusing on the fair I’m helping to organize here in the village of Llorenc del Penedes. The fair is covering the Baix Penedes region and only ten cellars are going to be here to display their wines. I am happy to be part of this event, especially since it is taking place a couple of hundreds meters from my house. All of this, and more, to come in future blog posts, in the not to distant future. For now, let’s create some awareness for D.O. Pla de Bages, a rather unknown appellation, but with some exciting wines! 10171091_679929662067879_4974058619986948118_n

1199….., The historic estate of Mas Roqueta in Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó, belonging to the municipality of Avinyó in the Bages region of Central Catalonia, has been documented back to 1199. Nestled among the woods, the estate has been witness to the growing of vines as the main agricultural activity, being the traditional crop of the area.

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The Roqueta family story is the story of wine growers. Origins date back to the 12th century, although there are traces of wine-growing activity during the Roman era. It tells of generations of wine-lovers, devoted exclusively to the task of wine growing, handed down to the generations of today. Valentin Roqueta founded Abadal in 1983 at Santa María de Horta de Avinyó, in the family vineyards close to the old Mas Roqueta.

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The winery has modern facilities, where it works to recover the winemaking tradition in enriching the D.O. of Pla de Bages, with renewed vision. The grape selection is rigorous and the harvest is done according to the variations of the vineyards and the different degrees of maturation.

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The winery combines modern technology with the twelfth-century farmhouse, in perfect harmony. The farm house is now a museum, open to visits. In the old cellar, Sant Ramon, tastings are conducted, barrel tastings, the wines of Abadal and especially the Picapoll, that is a variety native to Pla de Bages.

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Historically, dating back to the 17th century, Picapoll is a grape varietal native to the Languedoc area of France that has currently found its way to the northeast portion of Spain in Catalonia. Found as a red, white and gray varietal, the white varietal is currently the most often planted. This time I decided to introduce a red, one of few, from the D.O. of Pla de Bages which I consider to be a keeper. Enjoy!

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Abadal Seleccio 2006, 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah

My kind of wine! Grown up with all the right properties and with one of my (many) favorite grapes. Thank you Cabernet Franc! Lovely cherry color with garnet rim.Ripe nose of red fruit, mature with nice spice and some mineral notes. Juicy and sweet fruitiness. Very balanced and with great and nicely integrated tannins. A bottle shared with a friend, some slow talk and that’s an great evening right there. Add some food and the evening becomes excellent!

241 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Pascona Pirate Party, Drink Up Me Hearties in Falset

136/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Battliu de Sort – Borda de Cebria – Biu Blanc 2012

Drink Up Me Hearties…..,

….., Drink up me hearties, yo ho! Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! A toast to piracy and its many shiny rewards. As a career, what could be more rewarding?”  Are YOU in your happy place? Your office? My happy place is  my office! Yesterday, this was the best party to be at, only wish that all of you scallawag goat-herders were here!

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This is my office, or one of many office spaces I occupy. Welcome to my life! Where is the best place to be on a Thursday afternoon? Right here in my office! This time in Falset, Pascona Montsant Estate, where Toni hosted a Pirate party, with a twist?

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Well yes, since the rum wasn’t flowing bit the wine sure was! A couple of hundred friends got together and had a ball, Jack Sparrow was there as well, where else would he be, as the wine was free!?! Visca Pascona Montsant!

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A bunch of wine cellars where present, as the party was also a mini fair for local, Catalan, wineries! From D.O. Montsant, Celler Comunica, D.O. Priorat showed up with L’Infernal, D.O. Costers del Segre with Celler Batlliu de Sort. Cellers Som i Serem came, saw and conquered, from D.O. Tarragona. Mes Que Paraules from D.O. Pla de Bages and Finca Parera from D.O. Penedes. D.O. Emporda was represented by Terrer d’en Tassis, Celler Mas Foraster from D.O. Conca de Barbera and finally Cellers Frisach from D.O Terra Alta! Not a bad bunch, considering they are all Pirates!

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The brewery of Moritz might have felt out of place but let me tell you, a beer after all that wine was just what I needed! I am very please that nine of the Catalan appellations were represented. The only ones missing were D.O. Cava, D.O. Catalonia and D.O. Alella. Would have been nice with someone from Alella, but as Cava and Catalonia as D.O:s are more generic, they can be excused!

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This is exactly what an office party in my neighborhood looks like. A nice theme, some great wines and excellent finger food! The DJ played all the right tunes, the atmosphere was just the right kind and many, many friends were around! It almost got to be crowded at the office, which is very rare since the office, most of the time, is outdoors!

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Next year I’m dressing up as Hector Barbossa, just gonna let the beard grow and get a sword! Let the good times roll.

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Biu Blanc 2012, Riesling and Viognier

Bright yellow with thin greenish, thick and slow tears. Aromas of citrus, notably lemons and some grapefruit, white fruits, pears and green apples and soft touches of mountain herbs, anise and something reminiscing of dry flowers. The palate has good and fresh entry, remarkable structure with very distinct sour notes, good acidity, lime and lemon peel, hints of white fruit, hint of alcohol and some bitter notes. Long aftertaste.

243 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Hotel Hostal-Sport, Just Becaus D.O. Pla de Bages

110/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Collbaix 2011 Singular

Just because…….

…. once again, Hostal-Sport hosted a tasting of wines from one of the 12 appellations in Catalonia. Yesterday it was time for D.O. Pla de Bages. Heard of it? No! Well, now you have and believe me, Pla de Bages is a appellation you are going to be very aware of in the near future. Fresh, fruity and well made wines at decent prices, that’s what we like! Enjoy!

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The Pla de Bages is a fertile plain located in an area of mythical mountainous landscapes such as Montserrat, the mountains of Castelltallat, the Nature Reserve of Sant Llorenç del Munt y l’Obac and the massif of El Montcau. The region, which has an increasingly broad range of leisure and gastronomic activities, has important tourist and cultural attractions, such as the Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the saltmines of Cardona, the cave of Sant Ignasi in Manresa and the route of the Acequia route, running alongside a medieval canal.

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It is common to find ancient wine tubs and vineyard huts made of stone. The huts were used by peasants, who often had to stay all day long in the country, to store agricultural tools and to protect themselves from inclement weather. Around 4.000 huts still survive in very good condition, most of which were built coinciding with the great expansion of vineyards in the region.

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With a continental Mediterranean climate, El Bages offers ideal conditions for vine cultivation: an exceptional micro-climate, scant rainfall, great variations in temperature, and a clayey and calcareous soil. The wines are pervaded by soothing touches of lavender, thyme and rosemary – aromatic plants common to the pine, oak and ibex woods surrounding the vineyards.

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Collbaix 2011 Singular, Macabeu and Picapoll

Dark yellow colour with golden reflections, clear and brilliant.  The nose is intense with fruity aromas of tropical fruit. Mango, pineapple,  mature peach and apricot. Continuing and as secondary notes it carries pastry notes, brioche, roasted notes and slight balsamic. The mouth has a good entry, large and bulky. It is long and persistent with good acidity.

271 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle