Satisfy My Soul and 15 Delicious Reds from Catalonia!

412 – 426/365 – Catalonia – 15 Delicious Reds

Satisfy My Soul……….,

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

a_7_177La Llopetera, 100% Pinot Noir

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

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

DSC_1083L’Antana 2009, 100% Merlot

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

1980213_1473071126244012_988613148_oTerra Remota Usted 2009, Garnacha and Syrah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

destrankis-2012Destrankis 2012, 80% Garnacha and 20% Cariñena

Bright red cherry color with violet tones, middle layer. The nose is full of fruit, light touches of menthol, green leaves and pine. Good combination of fresh red fruit, herbs, thyme, rosemary and mineral notes. The palate shows some minerality. This is a fresh and balanced wine. Licorice, balsamic and butter, with a slight touch of camphor. The palate is light but persistent, with a subtle mineral background showing where it comes from. If you like Grenache, this is a wine for you!

Sot Lefriec 2004Sot Lefriec, 50% Merlot, 30% Carignan and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (D.O. Penedes)

The fermentation of this particular wine takes place in small tanks on wild yeasts. There are no pumps in the winery as the wines are moved using inert gas to avoid any uncontrolled oxidation. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan were harvested approximately 10 days later than usual or what would be considered normal for the varieties and region. Prefermentation maceration and alc. fermentation around 30-35 days for Merlot and Cab. Sauv. and around 25 days for Carignan , which is also longer than usual. During these periods, there are daily remontages and pigeages. Sot Lefriec 2004 has spent 23 months ageing in French oak barrels, 70% new oak. This is a super small garage producer, that works out of Vilafranca del Penedes, so if you see a bottle of Sot Lefriec on a shelve be sure to grab it fast!

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

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

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

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

escur10_174x241Els Escurçons 2010, Garnacha and Syrah

How much soul can a wine have? After trying Els Escurçons I´d say, unquantifiable! This is a wine with a beautiful dark cherry color, garnet rim and medium high layers. Bright and clean. The nose, after a while of areation, is spicy with creamy aromas, slightly oaky, ripe and complex. It is very expressive showing varietal fruit notes, like mature black berries. Mediterranean herbs, like thyme, fennel, rosemary and even a slight scent of lavender. Complex, in terms of the roasted notes found, chocolate and balsamic.It is powerful and elegant on the palate with a broad and intense entry, good acidity and polished tannins. It has a long finish with aromatic retronasal memories of spice, red fruit, herbs, wildflowers and light toast. Soul in a bottle! Love this Super Catalan!

DSC_0461Sileo 2013, 80% Garnacha and 20% Samsó

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

0001692_HLaurel 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah

Dark cherry color with cardinal red reflections. Clean and bright, abundant tears. High intensity nose, expressive, full, concentrated and enjoyable. Ripe black fruit dominates and gives way to floral notes, spicy, toasted (which after a while become roasted) and deep minerals. The palate has a powerful entrance with a lot of volume. It is a fleshy red wine, with great weight deriving from the fruit, tasty, unctuous step, with excellent acidity and ripe tannic sensation. Balanced, long finish and very persistent. Laurel 2012 comes from the small winery Clos i Terrasses, led by Daphne Glorian, creator of the legendary and excellent Clos Erasmus. Laurel 2010 is a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, aged for 15 months in second year barrels, in which the Clos Erasmus was aged. Recommend decanting about two hours. Another true Super Catalan!

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

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

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

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Winery De Muller, That Lucky Old Sun in D.O. Tarragona

367/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Reus – De Muller – Solera 1851 Pajarete Augusto De Muller

That Lucky Old Sun……..,

…never stops shining and the days here in Catalonia are in general wonderful. Sure, ups and downs, but it just seems like the ups are Himalaya and the downs are not so very down! Make sense? Pure fact of the matter is, I have found a good life here and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest. The end of this week is full of activities, wine tastings, cellar visits and wine lectures. Is it all about wine, you might ask? I’m not going to bore you with a extended answer, simple yes will have to suffice! But on occasion I do tend to eat something nice with the wine as well.

pajareteSolera 1851 Pajarete Augusto De Muller, Moscatel, Garnacha Blanca and a mix of Red Garnacha varieties!

Medium-dark brown mahogany color with very dense and endless tears. There’s a symphony of aromas going on in the glass, the nose being very fragrant and subtle, starting with balsamic and continuing with cedar tree, candy and cereals. Raisins, dried figs, dates and nuts are several of the other lovely aromas developing and offering dimension after dimension in this Jerez type wine, one of the best sweet wines that I have had the luck to try. The palate is a round, full of flavor, with exceptional acidity that make it an almost eternal wine. There is a high degree of fineness and delicacy topped with a long, silky finish. This is a wine that will allow you to die with a smile on your face!

And just to be on the safe side, a bottle is close by at all times!

Penedes is divided into three administrative parts, Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Garraf, and their capitals are Vilafranca del Penedès, el Vendrell and Vilanova i la Geltrú. The provincial division is between the provinces of Barcelona, which includes Alt Penedès and Garraf, and the province of Tarragona, which includes Baix Penedès.

The regions within the province of Tarragona

So, the village of choice, in which i live and work, in situated within Tarragona, not the D.O. of Tarragona but the province of Tarragona. The village falls under the D.O. of Penedes. Confusing? Well, sometimes the borders made by paper pushers are not always meant to be understood!

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Suffice to say that both D.O:s have a diversity of wines and a multitude of cellars. No need to travel long distances to enjoy a nice visit to a winery and to fill the days with lovely local activities. Spring is here and that makes it so much easier! One of the big ones, De Muller of Tarragona, is worth not only one visit but several, and their products are abundant throughout the restaurants of Catalonia.

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Presently, De Muller offers a very wide range of quality wines under the appellations of Tarragona, Priorat and Terra Alta. Amongst the traditional Mass Wine is included. It was responsible of the De Muller fame throughout the world. Nowadays exports constitutes 60% of its production to international markets, the 40% remaining, being sold nationally.

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During four generations, starting in 1851, the company belonged to the family De Muller. Initiated by Sir Auguste de Muller and Ruinart de Brimont, a member of a well-known Alsacian wine grower family.

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Having considered the potential the Tarragona area provides, they decided to settle as former Greek colonies had settled in Spain, followed by the Roman Empire in Imperial Tarraco, capital city of Citerior Hispania.

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As from June 1995, De Muller S.A. belongs to the Martorell family, Catalonian businessmen and traders eager to obtain the optimal quality in wine, while respecting the tradition that constituted the firm heritage for decades. During 1996, De Muller S.A. moved their installations in a new cellar surrounded by vineyards in the property known as “Mas de Valls” in Reus.

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In the village known as El Molar, in the south-eastern part of Priorat, one can find the property “Mas de les Pusses” with 34 hectares of vineyards and a new cellar with a capacity of 500.000 liters. It is here they elaborate their Priorat wines, which I’ll have to come back to. In 1999, De Muller assured the continuity of the former Cochs S.A. who decided to sell the company after 52 years of activity; they decided to do so because they had no continuity in the management, which had always been held by the family.

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Cochs was founded in Reus in 1946 and it began its activity on the first of January 1947. The firm was mainly enrolled in the manufacturing of the traditional vermouth aperitif from Reus, well known on the national territory; its formula has remained unchanged. To explain all wines produced would take several entries, so you’ll just have to wait and make due with a brief explanation of todays wine.

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Solera is a process for aging liquids such as wine, beer, vinegar, and brandy, by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. A solera is literally the set of barrels or other containers used in the process.

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The majority of the “hearth”, in the wine tasted, is Moscatel and Garnacha (both Negra and Blanca) varieties. Both of which are aged independently and in different types of oak barrels. These barrels are stacked in rows of up to three stories height.

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The lower row is called “Solaria”, due to its proximity to the ground and contains  a higher quantity of aged wine.  When the blend is about to be made and the wine bottled, 1/3 of this “Solera” is removed. The loss in volume is immediately replaced by wine from the second tier barrels, and the second from the third. The second and third tiers are called “Criadera”. The third tier is filled with new wine, which has been subjected to oxidative aging in wood casks.

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The output of the solera is the fraction of the last container taken off for bottling each cycle. The amount of product tied up in the solera is usually many times larger than the production. This means that a solera is a very large capital investment for a winemaker. If done with actual barrels, the producer may have several soleras running in parallel. For a small producer, a solera may be the largest capital investment, and a valuable asset to be passed down to descendants.

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Wine produced from a solera cannot formally have a vintage date because it is a blend of vintages from many years. However, some bottlings are labeled with an age for marketing reasons. It is unclear whether such age indications denotes the average age, or the age of the oldest batch.

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The wine tasted today bares the note “In honor of the son of Reus, Antonio Gaudí, genius known worldwide as the father of modernist architecture, this hearth born the end of the day this teacher was made.”

Enjoy! Another very elaborate Catalan Solera!

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De Muller Garnacha Solera 1926

Amber yellow in color. Thick and satiny with perfect slow flowing tears. Noted aromas in the nose are those of dried fruit and dates. Secondary are of toasted notes, caramel, burnt sugar, which mingle the scent of varnish and mahogany wood sail boats. The palate is thick and creamy. Very polished with nice balance. It is long in the mouth and lingers. Sweet, but not overly sweet. Fresh with wonderful acidity. I have to try the other Soleras by De Muller!

18 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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 White of Vinyes del Terrer, La mer in D.O. Tarragona

287/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Vila-Seca – Vinyes del Terrer – Blanc de Terrer 2012

blanc_del_terrer(1)Blanc de Terrer 2012, 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Pale, bright yellow with green iridescence, shows that it’s a young wine. The nose picks up intense expression of its terroir, with direct white pepper notes and mineral. White stone fruit, freshly cut grass, apricot and a very slight hint of anise come through as secondary aromas. Lemon peel and thyme, after some time of aeration. In the mouth it is clean and fruity. Gentle white fruit, lees which is not taking over, fleshy, peach and apricot. Full in the mouth with sensations described above, with a sweet and greasy feel, intoxicating. I would love this one with a prawn risotto!

La Mer…..

…., we should never underestimate the importance of the sea, especially when it comes to its influence on the vineyards, and as such, the final product. Vinyes del Terrer is a clear example as to that fact, and here, the sea helps to secure high quality grapes, which suffer less from humidity and hence fungal diseases. We should also remember the history and the great role played by the Mediterranean for the sake of spreading our beloved Vitis vinifiera throughout the countries of the middle sea.

KISH_04_77The culture of the ancient Phoenicians was one of the first to have had a significant effect on the history of wine. It was a civilization centred in the northern reaches of Canaan along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in what is now Lebanon. Between 1550 BC and 300 BC, the Phoenicians developed a maritime trading culture that expanded their influence from the Levant to North Africa, the Greek Isles, Sicily, and the Iberian Peninsula. Through contact and trade, they spread not only their alphabet but also their knowledge of viticulture and wine making, including the propagation of several ancestral varieties of the Vitis vinifera species of wine grapes.

logo-vdtThe Morell family vineyard estate is comprised of nine parcels totalling seventeen acres in the outskirts of Tarragona on the Mediterranean coast. Defying urban sprawl, the vineyards lie within a mile and half of the sea, their soils composed of calcareous loam derived from shell (fossil) limestone, known locally as lumaquela.

Felsenküste_Conil_Muscheln_2The lumaquela is a biochemical, non-detrital, sedimentary rock. A type of limestone which keeps decomposed remains of living organisms, i.e. fossils and shells, hence its other name, or fossiliferous shell rock. The overall colour is light soil, like any common limestone, but can present various colours like for example black, which is best seen in shells or fossils, they usually have the characteristics of tile features, used for decoration and construction of houses, the colours it presents, are being polished to increase brightness.

w3-1400x460The heat-mitigating sea breezes and the singularly mineral soils motivated the Morells to perennially dedicate their parcels to gape growing, with the objective of producing wines of the highest and most expressive level. With the encouragement of experts and in recognition of the estate’s unique viticultural gifts, TERRER (terroir) was the clear choice of name.

TerrerRed varieties grown are Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha, vines between 15 and 25 years of age. Viticulture is sustainable and yields are held to a scant 1.5 tons per acre. Careful berry selection is followed by natural fermentation and aging during approximately one year in seasoned barriques and 5,000-liter uprights of French oak, seeking minimal wood influence. 2010 represents a début of sorts, the first vintage produced in a new bodega facility in the heart of the estate.

1249403417-368x276The Vinyes del Terrer is a property that occupies seven acres of land south of the historic area of ​​Tarragona, in the municipality of Vila-Seca. The vineyards are timidly risen 20 meters above sea level and just two kilometres from the Mediterranean, where the farm enjoys a climate with sunny days and gentle sea breezes. It has temperatures without extreme changes, with annual average of 15ºC. The vineyards get about 2,600 hours of annual sunshine and rainfall is quite sparse and sporadic. Such climatic features provide the freshness necessary to offset the hot summer days so that the grapes achieve optimal ripeness.

vinyes-del-terrer-do-tarragona-L-4dCShhThe property of Vinyes del Terrer is a flat farm with lumaquela soils rich in silicon, which offer each vineyard of the Terrer its own character and the personality of this unique type of terrain. This peculiarity influences the contribution of mineral terroir heartened by marine sediments accumulated over millions of years. The ambition is to conserve the mineral character throughout the production process, so that the wines reflect the original richness of the terroir.

DSC_1040The wines of Vinyes del Terrer are made exclusively from grapes from their own estates. With a limited production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and the varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat, all the products are made with their own grapes. Right now, Vinyes del Terrer grown grapes in nine partitions, all falling within the seven acres of vineyards owned by Vinyes del Terrer, which has become a distinctive brand that gives us wines, rich in character.

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Terrer d’Aubert 2010, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Made from old Cabernet Sauvignon vines and aged in used French oak. Deep ruby color, bluish edges, with nice tears. Pungent cherry and dark berry scents, plus notes of tobacco and dried flowers. Blackberry and bitter cherry flavors give way, after aeration to brighter red fruits, with juicy acidity providing elevation. Closes with tooth-dusting tannins and very good, fruity persistence. A lovely approach to cabernet and it certainly has the necessary structure and balance to age.

97 to go!

International Garnacha Day! The Drunkard Song in D.O. Montsant

277/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Marçà – Acustic Celler – Auditori 2010

The Drunkard Song………,

auditori-2010-etAuditori 2010, 100% Garnacha

Pure pleasure, and as the top wine of Acustic Celler it displays and conveys the elaboration and terrior to perfection. Grapes from three old Garnacha vineyards, all 70 years and older. A full-bodied sensual sensation, with well ripened red fruits, cherry is clear. I distinguished some licorice  and a little spiciness  with clear oak as it progressed. Medium long finish. Nicely integrated tannins. Could easily stay in my cellar for another 5 – 10 years. The downside…….., not enough bottles on the market!

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The third Friday of September is celebrated as the International Day of Grenache. Coinciding with this important day for all wine lovers, events are organized today and during the weekend to come. This is the fourth year of this initiative, a series of activities for everyone that enjoy a glass or two of Garnacha, Grenache or Garnatxa, as it is referred to in Catalonia. I’ve chosen to open a bottle of Auditori from Acustic Celler! What could possibly go wrong with that choice?

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Grenache is a variety of Mediterranean origin and one of the most cultivated worldwide. In Catalonia, it is estimated that there are about 5,000 hectares planted. Many wines are made with the help of this great grape variety, either as a mono-varietal or blend. It transmits the identity of a region and the expression of a landscape in a perfect way, picking up the different soils and microclimates of the regions in which we can find it: Montsant , Priorat Emporda, Terra Alta Alella, etc. Over centuries, the Grenache vine has produced colour mutation vines with berries of all range of colors, and also the hairy Grenache, in Catalonia called Garnacha Peluda The latter is a clone, originating from the Tarragona region. Grenache can be made with a variety of fruity wines and good acidity from youth to sparkling whites, and also sweets. Grenache Noir 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. Characteristic flavor profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavors (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note. Grenache wines are highly prone to oxidation with even young examples having the potential to show browning (or “bricking”) coloration that can be noticed around the rim when evaluating the wine at an angle in the glass. As Grenache ages the wines tend to take on more leather and tar flavors.

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As for sharing favourites……, well I guess that’s what I do all days! But just for the heck of it, some of the Garnacha wines I wouldn’t mind having on a a more regular basis could, but not be limited to, be the following; Espectacle 2010,Teixar 2010, Trossos 2011, Cerverola 2011, LLuna Vella 2010, Cims de Porrera GX 2006, Raret 2011 and Mas Plantadeta 2008.

There’s a lot going on in Catalonia to celebrate the Grenache, as well as the Mostra de Vins i Caves de Catalunya, which starts tomorrow in Barcelona, a fair covering Catalan wines and Cava, and does so during four days, 20th to 24th of September. A few players that have dedicated activities to the International Grenache Day are;

Vinyes Domenech

Vineyes Domenech, one of the wineries in Catalonia that promote Grenache. They organizes collaborations with chefs and sommeliers in different restaurants and speciality shops during the Day. Among them, the restaurant Dos Cielos, la Cuina del Guinardó, el Hoffman, Divi i el Colmado Quilez de Barcelona, the restaurant at the Club del Cep d’Arenys de Mar, the Cellar Montserrat de Mataró and the Cellar Florida de Barcelona, Cal Feru de Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Bodega Jordà de Tarragona, Can Bosch de Cambrils, etc. If you feel for a drive through the countryside, you are certainly welcome to visit Vineyes Domenech, to see for yourself how the Grenache is treated in situ.

Vila Viniteca
Vila Viniteca, a well renowned wine shop in Barcelona, celebrate Friday evening with a tasting of 25 wines made from the variety, including the Tros Negre 2011 (Montsant), Cabrida 2010 (Montsant), Brunus Rosat 2013 (Monsant), L’Equilibrista Garnatxa 2012 (Catalunya), Quike Rosado 2013 (Catalunya), Gamberro Garnatxa Blanca 2011 (Terra Alta), Gotes Blanques 2013 (Montsant), Masia Serra Ino (Empordà), Pansal del Calàs 2010 (Montsant), etc. This tasting is free of charge. Living and working here has its perks, as I have pointed out many times before.

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In addition to the above activities, The Celler Edetària, has posted a contest on their official Facebook page, called the “Grenache Challenge 2014“, where you have a chance to win one of their wines. Enjoy Wine Barcelona are tasting Grenache wines from DO Empordà at The Santa Caterina Market in the Born area of Barcelona, and this is where they normally have their wine tasting activities, Grenache day or not. Now all that remains is to enjoy the day and appreciate the Grenache variety to its fullest! Enjoy!

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107 to go!

Celler Mas Bella, The Long Way Home in D.O. Tarragona

180/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Masmolets – Celler Mas Bella – Bella Negre Crianca

The Long Way Home……..,

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Bella Negre Crianca, 100% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo)

The Bella Negre Crianca has been elaborated using the Eyes of the Hare grapes, in Catalan Ull de Llebre and in Spanish Tempranillo. Same grape, different pronunciation. Both maceration and fermentation was done controlling the temperature carefully after which it has been aged in oak barrels and on the bottle. Intense dark cherry color. The nose is complex and delicate, with notes of ripe red fruit, slightly lactic, toast and spices. The palate is sweet, structured, balanced and rich with spices. Persistent after taste. A tight red from the appellation of Tarragona.

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A small producer from this old Roman settlement where wine has been produced, in one way or the other, for centuries and centuries. The Mas Bella winery and the range of fine wines they make come from the vineyards of Masmolets, in total they have 14 hectares of vineyards producing their own indigenous varieties such as Macabeo, Parellada, Carthusian, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) and Garnacha Tinto, each year they select the best grapes to produce their wines under the umbrella of the DO Tarragona. A unique production of 10,000 bottles per year and that’s it!

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Within the old manor house dating from 1777 two young entrepreneurs who have wanted to return to highlight the project of their grandfather took up the ardous task of makeing wine from the family vineyards. They renovated part of the old winery where they currently produce the wines and where they have a space dedicated to store wine and a tasting room in order to offer the visitors and clients a pleasant stay to taste the products. They got the trust from the family and the key to the manor house, go for it!

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203 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Vinicola de Nulles, One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer in D.O Tarragona

179/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Nulles – Vinicola de Nulles – Adernats Gran Reserva Brut Nature

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer…….,

…. and a bottle of Cava!

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Adernats Gran Reserva Brut Nature, 40% Macabeo, 30% Xarel.lo and 30% Chardonnay

Very fine and abundant bubbles. Good aromatic impression of nuts with tropical notes of banana and pineapple, citrus and lavender. It has good acidity and good integration of carbon, highlights the flavors of ripe fruit and quince. Large and persistent after taste. This is a great quality/price Cava, that would go well with a nice summer fish bbq! Happy Cava loving days!

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The Vinicola of the village of Nulles is and has been the legacy of the merger between two co-operative syndicates. The company consists of two parts, the wine producing section which is the focal point of the production and an accounts section, which oversees and operates as a financial entity for both the wine producing activity  and its shareholding members. On one hand, the philosophy is aimed towards producing wealth and value for the shareholding members while, at the same time, producing top quality wines, which represent and are symbolic for the of the work and that of the members, who form the co-operative.

Vinicola de Nulles, harvest season during the 60'ies!

Vinicola de Nulles, harvest season during the 60’ies!

The values are to protect and increase the importance of the agricultural activity, specifically the cultivation of the vineyards but also the development of the ongoing enology. With this, achieving quality meeting the highest standards of the market. The intention being to produce wines “that can be afforded by everyone” but also allowing them to compete with the “very best” in all respects. All this is happening, as you read this, in the small village of Nulles, situated to the south of the l’Alt Camp region. Nestled in a exceptional wine growing area, where the sunlight and Mediterranean climate hold all the needed prerequisites. The AP2 motorway, coming from the east, takes you almost all the way here, starting the journey from Barcelona. To the south, the history of “Tarraco Imperial” (Tarragona), gives way to modernity of a large leisure area. To the north and west, the Cisterian Route takes you to the world of monasteries, Santa Creus, Poblet and Vallbona de les Monges.

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The Nulles wine making co-operative was founded in 1917 but it was not until the 29th of December 1919 construction work started at the site and during 1920 the first harvest was received. Cesar Martinell was chosen unanimously by the members to be the architect in charge, based on the fact that he had earlier been involved in the making of the so called “Wine Cathedrals”. The building work was awarded to a Barcelona based company called “Germans Pomar i Pons” which in turn relied on the members of the co-op working voluntarily with the construction. The stone and brick building is designed in such a way, so that the light and warmth entering through the windows positively influences the wine making process.

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202 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Cooperativa Vila-Rodona, Sweetest Thing in D.O. Tarragona

169/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Vila-Rodona – Cooperativa Vila-Rodona – Vi Ranci

Sweetest Thing….

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Vi Ranci, fortified wine

The color is glossy, mahogany brown. Nose shows light alcohol, pickled fruits in liquor, nuts, spices, cocoa bean. The mouth is powerful, slightly sweet, sour with good acidity. A very dry white wine aged over a long period in oak casks, it is a typical product of this appellation of origin D.O. Tarragona. Its distinctive bouquet and flavour make this a perfect wine to accompany sweet desserts. To enjoy at its best, serve at around 9°C.

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The Agricultural Cooperative of Vila-Rodona is now an association of various local agricultural cooperatives forming part of the Appellation d’Origen Tarragona, and situated right in the middle of the Cistercian Route, just next to the Santes Creus Monastery. Founded in 1919, the cooperative wine cellar, of modernistic style, the work of the Valls architect Cèsar Martinell, is of significant architectural interest and is open to the public.

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From the beginning, the aim has been to constantly improve the techniques of the cellar and make the most of the available resources. All this work has resulted in the excellent quality of the wines and other local products made by the Cooperative. The cooperative produces 10.000.000 liters of wine annually, made from the different varieties of grapes harvested in the 1200 hectares of vineyards belonging to the members of the cooperative. The majority of the grapes is destined for the production of wine and Cava of renowned labels.

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The production and elaboration of reserve wines aged in the cellars, their own Cavas, other varietal and fortified wines, are the result of the continuous effort of this Cooperative to achieve maximum quality, which is demonstrated by the high level of all the products. The Vila-Rodona cooperative makes wine purely from it’s members vineyards, found primarily in the villages of Vila-Rodona, Aiguamúrcia, Valls and el Pla de Santa Maria. All the vineyards are registered within Denominacions d’Origen that guarantee the quality of the wines produced.

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The grapes from the vineyards of Aiguamúrcia produce wines within the Denominació d’Origen Penedès and the grapes from Vila-Rodona, el Pla de Santa Maria and Valls produce wines in the Denominació d’Origen Tarragona. Simultaneously these vineyards are at the heart of the Denominació Cava. Production is predominantly of white wines, made from Macabeu, Parellada and Chardonnay, although in recent years there has been an important increase in the number of red grape plantations, with varieties like Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.

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The mild Mediterranean climate in the area, with rains in the Spring and the Autumn and dry summers cooled by sea breezes, enables a healthy ripening of the grapes and good color in the red grapes. The diversity of soils in the four villages produces grapes with different characteristics, enabling blends between the different wines produced. In the white varieties this combination of climate and soils produces grapes, which once elaborated in the cellar, give aromatic and fruity whites.

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In the red varieties, the good color and ripening from the combination of climate and soils in the area enable them to make reds with structure, balance and complexity. These views of the vineyards, farmed in the hills around the Gaià river valley and the area of les Planes, are well worth visiting. The strict control of each of the vineyards enable them to maintain the traceability of all of their wines and Cavas, knowing at all times which vineyards have produced the grapes for each wine. This transparency is increasingly important in the relationship between producer and consumer.

210 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!

MArejol

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

 

Vins Padró, Turn me on in D.O. Tarragona

147/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Brafim – Vins Padró – Ipsis 2012

Turn me on……

The winery was founded in 1898 by the brothers, Joan and Daniel Padró Valldosera, though old documents which have been unearthed prove that wine had certainly been grown here for a long time before that. The history of Vins Padró spans five generations, through which the work and dedication of their ancestors has survived and continues to this day. Now the new generation is in charge of contributing its knowledge and applying it to making wine and the cultivating the vines.

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Over the yeas they have managed to improve and adapt the existing facilities, adding the latest wine making technology to produce high-quality wines. Ageing takes place in American and French oak casks. Since 1960 they have been bottling the wines in a plant set up at their own winery. Crianza wines are made with the grapes obtained from the oldest vines. The cellar contains some 650 barrels of American and French oak.

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The geographical area where the winery and vineyards are located is within the D.O. of Tarragon. This is the oldest wine denomination in Catalonia. Its wines were prized as far back as Roman times, when they were exported to Rome and all the major settlements of the Empire. In 1932 it was given a statute to protect its wine, and in 1976 the present denomination was set up.

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The white grape varieties cultivated here include Macabeo, Muscat, Parellada and Xarel.lo. From these grapes the white wines are made – these varieties provide freshness, acidity, balance and fruity aromas. Varieties such as Chardonnay have been included to diversify the range and the style of the wines according to the demand of new markets. This is also the case of Sauvignon Blanc, which provides wines with a touch of elegance.

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The red grapes include the Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), which is the predominant variety here. It gives light, fruity wines, both red and rosé. Merlot has gradually been introduced to new wines to bring them finesse and aromatic nuances. The result of its vinification is wines with strong color and texture, ideal for aging in oak barrels.

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Ipsis 2012, Tempranillo/Merlot

Intense deep red color. Strong and complex on the nose with traits of eucalyptus and mint, with hints of spices like pepper. Very tasty in the mouth, surprisingly structured, balanced and rich in tones. Its taste is long and persistent with fruity notes. Certainly works well with lamb, as that was the chosen food during the tasting, but also white meats and cured cheeses. Decent wine for decent dime.

232 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle