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 Herencia Altes, Children Of The Revolution in D.O. Terra Alta

346/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Herencia Altes Winery – Herencia Altes Garnatxa Blanca 2011

Children Of The Revolution………,

garnatxa_blanca_23859Herencia Altes Garnatxa Blanca 2011

Straw yellow color. Expressive exotic nose, white flowers are all over the place, mineral and well marked acidity that keeps it fresh and alive over time. The palate is creamy and has good volume. A wine with complexity and soul. It was made using old and young vines of Garnacha Blanca. The grapes were picked early to ensure good natural acidity. Followed by short maceration and fermentation. The wine was kept two months on its lees to gain texture and complexity. This is a wine to fall in love with!

On rare occasions do I write about the labels...., you'll have to agree that this one is a masterpiece! Interpret as you wish.

Herencia Altes Garnatxa Negra 2012

Deep ruby to purple colour. Primary nose very closed, not displaying much at first. After a while, the first impression is that of artificial aromas, perfume and strawberry caramels, pure candy. Aromas of under-brush, black cherries and raspberries. In the mouth, however, it gets going from entry. Very lively fruit, but without exaggeration, yielding a wine of medium body, creamy, silky and fills the mouth and fascinates. Beautiful fresh plums, ripe strawberries, tobacco, licorice, vanilla pod, bitter chocolate. One more of my Super Catalans. At this price and with this quality, you should buy boxes!

Nuria

The second wine of the day is a custom cuvee made for wine importer Eric Solomon by proprietor Nuria Altes. It is 100% garnaxta negra (grenache) raised on its lees in concrete vats.  The fruit is mix of very old garnaxta bush vines, which is balanced by the youthful intensity of younger vine fruit.

Herencia-Altes-Barrels

If Herencia Altès is one thing only, it is quality throughout! But it is not only one thing, it has so much more to offer, and I for one am going to keep my eyes open for the coming wines from this fine tuned cellar in Terra Alta. This is a well thought through project long time in the making. For generations Nuria Altes and her family have been grape growers, with vineyards dispersed around the village of Batea. Nuria has decided to give these grapes their own personality making limited numbers of the seven wines they produce.

HERENCIA_ALTES.LEstel.labelWhile Terra Alta is not yet a well-known region (but it is getting there) – tucked away in the south-eastern corner of Catalonia it borders Aragón and Valencia – it is one of the largest areas in Catalonia under vine. Built upon Roman and Moorish foundations it preserves a beautiful historical center and its grand church is testament to its past glories. In terms of viticulture, it is the most important village in Terra Alta accounting for over 50% of its entire grape production. Most of the grapes are sold to cooperatives or large companies outside the region. Herencia Altes is Nuria Altes’ dream to put Terra Alta on the map and show the true quality of these wonderful old vines.

The artwork on each of the labels reminds Nuria of her childhood days, playing amongst the vines.

41 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Rainbow Connection at the Experiencia Verema 2014 Barcelona

338/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Celler Coca i Fitó – Jaspi Blanc 2013

Rainbow Connection……..,

jaspi-blanc-2013_10006645Jaspi Blanc 2013, 70% Garnacha Blanca and 30% Macabeo

Bright lemon color, clear. Aromas of white flowers (acacia), fresh stone fruits (apricot) and green fruits (green apple), aromatic herbs and underbrush. Fruity and mineral on the palate, where the floral and fruity notes intensify, medium-bodied and well-structured. Ages very well, acquiring herbal and mineral smoky and honey notes with time. Still white wine from the D.O. Terra Alta. Young wine made from old-vine (50-70 years) White Grenache and Macabeo. Limestone and granite sandy soils, offering excellent acidity and pH. Traditional vinification, with 3 months on lees without battonage in order to preserve freshness yet achieve viscosity. As a young wine, a fresh citric and tropical fruit predominates, with a rich stone fruit character evolving in time. Excellent balance and weight, highlighted by surprising acidity given the variety. As I still have to cover the winery of Coca i Fitó, I’ll come back with a more extensive write up, also introducing their new label Jaspi d’Or!

experiencia-veremabcnThe past Monday, November 10, 2014 the second edition of the spectacular (when it comes to wines and location) Verema Experience was held in Barcelona at the Maritime Museum located along the old Drassanes Reials road, a few minutes from La Rambla. The showroom was open from 12:00 to 21:00 hours but, unfortunately I could only stay for a few hours so I had to be smart when it came to tasting the wines, I went for the Catalan (ok, ok, I did taste a few from the rest of Spain as well), what a surprise! If you are around next year you should try to come, you’ll be able to enjoy the best wineries on the national scene and taste, interact and stay in touch with the news that the developers and wine makers themselves are showcasing. An exclusive opportunity for wine lovers and professionals which you can not miss.

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50 to go!

 

 

Piñol Winery, This Is Halloween in D.O. Terra Alta

326/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Piñol Winery of Terra Alta – Raig Raïm Red 2011

 

This Is Halloween……..,

….., or is it? Halloween is celebrated in Catalonia, and even though the children go trick or treating and make Jack O’Lanterns etc. the Catalans have their own tradition as well, eating Chestnuts in amazing quantities. It is known as The Castanyada, celebrated in Catalonia and Galicia respectively, mainly on All Saints’ Day. Like Halloween or the Celtic Samhain, its origins are in an ancient ritual festival of the dead. 

castanyada218381From Wikipedia

“In Catalonia consists of a meal of chestnuts, panellets, sweet potato and preserved fruits, typically with moscatell to drink. Around the time of this celebration, it is common for street vendors to sell hot toasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper. In many places, confectioners often organise raffles of chestnuts and preserved fruit.

It seems that the tradition of eating these foods comes from the fact that during All Saints’ night, the night before All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, bell ringers would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning. Friends and relatives would help with this task, and everyone would eat these foods for sustenance.

CastanyeraAntigaOther versions of the story state that the Castanyada originates at the end of the 18th century and comes from the old funeral meals, where other foods, such as vegetables and dried fruit were not served. The meal had the symbolic significance of a communion with the souls of the departed: while the chestnuts were roasting, prayers would be said for the person who had just died. The festival is usually depicted with the figure of a castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant’s clothing and wearing a headscarf, sat behind a table, roasting chestnuts for street sale. In recent years, the Castanyada has become a revetlla of All Saints and is celebrated in the home and community. It is the first of the four main school festivals, alongside Christmas, Carnestoltes and St George’s Day, without reference to ritual or commemoration of the dead.

Raig Raïm Red 2008Raig Raïm Red 2008, 55% Garnatxa, 20% Syrah, 15% Cariñena and 10% Merlot

Cherry red color, bluish hues. Clean and bright. Medium-high layer. Lovely blend from Terra Alta. Primary nose of mature red berries, Mediterranean herbs and some underbrush. It is a well defined wine with notes of light toast, smoky aromas and some floral elements, keeping it simple and really pleasant. Soft entry, with a silky and fresh feel, adding nice depth to the whole experience. Good balance, good acidity and a medium to long finish, a bit too sweet for my taste but certainly well made. Price/quality is excellent!

Street view in Batea

When visiting the different D.Os of catalonia it is hugely important to be organized. As they are quite spread out, I always try to book at least two or more wineries during the same trip. When I visited Terra Alta the last time I managed to visit Altavins winery in Batea and at the same time todays entry. The article about Altavins got a bit specific and I got into the details of Terra Alta, so if you want to know more about Terra Alta, you should read the “body and soul” article.

mapa_Terra_alta

The Terra Alta is more know for the wonderful whites they produce and this too has been covered, when I wrote about the Terra Alta D.O. tasting in Falset at Hotel-Hostal Sport. This time I decided to go for two reds, reason being……, they also, in some cases, manage to create amazing reds!

Vineyards of Celler Pinol

Now don’t just continue reading….., it is after all Friday evening and Halloween, so you should open a nice bottle of wine, to get into the sentiment of the story. By the time you have finished your bottle, my article will be so well written, you will be thinking Hemingway is alive. Me? I’m enjoying a red, with rhythm, from Priorat! Very red and very tasty! Cheers!

celler-pinol-vinos-terra-alta-catalunya_11

Terra Alta is quite unknown, but certainly know for wines of great value! Keep this in mind, Terra Alta is going to be discovered as Columbus discovered India! The Celler Piñol exports 85% of its production to 25 countries! Someone beat Columbus, and found the holy grail but it is not to late. Once here, staying at the B&B of the winery, is the right way to enjoy the hospitality of the family.

celler-pinol-vinos-terra-alta-catalunya_2

Being that this was the first winery in Terra Alta to offer wine tourism it can’t go wrong. Celler Piñol operates four fully-equipped apartments, one that includes a large Jacuzzi in which you can enjoy vinotherapy, all of them perfect for soaking up the wine culture and an unforgettable experience.

terraalta-1
The most southern region of Catalonia is characterised by a sprinkling of small towns and pockets of great beauty, retaining a charmingly medieval appearance. The countryside also has a timeless constancy, with dramatic mountains providing a sharp contrast to the plains, where crops of ancient Mediterranean stock (vines, almonds, olives) dot the landscape, as they have done throughout generations.

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Piñol L’Avi Arrufi 2007, Garnacha (30%), Cariñena (60%) and Syrah (10%)

This is a well made wine and i love the blend, where the Cariñena gets to carry the wine! The color is dark cherry to ruby, almost opaque. The nose contains black fruit with high complexity and toasty notes. Secondary gives off currant, plums and some spicy, peppery indications. On the palate I got a hint of cacao and slight leather. It is full bodied with good acidity and some balsamic notes. Powerful, well structured and medium ling aftertaste.

62 to go!

 

 

Celler Coma d’en Bonet, The Unclouded Day in D.O. Terra Alta

318/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Celler Coma d’en Bonet – Dardell White 2012

The Unclouded Day………,

blancnuriaDardell White 2012, 90% Garnatxa Blanca from Coma d’en Bonet  and 10% Viognier from Serra de Castellnou 

This is a wine which reflects typicality and authenticity of Terra Alta’s White Grenache. A young white wine with a bright pale yellow/green hue. The must is fermented at a controlled temperature, resulting in a fruity and aromatic wine with a powerful suggestion of tropical fruit (pineapple, banana, pear) and some lychee. Lingering hints of scrubland herbs and white rose. Fruity flavours and delicious taste, coated with a nice power and sensation of structure which can be perceived and enjoyed in this wine. Decanting of the first fractions of the juice at 13 ° C during 24 hours, fermenting 25 days at 14 º C. Blended in December ’12. Clarified with bentonite, then filtered and cold stabilized. Bottled in January 2013.

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The winery of Coma d’en Bonet in the small Terra Alta town of Gandesa, decided early to adhere to organic wine making. One that is made from grapes produced by using ecological agriculture, all grapes used come from vineyards grown without chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides (fungicide, insecticide or herbicide), and therefore no residues of these substances are influencing the final product.

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They use only organic fertilizers and natural minerals. All the vineyards are cultivated according to the guidelines of organic farming and under control of the CCPAE (Catalan Council of Ecological Agricultural Production). This certification ensures that products always have been prepared following the rules of organic farming, which have been controlled in the entire process of PRODUCTION, PROCESSING and PACKAGING.

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73 to go!

 

The Winery of Altavins, Body and Soul in D.O. Terra Alta

304/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Altavins Viticultors – ILERCAVÒNIA 2013

Body and Soul………,

ilercavoniaILERCAVÒNIA 2013, 100% Garnacha Blanca/White Grenache

White wine with a golden yellow hue and greenish tones. Complex aromas reminiscent of pineapple and mango, with certain notes of apple and apricotUnctuous, long and persistent on the palate. The finish culminates in floral and fresh mint aromas. The land we now inhabit has known other names and other cultures. The “Ilercavones” (the Iberians who lived in the Terra Alta and the surrounding areas from the 6th to the 1st century BC, and who named them), had a culture which left its unmistakable mark on the land – and can still be seen today, a testament to a productive and prosperous past.

Garnacha Blanca

Garnacha Blanca

D.O. = Designation of Origin/Denomination of Origin.

The quality and characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to its geographical origin, with the inherent human and cultural factors. It possesses a certain quality, reputation or other specific characteristics attributable to its geographical origin. In addition to the above, the following must also apply. 100% of the grapes come exclusively from the geographical production area. The production takes place within the same area and distillation is obtained from grape varieties belonging to Vitis Vinifiera.

Wines bearing the DO distinction are prestigious Spanish wines produced in a demarcated production area and are made according to parameters governing quality and type. Each DO must be regulated by a Governing Body (Consejo Regulador) that is responsible for ensuring the use of grapes of the authorized varieties, and compliance with parameters governing production per hectare, approved methods of wine making and ageing times.

In order for wines to be given Denomination of Origin status, the production area is required to have been recognized over at least the previous five years as a region producing quality wines with a geographical indication. Catalonia has 12 DO:s! That is more than any other wine making area of Spain. And now you know why I live and work in Catalonia! With time, all of them are going to be covered in more detail. For now I am just going to focus on the chosen one, the D.O. Terra Alta.

 D.O. Terra Alta is located in the very southwest of Catalonia, as far away from Barcelona as one can travel without exiting the region.
Terra Alta
Being one of the most picturesque and beautiful nature areas of Catalonia, the great Picasso had his field days here and many of his paintings feature scenes from these lands. Historically, because of being very isolated, this area traditionally only made wine for local consumption and has only recently started to produce modern Mediterranean style wines. During the Roman times, the road going from Zaragoza to Tortosa passed through the area. This is probably when grape growing was first introduced. In the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar planted vines, but the geographical distance to markets and to ports meant that a lot of vineyards were converted to olive groves instead.

Terra Alta vineyards

During the 19th century the vinos rancios (rancid wines) from Terra Alta, such as “Amber Blanc” attained great fame. However, the area was devastated by the outbreak of the phylloxera. The current vineyards were replanted between 1920 and 1950, the cooperatives played a pivotal role.

The varietals authorized in Terral Alta, both traditional and of foreign origin are the following.

White grapes: Garnacha blanca, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatel and Chardonnay (experimentally, Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Marselan).

Red grapes: Carignan, Grenache, Garnacha Peluda, Morenillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

Body and Soul. D.O. Terra Alta

D.O. Terra Alta acquired official status in 1982 and there are currently 8,200 ha covered, with 1,800 grape growers and 42 wineries registered.

One of the wineries is Altavins in Batea. The winery is a project set up in 2001 by Jordi Casado and Joan Bautista Arrufi i Pieg. With 120.000 bottles produced each year it is to be considered small but then again I have visited wineries that only make 5.000 a year. I guess it is highly relative. The vineyards are located at 350 and 550 m above sea level, characterized by plains, high plateaus and valleys.

Joan Bautista Arrufi and Jordi Casado

It enjoys a dry Mediterranean climate with little rain of up to 450 ml per year. The sunlight is plentiful, and is influenced by two prevailing winds – the Cierzo, which arrives from the Ebro Valley, and the “Garbi” or sea wind. Due to the very small amounts of rain, there is hardly any fungal disease, allowing for more sustainable practices, and the Cierzo (which is blowing throughout September) allows the grapes to ripen naturally on the vine.

The nature of the soil provides the grapes with an exceptionally high concentration of minerals, and the considerable temperature changes between night and day while the grapes are ripening maximises the aromas and flavours of the varietals. The wines produced include whites made from White Garnacha grapes, which are typical of the Terra Alta and grown in vineyards which are at least 45 years old. Red wines are made from Cariñena and Black Garnacha grapes, from vineyards established at least 60 years ago. The wines are fruity, with finesse and elegance in-bodied in them by the wooden casks in which they are stored.

Traditional, yes! But even though the Cariñena and Garnacha are the primary grapes planted by Joan, he still sees the importance of working with international varietals, such as Chardonnay and Syrah, leading him to create great wines with exceptional results. If the wineries in Priorat are small, this one is petite. A garage, no bigger than our first flat in Barcelona. And to be able to churn out 120.ooo and some bottles, takes both passion and craftsmanship. A true wine lover should peel his or hers ears to the future tunes of this young, new generation Spanish, wine maker. “Alta Vins” meaning “Top Wines,” refers to both the exceptional quality of his wines, as well as the altitude. With hills well over 400 meters, his vines have a long ripening cycle, and therefore, take on significant complexity.

Vineyard in Tera Alta

Almodi Negre is another cool wine made by Altavins, 100% Garnacha Borruda (Yes, Garnacha Peluda/Garnatxa Pilosa is the same varietal, Hairy Grenache). Garnacha Peluda is a varietal that grows in the regions of Aragon and Catalonia in Spain. It produces clusters of medium sized grapes which are rather compact. The grapes are oval with medium thick skin and covered with a villus from which it takes its name. The Garnacha Peluda produces wines of both high quality but also of high alcohol level. As the fruit notes are extensive in this grape, it has been used for blends traditionally. Not many producers use it for monovarietals, although this is changing in Catalonia.

Garnacha Peluda

Altavins produce a range of wines, both red and white out of which it is difficult to find a favorite, I can drink them all and as I love wine, I’ll refrain from labeling any of them being better than the other!

The vineyards of Altavins in the Terra Alta

 

80 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!

La Bollidora, Get Down On It in D.O. Terra Alta

269/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Celler La Bollidora – Flor de Garnatxa 2008

Get Down On It…..

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Flor de Garnatxa 2008, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Pale gold color, clear and good transparency. On the nose there’s ripe white fruit, honey and pastries, some slight hint of clove. On the palate it is sweet, silky and enveloping. Fruit, peach and pear, integrated wood and perfectly balanced acidity. The harvest is gathered by hand in 18 kg boxes, then it is taken to the cellar where the selection is done on the sorting table. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in French oak barrels at a controlled temperature of 16 ° C and 8 months on its lees.

…., if it hits the spot, it might be hitting the G spot? That’s when all the senses come together and concentrate on what the heck is going on, and let me tell you, there’s a lot going on. Focus!!! Please, pretty please with sugar on top! What are we actually encountering, in terms of aromas, in the wine?

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To keep it simple and not dwell into philosophical disputations, The .G wine is, like Kool & The Gangs song Get Down On It…., it starts slow, soft and equilibrated until it reaches the point of no return. That’s when you feel like getting up on the dance floor and shaking lose without opprobrium! And if this happens with a wine, you know it’s good! What ever the aromas are, or because of them!

The old distillery before the conversion

“The Bollidora” used to be the old alcohol factory in Villalba dels Arcs. During the year 2005, Juan Carlos Sanchez Brianza recovered the facilities of the old factory building and what started as a hobby project, has since developed into one of the most renowned wineries in D.O. Terra Alta, with numerous awards and international recognition.

The barrel room!

The winery is located in the village of Villalba dels Arcs. The old village distillery is now producing a range of excellent Terra Alta wines. This unique building, with a history, is now writing a story. Wouldn’t it be nice if walls indeed could talk?

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“From the best vineyards, the best wine,” is the motto of La Bollidora, which is why they work with old vines and traditional varieties. To preserve all the properties of the grapes in the final product the grapes are harvested by hand and manual selection is done both in vineyard and at the sorting table.

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The philosophy and goal of the winery is to carry out the work of viticulture respectful to the environment, and above all, to develop exclusive, high-quality wines. Discover these old abandoned vineyards and give prominence to the indigenous varieties such as “Morenillo” and Black Grenache, Samso (Carignan), and make good use of the foreign Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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All wines are made ​​from their 5 vineyards within the municipality. The soil is very poor in organic matter, the vines grown at altitudes between 460 and 550 meters, the highest in the Terra Alta.

la-bollidora-g-2007Punt G 2007, Garnacha, Carignena and Syrah

Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. The .G is a wine with good structure, to be stored for some time as it will develop and improve with time. An assembly combining the minerality of the Carignena with the fruitiness and spicy notes of the Garnacha and the Syrah. Cherry red color to light ruby. On the nose it gives of primaries such as ripe fruit and balsamic. Elegant touches of leather, licorice and tobacco. In the mouth it has a strong and intensive attack, warm. Long and complex structure. Subtle acidity. A keeper!

115 to go!

Softly, As In A Mornings Sunrise in Catalonia!

248/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Celler Piñol –Mather Teresina 2008

Softly, As In A Mornings Sunrise…………..,

Mather 2008

Mather Terasina 2008Mather Teresina 2008, 40% Garnacha Negra, 30% Cariñena and 30% Morenillo

Celler Piñol produces wine in the wonderful D.O. of Terra Alta in your favourite new wine destination, Catalonia! Amongst others they make the Mather Terasina, one more Catalan Wine to add to my list of Super Catalans! Enjoy! This is Celler Piñols premiere wine with a limited production of 7,750 bottles. Created from the best of the 2008 vintage, it has a dark, intense red colour that looks stunning in the glass. A complex, aromatic, spicy and fleshy wine, with well rounded tannins, a hint of blackberry and a subtle smoky finish. This is a silky, stylish, full bodied wine; elegant and powerful and with a lingering aftertaste. The perfect balance of ripe fruit and French oak. Now, let’s have another glass!

As you might have well noticed, this blog is all about and only covering wine from Catalonia. Wine, in all forms and shapes, is a considerable part of my life. However, I like to cover the regions in which I work and live. Back to the basics!

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Wine in Catalonia is ancient! The Ancient Greeks, Romans and the Carthusian monks, they have all been here, must be for a reason! It is a leading wine producing land, with exquisite reds, scrumptious rosés and whites which you can drink forever, as well as a multitude of sweet wines. Not to forget, this is where Cava was born!

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Huge and well know cellars like Freixenet, Codorniu, Raimat and Torres are at the forefront when it comes to Catalan wine, which are covered by 11 appellations (D.O:s) for wine and one exclusively for Cava. The vineyards have always been an irreplaceable part of the Catalan landscape, as well as its culture. Let’s keep it this way!

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The tradition of wine in Catalonia is deeply rooted, in some cases as deep as the vines. Nowadays representing a rising sector, gaining international prestige on a yearly basis. In Priorat, Penedès and Empordà, as well as the other D.O:s, you can find wine that can compete with any wine in the world.

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Cava is no longer the poor man’s and woman’s Champaign, but a quality product in its own right available all over the world. More than 200 million bottles of Cava attest to this fact, joined by 180 million for wine.

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The D.O:s of Catalonia

In number, there are 11 Denominations of Origin, regulating the winemaking for red, white and rosé wines and then the one, exclusively for the production of Cava.

imatge-do-alellaDO Alella: Though the smallest, it is one of the oldest and most unique. It covers a small piece of land between the Mediterranean shore and the coastal mountains, north of Barcelona. It produces quality wines and is famous for its white wines, in which some are considered the best in the world.

catalunya-mapaDO Catalunya: It is a DO that fosters experimentation, as wines can be produced with a great variety of grapes in a wide range of soils. This DO has been growing significantly in the last few years, exporting more than 40 million bottles to more than 100 countries.

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DO Conca de Barberà: It corresponds to a Catalan county with a very old wine tradition, coming from Medieval monasteries in the zone. Since the creation of this DO in 1989, there has been a continuous effort to modernise the cellars and the vineyards. The speciality of this DO is top-quality red wine, which is produced together with white and rosé. Most of these wines use a grape type that is autochthonous from the county, namely Trepat.

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DO Costers del Segre: The DO of Lleida and split into the following sub zones: Artesa, Vall del Riu Corb, les Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, and Segrià. It employs advanced technology and is famous for its innovation, changing grape varieties and fostering “Ull de Llebre”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Syrah and Merlot.

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DO Empordà: New and old cellars are easily adapting themselves to new technology trends, changing harvest patterns and restructuring vineyards. This DO is seeing new cellars booming in the Northern coast of Catalonia.

do-montsantDO Montsant: It is the youngest Catalan DO, located in the southern part of Catalonia. Despite this fact, it has achieved a good market positioning. This DO includes the sub zones of South Priorat and some zones in Ribera d’Ebre. The soil has a high percentage of mineral salts, which is one of the main characteristics of this region. The cellars are young and modern, producing a small quantity of wine but of a great quality.

logo_do_penedesDO Penedès: This is probably the most famous wine region within Catalonia. It has powerful cellars, always improving their technology and innovating. It has traditionally been associated with white wines, but in the last years it has also started to produce top quality red wines, which have been internationally recognised.

DOPladeBages_ColorDO Pla de Bages: It is a small DO but that produces quality wines. In the last years, wine producers from this DO have put effort recuperating an autochthonous type of grape: the “picapoll”, which is very small and can be either red or white.

DOQ-Priorat-viticultors-del-priorat-1DO Priorat: In the last 15 years, this DO has lived through a revolution, being recognised worldwide and seeing some of its red wines reaching the highest prices in specialised shops all over the world. The DO has new cellars, young entrepreneurs and experts who all work to maintain this DO among the best of the world. Their wines have a unique strong taste, full of peculiarities.

myegoo_dotarragona_oDO Tarragona: It is the oldest Catalan DO, producing liquor wines of great quality, such as Tarragona Clàssic. In the last years, red-wines have joined their traditional white and rosé wines.

terraaltaDO Terra Alta: Many of the cellars from this DO work as a cooperative. Their wines have a singular taste and are reaching great levels of quality in the last years. Their rosé varieties are very fruity, the white have a low acidity and the red have a round body and a dark colour. Finally, there is one DO that needs to be explained aside, the DO Cava.

D.O.CAVA_DO Cava: This DO is shared with 6 other Autonomous Communities within Spain apart from Catalonia. However, 95% of DO Cava’s production come from Catalonia. More than 200 million bottles are sold each year, a number that grows year by year. Cava is famous all over the world. In the past it was sold as a cheap replacement for Champaign, but in the last years top-quality cava has started to be exported and has become famous for its great quality which is at a much more affordable price than the French Champaign.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

135 to go!

Xavier Clua, Here But I’m Gone in D.O. Terra Alta

241/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Xavier Clua – IL·LUSIÓ 2013

Here But I’m Gone……,

il-lusio Gran

IL·LUSIÓ 2013, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Bright yellow colour with green highlights. Notes of Mediterranean herbs (lavender and thyme), ripe white fruits with touches of citrus. Some green apple but just slightly and a hint of some fruit, ripe peach.  In the mouth it is full bodied and characteristically Mediterranean, the ageing on the lees giving the wine additional volume. The clay soils give a hint of minerality together with the acidity which should give the wine the potential to age and further develop in the bottle for some months to years. This wine captivates through its delicate fruits, harmony and distinctive character. A very well made Terra Alta white Grenache. It not just an illusion!

Clua TErra Alta

Vilalba dels Arcs is one of the twelve communes of the Denominacion d’Origen (the equivalent of the French AOC) of Terra Alta, in the heart of the Ebre region in southern Tarragona. In this part of Spain the fields are surrounded by hills (the Ports and the Sierras of Caballs, Pàndols and Fatarella ) and cut by a lot of valleys and dry creeks that makes the landscape capricious and complex. This situation gives the Terra Alta a climate with both Mediterranian and continental influences with hot summers and cold winters – the annual rainfall is less than 400mm.

Vilalba dels Arcs

The high altitude and the numerous valleys increase the risk of frost in the spring. Its proximity to the Ebre river make the prevailing wind the Cers (mistral), a dry wind from inland Aragon that keeps the vines healthy, combined with the Garbi, a humid wind blowing inland from the Mediterranean. The soils are calcareous clays, with low levels of organic material, but rich in elements that favour good drainage. It is, therefore, a terroir that guarantees grapes which are ideal for a quality wine production. The vineyards are trellised to maximise the exposure to the sun, making for ideal ripening in late summer.

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The Xavier Clua wine cellar is situated in Vilalba dels Arcs, in the Terra Alta in Catalonia – a dry, sunny area where vine-growing and wine production have been a tradition since medieval times. For four generations, the name of Clua has been associated with the culture of the vineyards and the production of wine. The latest generation, led by Xavier Clua combines the experience of this viticultural tradition with university training, bringing new perspectives and techniques both to viticulture and winemaking. In 1995 the small family enterprise exchanged the production of bulk wine for a quality product, sold in bottles with personal labels. This evolution only underlined the desire keep working with a limited production to obtain a rigorous selection of the different grapes of each plot and close control of the whole winemaking process.

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More and more the products of the Cellar Clua acquire a name in the wine world and the family enterprise has grown with the addition of Rosa Domenech: Xavier’s wife and an experienced oenologist in her own right. With this growth it became more and more necessary to expand to a newer, more modern site. In 2006 this dream came true with the creation of a new infrastructure where the usability is guaranteed by a contemporary architectural construction and modern technology going hand in hand with the tradition and love for the terroir. As in the vineyard, in the wine cellar: the members of the Clua family are guided by their love of the land that, day by day, they bring to their wines.

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Today the wine cellar’s facilities are located at two sites in the village of Vilalba dels Arcs. The first of the two is situated in the heart of the village in a house in the Carrer Sant Isidre. The ground floors of this building, restored and converted for winemaking in 1995, was the home of the wine cellar for the first decade of the business. Today this old stone building has two areas: the barrel hall where our wines are aged and the tasting room. The second site was purpose-built in 2006. It is a large and modern infrastructure, situated just on the outskirts of the village on the road to Gandesa.

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Rosa and Xavier takes over fifteen years working the vineyard and imposing its mark on a balanced and sensitive winemaking. His young white Mas d’en Pol 2011 was proclaimed Best Young White Wine and I also liked their Mas d’en Pol Barrel 2007 a ​​blend of red Grenache (40%), Cabernet (20%), Syrah (20%) and Merlot (20%) with 8 months on oak, full-bodied but the ripe fruit is well present and easy to appreciate.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

140 to go!