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……,

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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!

Celler Cal Menescal, Diamond in the Back in D.O Terra Alta

238/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Bot – Celler Cal Menescal – Avus Negre 2012

Diamond in the Back…….,

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Avus Negre 2012, 60% Garnacha Negra, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo

Cherry red colour with blueish hue, purple tones. Spicy tones, as well as oaky touches with subtle notes of coffee and caramel. Very intense and complex aroma, with notes of rip fruit and wild berries. The palate is long and well structured, with strong reminders of the characteristics of red Grenache. Limited production of wine from the best vineyards of Cal Menescal and aged around 10 months in oak. Harvested in small boxes, selecting the best grapes already in the vineyard. Carefully pressed must in the traditional way. Once the fermentation is done, it is deposited in barrels of French and American oak to begin the process of ageing, where it rests for at least 10 months.

Train station in Bot!

Train station in Bot!

The winery of Cal Menescal is located in the town of Bot and this is a  family owned and run property, known as Cal Menescal. According to existing data it was built in the early nineteenth century by the ancestors to the current family members. The transformation of grapes into wine, dates back to before 1860. The existence of a boot (storage tank) with the capacity of 1600 litres, still remains in the old winery, this is a living proof of the wine making tradition of the house.

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At the end of the last century, small wineries like this one decided to abandon the practice of making table wines or wines that were of inferior quality to develop the fruit of the grape and make wines of great depth and, as far as it was possible, of better quality. Celler Cal Menescal, does the same during the late twentieth century, when it begins to change and look to the future.

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In 2000, they released the first line of wines, which were: Vall Del Raco white and red and Avus White. During the first hard years, they have added new commercial references (Avus Red, Avus Sweet, Vall del Pou White and red), and also changed the brand of the Vall del Racó to Mas Menescal. Simultaneously they have modernized their image and they have begun to commercialize all products under the joint name (lable) of Merce Del Menescal. Under this name they produce and sell: sweet wine, vermouth, mellow wine and one spectacular Balsamic Vinegar. The latter is the latest product to see the light and is now one of their principal exponents.

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The winery is located in the region of Terra Alta, in the south-west corner of Catalonia, more than 400 m above sea level. Mediterranean climate with continental influences and their vines are on average 40 years old. This last point, gives their wines a strong personality and in combination with the soil, medium-textured, with a strong presence of the “panal” and “tapaç” provides a marked taste of the land in all the wines.

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At present the winery has 17 hectares of vineyards in production, all located in the geographical area of ​​Bot. Situated in different locations, the following varieties are cultivated: White Grenache, Macabeo, Chardonnay,Esquitxagòs, and the reds are Garnacha Negra, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Carignan and Morenillo. In 2011 their dedication and respect for tradition and the environment led them to certify the vineyard estates as organic.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

143 to go!

Celler Josep Vicens, The Perfect Song in D.O. Terra Alta

236/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Celler Josep Vicens – Vinyes del Grau Syrah Vintage 2007

The Perfect Song……..,

Vinyes del Grau Syrah 2007

Vinyes del Grau Syrah Vintage 2007, 100% Syrah

Very intense cherry red colour. The aroma is powerful and balanced. Ripe fruit, red stands out. Raspberry makes an appearance but doesn’t stay on for long, followed by spicy notes with aromas of coconut and cocoa. It is the expression of macerated black fruit. The palate is powerful and meaty with is enriched by sweetness. A medium persistent and  very pleasant finish.

Josep Vicens

The vineyards of Josep Vincens are located in the surroundings of Gandesa, D.O. Terra Alta, in the south west corner of Catalonia, covering up to 17 hectares. With regards to grape varieties, they have grown several local varieties, such as Garnatxa and Samsó, but also some foreign varieties like the Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah. Soil is diverse, but calcareous and poorly organic characteristic stands out from the others, as a dominant type in the area of Terra Alta.

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In a press article they have been described as «Orchestra winemakers» meaning that they are responsible for all the processes: from cultivating to harvesting the grapes, following-up on the elaboration process and finishing with the marketing and trading of the wines. They control it all, from the vineyard to the wineskin; from the wineskin to the consumer. They coordinate the sound of all the instruments.

Vinyes del Grau Syrah Tap

Five-generation-old Celler Josep Vicens, under the brand name of Vinyes del Grau, is one of the traditional wine makers in the region that has quickly adapted to modern times. Josep Vicens is aware that the key word to endure in such a competitive environment is “quality” and despite his modest, rural upbringing, he has always been inclined to innovation. As an example, he was the first producer to plant Syrah in the Terra Alta, something probably perceived as eccentric when he did it, but the plants adapted so well to the local conditions and the wines had such a degree of quality that nowadays it is used by virtually every winery in the region, either to improve their coupages or to produce excellent monovarietal wines.

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Nowadays, following some recent trends in wine making, he is also experimenting with oxygen permeable plastic tanks for the fermentation of the Garnatxa Blanca in order to produce wines with aromas and flavours coming only from grapes, leaving out those that would be provided by the wood if stored in oak barrels. Celler Josep Vicens blends the tradition of wine making in Terra Alta with the modern commercial ambition, to prove that the market still has room for family producers if they make the right choices.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

145 to go!

Casa Mariol, I’ve Heard That Song Before in D.O. Terra Alta

234/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Celler Casa Mariol – Vintage Merlot Reserva 24 Mesos

I’ve Heard That Song Before……..,

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Vintage Merlot Reserva 24 Mesos

Deep bigarreau cherry red colour with red hues. The nose consist widely of wild forest fruits, bigarreau cherry, ripe fruits and soft notes of vanilla and cacao. It is a well structured wine with a great body and soul. The taste is dry and velvety, medium bodied with a lingering aftertaste. It has been aged for 24 months in American and French oak casks after which it has been allowed to take a well deserved rest in the bottle.

Batea Terra Alta

When you’re born in a beautiful mediaeval village of two thousand inhabitants surrounded by vineyards, in the heart of a family that makes wine, you one day wonder (or reaffirm): I was born to do this. That is surely what various generations that have been living and working in Casa Mariol for over a century must have thought.

Casa Mariol

In Batea, the village in question, vineyards and wine are religion, and Casa Mariol is a home to the pious parishioners. The village’s inhabitants live in houses that were built centuries ago to store wine. They take care of the fields as if these were their gardens, and the celebrations of their patron saint, San Miguel, are postponed so as not to coincide with the grape harvest If we were to compare it with a contemporary example, we might say that Batea is a village where the trending topic is the grapevine, and tweets are taken literally.

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When speaking of a company called Casa, terms can be confused. The organisation chart is pure genealogy. As a company, it was born in 1945, founded by José María Vaquer Bes. In his home, they had always made wine, so José María began to sell it using his brand new Opel Blitz car. The Mariol wines from Batea began to reach important markets such as those of Reus and Barcelona, and on the barrels from the city wine merchants it was common to find “Batea” written in chalk, together with the number of José María’s second truck, a Chevrolet with a 77777 number plate which they said was famous in Catalonia.

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In the 60s, the production of wine ceased to be made in Casa, and a modern winery was built. By then, José María’s sons were already grown up and he could count on their help. Josep Vaquer Aguiló, the middle child, not only inherited the name, but also his dedication to the company. In 1971, José María died in a work accident in the middle of the grape harvest. Four months later, Josep married Emilia Llop, from Casa Rams, another family of peasants and winemakers from Batea. With them, a new era would begin at the winery, with Josep taking care of management, and Emilia in charge of production.

Falcon Crest

In the 80s, the Mariols used to watch Falcon Crest on TV, which was a fiction like any other. Their great challenge was to install the first bottling plant of the region in Batea and to begin to make wines for new channels such as the catering trade. With the bottling plant, the first foreign varieties were made, such as Cabernet, Merlot, or Chardonnay. But it wasn’t until the mid 80s that Casa Mariol decided to launch the first varietal Syrah wine aged in Spain.

Casa Mariol moving

In the 90s, the winery expanded and began to commercialise the new bottled wines in their local market -the Costa Dorada and Barcelona-, where Casa Mariol would open their first two shops in 1997. During these years, their facilities expanded, but it wasn’t until the year 2,000 that Casa Mariol opened a new winery exclusively for the reception of grapes and the production of wine.

Bottles CasaMariol

 

The decade starting in the year 2,000 also brought about a new generation to the winery. Josep María and Maria Vaquer Llop, grandchildren of the founder, had just finished their studies in oenology. Josep María would later be in charge of viticulture and oenology, whilst his sister Marta would take care of production. With their children’s help, the Mariol family, almost in its entirety, opened a new bottling plant in Móra la Nova -a pioneer in bottling plants of the region-, which would be key for them to offer quality wine at more competitive prices and therefore begin to export all over Europe.

Yes We Wine Casa-MariolIn 2,007, Marta and Josep María, together with Miguel Angel -the youngest brother and latest addition to the company-, launched JO! Catalonia’s first Verdejo wine, and Casa Mariol’s first experimental product. With this curious product, the Mariols caught the attention of the whole Spanish wine industry, clearly illustrating their company philosophy and pointing to a new wine culture.

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For the new millennium, the Mariols have great challenges to meet. Among others, to continue to be a family dedicated to their vineyards and their wine. They have inherited the knowledge for making quality wine at a good price, and have the desire to spread their new wine culture everywhere; theirs is a religious love of wine, of what they do, and of who they are.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

147 to go!

7 Magnifics, You Go To My Head in D.O Terra Alta

231/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – 7 Magnifics – Rebels de Batea Blanco 2013

You Go To My Head…….,

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Rebels de Batea Blanco 2013, 100% Garnacha Blanca

A delightful example of Terra Alta Garnacha at its best! White fruit, a fine and perfumed note which highlights the white flowers and lavender, also finding a slight smoky note. It is a wine with creaminess, structure and nerve, citrus and fruit are present and apricot and white peach predominates. Rebels de Batea Blanco is balanced, pleasant and seductive, with fragrant aromas of peach, pear, apple and notes of white flowers and nutmeg that give finesse and elegance. For more than 50 years, generations of winemakers in Terra Alta have struggled against the harsh conditions of climate and soil. Today, when Terra Alta is mentioned, one thing comes to mind, the Garnacha Blanca!

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The winery of 7 Magnifics has yet to be visited but I couldn’t stop myself from posting my tasting notes as I believe that this is a cellar to keep ones eyes on! Many good things are to come from this enthusiastic project in the near future, and I for one, am going to follow its progress closely. At presnet they have launched two wines, of 2013 harvest but the plan is to add five more to the total tally! Exiting times ahead for the 7 Magnifics and for the wineries of Terra Alta!

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

150 to go!