Masia Barthomeus, The Shadow Of Your Smile in D.O. Penedes

373/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Vendrell – Barthomeus – Barthomeus Rosé 2013

The Shadow Of Your Smile………,

rosat (kopia)Barthomeus Rosé 2013, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Lovely bright red colour with violet trimmings. It has a lively red fruit aroma and forrest berries stand out. Some fresh strawberry, rose and hibiscus aromas that are mirrored on the palate. Pomegranates, red currants and a touch of lychee. A lovely display of aromas. On the palate it is massive and complete. It has a good acidity, astringency and freshness. With its dry finish and balanced acidity, this Rosé is perfectly suited for al fresco dining and lighter fare. Serve chilled, between 11 and 13°C.

1376359_674653149219006_1909150598_nThe masia Barthomeus is currently owned and operated by the family of Llasat, a constellation of three siblings. It was probably acquired by Bartomeu Minguella whose name is still preserved in the historical records of the mansion. Three generations earlier, in 1635, the forefather was Joan Castanyer. He was a farmer and lived in El Vendrell in his ancestral house in the High Street of the town, which is still kept in order and where the original wine cellar has been preserved.

DSC_0022-optim-940x450In 1911 the great grandfather, Joan Recasens Minguella, was one of the founders of the “Cooperativa del Vendrell” and he was the first president of this, in the days, high producing wine cooperative. The father of todays generation, Carles Llasat, followed in his fathers footsteps and fifty years later became the President as well. Now, the three Llasat siblings, with the support of their mother are following the ancestral path and not only are they cultivating the vineyards but also elaborating wines.

CCI14012013_00002optim-940x450Masia Barthomeus has a property of 30 Ha. and is situated between 28 and 50 m. above sea level, in close proximity to the Mediterranean coast and not far from Via Agusta, the ancient Roman trade route of Catalonia. Its surface is covered by vineyards, olive trees and carob trees, Mediterranean forest of Aleppo pines, Kermes Oak and with an important amount of palmetto and some American aloes. All together it is like an island of green in the middle of an urban zone which becomes a fauna refuge fighting the influence of humans.

1074895_1424145954469863_1212772362_oIn 2001 they decided to go against the progressive degradation of the surroundings and with the aim of preserving its biodiversity, they obtained for that an extension of 50 Ha. to be declared REFUGE OF WILD FAUNA, that is to say, a protected natural zone, by the Department of Environment of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2012 they slowly began to turn all viticulture into ecological growing, under CCPAE (Catalan Council of Ecological Protection).This culture excludes all sorts of chemical treatment (herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers) which damages the fauna too, in order to keep an ecological balance.

DSC_0062optim-940x450The masia Bartomeu has 15 Ha. of vineyard distributed on 18 parcels of different dimensions. They are distributed in two different zones which are almost equal: one of them looks to the sea somewhat higher than the Sant Salvador shore; the other is situated behind the little hill where the masia stands and looks at the little village of San Vicenç de Calders. The different locations have their own microclimates. The one looking at the sea receives the see-breeze and the other one doesn’t.

Marge-1-580x350There are two different varieties of red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This decision was taken many years ago when it was realized that this land had been ground for red grapes. In fact, some of the vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon are among the oldest in el Baix Penedès because they were planted in 1987 and have adapted themselves extraordinarily well to this place.

Presentacio2_optim1The vineyards were born more than 2000 years ago. As the archaeological remains tell us, the “masia” (farm house) Barthomeus was built by the Iberian people and in the V century they traded with the Greek and Carthaginians and later with the Romans and all of them left their traces here, especially the last ones.

ceramica3-940x450The great quantity of Iberian, Punitian and Roman amphoras coming from these peoples clearly show that the trade of wine had been very important in that little Roman “villae” where the masia Barthomeus now stands. Imagination has no boundaries and I can easily ponder about how the Romans traveled through this landscape and during such journeys needed shelter, a hotel if you wish. They would probably be welcomed at the Barthomeus mansion to spend a night or two and enjoy some wine and dinner. Today, you are able to do the same as the family have built a separate agroturistic house on their land, which is possible to rent. Welcome to my hood!

12 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Cellers Avgvstvs Forvm, Five Leaves Left in D.O. Penedes

286/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Vendrell – Cellers Avgvstvs Forvm – Cabernet Franc 2011

Five Leaves Left…….,

Cab Franc

Cabernet Franc 2011, 100% Cabernet Franc

Nice and intense cherry colour with violet edges. High, clean and bright. Very intense. The ripe red fruit and floral aromas (violets, roses) are the main characters. When opened, notes as cocoa, coffee, spices follow. Elegant roasted herbal aromas. A wine with a powerful and elegant character, very complex. Friendly input and silky. Tannins with some astringency, which will be rounded of with time.

Peculiar by definition, this “Standalone” Cabernet Franc leaves the reminiscent of its variety and floral notes, combining with details of very ripe fruit due to the Mediterranean sun. A unique,and excellent where nobody will remain indifferent. With a fantastic development inside the bottle for the next 4 to 5 years, this wine is made for those wishing to learn about new frontiers. It is a wine of intense nature, that will shine bright in your glass and will accompany you in your most special moments.

The cellar at hand is world renowned for their vinegars, they are not as known for their wines but they are making progress. I knew about this winery way before I moved to the region. During my youth I worked at the Noble Prize banquet in Stockholm and the chefs there only use vinegars from Avgvstvs Forvm, when preparing the menu for 1,500 guests!

Reconstruction of the Forum of Augustus with the Temple of Mars Ultor, late 1st century B.C.

It may be the best vinegar for all I know, but this is after all, a blog about wines, so wine it is! If you, however, should have a chance to try the vinegar they make, be sure not to miss such an opportunity! It is delicious! Historically Agustus Forum was located in Rome and no, it hasn’t moved to Catalonia. The Forum of Augustus was built to both house a temple honoring Mars, and to provide another space for legal proceedings, as the Roman Forum was very crowded.

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Before battle, military generals set off from the Temple of Mars, after attending a commencement ceremony. Other ceremonies took place in the temple including the assumption of the toga virilis by young men. The Senate met at the Temple when discussing war and the victorious generals dedicated their spoils from their triumphs to Mars at the altar. The Forvm here in Penedes is at times crowded but there are no legal proceedings going on, just wine and vinegar making!

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The name comes from the owners wanting to give some kind of homage to Via Augusta, which used to pass the estate. A vineyard with a long history, having in mind the remains of what was once the Via Augusta, the Roman road that connected Rome with the most important cities of the Mediterranean. That’s why they wanted to pay tribute to this singular Roman road, giving the winery and their wines, the name of Avgvstvs.

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This charming winery was created in the 80s and rebuilt in 1990 with all the charm of times past. Driving into the estate gives a Tuscan feel, with pine trees lining the drive way, leading up to the main building. Inside the atmosphere of times gone by is still vey much breathing. This place is ideal for its rustic charm. It retains all the magic due to its rural setting and the rustic feel of the facilities. It’s an original, that will surprise visitors due to the spaces available and the quality of their services.

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When the first vines were planted in the 80’s, a unique place was chosen because of its “terroir”, just 3km from the Mediterranean Sea. That place was the Pla de Mar, where currently the vineyards enjoy a very special microclimate within the D.O. Penedès, fruit of the constant sea breeze, that brings in warm air from the sea preventing different illnesses and leading to a quicker maturing of the grapes. Noble variety grapes as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay have adapted perfectly to the microclimate and soil.

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Avgvstvs Forvm Chardonnay 2012, 100% Chardonnay

Aged during 4 months in new French, Nevers, oak barrels of 300 liters. The color is slightly creamy, satiny bright pale yellow. Outstanding notes of ripe tropical fruit such as pineapple, papaya and a hint of banana. Some citrus along with some light toasted notes due to its elaboration in barrels.. The notes present are elegantly conjoined with some lactic characteristic touches of the complex development, which give it a nice creaminess and volume. Palate is rich, medium persistent and quite sweet. Ideal with cheeses, goat in sauce or grilled fish, seafood, foie and nuts.

98 to go!!!!!!

Wine Making at Jane Ventura, 100 Years in D.O. Penedes

274/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Vendrell – Jane Ventura – Sumoll 2009

100 Years…..,

Jane Ventura 100

The whole year! 2014, we’re celebrating during the whole year! You don’t celebrate a birthday, you celebrate the birth year!  At least if you are Catalan! You invite family, friends, known and unknown, everyone is welcome and that’s what makes it a party! There are several occasions during this year during which Jane Ventura winery are going to make sure that as many as possible get to know that they have turned 100! Yesterday evening was one of those occasions and I for one were happy to be there! The wines they brought out for everyone there to taste, were not run of the mill!

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Some of the wines were from the standard range, others were brought our from the cemetery, so we were able to do some historical vertical tastings, and others still were totally experimental and I wonder if I’m ever going to taste them again! In brief I can point out that the Malvasia de Sitges is getting a star treatment and the Xarel.lo Amfora wine is something that I really agreed with. I hope that some of them don’t only stay at the experimental stage but get released on the market! Some pictures from the party is what you get and my notes with regards to one of my constant favourites from Jane Ventura, their Sumoll! Have a great Tuesday evening and don’t forget to uncork something nice tonight!

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sumollSumoll 2009, 100% Sumoll

Cherry red colour. Hints of jammy red berry and mature fruit (cherries, raspberries), mineral notes and touches of scrub herbs (thyme, lavender). Very full and unctuous on the palate, enveloping and fresh at the same time. Very lingering. The grapes are sorted manually berry by berry after de-stemming. Fermentation and maceration in open 300-litre French oak casks. Aged in second-fill French oak barrels for 8 months. 60-70 year-old vines located in La Bisbal del Penedès and Aiguamúrcia. They have also grown the Sumoll at Mas Vilella since 2009. The Aloe, on the label, symbolises the experimental character of this wine: it is a plant that dies once it has flowered, before being born again.

 

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Mas Vilella 2009, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Nice cherry dark cherry with garnet edges and violet reflections. Clean and bright. Good intensity with a significant fruit load, lots of ripe red fruit, spice, hints of undergrowth, leather, licorice and mineral background. The palate is powerful with a good structure and excellent acidity. Firm and long finish, persistent tannins. The retronasal reminds me of compotes and red fruits appear as well as toasted notes.

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Apparently it is with some difficulty one tries to decide to visit the wineries in the vicinity. So many great producers just around the corner from where we live and yet, most of the time we go to Priorat, Montsant, Terra Alta and so on. Living in Penedes means there are choices and choices when it comes to wine and Cava producers. As you will discover with time, I am going to cover all the DO:s of Catalonia and hopefully it is going to be 12 DO:s, 365 wines and Cavas during 2014. I will be writing about D.O. Penedes several times, this is just the first in a row of many. First out is Jane Ventura and out of all their wines and Cavas I have chosen the Cava Do to start with. I am sure I will, over the year to come, have to revisit and cover some of their wines as well.

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Almost all of our SweetEasy guests stay at Gimenelles, a wonderful rural hotel, with lovely owners. They had been telling us over and over again, that we should visit Jane Ventura and so one day, it just happens! A quick call to the owner/winemaker Gerard Jane and of we go.

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Now, as I mentioned above, we live really close to Jane Ventura winery and even closer if we want to visit their vineyards and old rural estate, Masia as it is called in Catalan. The name of their Masia is Mas Vilella and it is normally here they start their visits, all for us to be able to understand where the grapes grow. The Masia is located in a very scenic place, which is not the case with the winery. At the Masia, a tour of the estate, the vineyards and then the obligatory tasting of almost all of the products. Barrel tasting occur if Gerard realizes that wine lovers are visiting. Our village is Llorenc del Penedes, in the lower Penedes, and about 10 minutes from El Vendrell where the winery is located. All this, only one hours drive from Barcelona. Trains and busses also come to El Vendrell, so it is quite convenient to get here. 

The country side estate, Mas Vilella, of Jane Ventura.

To really understand and appreciate the wines and Cavas of Jane Ventura, one has to visit both the old Masia as well as the winery in town. The vineyards are located around and not to far from the old Masia, although there are some vineyards located at higher altitudes as well. As such, this is where the grape reception is taking place, de-steaming and fermentation, vinification as well as barrel aging of red wines, production still whites and base Cavas.

Kitchen come tasting room at the old Masia. Gerad Jane doing a tasting for a group of Swedish hospitality workers.

Overall philosophy of Gerard Jane is a little bit tricky to convey in writing. Meeting him is really the only way to understand the full extent of his love for the soil and grapes, but there is more. Music is a huge part of the whole concept. The labels of the Reserva de la Musica are said to be interpreting or transferring the pentatonic musical scale.

Reserva de la Musica, with it's pentatonic scale label.

The unique label design of the Reserva de l'Orgue.

The design of the label for the Gran Reserva de l’Orgue 2006 is inspired from the original sketch made by the organ maker L. Scherrer in 1775. Each bottle has been personalised so that it carries the name of one of the organ pipes, which are also illustrated on the cylindrical case. After the first visit to Jane Ventura there has been many more. Not only visits to the wineries but also to events hosted by Gerard. Again, music playing a pivotal role. The Cava Do, which I am covering in this blog, was launched at thePau Casals museum in Sant Salvador, during a wonderful cello concert and subsequent Cava tasting.

The Malvasija de Sitges, a specially composed piece of music and a Catalan desert to complete the experience.

Another event combined three musical pieces, each composed for three different Jane Ventura wines, as well as pastries. All three elements said to enhance each other. Piedra seca, dry stone walls, is another passion that Gerard holds close to his heart. So, the only way to really understand this man, is face to face and with plenty of time.

To the memory of Josep Valles. Rebuilding of a dry stone wall at the entrance to Mas Vilella.

Cava Do is my preferred house Cava!

Always in my fridge, cost/quality 10 out of 10.

Cava Do de Jane Ventura, Gran Reserva Vintage 2008, D.O. Cava from Penedes, Xarel.lo 60%, Macabeu 26% and Parellada 14%

Let’s start by explaining that the holy trinity in Cava-making consists, traditionally, by using the grapes Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada. The coupage depends, as in many cases, on yield, quality, varietals of the winery and grower and ultimately decision of the winemaker, what he wants to use. The Xarel.lo brings stronger flavors to the blend and certainly carries more aromatic sensations than the other two varietals.

Xarel.lo Grapes

The Macabeu (catalan spelling), Macabeo or Viura as it is also known, has traditionally been used to produce young, and hence acidic, still wines of not so high quality. Being a grape that grows easily, it is abundant here in Penedes and it has given yields of up to 6-8 kg per vine. Now, this little princess of grapes is being used more seriously by producers that are willing to prune hard. This way the grape can evolve in the best way possible and reach its potential with 13% as to show the character and aromas that it can carry. A good quality Macabeu grape sometimes is used 100% for wines that can age well.

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Parellada! My new found love. I find it difficult to find Parellada wines, at least if it is to be 100% Parellada. That’s a shame as I over recent months have encountered wonderful wines made of this tasty grape. I promise to cover Parellada in more detail in the future and suggest some nice Parellada wines. Parellada is widely planted in Penedes and preffered sites are located at high altitudes. It imparts a green-apple character on the wine it helps to produce and marries well with the body of Macabeo and the earthen flavors of Xarel-lo.

My notes, and I have done a few for the Cava Do, tell me that I am inconsistent in my observations. But nevertheless I’ll try to give a fair understanding of this fresh Cava, suitable for any party.

Sur lie for a minimum of 36 months and 5% of the wine is barrel fermented in French oak for 45 months.

Yellow straw color with slight gold reflections and fine, constant bubbles. Has a clean average nose and clean bouquet. Delicate and very pleasant with outstanding fruity aromas, floral notes and herbs in the back of the mouth with hints of minerals and intensive citrus notes. It has an extensive and direct taste, it is marked by excellent acidity, defined and deep, giving it a freshness and a soft carbon. Long and persistent.

110 to go!

Barthomeus, Isn’t this a lovely day in D.O. Penedes

92/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Vendrell – Barthomeus – Barthomeus Red 2012

Isn’t this a lovely day……..

…., first day of spring! Already? Time flies and the vines are crying, which means that we are about to see green vineyards very soon. More and more wine related activities are underway and the calendar is full, not that I’m complaining, just wish there was more time! The village is preparing for the wine fair of our section of Penedes, the Baix (the lower) Penedes, it’s getting close now and we are meeting up every Friday evening to tie up the last bits and bobs! Almost all done, just a few sommeliers missing!

1381461_674653545885633_260371367_nIt is the 4th year for this particular fair and we have now set the program for the wine cellars, that have been invited and will demonstrate their wines. It all starts the 9th of May and goes on until the 11th. A really god opportunity to get aquatinted with some great wines of the region. One of the cellars participating is Barthomeus. Here is their story!

1376359_674653149219006_1909150598_nThe masia Barthomeus is currently owned and operated by the family of Llasat, a constellation of three siblings. It was probably acquired by Bartomeu Minguella whose name is still preserved in the historical records of the mansion. Three generations earlier, in 1635, the forefather was Joan Castanyer. He was a farmer and lived in El Vendrell in his ancestral house in the High Street of the town, which is still kept in order and where the original wine cellar has been preserved.

DSC_0022-optim-940x450In 1911 the great grandfather, Joan Recasens Minguella, was one of the founders of the “Cooperativa del Vendrell” and he was the first president of this, in the days, high producing wine cooperative. The father of todays generation, Carles Llasat, followed in his fathers footsteps and fifty years later became the President as well. Now, the three Llasat siblings, with the support of their mother are following the ancestral path and not only are they cultivating the vineyards but also elaborating wines.

CCI14012013_00002optim-940x450Masia Barthomeus has a property of 30 Ha. and is situated between 28 and 50 m. above sea level, in close proximity to the Mediterranean coast and not far from Via Agusta, the ancient Roman trade route of Catalonia. Its surface is covered by vineyards, olive trees and carob trees, Mediterranean forest of Aleppo pines, Kermes Oak and with an important amount of palmetto and some American aloes. All together it is like an island of green in the middle of an urban zone which becomes a fauna refuge fighting the influence of humans.

1074895_1424145954469863_1212772362_oIn 2001 they decided to go against the progressive degradation of the surroundings and with the aim of preserving its biodiversity, they obtained for that an extension of 50 Ha. to be declared REFUGE OF WILD FAUNA, that is to say, a protected natural zone, by the Department of Environment of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2012 they slowly began to turn all viticulture into ecological growing, under CCPAE (Catalan Council of Ecological Protection).This culture excludes all sorts of chemical treatment (herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers) which damages the fauna too, in order to keep an ecological balance.

DSC_0062optim-940x450The masia Bartomeu has 15 Ha. of vineyard distributed on 18 parcels of different dimensions. They are distributed in two different zones which are almost equal: one of them looks to the sea somewhat higher than the Sant Salvador shore; the other is situated behind the little hill where the masia stands and looks at the little village of San Vicenç de Calders. The different locations have their own microclimates. The one looking at the sea receives the see-breeze and the other one doesn’t.

Marge-1-580x350There are two different varieties of red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This decision was taken many years ago when it was realized that this land had been ground for red grapes. In fact, some of the vineyards of Cabernet Sauvignon are among the oldest in el Baix Penedès because they were planted in 1987 and have adapted themselves extraordinarily well to this place.

Presentacio2_optim1The vineyards were born more than 2000 years ago. As the archaeological remains tell us, the “masia” (farm house) Barthomeus was built by the Iberian people and in the V century they traded with the Greek and Carthaginians and later with the Romans and all of them left their traces here, especially the last ones.

ceramica3-940x450The great quantity of Iberian, Punitian and Roman amphoras coming from these peoples clearly show that the trade of wine had been very important in that little Roman “villae” where the masia Barthomeus now stands. Imagination has no boundaries and I can easily ponder about how the Romans traveled through this landscape and during such journeys needed shelter, a hotel if you wish. They would probably be welcomed at the Barthomeus mansion to spend a night or two and enjoy some wine and dinner. Today, you are able to do the same as the family have built a separate agroturistic house on their land, which is possible to rent. Welcome to my hood!

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Barthomeus Red 2011, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Only 5.500 bottles produced. Deep cherry red color with purple edges, slight orange and medium-high intensity. Clean and bright. Slow flowing tears. High aromatic intensity of ripe black and red (berries) fruits. Ripe plums, peach, banana and a hint of aniseed. It is a mouthful with a long lingering taste. Very fresh. Quite structured, large and fatty. Tannic yet smooth and elegant. This is a well made wine and very price-worthy!

288 to go!