El Carriel dels Vilars, But Beautiful in Emporda

232/365 – Catalonia – Emporda – Els Vilars d’Espolla – El Carriel dels Vilars – Carriels dels Vilars 2011

But Beautiful……,

Carriel dels Vilars 2011

Carriels dels Vilars 2011, 50% Garnatxa, 30% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Samso

Beautiful cherry color with purple reflections. Dense with good legs. Intense nose which needed a little time to express itself to the fullest. Good aromas of red fruit (cherries, blackberries, plums) with balsamic (juniper, lavender, rosemary, thyme) and final notes of licorice. The palate is powerful and bulky, extraordinary acidity which is alive and well, it provides the necessary balance to the alcohol because it transmits a freshness that carries the wine further. The tannins are rounded and polished, but still very present. This wine is long and full of nuances that demands it to be enjoyed slowly, growing as it is rewarding you for your patience. A Super Natural Catalan!


Dreams can come true. When I first met Carlos Alonso, I thought he was yet another loony winemaker, going out of his way to prove a point he would never deliver, but he did and he did it beautifully! His reason for making wine and making a living from it, is pure, untouched and Super Natural!  It has taken him some thirty years to walk the talk in the small and personal project called Carriel dels Vilars. Throughout this period he has worked hard to shape an idea that, after years of evolution and maturation, has become a fine example of how wines may be made with the utmost respect for the environment and tradition and yet still be as successful as those produced with the most advanced scientific and expensive techniques. His method is to be considered radical. Get rid of anything superfluous during the growing of the vines and making of the wines, just keeping the essentials of both activities. This is as naked as winemaking gets to be, but the final reward hasn’t been easily accomplished. Being ignored and frowned upon, for many years, by the wine establishment, his achievements are starting to be rewarded with well-deserved admiration and recognition.


Carlos Alonso‘s wines still do not conform to the regulations of the local wine region, so the wines made are not D.O. Emporda, but who cares when the wine is as good as his and they sell! My fellow wine loving colleagues, that visited the natural wine fair in Barcelona with me, didn’t all fall for Carlos wines the way I did. They are not traditional, they are not conservative. They are bold, fun and way out there! Carlos Alonso calls his wine natural and there is no better word to define it. He cultivates his vineyard in a way that the grapes are just like berries picked from the wild. In his vineyards, which at present total a mere 2.5 hectares, the practices of modern agriculture are almost non-existent: he does not plough the land; he does not water the vines; he does not add fertilizers; he does not use pesticides other than the authorized organic Bordeaux mixture. In the winery he does not filter the wine nor does he add sulfites or sugar for the second fermentation of the sparkling wines; instead he allows things to happen as they should according to the laws of nature. Each season the wines at Carriel dels Vilars tell us about the climatic conditions of the previous year, since standardization is proscribed and annual variability favoured. This is the wine of the future…….., only one small problem, there’s not enough to fed us all!

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149 to go!

Masia Serra, Desafinado in D.O. Emporda

127/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Cantallops – Masia Serra – Masia Serra INO


…, tuneless??? Why would I ever start a entry with that connotation? How my mind works (or doesn’t) is not an easy thing to explain, especially when it comes to music and wine! I’d rather try to explain Einstein’s theories or why and how minerality is found in wine….., both beyond my realm of understanding, just to show how impossible all of the above, in fact, is to comprehend! But, one thing I do know……, the sweet, mouth-filling wines from today’s favorite cellar, the Masia Serra are certainly to my liking and no way are they tuneless! Otherwise this particular cellar wouldn’t appear on this blog! I hope you have had a great St. George’s Day! Or as they call it here, Sant Jordi! The wives get red roses and the husbands get books! I got two cook books! Happy Days!


Masia Serra started producing wines within the D.O. Emporda in 1996. The history of Masia Serra begins with a small vineyard planted in 1961 with Grenache grapes.  Other French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot occupy parts of the 12 hectares that today make up the estate.


Jaume Serra, owner and oenologist of the bodega, grew up in a traditional winemaking family.  After completion of his studies at the university Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona and of his arduous apprenticeship at Chateaux Petrus he decided to create his own wines at the bodega he founded in Cantallops. Jaume, grandson of a wine dealer and son of the also well-known oenologist Simon Serra, has   learned to   value   the   noble liquid, which   he says generates warm feelings in its surroundings.


An austere home of the typical Catalan Masia, welcomes visitors at the western edge of the square estate, which on the north borders to the Alberas mountains which stretch to the sea of the Golf of Roses.  The southern border remains open to the Emporda plain that provides a view to the horizon.


The tour begins in a simple but beautiful room with walls filled with poetry describing the glory of wines, the fruit of hope and love for the land, this is where the wines are tasted. We continue with a short walk through the vineyards and groves and then to view the production room, another for bottling area and the storage room, which has been excavated in the heart of a mound of solid granite. It provides shelter for a few wines that have left their fingerprints in the world of wine, and that can be found in restaurants that take extra care in offering their clients a reputed wine list.


Only five types of wine, GNEIS, AROA, IO, INO, and a CREMANT are produced and aged at the bodega, which shelters the brews from the lights of the crisp sky. Masia Serra is a family owned bodega, the fruit of its efforts and its dreams. The nobility and constancy of its work is evident in each footstep taken amongst its vines. Cherish the moment and enjoy the drops!


Masia Serra INO

The wines is made using the Solera type aging process, combining different harvests with 5% from the mother barrel of 1860. The name INO is used to designate this wine of extreme quality.  INO, who gave birth to the god Dionysus, just as the mother barrel of 120 liters, which dates back to 1860, did. 5% of this invaluable stock contributes to the composition of this sweet wine, produced from grapes of “Roja” Garnacha, a varietal indigenous to the Emporda. 

Medium amber colored dessert wine. Complex aromas of fruit with perceptions of oxidized metal, mellow and spices, provoked by its solera type aging process, combining different harvests with 5% from the mother barrel of 1860. Soft sherry characteristics but then the caramelized apples and baked peaches come in with honey and smoked nuts. Great acid makes this not at all cloying. The finish goes on and on. Very unique wine and a great drinking experience. That the solera goes back 150+ years adds to this great experience. An extraordinary way to finish a meal. Very good structure in the mouth, surprising in its equilibrium and complexity. The alcohol is very well constructed and preserved, due to the deposited  patience, in order to deliver the maximum expression when the wine reaches the palate. Got to love this gem!

252 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle