Enric Soler, Moment of Truth in D.O. Penedes

355 & 356/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Font-Rubi – Cal Raspallet Viticultors – Improvisacio 2013 & Nun Vinya dels Taus 2013

Moment of Truth………,

….., makes me know that he (Enric Soler) had the right idea from the beginning and he just needed to maintain his focus and elevate, update the formulas, in the way he makes his wines, making sure there´s always a message involved. First of December 2014, Monday, is going to be a day to remember. Today I took the time to once again leave the office and explore another exemplary wine maker in Catalunya and this time once again in the Penedes region. A man of Xarel.lo, interpreting the terroir and variety in his own way! This was for me, the Moment Of Truth! Would it be everythingI had heard, would it be as good as I had imagined? I am pretty sure you won´t be disappointed, especially Burgundy lovers will be fond of theses wines. If I had tried them under different circumstances and maybe during a blind tasting, I would probably not have ventured to guess that these wines are from Penedes, they just don´t make any sense and they confuse me, but what is more important, they make my senses work for their money.

DSC_0042Improvisacio 2013, 100% Xarel.lo

Pretty pale straw yellow color. Bright, clean and fine glyceric tears. An array of aromas, impressive, intense and seductive. The primaries are those of white fruit, lemon zest and light spicy notes, slightly floral. In needed quite some aeration to develop into a everlasting flow of aromas which seemed as if they would go on for ever. Ripe white fruit gained in intensity, opening up tropical fruit noted intermingled with good toasted, creamy and a floral touch. Light mineral background. The entry is very nice, seductive, elegant. A mature wine with fruit and well balanced oaky notes together with a crisp acidity. Very aromatic. Creamy texture. Long finish that leaves a mouthful of smoky sensations. Certainly a gastronomic wine and one of the better whites I have tasted this year.

DSC_0053Nun Vinya dels Taus 2013, 100% Xarel.lo

One of the most elegant and impressive wines, all categories, I have and the good fortune to try this year. Attractive yellow color with delicate gold reflections. Clean and bright. Glyceric tears. My first impression was that of indecisiveness, I couldn’t get my senses to interpret what was going on in the glass, as there was too much information that came too fast. Very complex sensations, hard to put in words. After a while I got my head around it. Very elegant, very fresh and seductive aromas. Intense ripe white fruit and citrus aromas and fresh flowers. Some vegetal notes but in a good way. Herbs, sage, fennel and soft menthol. All interspersed with the creaminess given by the oak. Once in the mouth it is very present, taking over and claiming the mouth as its own. Long travel, very deep, intense and concentrated. Excellent acidity which gives loads of freshness throughout its path. Elegant, long and persistent finish. This is a Super Catalan!

DSC_0033Enric Soler, Spanish sommelier champion, inherited a small vineyard in the Penedès by his grandfather in 2003. The vineyard is called Vinya dels Taus, and it was planted in 1940 after the Spanish civil war which ended in 1939. Prior to that the location of the vineyard served as an airfield for the republican forces. Today, it is a healthy 74 year old plantation of probably some of the best Xarel.lo in the world, with the help of which Enric set out to make the best white wine of Catalonia. In achieving this, he brought in the knowledge of the extremely talented wine maker Esther Nin. She in turn saw her chance to make white wine under ideal conditions. 2004 was the first vintage. It was difficult, as the vines at the time, still didn’t produce good enough grapes. The conversion to organic farming took time, and the year 2005 was the first to completely fulfill biodynamic principles. The year of 2006 received good response throughout the wine industry when the knowledge of the terroir started to fall into place for the duo making the wine. Since 2007, the wines are more or less constantly sold out and it was not easy to acquire a case to bring home, but I guess I do have some convincing skills.

DSC_0045Cal Raspallet is the name of this typical Catalan farmhouse, of the late nineteenth century where magic happens, and it maintains more or less the same structure as it did during the days of Enrics grandfathers rein. To find it, even though I had the coordinates, was not all that easy. No signs to indicate where it was and I actually passed it twice before asking a local older gentleman for directions. Finally there, Enric emerged from the house in which he lives with his family but which also serves as  the wine making facility, to great us. We were taken to the vineyard of Vinya dels Taus, which is a piece of vineyard of 0.89 hectares situated in the Alt Penedès, at the end of Torrelavit. It is a unique and varietal vineyard with great diversity of clones. The intention and philosophy is to bring the vineyard to a logical balance for the production of small clusters. Once the grapes reach the cellar, the philosophy is non-interventionist, allowing the wine to develop as they please. The arrangement of the barrels on one level and on a gravel soil improves compensation of temperature and humidity.

DSC_0005This is not a cellar that has a visitors centre or that, under normal circumstances, receives visitors. But, off course, there are always exceptions and in my case it is only due to my close friendship with one of Enrics former sommelier students that made the visit possible. This guy is a though nut to crack, and even though I on several occasion tried to get him to accept small groups that I ‘d like to bring, it was not an idea that really appeal to him. But let’s see what happens in the future? I’m not quite ready yet to give up on sharing this gem of a cellar with other wine lovers!

DSC_006330 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

El Cortijo de…, Tempo Perdido, D.O. Penedes

88/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Canovelles – El Cortijo de…. – Nun 2012

Tempo Perdido….,

…., and it is! Not lost time, but wasted effort in trying to explain why some people are in love with food, wine and life in general. My best moments in life, since childhood, have been together with other people over a nice meal with some good wines. Another such experience took place yesterday, where you least expect it. During times like these, it is easy to understand how good life can be, if it is enjoyed the way it should be! Life is great, and even greater with good friends, excellent food and wine!

DSC_0905El Cortijo de….., in this case, Miguel, is not a restaurant, it is a private house. Miguel only cooks when he feels like it and the food is of restaurant quality, but rustic and always always tasty. If I don’t give you the address (and I won’t), you will never find it. I’ll tell you this much, it is located in the the small town of Canovelles and the only way to get to enjoy the amazing food prepared by Miguel, is by personal invitation.

DSC_0706A townhouse in the midst of the town centre, owned and occupied by the family, parents and brothers of Miguel. At the very top of the four story building, they have constructed their hang-out in the form of a Cortijo. A Cortijo is normally a countryside retreat, where Spanish families would go to relax over the weekend. This one has a terrace with views of the town and another level up, there is a garden!

DSC_0779This is where he entertains and cooks for friends and friends of friends. Passion for food is evident and for foodies and wine lovers there is no place better, to sit and talk for hour on end. Yesterday was no different, but you must make sure to be in good health and able to stand some 15 or so wines and several courses.

DSC_0713The food is mainly prepared in a huge owen, which had to be delivered by crane, as to shift it into place on the roof top. This is where magic happens. The seafood rice dish, as a starter, was delicious and if I didn’t know better, I would have had seconds. It was followed by Sea-bass, cooked in a clay tray, with potatoes, Mediterranean herbs and olive oil. How he managed to extract the smoky flavors is beyond me, and I won’t try and figure it out, I’ll just have the memories.

DSC_0717The guy works in the town administration and his hobbies consist of food and wine. His library shows it all. Books are all about Escoffier, Gangnaire, Ferran Adria and other world renowned chefs, the greatest in the world. This is what Miguel reads as entertainment literature and is inspired by. After the fish, which for a normal person would have been enough, we continued with the owen baked piglet and lamb. Important during these kind of get together is to pace yourself.

DSC_0730It was supposed to be lunch that started just after midday, at around 6p.m. we were into the dessert. Over the course of the day we had experienced 15 wines, some of which were new acquaintances, starting with some few bottles of bubbly, continuing with the whites, the reds and finally the sweets! Does not get any better than this.

DSC_0725 During a wine fair it is not unusual to try, over a day or two, up to a hundred wines. Taste, spit and write the notes. Enjoyment, none! But sure, this is a good way to experience many wines at once. The right way is to enjoy it together with great food at the Coritjo of Miguel together with great friends! Let me know next time you visit Catalonia, so that I can take you to Miguels, let’ just hope he is in cooking mode!

DSC_0898Several of the wines we tasted were from Catalonia and I found quite a few favorites. Decided to write about the Xarel.lo. Miguel, my friend, this was certainly NOT Tiempo Perdido!

nunvt12_det_1

Nun Vinya dels Taus 2012, 100% Xarel.lo

Yellow color with delicate golden rims. Clean and bright. Glyceric (fatty) tears. The nose is very elegant, yet not very subtle, very fresh and seductive aromas. Ripe fruit is noted along fresh notes of citrus and flowers. Intertwined with the oak and the creaminess offered, the balance is immense. The wood is not to much, just the way I like it.
In the mouth it shows lot of volume and it is very oily. Travels for a very long time. It is deep, intense and concentrated. Excellent acidity that gives a lot of freshness throughout its path. Elegant, long and persistent finish.

292 to go!