Mas Martinet, Show and Tell in DOQ Priorat

359/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Falset – Mas Martinet – Els Escurçons 2010

Show and Tell…….,

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!

Els Escurçons takes its name from the estate it comes from. A vineyard planted at an altitude of 600 meters, within the DOQ Priorat and surrounded by mountains which are full of herbs typical of the Mediterranean ecosystem. The vineyards consist of mostly Grenache and Syrah and some are planted on licorella soil.

IMGP3014This wine from Mas Martinet Viticultors, made by Josep Lluís Perez and his daughter Sara, is fresher and more aromatic than the rest of their range. Harvesting is done manually. Once in the winery, the grapes are transferred into wooden vats, cement tanks and open barrels where it ferments with its own yeast for about 28-32 days. Subsequently, the wine is aged in 300 liter barrels for 12 months and before bottling it gets to rest in a large wooden fudge to finish of the wine, making it rounder.

26 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Hotel Hostal-Sport Time, I Gotcha in D.O. Empordà

348/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Garnatxa Solera Marià Pagès

I Gotcha…….

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…. once again, Hostal-Sport hosted a tasting of wines from one of the 12 appellations in Catalonia. Yesterday it was time for D.O. Empordà. Professional, enthusiastic and always smiling….., Laura Masramon Grau, sommelier and highly knowledgeable when it comes to the Empordà, was in charge and showed us what Empordà is all about! If you ever feel like visiting the Empordà, you should definitely get in touch with Laura, as she will show you the soul of the region! The next tasting, and last for the year, is on the 7th of December, covering DOQ Priorat, Vi de Vila producers! I expect some real gems and I for one am not going to miss it!

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Empordà is a landscape of contrasts, situated in the far north east of Catalonia. The Pyrenees, to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea, to the south, form natural boundaries. The breathtaking Costa Brava setting makes Empordà a truly unique place, linking the coast to the mountains, influenced by the famous northerly Tramontane wind. Empordà is a landscape of great natural beauty, with several natural protected areas and an awe-inspiring coastline of beaches and coves. It also boasts a great cultural and historical heritage: menhirs, megaliths, Gothic architecture, Romanesque art, charming small villages, the surrealist art of the genius Salvador Dali… all making the area highly attractive, even more so if the people and fine gastronomy are also considered, especially the Empordà traditional dishes and the nouvelle cuisine, headed by figures such as Ferran Adrià. All of which are complemented beautifully by Empordà DO (Designation of Origin) wines.

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There is no doubt that the wine culture and the knowledge of the wine trade reached Catalonia around the 6th century BC. The area was then the most important Greek colony in Spain, and Emporiae was the Greek city that later gave its name to the district of Empordà. Four centuries later, archaeological and documental evidence exists to demonstrate that the wines of the lands of Emporiae and other areas of the Tarraconensis were known in the domestic markets of other provinces of the Roman Empire and in the metropolis itself.

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In the Middle Ages, when vines were grown near abbeys and monasteries, the terraced vineyards cultivated by the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes covered the slopes of the Rodes Mountain range. It is here that the winemaking monk Ramon Pere de Noves is believed to have excelled in the art of winemaking and have written a treatise on the subject. There is also evidence to show that the Monasteries of Sant Quirze de Colera and Santa Maria de Vilabertran also owned vineyards in Empordà.

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, the vines demonstrated their colonising capacity and became a symbol for the agricultural growth that fuelled significant demographic growth in the production area. A unique landscape of cypress trees with dry stone terraces, walls and cottages was shaped. The phylloxera plague first appeared in Catalonia in 1879, in a vineyard in Rabós d’Empordà. It brought a ruinous end to this thriving era for Empordà wines. The recovery was tough. The vineyards never recovered all the land they had occupied prior to the plague.

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The cooperative bodega movement was initially promoted by the Mancomunitat of Catalonia, and later by the Republican Generalitat around 1930. This was the start of a new era of improved winemaking processes; new bodegas were built and sales networks were extended. In addition to these developments, private initiatives were underway and the result was that the quality of wine of Empordà gained fame and popularity in many markets.

Garnatxa_Celler_Maria_Pages_DO_Emporda_AnabelGardellGarnatxa Solera Marià Pagès, 100% Garnatxa

Intense lovely amber color with a mahogany hue, thick and rather slow tears, unclear, slightly veiled. The nose is somewhat reduced as a result of its aging, oak notes of old wood and varnish, nuts (walnuts and almonds), soft licorice notes, nice scents of Mediterranean herbs  (lavender and thyme), soft honey notes, marzipan and soft background of dried apricots and figs. Soft on the palate with a slightly sweet touch, lovely presence in the mouth with good balance, good acidity, soft touches of liquor, dried orange peel, great volume, fine texture, slightly smooth and gentle persistence. Long and persistent aftertaste of dried figs. Powerful, sweet and fruity! My favorite of the evening!

catalan-wine-365-new1139 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Tasting 8 Wines, The Usual Suspects D.O. Costers del Segre

307-314/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Falset – Hotel-Hostal Sport – Tasting 8 Wines

The Usual Suspects…..,

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… they came, they examined, they sniffed, they sipped and they spat, or should I say most of them did! Was expecting a well arranged tasting with some nice wines from D.O. Costers del Segre. At yesterdays tasting I got that, and more! According to the invitation from Marta and Ruth, Hotel-Hostal Sport in Falset, who were arranging the tasting, we were supposed to taste 6 wines, which is some kind of standard for these types of tastings. Final number was 8! And the wines they make in the Costers del Segre, Yes! The Usual Suspects is one of my absolute favorite movies and so is the soundtrack and main theme. The usual suspects also refers to the sommeliers, wine makers and wine lovers in general that visit the well arranged tastings at Hotel Hostal-Sport, once a month. There’s a bunch of people that always come to these tastings and I am happy to be amongst them! We have Emporda, Montsant and Priorat to look forward to!

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As always Marta, owner, manager and in house sommelier at Hotel Hostal-Sport, started of by introducing the representative from the D.O. and in this case I have to say I totally missed the name but I have to say that when it comes to wine and especially to the specifics of Costers del Segre, she knew what she was on about! It was a pleasure to listen to her.

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This was the ninth of 12 tastings over the year to come, covering the D.O:s of Catalonia. These tasting are a way to promote Catalan wine and the Catalan D.O:s at the symbolical price of 5 Euro per tasting, so, if you want to know more about the wines from the regions of Catalonia, make sure to get to Falset and enjoy some really good wines together with other wine lovers! Can’t wait for the next DO-tasting!

A little bit about the characteristics of D.O. Costers del Segre before we get going with the tasting notes!

The vineyards are spread out throughout the northeastern interior of Catalonina, with the region of Pallars being the most northern one. It is not an appellation with one border, as the growing areas are spread out like a multitude of vineyards. The vineyards are located in the sub-areas of Artesa de Segre, Urgell, Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, Segrià and Valls del Riu Corb. The D.O. as such was created in 1986, so it is one of the younger appellations of Catalonia. Currently there are 588 wine growers and farmers, working on a grape producing areal of 4.197 ha. Total number of plots is 2.667 and wine producing cellars (commercial) are 42! Small numbers but big wines! 

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The different sub-zones have very varying geological and climatic features. The link is the middle basin of the River Segre, between the Pyrenees and the Ebro. They are all located in the interior and have quite dry conditions, away from the maritime influence and marked by high insolation, low rainfall and persistent moisture mists during the winter. The vineyards are located between 200 and 400 m. altitude. The soil is calcareous sand coated with a great uniformity throughout the denomination.

The Artesa and Pallars subzones are the most northerly, with their vineyards at a higher altitude and Pyrenean influence. Raïmat at the eastern end, has a gentle relief and continental climate. The sub-area Segrià on the plain of Lleida, is characteristic of rain-fed lands. Les Garrigues and Valleys Riucorb have dry soils, to be considered drylands.

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After the phylloxera, the vine cultivation decreased substantially. In this way, starting during 1909 the new vines grafted on American rots (Americanos) resistant to phylloxera, provided the province of Lleida with 15,161 hectares, of which 13,343 were replanted phylloxera resistant vineyards and 1,818 were lands that were previously not used for vine growing. The 102,920 hectares not reconstituted are mainly devoted to the cultivation of olive trees. In the western area, the varieties destroyed by the phylloxera were: Pinós, Samsó, Sumoll and Garnacha. The varieties grafted on American stocks: Monastrell, Macabeo, Trepat, Grenache and Sumoll. At the same time some French varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon were imported.

The grape varieties recommended by the regulatory body are; Garnacha Negra, Tempranillo (Ull de llebre), Cabernet Saugvinon, Merlot, Monastrell/Morastrell, Trepat, Mazuela/Samsó, Pinot Noir and Syrah with the recommended addition of white grapes; Macabeu, Xarello, Parellada, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandria, Malvasia/Subirat Parent, Gewurztraminer and Albarinho.

Llabustes Wine No. 1 – Vila Corona, Llabustes Chardonnay 2013, 100% Chardonnay

Pale yellow straw color, elegant green reflections. Clean and intense aromas of  flowers, acacia and a hint of rose. Yellow and white fruits, a lot of pineapple, apple and pear are quite subtle, banana is also there but fading in the background. No mineral and no notes of aging. On the palate, it is a dry wine with moderate acidity, noticeable alcohol but without being intrusive. It has a integrated body. Taste of citrus, exotic and white fruits, slight touch of almonds. You won’t find a better Chardonnay from Costers del Segre, the value is amazing!

Anima de RaimatWine No. 2 – Raimat, Anima de Raimat 2013, Chardonnay, Xarel.lo and Albarinyo

Straw to slightly golden color with greenish reflexions, showing the youth and freshness. Complex.  Intense nose with primary notes of tropical and citrus fruits, round and clean nose. Expressive to complex, secondary of currant, elderberry, peach and some white fruit, pear and melon. Structured, well balanced with good acidity. Dry, medium long after taste with balanced acidity. Well made and simply a very pleasant wine!

OnraWine No. 3 – Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011, 70% Garnatxa Blanca and 30% Sauvignon Blanc

Brilliant and golden yellow color. Clean nose with heavy aromatic complexity. Some coconut, but mainly I noted white fruit meat, pear and apple. Smoky notes and cedar came along nicely in the background. Slight perfume, or aftershave, or if it was just the guy next to me? With aeration, lemon, pineapple and peach continues to add dimensions to the experience. Good entry, slightly salty. It is filling the mouth with sensations of white fruits, herbs and a buttery feel. Mature, quality, long and fresh finish.

Petit GrealoWine No. 4 – Vinya l’Hereu, Petit Grealo 2010, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Transparent ruby red color with violet hues. Red and black fruit, light smoke, herbs like lavender, rosemary and fennel. Nice touch of white pepper and balsamic. Medium intensity, medium and balanced tannins. Smoke again, leather and coffee. Candied fruit. Potent wine, persistent and refreshing. A pure, fresh character of clay!

oda castell de remeiWine No. 5 – Castell del Remei, Oda Negre 2009, 55% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Ull de Llebre and 5% Garnatxa

Cherry color, with a bright cherry colored edge. Colorful tears and dense. High intensity. Aromas of barrel and cedar, aromatic coffee came as secondary after quite some time. Balsamic. Marmalade, blueberry jam. Sweet and voluptuous entry. The tannins are mature, integrated and the acidity is fresh, enhancing the persistency. Loved the finale with the sweet fig carrying the wine a long way.

bru de verdu 2012

Wine No. 6 – Celler Cercavins, Bru de Verdu 2012, Ull de Llebre, Syrah and Merlot

Dark cherry color with garnet rim. Clean and bright. Slow and slightly tinted tears. It has a clean and intense nose with outstanding very fruity aromas, ripe black fruit and licorice intermixed with subtle spices and lightly toasted. Mild vegetables and balsamic background appears after a while. The entry is powerful, fleshy and dry, marked by intense roasted notes, light spices and a delicate mineral touch. Good acidity that refreshes and distinctly tannic. Persistent finish that leaves roasted and fruity sensations.

vilosell 2012

Wine No. 7 – Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011, Ull de Llebre and Syrah

Beautiful cherry color with violet edges. Very bright and thin legs. Nice aromatic complexity with a  wide range of aromas. Vegetables, red fruits, hot spices and licorice give way to ripe fruit, sweet spices and chocolate. Subtle floral background. Intense and spacious volume. Silky and full of juicy fruit, blackberries, accompanied by toast and mineral notes and subtle hints of licorice. Mature and well polished tannins. Good acidity. Long and persistent finish that leaves fruity sensations. A round, tasty and very friendly wine!

Bui del sort negre 2013

Wine No. 8 – Batlliu de Sort, Biu de Sort Negre 2013, 100% Pinot Noir

Unclear, light purple to ruby color. Ops, not a favorite. Primary of sewer and rotten eggs, like I haven’t experienced that before! Swirl, swirl, swirl and here we go…, raspberry, unripe cherry, slight coffee aroma and some green beans. Light entry, dry, fresh acidity, light tannins, violet, salinity, green bell-pepper. Different, interesting even though we got of to a bad start. Would actually enjoy an additional glass of this wine

And the WINNERs are (had to go for two this time) Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011 and Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011.

77 to go!

La Cova dels Vins, You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To D.O. Montsant

230/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Falset – La Cova dels Vins – Ombra Barrica 2009

You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To………,

Ombra 2009Ombra Barrica 2009

Ruby red colour with violet trim. The fruity nose suggests blackberry and cassis, with lovely accenting aromas of minerals, dark flowers, camphor and spicy oak. Exotic aromas of toasted wood, cherry liquor and seductive red berries.  The palate reflects spices and currant notes that appear in the foreground, backed by flavors of mocha, dried herbs and dense berry preserves. A very interesting blend with a high degree of mineral overtone. Concentrated and balanced wine with lots of fruit. Velvety tannins on a good mineral background and toasty hints provided by the oak during the ageing. Long and persistent wine. It required about thirty minutes of breathing. Considering the price, I could drink this almost everyday!
Spices
A red like this one is perfect for meat, but because of its soft tannins and juicy texture, the wine doesn’t need the intensity of a rib-eye or porterhouse steak to show it off. Rather, it’s perfect for roasted veal chops, steaks and charred chops. The plump fruit of the Ombra will also find a good match with earthy ingredients like mushrooms, eggplant and root vegetables. Use cardamom, cumin and other Middle Eastern spices to echo the wine’s own notes of spice and wild herbs.
Roasted Veal Chops
The aim of this small winery is to produce wines according to traditional winemaking techniques. This wine is made of grapes from old vines planted between the villages of Falset and Capçanes at 300-700 metres of altitude in shale and clay rich soils, with difficult access. Garnacha Tinta, Samso and Cabernet Sauvignon are nicely blended without any of the varieties taking over in  any way. 10-month ageing in 300 l French and American oak barrels after 15-day malolactic maceration.
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Winemaker Francesc Perello-aka Sisco-grew up in the heart of the wine regions of Montsant and Priorat, which are just west and south of Barcelona. Sisco trained as a winemaker and took a job at the acclaimed cooperative Capçanes. One winter afternoon in 2002, Sisco and his father were pruning some old, sparse vines, inspiring his father to reminisce about the great wines made from that particular run-down vineyard. It was then that the two hit on the idea of reviving the vine­yard, a project that resulted in La Cova dels Vins (The Cave of Wine).
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Because the parcel’s 100-year-old vines yielded only a tiny amount, father and son decided to supplement the offering with complementary vines from other locations. This blend incorporates grapes from Samso (Carignan) and Garnacha (Grenache) vines up to 50 years old with grapes from 15-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines, all grown on alluvial soils featuring clay and schist.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

151 to go!

Cellers Capafons-Ossó, East of The Sun in D.O. Montsant

228/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Falset – Cellers Capafons-Ossó – Masia Esplanes Crianza 2005

East of The Sun…….,

Capafons

Masia Esplanes Crianza 2005, 40% Merlot, 35% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 15% Syrah and 10% Garnatxa

A very intense colour with red and violet tones. Compact and complex nose, with clear signs of red fruits and spices. On the palate its firm yet meaty strength stands out. Long-lasting with an aftertaste of spices and cocoa. It’s a wine full of life. After a long maceration process, the aging is done in oak barrels during 12 months and in bottles for another year. Masia Esplanes is a smooth and pleasant wine, with the necessary woodiness that identifies this type of well structured wine with complex smells from this area.

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Cellers Capafons-Ossó combines tradition and innovation; using local varieties of grapes and with the introduction of new ones, they constantly try to improve their products. Furthermore, they use modern control systems for grape production and the wine elaboration process. They are always on the lookout for the maximum equilibrium between vineyards and the environment, a beautiful natural space with its own micro climate where Mas de Masos celler plantations are incorporated into the woods and growing areas, preserving the ecosystem. The growth of ilexes, oaks, pines is promoted and aromatic herbs are preserved, which give the grapes a peculiar flavour.

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In some vineyards of the area with steep slope, there is no growing at all. The herbs growing in the middles of the stocks are cut off, regenerating the soil as a natural fertilizer and protecting the structure from wind and rain. The fermentation of the wine takes place in small stainless-steel tubs, then it is moved into oak barrels for aging and it is finally bottled for some time till it gets to the market with the guarantee and love that a unique product requires.

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Capafons-Ossó Wineries has vineyards in two neighboring regions: D.O. Montsant and the DOQ Priorat. They are different basically because of the sun, the weather, grape varieties, historical and geographical issues. The excellent job done during the last few years by l’ Escola d’ Enologia Jaume Ciurana from Falset, from where most of the technicians from the region and Catalonia come from, has given professional guarantee and boosted an almost unknown region. An area that was asleep, for many years, under the shadows of the great wines in the world.

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The cellars of Capafons-Ossó offers these wines to you as the fruits of their constant and rigorous labour and great passion for the vineyard and land of the Priorat and Montsant appellations. Masia Esplanes Celler is located 1,5 kms from Falset Village, at a very beautiful valley. The lands of this area were formed in the quaternary and they consist  mostly of stone, gravel, mud and granite composition. The production goes from 2,500 to 3,500 kg/Ha. Reaching almost a perfect equilibrium and fruit ripening. The cellar has an extension of 8 Ha. of vineyards, with a total of 17,000 vines grafted with varieties as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Charesón, Grenache Pais, Grenache blanc, Viognier and Carignane.

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The names given to their wines come from the characteristics of this lands, which are part of the history since many years: In this way, they elaborate a “ROIGENC” rose born from a sunset; a red “VESSANTS” after the name of a parcel in the cellar and a “MASIA ESPLANES” emerged from the finest grape selection of the vineyards.

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

153 to go!

Castell del Vi, Água de Beber in D.O. Montsant

125/365 – Catalonia – Falset – Castell del Vi – Wine Fair – Cooperative Falset Marçà – Etim Grenache Old Vines 2008

Água de Beber……,

…., Water to Drink at the Wine Castle? I think not! I have to remind myself over and over again, that during the difficult years, when Priorat and other regions saw their decline, co-operative wine cellars still fought on and produced wine. Maybe not the best in the world but certainly good enough for the money you would pay. Today, most co-operatives work with high technology and with some great wine makers. To some extent, the difficulty they are having, is with the bulk wines, the mechanical harvest (which makes quality selection so much harder) and timings. Due to the large amounts coming to the wineries at the same time, it is virtually impossible to give the grapes the best reception.

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Nevertheless, it is certainly possible to find great wines made by the co-operative cellars, which was proven during the small fair at the Castell del Vi in Falset the other day! Several new wines were tasted and I have firmly decided to visit some of the producers that took part. The Wine Castle is run by a foundation, which praised the conclusion of the second edition of the Fair of agricultural cooperatives of the Priorat region. It was a great showcase for the diversity and quality of the wines and oils produced by cooperative wineries of the region, some with over 100 years of history. During the day, more than 300 entrance tickets were sold, which means there were approximately 600 people participating.

The tables are set and the fair was just about to start!

The tables are set and the fair was just about to start!

This year, the Fair was attended by 9 agricultural cooperatives from the region and one guest cooperative from D.O. Terra Alta, the Cooperrative Cellar of Gandesa, considered one of the Cathedrals of Wine in Catalonia. During the day, the cooperative wineries presented their new wines in the l’Absis hall of the Castle. Wine tastings of different categories were offered, both targeted and blind. Their other products, like olive oil and cured meats and cheeses were also on display.

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This centre is based in the former Castle of the Counts of Prades of Falset, built in the 12th century after the Christian re-conquest of New Catalonia and located on a strategic hill overlooking the town of Falset. The castle which was made up of a residential quarter and a church, the existence of which can only be seen in the former exterior walls, was partly destroyed on several occasions, such as the decree of Philip the Fifth. In recent years, before it was completely abandoned, it was also used as a prison.

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The Castell del Vi takes up three floors of this former fortress. Modern infrastructure and advanced technology has meant that the centre offers visitors a very different experience based on Priorat wine culture, which is far removed from that of a traditional wine museum. By using audiovisual and interactive elements, visitors easily understand the history and the peculiarities of this wine-growing region.

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On the gorund floor visitors are introduced to the world of wine, the region of the Priorat through the use of emblematic images and suggestive decorative elements. They also receive a brief introduction to winemaking from the vineyard to the winery by use of short videos. The first floor concentrates on the region’s history and what makes the area unique. It is divided into two contrasting spaces: A grape growing Region, Visitors are greeted by a large 3D relief model of the Priorat where a short film, projected onto the model, takes us back in time. The exhibition space is complimented with fixed panels and glass cases which emphasize the idiosyncrasy and curiosities of this region.

I got to try an excellent Rose wine by Celler de Cornudella de Montsant, which was paired quite well with semi cured cheese!

I got to try an excellent Rose wine by Celler de Cornudella de Montsant, which was paired quite well with semi cured cheese!

Protagonist, Homage to the people who have contributed to the re-birth of the region. This interesting set up allows visitors to get to know some of the most important faces in this renaissance. Furthermore, a series of interviews informs visitors of personal experiences and points of views of the diverse people who were involved in this process. The second floor is called The Lookout. This open plan floor space provides visitors with splendid views over the region and invites them to go out to explore its countryside, its hidden corners and its festivals. Modules with touch screens as well as normal ones mean that nothing is missed.

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At the other end of this room, a series of touch screens offer visitors information about wine production in the region as well as in the rest of the world. Finally, special glass spheres offer visitors the opportunity to appreciate and recognize the basic aromas of Priorat wines in the form of an entertaining exercise to test our senses. If you only have limited time, once you visit Falset, because I assume you will visit Falset one day soon, then you should visit at least the Co-Operative wine cellar and the Castell del Vi!

DSC_0233Etim Grenache Old Vines 2008

Vines of more than 50 years of age offering very low outtake, vineyards with slate, clay, limestone and sand, at a height of between 350 and 500 m. Intense pomegranate, well covered with purple trim and rich in color. The nose surprises with an intense aroma of strawberry, currant and blackberries. Blueberries and blackberries dominate and there are subtle balsamic and mineral points. The aromas evolve and points towards the toasted notes of the barrel aging. The palate is elegant, lively and well balanced wine with fruit flavors, good acidity and firm, round tannins. The ending is long, the berries, vanilla and wood are felt throughout.

254 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Pascona Montsant, He’s a pirate in D.O. Montsant

81/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Falset – Pascona Montsant – Lo Pare Evolucio 2012

He’s a Pirate…….

The story of Pascona is evolving and shaping the future of Montsant as a wine region, and I for one, will return and visit the place over and over again. Read about  the history and the vineyards of Pascona here! Today, Sunday, the sun was shinning and as it is the day of rest, what better than to visit a wine cellar? The initial reference, suggesting that Toni is a pirate, well that’s a separate story and maybe best discovered as and when you decide to come and visit this magical place!

Selfie by Toni "The Pirate" in the vineyards!

Selfie by Toni “The Pirate” in the vineyards!

Had a pre arranged meeting with Toni Ripoll, owner and wine maker of Pascona, at the petrol station/coffee shop in Falset, where we started the day with a Catalan entrepan  (baguette with your choice of filling) and a tallat (coffee with a dash of milk). Got to talking about life in general, wine making (off course) and decided to hit the vineyards to see what was going on there.

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After a walk with the dogs in tow, having caught some rays of the morning sun and admiring the “crying” vines, they are to bud within a month or so, some barrels were waiting to be sampled. And, as you very well know, you don’t want to disappoint the barrels! During the following hours we tried the 2013 wines soon to be bottled, and I can’t say that I was worried about what it would taste! 2013 is looking very promising, life is good!

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Started off with the 991′ Macabeu, which was covered in a previous posting, well that was the 2012. Now, the 2013 still un-bottled was tasted and wow…., what a difference a year makes! Comparing the two, the 2013 is fruitier, does not have the same floral notes but certainly carries a great balance and the aftertaste is longer. A fresh, tasty and handsome wine for a Sunday afternoon barbeque of white fish. But then again, to drink it as is, is not a crime. The 2012 has been sold out, so now all we can do is wait for the 2013 to hit the shelves!

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Blanc de noir production, is not something done normally in D.O. Monsant, but then again, there’s nothing normal with Toni, he thrives in being different and going against the stream, up the creek with no paddle! Blanc de noir made from 100% Syrah, is certainly not done in Montsant! As far as I know this guy is the only one crazy enough to do it, and with a fantastic result!

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The name of the wine is Trenca Closques, meaning Puzzle, how very becoming! Puzzling it is and in more ways than one. The wine is dark salmon with hints of orange. The Sira (Syrah) is pressed, gently, so it is onoy during the pressing that it has contact with the peel for about 20 minutes, that’s all it takes to get the color. Some describe it as a rose wine, but Toni is adamant about it being a white! A cool, soft and elegant “white” with the nose of fruits, herbs and mixed candy. Very good entry into the mouth with good balance and roundness, slightly bitter at the very end, very fresh!

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Experimental natural wine was the next to be tasted, which is the same as the Lo Petito, made from the same grapes and blend. Syrah 50% and Merlot 50%, which are fermented and vinified together. The natural one, has no additives and is not filtrated, so it shows other characteristics than the filtered brother. You couldn’t imagine that it is the same wine! Pure muscles in the natural one, rawness and edges but still refined, lovely blend. Lo Petito is much clearer and softer in color, ruby red throughout and tons of raspberries and red fruits, complex.

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Barrel and bottle, 2013 and 2012 respectively, of the La Mare. 100% Garnatxa. The 2013 demonstrating great potential for some additional aging, very good acidity and I for one am going to keep some bottles for at least 5-6 years to see what happens. Red cherry color with purple tones, brilliant with a robe. Huge intensity with aromas of mature black forrest fruit. Then it slowly develops to violet, figs, tobacco and a hint of menthol. Velvety in the mouth, blueberries and black fruit, raisins and figs. As it enters the taste is very nice, great freshness. Complex and not at all aggressive in any way.

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Toni! I’ll be back and hopefully soon. Thank you for a lovely day in the vineyards and the cellar of your Chateau Pascona!

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It has been a wonderful week, that is unfortunately coming to its end. Sunday only offering a few more hours, but I for one am looking forward to Monday and the week to come. New challenges in life and more winery visits to conduct and hopefully some new friends to be made! Stay tuned!

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Lo Pare, Evolucio, 2012, 80% Garnatxa and 20% Cabernet-Sauvignon

Spent 13 months in a one year old, french oak barrel. Opaque, deep violet to medium purple with colored tears. Jammy fruits but not overly ripe, peppery and some exotic fruits. Leather comes as secondary and clear balsamic. Mature taste, great body, satiny feel in the mouth, integrated and nutty oak. Well balanced and elaborate. A wine made with good skills and finesse.

300 to go!

7 Wines, Wine Do Yer Stuff, D.O. Terra Alta

27-33/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Falset – Hotel_Hostal Sport – 7 Wines Tasted

Gimme That Wine……..

…….., cause I can’t cut loose without my juice! Ok, so kill me! The song IS cheesy but at least it has wine in the title and I for one, really like it! Good enough in my book!

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Well arranged tasting, yesterday evening at the Hotel-Hostal Sport, in Falset by Marta & Ruth! Thank you for the invite and for a great evening with friends.

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Todays entry is a covering only tasting notes for the 7 wines, no history, no winemakers and no cellars will be mentioned. Just, Gimme That Wine……. “Well those chicks look fine, but I love my wine. Now some folks like money, some like to dance and dine, But I’ll be happy If you give me that wine”.

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This was the first of 12 tastings over the year to come, covering the D.O;s of Catalonia, starting with D.O. Terra Alta. Briefly about Terra Alta, the numbers;

– Provisional D.O. since 1972, official 1982.

– 5.895 hectares planted.

– 1469 vine growers registered, 45 active cellars.

– Grape outtake 6.450 Kg/ha, 37,7 million Kg:s harvested.

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– And now some interesting stuff! Garnacha Blanca is the King of grapes in Terra Alta and 80% of all the Garnacha Blanca planted in Spain comes from this D.O. and 1/3 of the Garnacha Blanca in the whole world.

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Wine No. 1 – Barbara Fores Blanc, 2013, 100% Garnacha Blanca.

Delicate yellow straw color with gold rims. Clean and bright. Good tear. On the nose it has an average intensity, ripe white fruit and semi intense flavours with various floral, tropical notes. Some balsamic and roasted very harmonious and balanced. This white wine from the Terra Alta has a nice entrance which is soft, warm and creamy. Well-balanced fruit and wood. Good acidity that gives freshness necessary for contrast. Long and bitter point with hints of nuts and toast.

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Wine No. 2 – LaFou Celler Els Amelers, 2012, 100% Garnacha Blanca.

Pale and clean yellow straw color to slight golden. Intense nose with primary notes of citrus, grapefruit and lemon. Secondary of apricot, slight lychee and cocos. Structured, balanced and powerful with good acidity. Very dry, long lingering aftertaste with balanced acidity. Elegant and well made wine!

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Wine No. 3 – Edetaria Blanc, 2011, 85% Garnacha Blanca, 15% Macabeu (Old Vines)

Yellow ochre, platinum to coppery glow. Ripe fruit, marmalade, vanilla, arak, marzipan and it just keeps on coming! The mouth is intense, dried apricot, balanced acidity and a follow through of owen baked apples, slight spice. A complex wine with finesse and loads of expression. High class!

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Wine No. 4 – Sant Josep Wines, Llagrimes de Tardor 2010, 100% Garnacha Blanca

Bright gold/yellow glow with copper rims. The color is full. First thing that hit my nose was, Spearmint chewing-gum! Then it started talking to me. After eight chocolates, lemongrass, tropical fruits, herbs, minerals…., couldn’t get my full focus on this one, it was like it was speaking chinese and I don’t do that language. The mouth was easier to interpret, velvety with fruity notes. Fresh with a touch of bitterness and a long finish. Firm and opulent!

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Wine No. 5 – Celler Pinol, Portal N Sra. del Portal, 2011, 60% Garnacha, 15% Cariñena, 10% Merlot and 15% Syrah.

Deep cherry color with violet hue, opaque. Intense red and black berries (blackberries, currants, mineral aroma background, slight licorice and menthol. The palate is fleshy, fatty and powerful, very rounded tannins. Clearly balsamic notes and a perfect balance between fruit and acidity, toasted oak is apparent. Very elegant and long finish.

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Wine No. 6 – Alta Vins, Domus Pensi, 2008, 45% Cabernet, 30% Garnacha, 15% Syrah and 10% Merlot

Intense red color with violet hues, many layers. The nose is complex with aromas of red fruits blackberries, blueberries, prunes, raisins, hints of cocoa and roasted coffee. In the mouth it is tasty and fatty, with a smooth entry and evolution. It has a sweet tannin sensation intensified by alcohol. The aftertaste is reminiscent of cherry jam. long aftertaste. Decant before serving!

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Wine No. 7 – Celler Pinol, Josefina Pinol, Vi Dolc/Mistela, 2011, 

Deep deep cherry color. The nose is complex, jam berries, roasted coffee, cocoa and licorice. The palate is overly sweet, raisins, raisins and honey, round, concentrated sweet wine, with hardly any acidity. Not to my taste!

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And the WINNER is Wine No. 4 – Sant Josep Wines, Llagrimes de Tardor 2010, price/quality comparison is unmatched and this was a great surprise to me! Get a case or two before it’s to late! Happy wine loving days!

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341 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Edetaria, Time is on my side, D.O. Terra Alta

Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Edetaria – Edetaria Red Selection 2010

Time is on my side…….

Wonderful day ahead! During 2014 there are many more wines to be tasted. Tonight I’ll be joining 40 wine lovers in Falset at the Hotel-Hostal Sport. Initiated by the owner, Marta Domenech Tomas, we are going to do one tasting per month, each covering one D.O of Catalonia. 12 D.O:s in total, this is my home game!

Preparation for tonight's tasting. Terra Alta here we come!

Preparation for tonight’s tasting. Terra Alta here we come!

Tonight’s tasting is all about D.O. Terra Alta. Staying true to todays theme I am covering one winery, one wine, from Terra Alta as well. So far my plan is working. One wine per day for 365 days, how hard can it be?

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Awarded D.O. status in 1985, Terra Alta is the one wine region located to the very south of Catalonia, within the province of Tarragona. The region has over the years gained reputation for producing some the most interesting wines in Spain, elaborated from the native Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Blanca and Carignena. Todays wine is a red but there will be a write up on the whites from Terra Alta. Why? 80% of Garnacha Blanca produced wines in Spain, come from Terra Alta! If you do something good…….

Garnacha Blanca

Garnacha Blanca

The altitudes here are the highest in the area, with the mountain peaks reaching heights of up to 950 meters. The climate is Mediterranean/Continental, hot long summers and very cold winters. A local dry wind, El Cierzo, originating from the west (The Ebro River), is hugely important  as it moderates the temperatures, providing breezes which prevents fungicides, during the growing season.

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Edetaria is a modern style cellar, purpose build in 2003, with a mind blowing setting in the midst of the vineyards, olive groves and with the backdrop of mountains. Located in the valley of Gandesa to the sounth-west of Priorat.

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The projects is that of Joan Angel Lliberia, one of Terra Altas foremost personalities, prmoting Terra Alta on every possible occassion. His gradfather used to work the vinyerads, producing bulk wine, like most vintners did in the region in those days. The father, Angel, took over and started selling the harvest to the cooperative, during which time Angel studied in France for ten years to become a winemaker.

Father and son!

Father and son!

Terra Alta is the next big thing! A region with a long winemaking tradition, which is now trying to copy the quality and commercial success of Priorat and Montsant, and doing it quite well. Edetaria and Joan Angel, being a top producer in Terra Alta, is leading the way. Varietal expression, low yields, creativity and improvisation are some of the tools used.

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Looking at their logo, you’ll see the letter “t”, laid out horizontally. The “t” stands for terra, which in Catalan means land. Quite nifty I think!

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Being a Single Estate winery, means that they produce wine from their own vineyards. It is a matter of quality control, from grape to bottle, as the philosophy here is that the most important factor in the process is the vineyard.

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Out of the 30 hectares planted, the majority contains Macabeu, Garnacha Blanca, Garnacha Negra, Peluda and Carignena, being native varietals. There is some international varietals as well. Garnacha is the main player, with the Edetaria Edetana being in the forefront, trying to show of the best the Garnacha can offer.

Garnacha Peluda

A small part of the Garnacha Negra has mutated into Garnacha Peluda, which means “hairy”. The back of the leaf has transformed and developed hairs on the back of the leaf, thus retaining the moisture better and enhancing the acidity in the grapes.

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“In the cellar we only work with big barrels to retain the aromas of the terroir. We use only natural yeasts to show the maximum authenticity”, says Joan Angel. The grapes are collected into small crates to cover the short distance to the cellar, trying to keep the as fresh and as cold as possible.

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Fermentation tanks are small (1000 – 9000 litres), designed to keep the different terroirs and grape varieties separate during the winemaking process and fully express the qualities of all the individual plots. Ageing is carried out in 300 litre oak barrels.

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Edetaria Red Selection 2010

The wine is made from 60% “Garnacha Peluda” from a “còdols” soil, 30% Syrah from “vall”soils and 10% Carinena from “tapas” soils. Skin contact takes place for between 20 and 30 days, using both the pump over and push down methods to extract the maximum amount of character from the floating skins.  Each individual variety is then aged in 300 liters French oak barrels for 12 months before being blended and bottled to give a fully rounded and well-balanced whole.

Intense red color, slightly opaque. The primary nose is that of menthol and quite soothing. Red fruits appear, mostly cherries and raspberries there are also notes of spices, and cocoa. Very fresh and lingering nose. On the palate the attack is powerful but silky, round and well integrated tannins. Elegant and well-integrated acidity. Woks well with game and can work with cheeses.

342 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle