Acustic Celler, Baby Please Don’t Go, D.O. Montsant

260/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Marçà – Acustic Celler – Braó 2011

Baby Please Don’t Go…….,

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Braó 2011, selection of vines, 60 years of age to almost centenarian plants of Garnacha, Garnacha Peluda and Samsó (Carignan)

Braó was widely used as a word for strength and courage. These are the words that best define these very old and wonderful vineyards, which against all possible odds have offered rare and unique grapes. Bright cherry colour, intense, clean and bright with violet hues. Abundant slow-falling, dark tears staining the glass. Nose of ripe fruit, sweet spices, expressive, complex, elegant. Tasty, fruity, ripe tannins. Powerful, bulky attack. Slow, concentrated, silky and tasty in the mouth. Some intense tannins, a little bit rough but compensated with a very refreshing and defined acidity. Long and persistent finish with fruity notes. A serious wine full of life and joy!  12-13 months French oak. Powerful wine, structured, deep but with great elegance and finesse to drink now or store for many years.

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I had heard about Albert Jane from his brother Gerard, and others that had already had the opportunity to try his wines first hand, before visiting Acustic Celler. Told myself, over and over again, we should visit him in Marçà to see what all the fuss was about. It was like the days before Christmas. You know something nice is going to be wrapped in those presents under the tree. We got to meet a great winemaker and try his wines in the vineyards, where they were born. If the vine could sing, I imagine lyrics like……., “That I can change the world, I would be the sunlight in your universe………

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Barcelona – Marçà, an easy 1 hour 40 minutes drive, southwesterly direction and way closer to the ancient city of Tarragona. Off course, one must take into consideration the temptation to maybe stop for a winery visit in Priorat, as it is on the way. Several signs trying to lure you to visit cellars, none of which are bad. Now, this time, that was not the reason we were slightly late for our appointment, rather the fact that we missed the winery and had to look for it in the village. The GPS hadn’t been updated for quite some time so the address was not coming up.

Normally, in these small villages, people will know where the wineries are located, so we were surprised that none of the four people we asked, knew where it was. Is this winery supposed to be secret? Maybe I should stop writing right here? Had to call Albert and found the place within minutes. Thankfully, we were not the only ones being late, as the visit was a joint one with one more person. It doesn’t matter if you are late, as long as someone is later……….

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The origin of the name “Marçà” comes from the latin word “Martius”, which could either be translated as the month of March or the planet of Mars. Hence, the name is probably implemented by the Romans, as it is a known fact that they were highly present in this area for quite some time. The church of Marçà is already mentioned in the Pope Anastasio IV’s “bula in 1154. The Marçà Castle appears for the first time 1153, as being mentioned by Ramón Berenguer IV. In 1241, Guillem d’Entença’s wife, Alamanda became the owner of it, ant the title became possession of the Entença Barony. In 1324, Jaime II gave the castle to his son Ramón Berenguer, and it happened to be a part of the Earldom de Prades.

In the 15th. century, some of the inhabitants of Marçà started to live down the hill. The inhabitants took the stones of the old village to build up the new one. Finally, the village was placed in its modern place in the 18th. century. At the end of the 18th. century, even though the population experienced a demographic increase, the village had serious troubles to pay its taxes. Carrasclet was a guerrilla fighter who used to live in Marçà with his wife (who was also his daughter), started to fight against Felipe V.

At the end of the 19th. century, the filoxera plaque deeply hurt the county, but Marçà did not suffer so bad because of the railway, which arrived to Marçà in 1891. This smoothed the crisis, and became for some years the best way to buy or sell the agricultural products of the Priorat. Today, one can eat really well at the railway restaurant Les Agulles in Marçà.

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Albert Jané is the son of Benjamí Jané, proprietor of the winery Jané Venturain El Vendrell (DO Penedes). He has inherited his father’s prudence, meticulous work and love of terroir. One thing is certain and very evident once you get to talking with Albert, he is a very passionate winemaker. The kind of guy I can imagine sleeps amongst his vines. The two projects, housed in one winery, are Acustic & Ritme. The former representing DO Montsant and the latter DOQ Priorat.

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During the visit his references are clear, the terroir, the vines and the love for wine is surfacing the whole time. I would have to say that Albert is modest in his claims but firm in his convictions, Alberts wines are made using traditional techniques, similar to “acoustic” music and that too would be his interpretation of the terrior. The wines are ​​only produced from native varieties: Carignan (Samsó), Garnacha Negra and Sumoll, and white Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo and Pansa.

The philosophy of Albert Jané put into one sentence might be “Back to the roots, to the uniqueness of the native environment expressing the deepest of these invincible vineyards guarded by the majestic mountain of Montsant”. Acústic Celler maintains a small production of only one hundred and twenty thousand bottles.

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The challenge I have while tasting Alberts wines, is that I can’t stop tasting! As I will have to return to both Acustic Celler and Ritme Celler, to be able to convey my tasting notes for the other labels!

Auditori 2010, Acustic Celler, DO Montsant, 100% Garnacha.

Pure pleasure, and as the top wine of Acustic Celler it displays and conveys the elaboration and terrior to perfection. Grapes from three old Garnacha vineyards, all 70 years and older. A full-bodied sensual sensation, with well ripened red fruits, cherry is clear. I distinguished some licorice  and a little spiciness  with clear oak as it progressed. Medium long finish. Nicely integrated tannins. Could easily stay in my cellar for another 4 years. The downside…….., not enough bottles on the market!

Plaer 2011, Ritme Celler, DOQ Priorat, Carignan (Samsó) 80% and Garnacha 20%,

produced from vines between 40 and 60 years, grown between 300 and 650 m altitude, on licorella (slate). Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. This wine is not filtered or clarified, so you may find deposits. Ripe blackberry and cola aromas, hints of black pepper, smoky minerals. Washes over the palate with dark berry flavors. Closes bright and long, with gentle tannic grip and a zesty mineral quality. This wine has an attractive bouquet, the oak is evident but integrated with the fruits. The palate has a satisfying, succulent entry with fine acidity. Plaer is the Catalan word for pleasure, I say no more!

 

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

124 to go!

Celler La Bollidora, Get Down On It in D.O. Terra Alta

71/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Celler La Bollidora – .G 2007

Get Down On It…..

…., 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 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 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.

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.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!

309 to go!

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