La Gravera, If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet? in D.O. Costers del Segre

375/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Alfarrás – La Gravera – Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011

If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?

onraOnra 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.

I travel, I visit, I taste and I write for you! I’m your man, not only in Costers del Segre but all over Catalonia. So, any time you have questions, especially regarding wine and wineries in Catalonia but also other questions, you are more than welcome to ask! If you would like me to visit, and write about a particular winery in the vicinity, let me know about it! We now have only 10 days left of 2014! I have been writing consecutively for 355 days and I will finish what I set out to do on January 1st! What happened 2015? I really don’t know, I’m not Nostradamus……, but I will be tasting and drinking wine during the year to come as well. Will I continue writing? Guess we’ll all just have to wait and see!

YOURMAN_NEON-2I’m your man and this time we once more spend our time together in one of the less known wine making regions in Catalonia. Never the less, it is an area of great beauty and some high class wines. The region also hosts the second winery (my first choice is Can Rafols dels Caus) that could be considered for the next James Bond movie or for the next Alien film with Sigurney. Outstanding architecture with well thought through processes for elaboration.

503d950228ba0d7ece00002e_lagravera-sala-ferusic-architects_exterior_nit_1-528x352The project of La Gravera was conceived under low cost criteria, where optimizing energy and material means and resources became important. Economic sustainability is generally linked to environmental sustainability. And it is very evident in this case. An old warehouse from 1958, which belonged to a gravel quarry, has been recovered, revived and transformed it into a vineyard, eliminating industrial elements. SALA Architects FERUSIC was the company contracted to carry out the design and achieved something truly amazing, considering the budget.

503d952028ba0d7ece000030_lagravera-sala-ferusic-architects_moble_2-528x352The building elements are governed by economies of scale and mass production, to minimize their impact on the environment and therefore the economy and organization was done with criteria of spatial, functional and hygrothermal design, in mind. The project was structured in relation to the following points: a cabinet four feet high organizes service spaces, the center of action where human activity is assisted by machines, and Zone 900, a conference room with a carpet of welcome stripes and a bright ceiling, below which the cellar is found, and where the monitoring unit controlling the vineyard in real time is located, and where the design and pedagogy of the wine develops. In conclusion, this low cost approach states one obvious fact, Less (money) Is More!

la-gravera-copiadaThe draft was from the beginning that La Gravera should perform as a small winery where the whole process can be controlled. From the vineyard to the bottle and, all with a highly technical system. Doing small things that may surprise the wine lovers of design. Its aim also goes through a proven commitment to quality and a small production. The range of wines consist of white, pink and red and feature a broth medium-high segment, and 100 % organic wine.

lagravera-winery-by-sala-ferusic-architects-barcelona-02The differential of Celler La Gravera is the fact that this is a very small, very manageable collection, with a number of grape varieties,  a plot of 14 acres with nine different types of grapes. “It allows us to process the cupages with great success ,” says the young winemaker Jordi Viader. The winery is a totally unique personal museum, unique, unusual, no plagiarism or copies. Everything, absolutely everything, is looked at through the prism of surreal design, the encounter with the afterlife, but understandable and functional. It is a winery that deserves architectural design awards.

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We are not only talking technology, but also the passion for winemaking. “My experience in domestic and international markets, traveling the world, making our wines, with proven quality, we are presenting and selling through hotels and restaurants on several continents, with a great acceptance among them,” says Sergi Garcia , CEO of Bodegas Lagravera.

onra_graveraThis very cellar in the D.O. Costers del Segre believe that as a basic premise, it is pertinent to continuously improving the quality of its wines. The slogan that have endorsed the Lleida winery is “wine that comes from the stones .” This is because their vineyards are located on land with lots of stone, basically a gravel pit located in the comarca of Noguera. They are highly mineralized wines. “We aim to give our customers what they want, while we want to be faithful with what they want ,” says Garcia. Lagravera wines are intended for the HoReCa market segment and specialty stores. Current global production is around 50,000 bottles per harvest.

10 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Saturday Lunch with Friends, D.O. Montsant

336/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Celler Alfredo Arribas – Trossos Tros Blanc 2009

Friends…….,

trossos-tros-blanc-419542Trossos Tros Blanc 2009, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

The color is straw yellow with golden reflections, clear and bright. The nose is elegant and seductive, initial intense and complex aromas of white stone fruits (peach, apricot) accompanied by a bouquet of floral notes, spices, vegetables and balsamic on a strong background of toast. A number of very subtle aromas emerged constantly, menthol, white flowers and vanilla. Exquisite acidity and the alcohol is totally integrated. Notable is the perfect balance between fruit flavors, and the contribution of the barrel. Fresh, fleshy and unctuous on the palate, it exhibits lactic, citrus fruit and oak-ageing notes and culminates in a long, persistent finish. Wonderful wine that has no match! If you ever come across it, be sure to try it, I guarantee you are in for a unique experience. My preferred choise is to share it with good Friends!

This Garnatxa Blanca single varietal originates from 80 year-old vines, grown at an altitude of 240 metres, in a parcel lying on slightly sloping ground facing northeast and southeast. Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels. A wine in the top echelon for quality and price. Alfredo Arribas’ Tros Blanc has no need to fear international competition, as it is right up there with the best of them, coating the glass like high-performing Californians or Burgundy Chardonnays and Sauternes. There is plenty of volume found on the palate too, with so much body you can almost chew it. Inevitably, the lengthy aftertaste constitutes a wine-lover’s joy, especially impressive since this is a very limited production wine available at an incredibly low price! Many a good red would seem weak and watery in comparison with this outstanding white, offering great complexity and elegance – and one that can be cellared too.

The lunch ingredients just about ready to enter the stone oven!

The lunch ingredients just about ready to enter the stone oven!

Friends hanging out, waiting for the tasting and lunch to begin!

Friends hanging out, waiting for the tasting and lunch to begin!

Introducing label less Cava, made by our host Miguel! Soft and nice, although still quite young!

Introducing label less Cava, made by our host Miguel! Soft and nice, although still quite young!

The best one, out of all of the wines the past Saturday!

The best one, out of all of the wines the past Saturday!

All I was asking them for was the name of the grape! Blind tastings are a great way to learn how to interpret wine, always with a laugh at hand!

All I was asking them for was the name of the grape! Blind tastings are a great way to learn how to interpret wine, always with a laugh at hand!

Succes Vinicola, El Mentider, another great wine which I am doing a separate piece on later!

Succes Vinicola, El Mentider, another great wine which I am doing a separate piece on later!

Fantastic French wine!

Fantastic French wine!

A lovely starter! Rice with mushrooms and artichokes! With this one we tried four whites and one red!

A lovely starter! Rice with mushrooms and artichokes! With this one we tried four whites and one red!

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As we were lacking time we only managed to work through these wines!

As we were lacking time we only managed to work through these wines!

52 to go!

 

Celler Coma d’en Bonet, The Unclouded Day in D.O. Terra Alta

318/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Celler Coma d’en Bonet – Dardell White 2012

The Unclouded Day………,

blancnuriaDardell White 2012, 90% Garnatxa Blanca from Coma d’en Bonet  and 10% Viognier from Serra de Castellnou 

This is a wine which reflects typicality and authenticity of Terra Alta’s White Grenache. A young white wine with a bright pale yellow/green hue. The must is fermented at a controlled temperature, resulting in a fruity and aromatic wine with a powerful suggestion of tropical fruit (pineapple, banana, pear) and some lychee. Lingering hints of scrubland herbs and white rose. Fruity flavours and delicious taste, coated with a nice power and sensation of structure which can be perceived and enjoyed in this wine. Decanting of the first fractions of the juice at 13 ° C during 24 hours, fermenting 25 days at 14 º C. Blended in December ’12. Clarified with bentonite, then filtered and cold stabilized. Bottled in January 2013.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The winery of Coma d’en Bonet in the small Terra Alta town of Gandesa, decided early to adhere to organic wine making. One that is made from grapes produced by using ecological agriculture, all grapes used come from vineyards grown without chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides (fungicide, insecticide or herbicide), and therefore no residues of these substances are influencing the final product.

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They use only organic fertilizers and natural minerals. All the vineyards are cultivated according to the guidelines of organic farming and under control of the CCPAE (Catalan Council of Ecological Agricultural Production). This certification ensures that products always have been prepared following the rules of organic farming, which have been controlled in the entire process of PRODUCTION, PROCESSING and PACKAGING.

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73 to go!

 

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!

The Winery of Altavins, Body and Soul in D.O. Terra Alta

304/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Altavins Viticultors – ILERCAVÒNIA 2013

Body and Soul………,

ilercavoniaILERCAVÒNIA 2013, 100% Garnacha Blanca/White Grenache

White wine with a golden yellow hue and greenish tones. Complex aromas reminiscent of pineapple and mango, with certain notes of apple and apricotUnctuous, long and persistent on the palate. The finish culminates in floral and fresh mint aromas. The land we now inhabit has known other names and other cultures. The “Ilercavones” (the Iberians who lived in the Terra Alta and the surrounding areas from the 6th to the 1st century BC, and who named them), had a culture which left its unmistakable mark on the land – and can still be seen today, a testament to a productive and prosperous past.

Garnacha Blanca

Garnacha Blanca

D.O. = Designation of Origin/Denomination of Origin.

The quality and characteristics are essentially or exclusively due to its geographical origin, with the inherent human and cultural factors. It possesses a certain quality, reputation or other specific characteristics attributable to its geographical origin. In addition to the above, the following must also apply. 100% of the grapes come exclusively from the geographical production area. The production takes place within the same area and distillation is obtained from grape varieties belonging to Vitis Vinifiera.

Wines bearing the DO distinction are prestigious Spanish wines produced in a demarcated production area and are made according to parameters governing quality and type. Each DO must be regulated by a Governing Body (Consejo Regulador) that is responsible for ensuring the use of grapes of the authorized varieties, and compliance with parameters governing production per hectare, approved methods of wine making and ageing times.

In order for wines to be given Denomination of Origin status, the production area is required to have been recognized over at least the previous five years as a region producing quality wines with a geographical indication. Catalonia has 12 DO:s! That is more than any other wine making area of Spain. And now you know why I live and work in Catalonia! With time, all of them are going to be covered in more detail. For now I am just going to focus on the chosen one, the D.O. Terra Alta.

 D.O. Terra Alta is located in the very southwest of Catalonia, as far away from Barcelona as one can travel without exiting the region.
Terra Alta
Being one of the most picturesque and beautiful nature areas of Catalonia, the great Picasso had his field days here and many of his paintings feature scenes from these lands. Historically, because of being very isolated, this area traditionally only made wine for local consumption and has only recently started to produce modern Mediterranean style wines. During the Roman times, the road going from Zaragoza to Tortosa passed through the area. This is probably when grape growing was first introduced. In the Middle Ages, the Knights Templar planted vines, but the geographical distance to markets and to ports meant that a lot of vineyards were converted to olive groves instead.

Terra Alta vineyards

During the 19th century the vinos rancios (rancid wines) from Terra Alta, such as “Amber Blanc” attained great fame. However, the area was devastated by the outbreak of the phylloxera. The current vineyards were replanted between 1920 and 1950, the cooperatives played a pivotal role.

The varietals authorized in Terral Alta, both traditional and of foreign origin are the following.

White grapes: Garnacha blanca, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatel and Chardonnay (experimentally, Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Marselan).

Red grapes: Carignan, Grenache, Garnacha Peluda, Morenillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo.

Body and Soul. D.O. Terra Alta

D.O. Terra Alta acquired official status in 1982 and there are currently 8,200 ha covered, with 1,800 grape growers and 42 wineries registered.

One of the wineries is Altavins in Batea. The winery is a project set up in 2001 by Jordi Casado and Joan Bautista Arrufi i Pieg. With 120.000 bottles produced each year it is to be considered small but then again I have visited wineries that only make 5.000 a year. I guess it is highly relative. The vineyards are located at 350 and 550 m above sea level, characterized by plains, high plateaus and valleys.

Joan Bautista Arrufi and Jordi Casado

It enjoys a dry Mediterranean climate with little rain of up to 450 ml per year. The sunlight is plentiful, and is influenced by two prevailing winds – the Cierzo, which arrives from the Ebro Valley, and the “Garbi” or sea wind. Due to the very small amounts of rain, there is hardly any fungal disease, allowing for more sustainable practices, and the Cierzo (which is blowing throughout September) allows the grapes to ripen naturally on the vine.

The nature of the soil provides the grapes with an exceptionally high concentration of minerals, and the considerable temperature changes between night and day while the grapes are ripening maximises the aromas and flavours of the varietals. The wines produced include whites made from White Garnacha grapes, which are typical of the Terra Alta and grown in vineyards which are at least 45 years old. Red wines are made from Cariñena and Black Garnacha grapes, from vineyards established at least 60 years ago. The wines are fruity, with finesse and elegance in-bodied in them by the wooden casks in which they are stored.

Traditional, yes! But even though the Cariñena and Garnacha are the primary grapes planted by Joan, he still sees the importance of working with international varietals, such as Chardonnay and Syrah, leading him to create great wines with exceptional results. If the wineries in Priorat are small, this one is petite. A garage, no bigger than our first flat in Barcelona. And to be able to churn out 120.ooo and some bottles, takes both passion and craftsmanship. A true wine lover should peel his or hers ears to the future tunes of this young, new generation Spanish, wine maker. “Alta Vins” meaning “Top Wines,” refers to both the exceptional quality of his wines, as well as the altitude. With hills well over 400 meters, his vines have a long ripening cycle, and therefore, take on significant complexity.

Vineyard in Tera Alta

Almodi Negre is another cool wine made by Altavins, 100% Garnacha Borruda (Yes, Garnacha Peluda/Garnatxa Pilosa is the same varietal, Hairy Grenache). Garnacha Peluda is a varietal that grows in the regions of Aragon and Catalonia in Spain. It produces clusters of medium sized grapes which are rather compact. The grapes are oval with medium thick skin and covered with a villus from which it takes its name. The Garnacha Peluda produces wines of both high quality but also of high alcohol level. As the fruit notes are extensive in this grape, it has been used for blends traditionally. Not many producers use it for monovarietals, although this is changing in Catalonia.

Garnacha Peluda

Altavins produce a range of wines, both red and white out of which it is difficult to find a favorite, I can drink them all and as I love wine, I’ll refrain from labeling any of them being better than the other!

The vineyards of Altavins in the Terra Alta

 

80 to go!

 

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

269/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Celler La Bollidora – Flor de Garnatxa 2008

Get Down On It…..

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Flor de Garnatxa 2008, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Pale gold color, clear and good transparency. On the nose there’s ripe white fruit, honey and pastries, some slight hint of clove. On the palate it is sweet, silky and enveloping. Fruit, peach and pear, integrated wood and perfectly balanced acidity. The harvest is gathered by hand in 18 kg boxes, then it is taken to the cellar where the selection is done on the sorting table. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts in French oak barrels at a controlled temperature of 16 ° C and 8 months on its lees.

…., 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 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 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.

la-bollidora-g-2007Punt 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!

115 to go!

Celler Mas Candi, Amado Mio in D.O. Penedes

256/365 – Catalonia –D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet – Celler Mas Candi – Ovella Negra

Amado Mio………,

Ovella NegraOvella Negra, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Bright and clear, yellow colour with subtle aromas of tropical fruit (mango, passion fruit) and peach. Somewhat complex nose. The palate is oily with a sweet point and good acidity, there’s some minerality but mainly the tropical flavours appear, just like in the nose. Good structure, fresh and long after taste. Black sheep, Ovella Negra, of the family? I think not!  It is made with Garnatxa Blanca (White Grenache) and this is one of the few vineyards that are of this variety in the Penedes region. They have only 226 vines, which are over 60 years of age (vineyard La Salada). Due to the difficulties growing this particular variety and the challenges it posed to make a good wine, the name Black Sheep, Ovella Negra, came about! Now they make 500 bottles!

Mas Candi

Four young farmers, with studies in viticulture and oenology, have joined together to create their own wines from the vineyards that they got from their grandparents. The house of Mas Candi is located in Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet, just at the gates of the Natural Park of Garraf. Since the sixteenth century there has been evidence that the family Cuscó (Cal Candi), cultivated these lands, which today are partially under vine, used for the production of wines at Mas Candi. They also use grapes from vineyards in Font-Rubí, el Pla del Penedès and Torrelavit. This small winery seeks interaction with the landscape, working their native varieties and recovering their old Catalan grapes, which have almost disappeared.

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The range of wines produced at Mas Candi, no frills, no fancy layout, just good wine! From left to right; Mas Candi QX, the four Xarel.lo:s, They have chosen the best vineyards producing xarel.lo, they are located at: Les Gunyoles (vineyard La Pura), Font-Rubí (vineyard Mas Rossell), el Pla del Penedès (vineyard l’Angeleta) i Subirats (vineyard Cal Martí). The best bunches are selected at the peak of ripeness. The wine is fermented in four diffrent barrels (chestnut, acacia, French oak and American oak), each gives different characteristics which provide a complexity to the wine a a whole. The second is Mas Candi Desig, 100% Xarel.lo, This wine is from a single vineyard, located in Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet. The vines were planted in 1961. The cultivation is fundamentally respectful of the land and the vine. There’s no use of chemical herbicides or pesticides. So the existence of the ecosystem is essential to the complexity of the wine and the balance of the plants. This wine has sought the ultimate expression of the land, the climate, the variety without oak aging. A true “terroir” wine. The purity of Xarel.lo. Ovella Negra, third wine, covered at the top. Les Forques, the Cabernet-Sauvignon used in this wine, comes from the Mas d’en Tort vineyard, close to Torrelavit. The vines were planted in 1983, on a very poor calcareous clay and gravel terrain, south facing. In this wine they are looking to transmit the Mediterranean climate (hot dry summers) and minerality of the land; ripe and concentrated wine. Each year they add a small percentage of the experimental varieties that have been recovered (Sumoll, Mandó, Cannonnau, Roigenc i Mònica). Can 28, 100% Mandó, This is the first wine made from experimental Catalan varieties that have been recovered. After the phylloxera 120 years ago; many vineyards were replanted with grape varieties more profitable at the expense of others who were of high quality but did not produce enough to be financially viable. At Mas Candi they have been, and still are, working towards the recovery of these forgotten varieties, like the white Malvasia de Sitges and Torbat and the red grape varieties like Mandó, Mònica, Sumoll, Cannonnau i Roigenc. SOL + SÒL, This is a powerful wine, concentrated and mineral. Selection of the best grapes from the vineyard of Les Forques. Produced each year, but only the best vintages are released to the market. Mas Candi CAVA Brut Nature, the local varieties of the Penedès (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo), with a higher percentage of Xarel.lo.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

128 to go!

Xavier Clua, Here But I’m Gone in D.O. Terra Alta

241/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Xavier Clua – IL·LUSIÓ 2013

Here But I’m Gone……,

il-lusio Gran

IL·LUSIÓ 2013, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Bright yellow colour with green highlights. Notes of Mediterranean herbs (lavender and thyme), ripe white fruits with touches of citrus. Some green apple but just slightly and a hint of some fruit, ripe peach.  In the mouth it is full bodied and characteristically Mediterranean, the ageing on the lees giving the wine additional volume. The clay soils give a hint of minerality together with the acidity which should give the wine the potential to age and further develop in the bottle for some months to years. This wine captivates through its delicate fruits, harmony and distinctive character. A very well made Terra Alta white Grenache. It not just an illusion!

Clua TErra Alta

Vilalba dels Arcs is one of the twelve communes of the Denominacion d’Origen (the equivalent of the French AOC) of Terra Alta, in the heart of the Ebre region in southern Tarragona. In this part of Spain the fields are surrounded by hills (the Ports and the Sierras of Caballs, Pàndols and Fatarella ) and cut by a lot of valleys and dry creeks that makes the landscape capricious and complex. This situation gives the Terra Alta a climate with both Mediterranian and continental influences with hot summers and cold winters – the annual rainfall is less than 400mm.

Vilalba dels Arcs

The high altitude and the numerous valleys increase the risk of frost in the spring. Its proximity to the Ebre river make the prevailing wind the Cers (mistral), a dry wind from inland Aragon that keeps the vines healthy, combined with the Garbi, a humid wind blowing inland from the Mediterranean. The soils are calcareous clays, with low levels of organic material, but rich in elements that favour good drainage. It is, therefore, a terroir that guarantees grapes which are ideal for a quality wine production. The vineyards are trellised to maximise the exposure to the sun, making for ideal ripening in late summer.

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The Xavier Clua wine cellar is situated in Vilalba dels Arcs, in the Terra Alta in Catalonia – a dry, sunny area where vine-growing and wine production have been a tradition since medieval times. For four generations, the name of Clua has been associated with the culture of the vineyards and the production of wine. The latest generation, led by Xavier Clua combines the experience of this viticultural tradition with university training, bringing new perspectives and techniques both to viticulture and winemaking. In 1995 the small family enterprise exchanged the production of bulk wine for a quality product, sold in bottles with personal labels. This evolution only underlined the desire keep working with a limited production to obtain a rigorous selection of the different grapes of each plot and close control of the whole winemaking process.

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More and more the products of the Cellar Clua acquire a name in the wine world and the family enterprise has grown with the addition of Rosa Domenech: Xavier’s wife and an experienced oenologist in her own right. With this growth it became more and more necessary to expand to a newer, more modern site. In 2006 this dream came true with the creation of a new infrastructure where the usability is guaranteed by a contemporary architectural construction and modern technology going hand in hand with the tradition and love for the terroir. As in the vineyard, in the wine cellar: the members of the Clua family are guided by their love of the land that, day by day, they bring to their wines.

Clua-www

Today the wine cellar’s facilities are located at two sites in the village of Vilalba dels Arcs. The first of the two is situated in the heart of the village in a house in the Carrer Sant Isidre. The ground floors of this building, restored and converted for winemaking in 1995, was the home of the wine cellar for the first decade of the business. Today this old stone building has two areas: the barrel hall where our wines are aged and the tasting room. The second site was purpose-built in 2006. It is a large and modern infrastructure, situated just on the outskirts of the village on the road to Gandesa.

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Rosa and Xavier takes over fifteen years working the vineyard and imposing its mark on a balanced and sensitive winemaking. His young white Mas d’en Pol 2011 was proclaimed Best Young White Wine and I also liked their Mas d’en Pol Barrel 2007 a ​​blend of red Grenache (40%), Cabernet (20%), Syrah (20%) and Merlot (20%) with 8 months on oak, full-bodied but the ripe fruit is well present and easy to appreciate.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

140 to go!

Masia Serra, Bringing Down The Byrds in D.O. Empordà

221/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Masia Serra – Ctonia 2012

Bringing Down The Byrds………,

01_ctonia2011_mida_web_sense-anyadaCtonia 2012, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

White wine of yellow colour with greenish hues. High complexity and aromatic intensity, with aromas of white fruit, chlorophyll and light toasted oak barrel, varietal and terrorir driven. The palate has a voluminous entry due to aging on its lees, light meatiness, surprising in a white wine. Very good persistence due to its remarkable acidity. A wine with personality and good spine. Love it!

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Ctonia (meaning underground or pertaining to the earth) was an epithet used for the goddesses of the underworld (called chthonic) as Hecate, Melinoe or Nix. Also referred to as Demeter, guardian of the fields. The name Ctonia, comes from the fact that this wine is made ​​from grapes from old vines and as such its roots are embedded deep in the ground. Harvested manually, collected in small containers.  The grapes are destemmed  and deposited in stainless steel vats for maceration (6-8 hours) at 10 degrees. Only the free run juice is extracted and fermentation begins at 14 degrees in a stainless steel vat.  When density of 1.020  is reached the liquid is transferred to chateau style barrels of French Allier oak to complete the fermentation process, aging 2 months in the same barrels giving a “batônnage” with the fine lees.

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Masia Serra produces wines from D.O. Empordà since 1996. The history of Masia Serra begins with a small vineyard planted in 1961 with the Grenache grape.  Other french varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, … occupy part 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 completion 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. 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.

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As you might have well noticed, this blog is all about and only covering wine from Catalonia. Wine, in all forms and shapes, is a considerable part of my life. However, I like to cover the regions in which I work and live. Back to the basics!

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Wine in Catalonia is ancient! The Ancient Greeks, Romans and the Carthusian monks, they have all been here, must be for a reason! It is a leading wine producing land, with exquisite reds, scrumptious rosés and whites which you can drink forever, as well as a multitude of sweet wines. Not to forget, this is where Cava was born!

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Huge and well know cellars like Freixenet, Codorniu, Raimat and Torres are at the forefront when it comes to Catalan wine, which are covered by 11 appellations (D.O:s) for wine and one exclusively for Cava. The vineyards have always been an irreplaceable part of the Catalan landscape, as well as its culture. Let’s keep it this way!

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The tradition of wine in Catalonia is deeply rooted, in some cases as deep as the vines. Nowadays representing a rising sector, gaining international prestige on a yearly basis. In Priorat, Penedès and Empordà, as well as the other D.O:s, you can find wine that can compete with any wine in the world.

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Cava is no longer the poor man’s and woman’s Champaign, but a quality product in its own right available all over the world. More than 200 million bottles of Cava attest to this fact, joined by 180 million for wine.

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The D.O:s of Catalonia

In number, there are 11 Denominations of Origin, regulating the winemaking for red, white and rosé wines and then the one, exclusively for the production of Cava.

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DO Alella: Though the smallest, it is one of the oldest and most unique. It covers a small piece of land between the Mediterranean shore and the coastal mountains, north of Barcelona. It produces quality wines and is famous for its white wines, in which some are considered the best in the world.

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DO Catalunya: It is a DO that fosters experimentation, as wines can be produced with a great variety of grapes in a wide range of soils. This DO has been growing significantly in the last few years, exporting more than 40 million bottles to more than 100 countries.

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DO Conca de Barberà: It corresponds to a Catalan county with a very old wine tradition, coming from Medieval monasteries in the zone. Since the creation of this DO in 1989, there has been a continuous effort to modernise the cellars and the vineyards. The speciality of this DO is top-quality red wine, which is produced together with white and rosé. Most of these wines use a grape type that is autochthonous from the county, namely Trepat.

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DO Costers del Segre: The DO of Lleida and split into the following sub zones: Artesa, Vall del Riu Corb, les Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, and Segrià. It employs advanced technology and is famous for its innovation, changing grape varieties and fostering “Ull de Llebre”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Syrah and Merlot.

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DO Empordà: New and old cellars are easily adapting themselves to new technology trends, changing harvest patterns and restructuring vineyards. This DO is seeing new cellars booming in the Northern coast of Catalonia.

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DO Montsant: It is the youngest Catalan DO, located in the southern part of Catalonia. Despite this fact, it has achieved a good market positioning. This DO includes the sub zones of South Priorat and some zones in Ribera d’Ebre. The soil has a high percentage of mineral salts, which is one of the main characteristics of this region. The cellars are young and modern, producing a small quantity of wine but of a great quality.

logo_do_penedesDO Penedès: This is probably the most famous wine region within Catalonia. It has powerful cellars, always improving their technology and innovating. It has traditionally been associated with white wines, but in the last years it has also started to produce top quality red wines, which have been internationally recognised.

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DO Pla de Bages: It is a small DO but that produces quality wines. In the last years, wine producers from this DO have put effort recuperating an autochthonous type of grape: the “picapoll”, which is very small and can be either red or white.

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DO Priorat: In the last 15 years, this DO has lived through a revolution, being recognised worldwide and seeing some of its red wines reaching the highest prices in specialised shops all over the world. The DO has new cellars, young entrepreneurs and experts who all work to maintain this DO among the best of the world. Their wines have a unique strong taste, full of peculiarities.

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DO Tarragona: It is the oldest Catalan DO, producing liquor wines of great quality, such as Tarragona Clàssic. In the last years, red-wines have joined their traditional white and rosé wines.

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DO Terra Alta: Many of the cellars from this DO work as a cooperative. Their wines have a singular taste and are reaching great levels of quality in the last years. Their rosé varieties are very fruity, the white have a low acidity and the red have a round body and a dark colour. Finally, there is one DO that needs to be explained aside, the DO Cava.

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DO Cava: This DO is shared with 6 other Autonomous Communities within Spain apart from Catalonia. However, 95% of DO Cava’s production come from Catalonia. More than 200 million bottles are sold each year, a number that grows year by year. Cava is famous all over the world. In the past it was sold as a cheap replacement for Champaign, but in the last years top-quality cava has started to be exported and has become famous for its great quality which is at a much more affordable price than the French Champagne.

160 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler Cooperatiu de Gandesa, Kodachrome in D.O Terra Alta!

219/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Celler Cooperatiu de Gandesa – Somdinou Blanc 2012

Kodachrome…….,

Somdinou

Somdonou Blanc 2012, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Somdinou Blanc is clean and bright, presents a waxy pale yellow colour, with faint greenish sparkle. Thin tears, slightly fatty. Good aromatic intensity, besides conveying a fresh feeling it also transmits, without effort, tropical fruit fragrances with good citrus notes and also the presence of white fruit like pear. There are also some sweet notes, which lays nicely as an additional spectra. It has a good entrance, cool and smooth, with a mean impression of creaminess, but very light; the fruity sensation is present and dominates at all times. It is a greedy confusion between pineapple and pear that reaches the end of its fresh journey. Good acidity, which helps maintain freshness. Somdinou Blanc has a nice and smooth finish, giving a hint of bitterness at the very end. An exotic wine which leaves me longing for more!

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This is a white mono-varietal from D.O Terra Alta. Unoaked young, fresh and promising every wine lover out there, great wines to come from this magical region, in the future as well! It is made ​​by Celler Cooperatiu de Gandesa in the county of the same name in the province of Tarragona. There is a reason the wines is as good as it is, the cooperative decided to use only high quality grapes, from vines more than 75 years of age of the Garnatxa Blanca variety. The harvest began in early September. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks at 12 ° C for a period of 25 days. They are now advised by Toni Coca i Fito. 400,000 bottles of wine are produced each year.

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162 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle