232/365 – Catalonia – Emporda – Els Vilars d’Espolla – El Carriel dels Vilars – Carriels dels Vilars 2011
Carriels dels Vilars 2011, 50% Garnatxa, 30% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Samso
Beautiful cherry color with purple reflections. Dense with good legs. Intense nose which needed a little time to express itself to the fullest. Good aromas of red fruit (cherries, blackberries, plums) with balsamic (juniper, lavender, rosemary, thyme) and final notes of licorice. The palate is powerful and bulky, extraordinary acidity which is alive and well, it provides the necessary balance to the alcohol because it transmits a freshness that carries the wine further. The tannins are rounded and polished, but still very present. This wine is long and full of nuances that demands it to be enjoyed slowly, growing as it is rewarding you for your patience. A Super Natural Catalan!
Dreams can come true. When I first met Carlos Alonso, I thought he was yet another loony winemaker, going out of his way to prove a point he would never deliver, but he did and he did it beautifully! His reason for making wine and making a living from it, is pure, untouched and Super Natural! It has taken him some thirty years to walk the talk in the small and personal project called Carriel dels Vilars. Throughout this period he has worked hard to shape an idea that, after years of evolution and maturation, has become a fine example of how wines may be made with the utmost respect for the environment and tradition and yet still be as successful as those produced with the most advanced scientific and expensive techniques. His method is to be considered radical. Get rid of anything superfluous during the growing of the vines and making of the wines, just keeping the essentials of both activities. This is as naked as winemaking gets to be, but the final reward hasn’t been easily accomplished. Being ignored and frowned upon, for many years, by the wine establishment, his achievements are starting to be rewarded with well-deserved admiration and recognition.
Carlos Alonso‘s wines still do not conform to the regulations of the local wine region, so the wines made are not D.O. Emporda, but who cares when the wine is as good as his and they sell! My fellow wine loving colleagues, that visited the natural wine fair in Barcelona with me, didn’t all fall for Carlos wines the way I did. They are not traditional, they are not conservative. They are bold, fun and way out there! Carlos Alonso calls his wine natural and there is no better word to define it. He cultivates his vineyard in a way that the grapes are just like berries picked from the wild. In his vineyards, which at present total a mere 2.5 hectares, the practices of modern agriculture are almost non-existent: he does not plough the land; he does not water the vines; he does not add fertilizers; he does not use pesticides other than the authorized organic Bordeaux mixture. In the winery he does not filter the wine nor does he add sulfites or sugar for the second fermentation of the sparkling wines; instead he allows things to happen as they should according to the laws of nature. Each season the wines at Carriel dels Vilars tell us about the climatic conditions of the previous year, since standardization is proscribed and annual variability favoured. This is the wine of the future…….., only one small problem, there’s not enough to fed us all!
149 to go!