El Carriel dels Vilars, But Beautiful in Emporda

232/365 – Catalonia – Emporda – Els Vilars d’Espolla – El Carriel dels Vilars – Carriels dels Vilars 2011

But Beautiful……,

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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!

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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.

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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!

angles_presentacioCatalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

149 to go!

Finca Bell-Lloc, Root-Down in D.O. Emporda

223/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Palamos – Finca Bell-Lloc – As for the wine? Why not come and try it at the “Beautiful Place”?

Root-Down……..,

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Sometimes……., it’s only the wine, other times it is only the property/winery, or the persons behind the projects or the location or, or, or……., many a times it is all of the above, including history, the present and the future. In the case of Bell-Lloc it is so much more. So perfect, so well thought through and utterly and distinctly checking all the boxes, hands down a true favorite, or Root-Down, I’ll have to stay here for a weekend to enjoy the Bell-Lloc, (*Bell Lloc is Catalan and translated it is and means, Beautiful Place). I suggest you come and enjoy this piece of beauty in Catalonia and at that time, try the wines where they deserve to be enjoyed!

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The Finca Bell-Lloc winery is almost buried on the boundary between the vineyards and woodland. The winery building, designed by the RCR architecture studio of Olot, is surprising in its audacity and its perfect symbiosis with nature. On the surface, the parallel steel panels sloping in different directions are an original way of conferring a structured yet dynamic order on the complex as a whole. Meanwhile, the underground area is made up of a labyrinth of dark, insulated and cool passageways equipped with climate control. To enter this area is to penetrate into a world of shadows. Down here the silence can be heard, the aroma of the wine can be perceived, the strength of the materials can be felt and, when it comes to tasting the wines, all five senses are finally stimulated.

Finca Bell-Lloc. Celler Brugarol DO Empordà

Introducing the farm in the lovely setting of The Gavarras (Girona) offers exclusive accommodation that redefines the traditional concept of luxury. Finca Bell Lloc is a place where you could easily get lost for a weekend (or longer), Here you can celebrate a memorable event together with friends or family or enjoy authentic pleasures, like Catalan food and organic wine, or why not both in a combination? Located in Las Gavarras, near Palamos (Girona), yet off the beaten path in the middle of a magical environment consisting of olive trees, pines, vines and views of the sea. This old house, typical for the region, also has spectacular vineyards you can visit and participate in guided tastings.

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Everything in the Bell-lloc Villa is steeped in a philosophy that avoids unnecessary processing, and take advantage of advances to deliver the highest quality, without subtracting essence and authenticity. The farm is part of the Rough Luxe concept that proposes a new way of conceiving luxury as a moment in time and not as a high price commodity. The house of Bell-Lloc, which hosts the “hotel” has 6 rooms each of which has been decorated with a distinct style that gives them personality. Each room carries the name of some of the grapes that the winery uses for their production. Samso (Carignen), Garnatxa (Grenache), Lledoner, Malvasia, Xarello and Moscatell. This part of the property offering accommodation is completed with an attached three bedroom house surrounded by vineyards, ideal for family holidays, and an exceptional pool.

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The wine bottles of the  Bell-Lloc winery are unlabelled. Or at least not labelled as per “normal” standards. All you need to know about the wine, is very concentrated information which you will find on the very original metal housing that gives the bottle a very minimalistic style, consistent with the wine and the winery. Josep Trallero, the winemaker at Bell-Lloc, says that “the capsule is of the same materials with which they built the winery and responds to our understanding of wine.” A wine and a philosophy that has “minimum presence of additives and the extreme care of the vineyard,” adds Trallero.

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Everything at Finca Bell-lloc is pervaded by the philosophy of avoiding unnecessary processing and taking advantage of progress for providing comfort and quality, but without losing any of its essence and authenticity. The wish of the proprietors is that every instant spent on the estate, is to be evocative and lasting in your memory. How is this achieved? By stimulating your five senses, without any tricks. Rough Luxe is having time for reflection; enjoying the pleasure of close encounters with people, nature, architecture and the environment; living cultural, social and gastronomic experiences associated with concrete geographic localities. And giving time and all that surrounds us the high importance it deserves.

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158 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Heretat Montrubi, Black or White in D.O. Penedes

203-204/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Font-Rubi – Heretat Montrubi – Black & White

Black or White…….,

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HMR White, 100% Xarel.lo

A young and fruity wine, very scented in the nose, powerful, with nuances of aromatic herbs like green fennel. Great prominence of fresh varietal fruit, green apple, pear and tropical pineapple, with notes of white flowers and jasmine.  Intense end with a very pleasant vegetable after taste and light mineral notes. Simple and tasty!

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HMR Black, 100% Garnatxa

Strong nose of Garnatxa, with hints of fresh fruit and floral scent of violets. On the palate, it has a good entry and fresh passage. Reminiscent of blackberries, giving way to an overwhelming lingering finish. Rich! Leaves you wanting more and more.

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177 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Perelada, Mas Que Nada in D.O Emporda

161/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Perelada – Castillo de Perelada – Gran Claustro 2006

Mas Que Nada………

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Gran Claustro 2006, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 20% Garnatxa, 20% Samsó 

This is a wine made only when the best vintages are achieved and from selected grapes from the best vineyards owned by Castillo de Perelada. It consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (20%), Grenache (20%) and Samso (20 %).  The grapes are selected and harvested by hand.This wine presents a deep cherry red colour. Its aroma reminds of ripe fruit, with fine ageing notes and some spices. In the mouth it is fresh, round, with silky tannins. This is an elegant wine, well balanced, with an enveloping after-taste and an excellent ageing potential.

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At Castillo de Perelada you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy life “Mas Que Nada”, spending a couple of days here is a minimum and the best way to get here is by vintage car. If you, like me, choose a vintage Alfa Romeo, you get a bonus! If you get hold of a rare Hispano-Suiza, I’ll personally treat you to a two night stay at the castle! 150 km. to reach the Castillo de Perelada from Barcelona, but once here, you can relax and enjoy, and why not start the visit with one of their Cavas!

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Miguel Mateu was a unique person. He was born in 1898, son of Damián Mateu, himself the founder of the automobile company Hispano Suiza. He was active in many spheres of business, cultural and even political life, being at different times Mayor of Barcelona and Spanish ambassador of Spain in Paris. Thanks to all these activities, he met throughout his life a great number of international personalities, both in the political and the cultural fields. 

It is in the cultural sphere that Don Miguel’s legacy is most keenly felt, with his very wide range of artistic interests, and being an avid collector from a young age.

1904In 1923 he bought the Castle estate at Peralada, made up of the impressive fortress and palace which had previously belonged to the Counts of Peralada, as well as the buildings which had once been a Carmelite monastery. From then on, Don Miguel turned Peralada into his own private cultural centre, building up the collections which would become the castle museum which is today open to the public.

Schloss-Peralada-Provinz-GironaWine has been made at the Castillo Perelada since the Middle Ages, as shown in several documents and parchments from the period to be found in the library. When Miguel Mateu bought this ensemble of monuments in 1923, one of his primary objectives was to revitalize the wine producing tradition, a tradition that is more alive than ever these days and which has incorporated the most modern technology to create wines that that make full use of the nuances of the soils and vines of the Empordà.

1990Arturo Suqué took charge of Castillo Perelada after the death of his father-in-law, Miguel Mateu, in 1972. Today he’s still the president of the company, although the winery’s everyday life is headed by his son Javier. During these decades, Arturo Suqué has led a deep transformation based on an obsession for quality with a main goal: place Castillo Perelada among the most prestigious Spanish wineries. Being faithful to Miguel Mateu’s love for culture, Arturo Suqué and his wife Carmen Mateu started the Peralada Castle Festival, a cultural event that is today internationally recognized.

image_941721_fullThe Empordà is a small area where there is a variety of soils found in few other places in the world. Slate slopes. Sandy valleys. Fluvial sediment, clay-silt, gravel soils… Lands that have borne witness to how different civilizations cultivated the art of wine. The heterogeneity of the land on which the vines grow allows the Castillo Perelada to obtain grapes with a wide range of nuances.

The library is out of this world!

The history of winemaking in the Empordà dates back more than 2,500 years. The vineyards of the Empordá, the most ancient in the Iberian Peninsula, were introduced by the Greeks when they founded Empúries, then developed by Roman colonizers and finally settled by Benedictine monks from the monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes. Nowadays, a number of different sized vineyards coexist in the vineyards, representing the continuity of the experience acquired, offering a very solid selection of bottled wines.

James Bond could easily fit right in!

The history of the Empordà has been deeply influenced by the work of the vine, and also its territory, with its characteristic buildings, dry stone walls and terraces, which make up the unique landscape of the Empordà. Magical scenery, mentioned by writers such as Josep Pla and immortalised by artists like Salvador Dali, the illustrious sons of this land of the Tramontana wind. A world full of enchantments, which includes the popular “platillo” cuisine of the Empordà, and the nouvelle cuisine, as represented by chefs of great international prestige, marrying perfectly with these exceptional wines.

castillo-perelada-imbodegas3_109-size590-BODEGA1Making use of the uneven land in the area, Castillo Perelada will build a new bodega adjacent to the farm. It will consist of 14,000 m² of a new building which will house the most advanced wine production technology in order to make modern wines of the highest quality. Perfectly blended with the Empordà landscape, the new Castillo Perelada bodega will make use of the sloping land to merge the building into the natural setting as much as possible. The idea is to build a unique building with an exterior appearance that is distinctive yet blends in with the landscape. Together with the park that will surround it and the castle itself, this new construction will become a new attraction for visitors while creating a unique and distinctive image for the Castillo Perelada wines and Cavas.

Hotel and spa PereladaThe Hotel Peralada has 55 comfortable rooms with magnificent views over the golf course, the Serra de l’Albera and the town of Peralada with the Pyrenees in the background. Tranquility and an exclusive environment in a unique sitting with infinite areas where you can relax: Spend the morning looking through the morning newspapers in the library, lie back on the outdoor pool terrace or savor the wines of Castillo Perelada in the Wine Bar while you admire the sunset. There are also four different gastronomic areas serving the best cuisine of Empodrà and the Mediterranean, the freshest products on the market and wines from the cellar.

218 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Anguera Domenech, Travelin’ Man in D.O. Monsant

158/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Darmós – Anguera Domenech – Jove Reclot 2011

Travelin’ Man…..,

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…., I might not have a pretty little senorita waiting fro me in every village in Catalonia but I’m quite certain I have a good little wine waiting in at least every other place I travel to! Many more cellars to visit and many, many, many more wines to try, so let’s get the party started baby!

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Jove Reclot 2011, 45% Ull de Llebre 40% Monastrell 15% Garnatxa

Dark cherry red color. Predominant aromas of red fruit. Straightforward, fresh and quite expressive with regards to the three varieties in the blend. Mature red fruit! Intense and soft in the mouth. A mouthful of red ripe fruit, minerals and balsamic intertwined. Descent Montsant wine, price/quality is great!

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Situated in the village of Darmós which has been know, throughout the ages, for its ancient wine culture. The winery of Anguera Domenech is located comfortably in D.O. Montsant, and the wine making at this small cellar comes from a long family tradition. The quality of the production is notable for a compromise between traditional processes and innovative techniques.

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The elaboration of the wines begins by choosing the optimal time of maturity of each of the varieties which are always harvested manually. Fermentation takes place underground where they keep different “cups” for each of the varieties. Everything off course done with by carefully controlling the temperature and maceration. All the processes, cultivation, preparation and production is done by themselves, carried out by members of the whole family.

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All their vineyards are located in the Montsant which is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, surrounded by several mountain ranges which help in isolating the effects of the sea and give a certain taste to the final product. This translates into a very important contrast between day and night temperatures, that characterizes the ripening of the grapes. Moreover, all this is coupled with low rainfall resulting in low yield vines, enhancing the quality.

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The origins date back to a long family history, generation after generation, where old vines have been cultivated for more than 50 years. Growing on a clayey soil rich in minerals which transmits intense aromas and a warm tone the wines. One of the qualities of their field is the ability of retention of moisture, which ensures a good cycle of growth in the vineyards. The total area plated holds twelve acres and the varieties planted are Garnatxa (Grenache), Carignan, Ulll de Llebre (Tempranillo), Syrah, Merlot and Monastrell.

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221 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Joan d’Anguera, Like a Star in D.O Montsant

141/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Darmos – Joan d’Anguera – Joan d’Anguera Altaroses 2012

Like a Star…..,

…. a bright and shining star in the Montsant. This must be the way forward, because they (the cellars of Montsant) can’t rely on the “old ways”. Innovation and change is and has to be constant, to stay in tune with the demands and the various tastes on the market. That is, if you want to sell you wine. But not only….., I guess there has to be some satisfaction in what you do and I think that doing everything the way it has always been done, doesn’t contribute to your personal development. Joan and Josep, the two d’Anguera brothers know this all to well! You want a “different” Montsant (and not the “one” that tries to be a copy of Priorat), then you should try one or more of the Joan d’Anguera wines!

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The wine is……, Joan d’Anguera Altaroses 2012, 100% Granatxa

The Altaroses is their first certified bio-dynamic and organic wine. The brothers decided to label the wine as a “Garnatxa”, the Catalan spelling for Garnacha, a variety that has been grown here for ages. The nose is that of fresh wild strawberries and toasted spices. Very expressive. It has a mouth-watering acidity and great soft and ripe red fruits coming through. Soft tannins and well balanced structure between acidity, tannin, fruit and alcohol. This is an “easy” wine to consume but maybe not so easy to understand and in a blind tasting I’d swear it wasn’t from the Montsant!

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The region (comarca) of Priorat is home to two appellations of origin, DOQ Priorat and D.O. Montsant. The latter, which extends across nearly 2,000 acres, was known until 2001 as the backyard of D.O. Tarragona within the sub-zone of Falset.
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However, due to the set of different features and the qualitative potential of the Montsant terroir, their calcareous soils and a continental climate, screened by the Mediterranean influence, and old vines of Carignena and Garnacha, made ​​evident the need for this area to have its own legal personality.

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Since then, the quantitative and qualitative evolution, especially in the D.O. Montsant has been admirable. There is heterogeneity in the level of the vineyards and wines, but this absolutely should obscure the reality of its rapid and profound qualitative change over the last decade.

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Joan d’Anguera is one of the wineries that have contributed decisively to take this great leap forward. Josep and Joan, sons of the venerable Joan who gave name to this house, alongside their mother, Merce, hold the destiny of this cellar in their hands.

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And they do that with results that are, unusually for wine makers, financially very sound. The wines produced at the property are six in number. Joan d’Anguera, Planella, Finca l’Argata, Bugader and Altaroses are the reds and then there’s the sweet red D’Or.

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The wines are made with different combinations of grapes from old and young vineyards. Garnacha Negra, Carinena, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, grown according to the precepts of organic farming, entirely from one of the four properties owned by the family (Agrata, Planella, Mas Pedret and Tancat).

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Wines that convey elegance, personality and great sincerity, the essence of the vineyards in a bottle! If there’s any chance you’ll be tasting Monsant wines you’re going to try from Montsant, make sure this one is on the list!

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Bugader 2006, Syrah 85%, Garnacha 15%

Cherry color with violet borders, high layers. Fine and elegant nose, floral notes, red and black fruits and a hint of wood. Its evolution is insatiable, pastries, balsamic, elegant wood, herbs, butterscotch, chocolate, cocoa, coffee….. What I have in the glass, is a great wine, very well put together (produced) and well balanced, harmonious and amazing nose. It is one of those wines that puts everything in perspective, primary, secondary and tertiary aromas dancing together as one at the end! Once in the mouth it is elegant and polished. Large and round, not tired or exhausted, very long and sweet. Very elegant balance. Make sure to decant at least half an hour and make sure to get two bottles when you buy this one, you’re gonna need them both!

238 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle