Clos i Terrasses, I’ll Be Home For Christmas in DOQ Priorat

380/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Clos i Terrasses – Laurel 2012

I’ll Be Home For Christmas……….,


Laurel 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah

Dark cherry color with cardinal red reflections. Clean and bright, abundant tears. High intensity nose, expressive, full, concentrated and enjoyable. Ripe black fruit dominates and gives way to floral notes, spicy, toasted (which after a while become roasted) and deep minerals. The palate has a powerful entrance with a lot of volume. It is a fleshy red wine, with great weight deriving from the fruit, tasty, unctuous step, with excellent acidity and ripe tannic sensation. Balanced, long finish and very persistent. Laurel 2012 comes from the small winery Clos i Terrasses, led by Daphne Glorian, creator of the legendary and excellent Clos Erasmus. Laurel 2010 is a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, aged for 15 months in second year barrels, in which the Clos Erasmus was aged. Recommend decanting about two hours. Another true Super Catalan!

Clos i Terrasses

This fantastic creation by Daphne Glorian takes its name from the Laurel tree, the Bau Laurel, which is present all over the Catalan countryside and certainly one of the major Mediterranean herbs. Laurus Nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel, sweet bay, bay tree (esp. United Kingdom), true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus Nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture.

laurus_nobilis*Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called “bay” or “laurel”, generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae. Laurus nobilis is a widespread relic of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, Canary Islands and in Madeira.

* Source – Wikipedia

5 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Celler Sao del Coster, O Morro Nao Tem Vez in DOQ Priorat

363/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Sao del Costers – ¨S¨ 2013

O Morro Nao Tem Vez………,

vino-s-sao-del-coster¨S¨ 2013, Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah

Cherry red color with garnet rim. The nose is equilibrated, has loads of fruit, ripe red fruit, light floral and herbaceous notes. Balsamic and some licorice, light spice with medium mineral character. The palate is powerful, but very cool, is not a typical Priorat, has some warmth, the fruit in the nose has a strong presence, pronounced tannins but well polished, just hit the market but it will be even more enjoyable in a few years. Few wines from Priorat provide so much pleasure for such small buck.


The past weekend has been full, over the brim, with wine tastings and visits to cellars which I have intended to visit for some time now. Finally the time was ripe and what’s better than visiting a winery? Visiting a winery together with family! Over the days to come you’ll get to know where I have been the past few days. Sao del Coster was visited on Saturday morning. We met with Michi Negron from the winery and she took us around the vineyards, the cellar with a tasting of the ¨S¨, Terram, 04 and the ¨Carignena¨. Got to taste some of the new brews, still in the barrels and the new Pim Pam Poom. The last edition Pim Pam Poom was tasted earlier this year and you can read about it here. After tha tasting we continued to the Quinoa restaurant in Falset, for a much needed lunch! A great day with great people and the perfect host in Michi! Check out the photos here!

22 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Celler Balaguer i Cabré, Red or White in DOQ Priorat

254/365 – Catalonia –DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Celler Balaguer i Cabré – La Guinardera 2009

Red or White……….,

Guinardera 2009

La Guinardera 2009, 100% Garnacha

This wine has a deep red color with shades of purple. La Guinardera 2009 has a truly amazing nose. It has a penetrating aroma, complex, profound and subtle. Initially displays notes of plum and redcurrant jam and later appear notes of cinnamon. It is a structured fruity wine, ripe tannins, smooth and dense. It is very fresh, long and persistent. This is truly A remarkable Garnacha: La Guinardera!


Aged 12 months in 300 liter barrels, from the best French oak forests of Europe (Q. Petraea) using only second year wine barrels.
The grapes used for the production come exclusively from the estate La Guinardera, with an area of ​​2 hectares. The Guinardera is located at a hill on 250 meters altitude. Exposed to the sun and the four winds, which ensures optimum ripeness and health.


Both the Balaguer and Cabré families are steeped in the grape growing and winemaking tradition and have contributed to the evolution of wine production in the Priorat region for three generations. Currently, Balaguer i Cabré Winery, after leaving the families’ old cellars, is located in the historic district of Gratallops, in a building remodelled for the purpose of producing wine. The old house consists of a vinification room, an ageing room and a room for wine tastings with magnificent views of the winery’s estates.

Lluna VElla 2011


Between the estatesLa Guinardera and Mas de Dalt are the four hectares of the firm’s own vineyards, planted mainly with the variety Garnacha Tinta. Thus far, they only bottle wine obtained from the fruit of Guinardera Estate, exposed to the sun and the four winds, which ensures optimum ripening. The Balaguer i Cabré family also owns the restaurant Piró and the store Bonviure, in Gratallops. Both establishments complement the winery’s wine tourism offers. In the restaurant one can enjoy samplings with tapas. At the store guests can take part in a free wine tasting after touring the small family-run winery.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

130 to go!

Escanya-Vella, To Day`s Sound in DOQ Priorat

251/365 – Catalonia –DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Cal Batllet – Vi de la Vila, Escanya-Vella 2011

To Day`s Sound……….,


Vi de la Vila, Escanya-Vella 2011, 100% Escanya-Vella

Don’t know why really, but the wine was totally unclear  as I opened the bottle but after about half an hour it displayed a clear and vivid colour, slightly golden. The primaries present some ripe white fruit and aromatic herbs. Continuing with notes of quite light floral and mineral touches, citric lime and hints of tropical fruits, like pineapple. Complex and fresh nose. Easy entry, easy to drink and easy to enjoy. Good body, balanced  and well defined acidity, complex taste as was the nose.  mouth-filling with good acidity, giving it length and freshness. This is a wine I am happy to recommend any time a day!

50% was fermented in vat at a low temperature and the remaining 50% was fermented in new French oak barrique. It gets to spend 7 months on lees. The qunatity made is the only objection I have towards this wine, as I personally would like to see more people enjoy it. Only 588 bottles were made and I am thoroughly happy to still have two left! If you have been following this blog, you should be very well acquainted with grapes like Xarel.lo, Parellada, Macabeu, Sumoll, Ull de Llebre, Samsó, Garnatxa Negra, Garnatxa Peluda and maybe even the Taladrado? Allow me to present the Escanya-Vella!


Escanya-Vella is a white Catalan wine grape variety planted primarily in the DOQ Priorat. The name literally translates from Catalan as “old lady strangler” and coughing is often a common reaction to those who eat the raw grapes. While grown in small numbers in Priorat, there are a number of wineries that use it as part of their blends. As far as I know and have been told, Marc Ripoll Sans at the Cal Batllet is the only one that does a mono-varietal wine using this unique grape. He also used to make a blend, using 40% Garnatxa Blanca and 60% Escanya-Vella, atleast those were the numbers for the 2008 white of Closa Batllet, the former name of the wines before the change of design, labels and wine making. I for one prefer the 100% Escanya-Vella of today!

It is a thick skinned grape with high acidity and is harvested later than other white varieties. Despite not being an officially recommended grape for the DOQ Priorat wine certification, there has been an effort recently by several cellars in the region to recuperate and revitalize this nearly lost grape.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

132 to go!

Celler Cal Batllet, Una Lacrima Sul Viso in DOQ Priorat

218/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Celler Cal Batllet – Artai 2010

Una Lacrima Sul Viso…….,


Artai 2010, 43% Cariñena 29% Garnacha 22% Cabernet Sauvignon 4% Merlot 2% Syrah 

Another Super Catalan from Priorat, from the basic range of the producer but yet so big! Has a great freshness and even though it is a lively wine it is not all over the place. Cherry red rim. The nose is floral and fresh, lots of fruit, spices and minerals. The palate is powerful, but with freshness, ripe fresh fruit, mineral, composed, cool, and balanced. Easy to drink, another great one from Marc at Celler Cal Batllet. This one is hard to beat, when it comes to price/quality comparison! Get it if you can!!!

cal b1

Cellers Ripoll Sans was established in 2000 when Marc Ripoll, a young man in his early twenties, returned to the Priorat to restore his family’s winery in the village of Gratallops. Prior to his arrival, the harvest from the family’s estate vineyards was sold to the local cooperative. Over the last years, Marc has restored the old winery and built Closa Battlet into one of the top estates in the region.


While preserving the historical structure of the winery, Marc has updated the building to incorporate modern winemaking techniques, though always in small volumes and in a highly manual way. Its production is based on grape selections from its estate vineyards, some as old as 90 years, cultivated on hillsides with slate soil. The wines made in this way have their own unique personality stemming from the endeavour to convey all the special features of the terrain.


Its production comes exclusively from the growing of the family-owned vineyards, some as much as 100 years old, cultivated on hillsides with slate soil placed in Gratallops and Torroja del Priorat. The grape varieties grown here are the local Carinyena and Garnatxa in reds mainly, and the old Escanyavella in whites.

cal b2


It was during the 10th vintage, the 2009, when it was decided to move from the wine range of Closa Batllet and Petit Batllet, to elaborate all the wines under the distinctive “Vi de la Vila”, clearly committed with a philosophy of terroir wines, expressing all the personality from each village where they have their roots: Gratallops and Torroja.



163 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Celler Cecilio, Amigo in DOQ Priorat

208/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Celler Cecilio – Celler Cecilio Black Slate 2011



Celler Cecilio Black Slate 2011, 60% Garnacha, 20% Carignena, 15% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

This baby spent 8 months in French oak. Overflowing with ripe black cherry and black styled fruits, licorice, freshly crushed stone, and assorted floral nuances on the nose, it turns structured on the finish, with loads of tannic grip. A big wine that has plenty of fruit and is well textured, it has a stacked mid-palate and is perfectly balanced in the mouth. This is a densely packed wine that you can enjoy over an entire evening and it seems to evolve in your glass for hours! A decade on the shelf is recommended. Please do me a small favour and stack you wine cellar with this baby!

tast amb llops 2014

Vi de la Vila! And one more Super Catalan. The inspiration for the Black Slate Project is a Burgundian concept of village nomenclature, applied to the Priorat. One region, nine historical villages, each with its distinct character but all unmistakably Priorat. You’ve got to love this wine!

Celler cecilio

Sun scorched vines cling to breathtakingly steep hillsides with their roots deeply plunged in the llicorella (slate) soils of this ancient region. Celler Cecilio is located in Gratallops, in the heart of Priorat, and was the first winery registered in the D.O.Ca. Priorat. It is a family estate dedicated to wine since 1942, established and founded by Cecilio Vicent, father of the current owner and winemaker, August Vicent. The vineyards grow in 9 ha. of terraces on Priorat slopes, with very low yields. The village of Gratallops is the most prominent in the region, home to the most pre-eminent, broad and robust wines of the DOQ.


I have lost count when it come to how many times I have visited Priorat and in particular Gratallops. On occassions I have spent days on end there, a wine region with a rooted history, which goes back to the 12th century. I have had the benefit of experiencing the harsh terrain and steep mountainsides that constitute this region’s very unique terroir. Every time I return I am determined to taste as many wines from this region as I can. All of this hard work rewarded me with the Black Slate from Celler Cecilio. Upon tasting, it became an immediate favorite. A true Super Catalan!


173 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

DeVinssi, Can’t Buy a Thrill in DOQ Priorat

193/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Celler DeVinssi – Rocapoll 2008

Can’t Buy a Thrill…….,


Rocapoll 2008, 100% Samso (Carignena)

A wine in which the Samso (Carignena) variety is expressed at its highest level with surprising complexity both aromatic and taste wise, and where the minerals, subtle spiciness and toasty notes are complemented by feelings of sugared almonds and herbs. The tannins are intense, polished, and form a triangle with balanced acidity and alcohol, making this a well structured wine. It is consistent throughout and this is a wine that is easy to drink and enjoy. The after taste is long and aromatic. A true Super Catalan! The production of this first vintage was 300 bottles.

Josep! This is a true Super Catalan!

Josep! This is a true Super Catalan!

The sign is small, the winery is small...., but the wines are huge!

Small, small, small……, when I first visited DeVinssi, about 4 years ago, I almost didn’t find the cellar. If you blink, briefly, while walking past the house where it is located, you might miss it! In the days, production was only 8.000 bottles, they have now reached 12.000 per year. Then it was the smallest commercial winery in Priorat. Now, there is one that is smaller!

This is it! Celler DeVinissi! Artisanal and personal!

Artisanal principles apply, both in the vineyards and in the cellar. Bottling, putting a cork in it and labeling is all done by hand. Just as well, as the space wouldn’t accommodate any fancy machinery.

The barrel room!

In the year 2000, Josep Roca Benito founded DeVinssi, because he really likes wine! Not only does he hold the Masters Diploma in Enology and Viticulture, but he also holds the keys to one of Barcelonas best wine shops! Now, that’s love for wine.

Josep Roca opened a bottle of Rocapoll 2008 and we shared our thoughts about the wine!

Out of the wines they make, todays choice was Rocapoll. It transmits the Priorat terroir very well and at the same time, for the quality, it is a true Super Catala! I have in my small wine collection, their Vi Ranci Dolc 1963. Sorry but I am saving that for a very special occasion, at which time I will share it with you!

From the vineyards of DeVinissi the views of Gratallops are to be enjoyed!

Gratallops, the village, in which you will find the Celler DeVinssi is overhanging the Siurana river, Gratallops is in the heart of a licorella (slate) basin, irrigated on the other side by the Montsant river. Gratallops is about 320 m. above sea level and about 25 km. from the Costa Daurada, as the crow flies.

Street view of Gratallops, just outside the winery!

Tradition says that the village was named Villanova del Pi, a long time ago. The land was property of the township of Siurana for centuries but all this ended in 1153, when the Moorish Empire declined and the Christians started to occupy the land. The Moorish Princess blindfolded her horse and jumped of a cliff, realizing she couldn’t escape!

The village of Siurana

In 1258, we find the first evidence of Gratallops being mentioned in the “Carta de Poblacion”. The Convent of Scaladei decided for the township of Gratallops to be repopulated. Some say, there was a castle built there in the 14th century but no remains are to be found today.

Escaladei Monastery Ruins

Vine growing became the main acitvity in the 18th century and since the end of the 1980ies, Gratallops became synonymous with Priorat, as the gang of five, established their cellars there. Today we can count up to 18 cellars in Gratallops, so what do you think people here drink for lunch?

The tram of Gratallops

Walking around the village is quite easy and there is plenty to see and do, even for those (why???) that doesn’t like wine!?! If you get tired of walking you can always take the tramway of Gratallops for a ride, as it is only 10 meters in length, the ride wont take that long!

Jordi is always ready to pour a glass or two!

Once you find Celler DeVinssi, a warm greeting will be bestowed upon you by Jordi Ustrell, the front of the winery. Tour guide, marketeer, grape picker, you name it, he does it! Jordi will look after you in the best possible way, always! And if you ever feel like adopting a grapevine, DeVinssi offers this option as a curiosity.


188 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle