11th D.O. at Hostal Sport, Nothing But A Miracle in DOQ Priorat

366/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Vall Llach Porrera Vi de Vila 2010

Nothing But A Miracle…….,

576_1401435412650_Vall_Llach_Porrera_vi_vila_2010_horitzVall Llach Porrera Vi de Vila 2010, 70% Carignena and 30% Garnacha

Lovely, lively purplish color, medium intensity, with ruby edges. The primary aromas are those of mature fruit, very concentrated and intense. Ripe plum, not too jammy, more like a mix of violets and plum. The secondary aromas show a story that is intricate, developing into a range of aging notes, toasty notes, cedar wood and tobacco. Once on the palate it divulges its true color, great balance, sweet and fresh. Good acidity, not at all aggressive and with a great body. Very delicate and elaborated in the best possible way, the alcohol content, which is within the ¨normal standard¨ for the region, is not perceived at all. Very easy to drink and a huge and long finish! Complex, evolving and elegant!

DSC_0637Of the six wines tasted the past Sunday at Hotel Hostal Sport in Falset, I had to pick the Vall Llach. All the wines were superb but if had to made due with only one, this would be it. Always following my personal taste compared to the content of my wallet. So yes, there were other wines at this fine tasting that are, in one way or the other, better than the above mentioned, but quite frankly I don’t believe they were worth the buck! Another day, another tasting. This one marking the 11th of the 12 that were planned, only one remaining, covering Montsant will take place in January. Looking forward to that while I continue to discover more excellent wines from Catalonia!

The purpose of the tasting was to show the possibilities and differences that the DOQ Priorat offers. As the villages within the appellation have their own microclimates and that certainly affects the grapes and it was demonstrated in the best possible way, through tasting wines from different villages. Therefor all the wines have the addition of Vi de la Vila or Vi de Vila on the label. The Vall Llach is from the village of Porrera and the other five wines were;

From La Morera de Montsant, Conreria d’Scala Dei, Black Slate Vi de Vila ¨La Morera¨Blanc 2013,  91% Garnacha Blanca and 9% Pedro Ximénez

From Torroja del Priorat, Cal Batllet Marc Ripoll Sans, Vi de la Vila Torroja, Roncavall 2011, 100% Carignena

From La Vilella Alta, Bodegas Mas Alta, Vi de Vila Les Bassetes Collita 2012, 100% Carignena

From Bellmunt del Priorat, Cellers Fuentes, Vi de Vila Gran Clos 2003, 54% Garnacha, 33% Carignena and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon

From Gratallops, Clos Mogador, Vi de Finca Qualificada Clos Mogador 2012, 49% Garnacha, 25% Carignena, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Syrah

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With todays wine I am passing the 365 marker but there are still some days remaining of the year, so I’ll continue another 19 days before it’s time to take a break. The idea to write about wines from Catalonia came to mind during October 2013 and since then I started planning. The plan has worked out well so far, and if it hadn’t been for the initial time spent traveling, visiting cellars and tasting wines; none of this would have been achievable. So how does it work in reality, and what do the numbers mean? During my first year and a half here in Catalonia, I travelled a lot and visited numerous cellars, met with winemakers, Catalans in general, and I tasted, tasted and tasted a whole lot of wine. I took notes and I took photos.

wine tasting notes

During the 346 days that I have been writing so far, I have also continued to drive crisscross through the Catalan countryside and the different appellations. I have visited fairs, gatherings of wine lovers and I have continued with receiving groups and individuals from all over the world to show the magic of the world of wine in Catalonia. Once a month I try to participate in a selected tasting of wine from one particular appellation. I have learned so much, about Catalonia. Not only about the wines, but also the history, the food, and the wonderful small villages and regions of this, in my opinion, amazing land.

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The number 366/365, indicates how many wines I have tasted and written about. In reality I have, during 2014, tried more than 1.200 wines. That might sound a lot, but I know professionals that taste that number during a couple of months. Look at it this way. If you during a weekend visit a wine fair with, let’s say 50 producers and each display, in average, 4 wines, you are able to, in theory, try 200 wines. That’s one weekend and there are 52 in a year! Sure, you’ll have to have some off days as well, just sayin’. But there’s certainly time enough to taste wine! Off course, not all the wines that I have tried have been to my liking, but I have kept it simple and decided to only write about the ones that I do like. Hope you have enjoyed this attempt to share the beauty of Catalonia and Catalan wine, and let’ see what happens next year?

19 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.

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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

Mas Oller Winery, Make Me Smile in D.O. Emporda

362/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Torrent – Mas Oller – Plus 2010

Make Me Smile……..,

6d2e03d70c23b9e23279f5442d45e193…., always just smile! ………you’ll see the sun come shining through for you! You’ll find that life is certainly worth while if you just smile! One thing I can guarantee is that this wine is going to make you smile! Happy wine loving days my friends!

wine-mas-oller-plusPlus 2012, 65% Syrah and 35% Garnacha

Intense cherry color with blue and violet iridescences. Clean and bright with abundant tears. Clean and expressive nose, predominantly fruity aromas that are quite intense. Ripe fruit such as red plums and black cherries. Gradually becomes more complex offering floral, spicy notes carrying nice and fine aromas, herbs and an increasingly intense minerality. The palate is elegant, silky, with a load of fruit. Good acidity and sweet tannins. Long and marked by a mineral persistence. This is a complex, balanced red wine with great value for money ratio.

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The Empordà is a legendary wine-producing region, where the Greeks first introduced grapes back in the year 600 BC. The Empordà is situated in northeast Catalonia and Mas Oller is an old estate owned by the Esteva family. It was in Torrent, in the county of the Petit Empordà with views of the city walls of Pals and the Medes Islands, where Carlos Esteva –owner of the prestigious winery Can Ràfols dels Caus– rescued the family estate from oblivion, building a cellar in what was the old cow shed and replanting vineyards in what had formerly been the best wine-producing estate in Pals.

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Nowadays, nearly 300 years after it was built, Mas Oller has become a benchmark winery in the D.O. Empordà with wines which express the essence of the area and a philosophy firmly rooted in quality. In the year 2000, Carlos Esteva decided to plant vines in order to produce new, prestigious, high-quality wines. Some wine was made from the young vines in the earlier vintages and was sold locally. Now, the vines have reached the right age for achieving the desired concentration of fruit. The first wines were launched in April 2009 and the response since then has been extremely positive.

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The Mas Oller Estate lies between the sea and the mountains, in the   path of the strong northerly wind, the Tramontana and has a diversity of different soil types: clayey, sandy and slate. Conceptually and geographically, therefore, the Mas Oller project brings together Northern Catalonia, the Empordà and Roussillon, with wines which are both expressive and fresh. At present, the Estate has 15 Ha. (37 acres) of vineyard in production and an additional 2 Ha.(4.5 acres) of newly-planted vineyard. The three red varieties are Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and the two white varieties are Picapoll and Malvasía de Sitges.

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The vineyards surround the old country house and the grapes are selected manually in the vineyard before being transported in bins to the cellar where the grapes undergo a second round of selection. All of the grape musts are macerated at cold temperatures in order to obtain themaximum expression and extraction of colour and aroma. Their philosophy is based on reviving the winemaking tradition of the Empordà with a modern interpretation. The team consistsof Carlos Esteva, owner and winemaker, Peter Schoonbrood, wine concept and project manager, Martin Cuervo, head of the vineyard and winery.

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23 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas Martinet, Show and Tell in DOQ Priorat

359/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Falset – Mas Martinet – Els Escurçons 2010

Show and Tell…….,

escur10_174x241Els Escurçons 2010, Garnacha and Syrah

How much soul can a wine have? After trying Els Escurçons I´d say, unquantifiable! This is a wine with a beautiful dark cherry color, garnet rim and medium high layers. Bright and clean. The nose, after a while of areation, is spicy with creamy aromas, slightly oaky, ripe and complex. It is very expressive showing varietal fruit notes, like mature black berries. Mediterranean herbs, like thyme, fennel, rosemary and even a slight scent of lavender. Complex, in terms of the roasted notes found, chocolate and balsamic.It is powerful and elegant on the palate with a broad and intense entry, good acidity and polished tannins. It has a long finish with aromatic retronasal memories of spice, red fruit, herbs, wildflowers and light toast. Soul in a bottle! Love this Super Catalan!

Els Escurçons takes its name from the estate it comes from. A vineyard planted at an altitude of 600 meters, within the DOQ Priorat and surrounded by mountains which are full of herbs typical of the Mediterranean ecosystem. The vineyards consist of mostly Grenache and Syrah and some are planted on licorella soil.

IMGP3014This wine from Mas Martinet Viticultors, made by Josep Lluís Perez and his daughter Sara, is fresher and more aromatic than the rest of their range. Harvesting is done manually. Once in the winery, the grapes are transferred into wooden vats, cement tanks and open barrels where it ferments with its own yeast for about 28-32 days. Subsequently, the wine is aged in 300 liter barrels for 12 months and before bottling it gets to rest in a large wooden fudge to finish of the wine, making it rounder.

26 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Vermunver, Hot Damn! in D.O. Montsant

357/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Marçà – Celler Vermunver – Vinum Domi 2012

Hot Damn!…….,

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Vinum Domi 2012, 50 % Garnacha 40 % Cariñena and 10 % Merlot

This young wine from the Genesis cellar, or more commonly know as Vermunver, is probably one of the ten best buys this year, quality/price comparison, and having in mind that this is a ¨drink it now wine¨and from the Montsant region. Clear and bright, cherry red color. It displays raw freshness but without sacrificing the typical body of the wines of the region. The nose offers an attractive combination of red fruits, raspberries and cranberries. An honest wine with some licorice notes that follows the fruit. The entry is fresh and I find it to be a wine that shows some minerality while still being easy to drink.

botella_varietal_2011Genesis Varietal 2011, 100% Carignena

Cherry colour with a garnet rim, very intense, Gènesi Varietal is a high complexity wine. On the nose there are loads of black mature fruits, toffee, spices and forest with a balsamic touch. On the palate it is a wine with great terroir expression, wide, fleshy and a touch odd acidity that fills it with freshness. It has also an elegant tannic structure that indicates a good evolution in the bottle. The Genesis Varietal consists of Old Carignena (also known as Cariñena or Samsó) from Vernet-Muntané family’s vineyards in Marçà. Vines are between 60 and 80 years old, soils are mainly clayey and calcareous, that gives complexity to the wines. Alcoholic fermentation is made in stainless steel wine tanks during 28 days under controlled temperatures between 25-27 degrees; malolactic fermentation is also done in stainless steel, once it has finished, the aging takes part in French and Hungarian oak barrels, over a period of 12 months.

VermunverCeller Vermunver is a small, family-run company situated in the village of Marçà. It is part of the D.O. Montsant, one of the two ‘Denominations of Origin’ (wine appellations) in the administrative (but also wine appellation) region known as the Priorat. Some members of the Vernet-Muntané family make up the company. Roger Vernet Muntané deserves a special mention because he is the oenologist (winemaker).

Vermunver 2In 2004 they began working on the idea of launching the company of Celler Vermunver – a long-cherished ambition, which would mean they would finally make their own wine. This task, although daring, was well justified given that they could count on the excellent primary product, readily available to them, and the shared vision for the project. The starting point for this shared vision was to complete Nature’s circle: from the vineyard to the wine glass. The company’s environmental policy is based on recycling and making use of the waste materials generated in the production of wine. In this way, residual water which is not contaminated is used on an area of the vineyards destined exclusively for this use and all organic waste is used as an environmentally friendly fertilizer on the land. The cellar is located beneath an historic building in the village, Cal Nolla, a construction that dates from the end of the 19th C. The plan is to marry tradition and quality, creating a hand-crafted product without leaving aside new technologies and the advances that these have brought.

Vernmunver11Because we are speaking of a small quantity of wine, they are able to maintain personal control of all the elements within the production process; closely following the progress of the vine during its entire growth cycle, during the harvest when the grapes are brought to the cellar, until the final process of bottling the wine. All their vineyards are to be found within the municipal boundaries of Marçà, in the south of the Priorat region. They are divided between various locations within this area, all with different orientations. In total, there are 23 hectares of vines, some grown on land owned by the company, others on rented plots.

vermunver12The vines are mainly of the grape varieties known as ‘Garnatxa’ (Grenache) and ‘Carinyena’ (Carignan), local to the region. The majority, around 75%, are vines of between 70-80 years old, with a ‘Lot’ root stock, and grafted with the best shoots of the local vines of the area. They also have a small quantity of Merlot and Syrah varieties about 20 years old. The soil is slightly calcareous and the placing of the vines, planted by the grandfathers in the twenties and thirties, was magnificently done.  The total production of Celler Vermunver is around 70,000 kg from which small amounts are carefully selected from the different sites.

Celler-Vermunver

An anecdote relating to the selection of these plots is that on the municipal map of Marçà they form a figure that resembles the constellation of Orion, and for this reason they are called the ‘Vineyards of Orion’. With an annual production of around 5,500-6,500 kg, the cellar has created as the first product of the winery, Génesi Selecció.

28 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Vinyes d’Olivardots, M’Agrada in Empordà

354/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Capmany – Vinyes d’Olivardots – Finca Olivardots Vermell 2011

M’Agrada……….,

finca-olivardots-11Finca Olivardots Vermell 2011, 70% Syrah, 20% Grenache and 10% Carignan

Ruby red color with dark ruby edge. Intense and bright. Elegant, aromatic and intense aroma of fresh, floral fruit with great expression of Syrah. Violets, blueberries and cassis, all supported by balsamic notes, herbs and a light background vanilla and some lactic sensation. In the mouth it displays freshness. Opulent attack, nice and velvety in the mouth. Soft, balanced input with volume and creaminess and fine tannins. Like the nose, the wine is very expressive, emitting fruit and balsamic sensations: blueberries, plums and cassis, seems everlasting!

viticultura01The Syrah and Grenache grapes come from vineyards which are between 10 to 15 years old and the Carignan grapes come from old vines with an average of 50 years of age. All of them are situated in the flattest land of the region at an altitude of 90/100 meters above sea level where the soil is formed by pebbles, sand and granite. Manuel harvest in crates of 10 Kg, carrying out a first sorting in the vineyard and a second one, grape by grape, in the cellar. Cold soak (2-4ºC), alcoholic fermentation of each variety is done separately in small stainless steal tanks at controlled temperature of around 26ºC. The aging process is 6 months in used French oak barrels. Bottled in May 2011 without fining or filtering.

celler01On a gresa soil, in the middle of rolling hills, where silence reigns and the view is lost sighting the vines, Vinyes d’Oivardots was born. Carme Casacuberta, a graduate of chemical sciences and oenologist,together with her husband Antoni Pena, industrial engineer, both passionate about wine, with a great love for nature and moved by the illusion of creating their own wine, made the dream come true in 2002. They purchased the estate Olivardots and planted the first vineyard in the term of Capmany (Alt Empordà), in the north east corner of Catalonia at the east side of Serra de l’Albera. A stunning landscape surrounded by 4 hectare of vineyards, where they in 2006 built the cellar in a simple but modern building. The design makes it possible to work with the aid of gravity and combine the recent advances in technology with the traditional wine-making.

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The vines grow on different soil types, found in the Empordà, highlighting granite soil, acidic and poor in organic matter.

Gresa Soil: Mixture of sand and grey granite. It is the Olivardots estate soil from which the first wine took its name. This soil brings elegance and aromatic complexity to the wine.

Slaty Soil: It is located in the higher part of the Empordà surface area, about 200 m above sea level. It adds mineral complexity to the grapes.

Sandy Soil: Where they have the oldest plot of Carignane vines, which are about 100 years old. It provides delicacy and elegance to the wine.

Gravelly Soil: Located in the flattest part in the center of the region, slightly tilted toward the southeast. It is a land formed by pebbles, sand with loamy texture. Here lie the vineyards of the white varieties.

dsc_003132 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Bodegas Puiggròs, Cissy Strut in D.O. Catalunya

351/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Catalunya – Odena – Bodegas Puiggròs – Signes 2008

Cissy Strut…….,

171210-Signes-Sumoll-Bodegas-Puiggros1Signes 2008, Red Grenache and Sumoll

Garnet red with a display of several shades of red colored layers.The wine shows a intense fresh aroma ofmenthol, spice and covered with elegant notes of underbrush with secondary notes of the barrel aging.  Cocoa, vanilla and some toast. Powerful on the palate whit marked tannins. Mediterranean aromas, sweet balsamic, ripe fruit. Good palate, balanced, with a slightly bitter, lingering finish. The Sumoll and Red Grenache are from vines older than 60 years. Manual harvest in boxes of 20 Kg. Aged for 10 months in new French oak barrels. Malolactic in barrel.

The Sumoll is a red grape variety, although there is also a white strain. It is a rustic variety, native to the Penedès region of Catalonia, drought resistant and with uniform development. The grape is round and big. It is used to produce red, white, rosé wines and Cava. Its former presence is also evident in the number of different names in Catalan dialects: sumoi, chimoi, saumoll, somoi, sumoy, ximoll, somoll, ximoy, xemoll, among others.

Sumoll Grape Variety

The name is related to the local slang term sumollar, which means maturing or withering, from the Latin verb submolliare. Young wine from the Sumoll grape has a slight roughness that disappears with aging. Its production is low and treatment for achieving quality wines requires high skills in wine production. Before and after phylloxera, the Sumoll was a variety widely grown throughout Catalonia. The entry into the European Union in 1986 accelerated discredit of local varieties, which were not considered able to make good & competitive wines. It has been replaced by other varieties and nowadays it is rare, with less than one hundred hectares planted (247 acres). This trend has changed over the last years. Wine growers are starting to recover and appreciate this variety, as they see an opportunity to create original wines that differentiate themselves by creating their own specialties, gaining a distance from the big industrial companies using only the stocks of international ubiquitous fashionable types – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay. The Sumoll is one of the varieties used in the following DOs, Catalunya, Pla de Bages, Tarragona. In Australia four hybrid varieties have been created from Cabernet Sauvignon and Sumoll: CiennaVermillionRubienne, and Tyrian. The purpose of this crossing is to adapt Sumoll qualities to suit the Australian climate.

PG1The production of wine started in 1843 from the vineyard Cal Pau Palomas, in Òdena, comarca of the Anoia in the province of Barcelona, although in the olden days it was never commercialized. In 2008, with great effort, the vineyards were recovered and refurnished the country house to create a small winery, Bodegas Puiggròs.

PG2When drinking a wine, one should think of its aroma, its color, its density, but also about the life within; life that begins in the Earth, nurtured by the rays of the sun, educated by the hand of the cultivator, through the time devoted to its maturation, and last, but not least, the dedication, patience and the “sentits” of its creator.

pg4The vineyards of Bodegas Puiggròs are located primarily in Òdena and at an altitude between 450 and 650 meters, having a distinctive terroir, by virtue of its unique geography, orientation and surrounding climates: Mediterranean and Continental. The soil in this area is mostly clay/limestone. The growing season is long and the maturation process, although very delicate, complex and prolonged, is the key to reaching the full potential of the quality available in this area. Bodegas Puiggròs cultivates varieties of Cariñena, White Grenache, Sumoll and Red Grenache.

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pgaentitsSentits Blancs 2009, 100% Garnacha Blanca

Pale lemon yellow. Good aromatic nose, which includes white flowers (Jasmine), tropical fruits and honey combined with light hints of dried fruit (toasted almonds). The palate presents a sweet entry with a good acidity. It is balanced, full, glyceric and unctuous. It combines very well with any fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Recommended to accompany mild meat and snails.

35 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours