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


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.


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

Hotel Hostal-Sport Time, I Gotcha in D.O. Empordà

348/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Garnatxa Solera Marià Pagès

I Gotcha…….


…. once again, Hostal-Sport hosted a tasting of wines from one of the 12 appellations in Catalonia. Yesterday it was time for D.O. Empordà. Professional, enthusiastic and always smiling….., Laura Masramon Grau, sommelier and highly knowledgeable when it comes to the Empordà, was in charge and showed us what Empordà is all about! If you ever feel like visiting the Empordà, you should definitely get in touch with Laura, as she will show you the soul of the region! The next tasting, and last for the year, is on the 7th of December, covering DOQ Priorat, Vi de Vila producers! I expect some real gems and I for one am not going to miss it!


Empordà is a landscape of contrasts, situated in the far north east of Catalonia. The Pyrenees, to the north, and the Mediterranean Sea, to the south, form natural boundaries. The breathtaking Costa Brava setting makes Empordà a truly unique place, linking the coast to the mountains, influenced by the famous northerly Tramontane wind. Empordà is a landscape of great natural beauty, with several natural protected areas and an awe-inspiring coastline of beaches and coves. It also boasts a great cultural and historical heritage: menhirs, megaliths, Gothic architecture, Romanesque art, charming small villages, the surrealist art of the genius Salvador Dali… all making the area highly attractive, even more so if the people and fine gastronomy are also considered, especially the Empordà traditional dishes and the nouvelle cuisine, headed by figures such as Ferran Adrià. All of which are complemented beautifully by Empordà DO (Designation of Origin) wines.


There is no doubt that the wine culture and the knowledge of the wine trade reached Catalonia around the 6th century BC. The area was then the most important Greek colony in Spain, and Emporiae was the Greek city that later gave its name to the district of Empordà. Four centuries later, archaeological and documental evidence exists to demonstrate that the wines of the lands of Emporiae and other areas of the Tarraconensis were known in the domestic markets of other provinces of the Roman Empire and in the metropolis itself.


In the Middle Ages, when vines were grown near abbeys and monasteries, the terraced vineyards cultivated by the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes covered the slopes of the Rodes Mountain range. It is here that the winemaking monk Ramon Pere de Noves is believed to have excelled in the art of winemaking and have written a treatise on the subject. There is also evidence to show that the Monasteries of Sant Quirze de Colera and Santa Maria de Vilabertran also owned vineyards in Empordà.


In the 18th and 19th centuries, the vines demonstrated their colonising capacity and became a symbol for the agricultural growth that fuelled significant demographic growth in the production area. A unique landscape of cypress trees with dry stone terraces, walls and cottages was shaped. The phylloxera plague first appeared in Catalonia in 1879, in a vineyard in Rabós d’Empordà. It brought a ruinous end to this thriving era for Empordà wines. The recovery was tough. The vineyards never recovered all the land they had occupied prior to the plague.


The cooperative bodega movement was initially promoted by the Mancomunitat of Catalonia, and later by the Republican Generalitat around 1930. This was the start of a new era of improved winemaking processes; new bodegas were built and sales networks were extended. In addition to these developments, private initiatives were underway and the result was that the quality of wine of Empordà gained fame and popularity in many markets.

Garnatxa_Celler_Maria_Pages_DO_Emporda_AnabelGardellGarnatxa Solera Marià Pagès, 100% Garnatxa

Intense lovely amber color with a mahogany hue, thick and rather slow tears, unclear, slightly veiled. The nose is somewhat reduced as a result of its aging, oak notes of old wood and varnish, nuts (walnuts and almonds), soft licorice notes, nice scents of Mediterranean herbs  (lavender and thyme), soft honey notes, marzipan and soft background of dried apricots and figs. Soft on the palate with a slightly sweet touch, lovely presence in the mouth with good balance, good acidity, soft touches of liquor, dried orange peel, great volume, fine texture, slightly smooth and gentle persistence. Long and persistent aftertaste of dried figs. Powerful, sweet and fruity! My favorite of the evening!

catalan-wine-365-new1139 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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…..,


… 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!


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.


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! 


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.


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!

Clos 93, Cant’ Stop in DOQ Priorat

262/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – El Lloar – Celler Clos 93 – L’Interrogant 2013

Can’t Stop………,


L’Interrogant 2013, 45% Carinyena, 43% Garnacha and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon

………..addicted to the shindig. Chop top, he says I’m gonna win big. Choose not a life of imitation, choose a bottle of the 2013 Question mark! Look at the new kid on the block, all grown up and, for good or bad, a little more Priorat-like, a little bit more mature. The third vintage is a shining star. How can I not like a wine that shows quality, potential and usefulness!

If this fine product is any kind of indication of what we can expect from Priorat 2013 vintages, I’d say we’re all in for a treat. I did hear, from both wine makers and vintners, that the 2013 harvest was looking promising at the time, but as we all know, it is one thing to predict and another story when it comes to the actual opening and tasting of the wine at hand! This is my first 2013 Priorat that I am trying and I can’t wait to try the rest!

They have used a slightly different blend, but not by much. Added 2% of the Cabernet and reduced the same of the Garnacha. I couldn’t notice, good thin I can read the back label! What I did notice was the fine ruby red colour with cherry red rims, lovely with some nice and dense tears falling trickling slowly down the side of the glass. Wonderful array of sweet red and black fruits, some green pepper and light notes of coffee. On the palate there’s some sweet dark chocolate. The wine is fresh and very tasty, with a nice entrance leading to a long silky travel. Contrast of bitter cocoa and sweet toffee interact with the fleshy and tasty fruit, good acidity gives freshness and liveliness and soft tannins. Long and intense finish that leaves many memories. I am grateful they have managed to keep up the quality but at the same time allowing it an identity of its own, also very happy they have managed to step up the production to 8.000 bottles!

When size doesn't matter, Clos 93!

L’Interrogant is Catalan, meaning question mark. ? = a highly recognizable symbol around the world. This is what they decided to put on the label of their first and, for now, only wine! So very clever! It stands out on the shelves, it is noticed at any tasting and the wine is good! I am very happy to have helped in getting this wine to Sweden!

What was the question?

The Priorat New Age Renaissance took of in 1979 by five wine making veterans! Their project started and evolved in Gratallops in Priorat. The gang of five consists of Rene Barbier, Carles Pastrana, Josep Lluís Pérez, Daphné Glorian and Alvaro Palacios–each built a winery that brought the Priorat to world prominence. Bringing a sleeping wine giant to life. That was only 35 years ago!

The best place to enjoy a glass of L'Interrogant, in the vineyards where it was first born!

Priorat was almost dead as a wine region with only 8 active cellars at the time, most of them cooperatives making bulk wine. Today we count 104 and I believe that figure is growing by the day. They founded the optimism and made it possible for cellars like Clos 93 to exists today. Priorat has a lot to thank these guys for!


Gratallops was the village around which they saw the potential of the vineyards and got the ball rolling. During these days there was basically no life in Priorat and certainly not in Gratallops. Most days they would eat, drink and sleep at the Hotel-Hostal Sport in Falset, This was also the breeding ground for their ideas and land purchases. How nice it would be if walls indeed could talk!

A great place to stay when in Priorat!

In and around Gratallops there are nowadays around 22 cellars, in the much smaller village of El Lloar there are 2! One is the smallest in Priorat, with one wine label and 8,000 bottles produced annually. The other one is slightly larger, with around 250,000 bottles annually. Which one do you think article is about? Please don’t get me wrong, the larger one does make outstanding wine!

If you get lost, there are signs! ?

Out of the 126 inhabitants living in El Lloar there are three that are my heros. Their family project works because they are passionate about their land and vines and surely because they have other day jobs! Two brothers and an uncle! That’s the team. Ruben, the younger brother, being the enologist. Josep in charge of sales and marketing and owner of the house/garage which constitutes the cellar. Pepo is the viticulturist and the one driving the four-wheel motorbike! All three together is to be experienced! After a day with them you are leaving family, not only friends. Passion!


Once in Priorat, it is very easy to find both El Lloar and the house of Clos 93, no question mark! One thing though. Make sure you calculate additional time for the roads of Priorat. Passing Gratallops, there are signs for El Lloar and the cellar/house is quite easy to find. The reception is in their living room and then you are shown to the basement, show time! Having said that, most if not all visits start in the vineyards. With the motto “where the wine is born, is where it should be enjoyed”

Where the ? is best enjoyed!


The vines are between 18 and 25 years old planted on licorella (slate) and red clay and cultured without intervention, with the utmost respect for the nature. Each variety is vinified separately and not until about 5-6 weeks before bottling the final blend is made. The grapes are harvested manually and transported to the winery where they are de-stemmed during reception and allowed to stand for three days in cold small stainless steel tubs.On the third day, yeast is added to start the fermentation, with a temperature of 18-25 ° and daily pigeage. After fermentation, the wine is pressed gently and moved to 300 liter French oak barrels for a repose for about 9 months. After many tastings the blend is decided and allowed to rest in the same tank for about 5 weeks to stabilize naturally. Finally it is bottled and labeled with the simple and clear ?.

Thousand questions that arise and that are answered only by opening one of the just over 8,000 bottles of this young and tasty red wine from Priorat. A wine to share and enjoy with friends and family!


Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

122 to go!

Wine Fair, Ai, Ai, Meu Deus in Falset

137/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant  – Falset – Wine Fair – Sileo 2013

Ai, Ai, Meu Deus…….

….., Oh, Oh, My God! And the winner is! Sileo 2013!!! By a mile! Out of all the new wines presented at the annual Wine Fair in Falset, I have to say I fell in love with this young, fresh red and you’ll be able to read the full tasting notes below. Yet another day, hard at work, this time combining work with pleasure and spending the day with great friends! Just the way it should be on the third day of May, with around 26 degrees in the shade! My kind of work day!


La Dama en Blanc, from El Castell de Falset, was another favorite of the day!

La Dama en Blanc, from El Castell de Falset, was another favorite of the day!

Plenty of wine lovers around, great wineries displayed some of the best they have to offer, although there were few “new” wines presented. Simultaneously, Gratallops was hosting Tast amb Dones at Clos Figueras and Tast amd Llops at Cal Llops! Which in brief means that Montsant/Priorat wineries had to divert some forces to the wonderful village of Gratallops. Missed some cellars and friends but had to make do. This is an reoccurring fair, so make sure to make a note in your calendar for next year. Great opportunity to try Priorat/Montsant!

Valenti Llagostera from Mas Doix winery in Poboleda, had us try the excellent Salanques!

Valenti Llagostera from Mas Doix winery in Poboleda, had us try the excellent Salanques!


The Priorat county celebrates its annual Wine Fair usually during the first weekend of May. It is dedicated to the two wine appellations of the county, the DOQ Priorat and the D.O. Montsant. The wineries involved offer tastings of their wines in exchange for tasting tickets which can be purchased at the fair in the information tent. There are also parallel events taking place over the long weekend such as conferences, talks, wine-tasting courses, cooking contests, wineries opening up for visitors, guided olive oil tastings, wine and food pairings etc…….

GrataVinum, the Organic Priorat project of Pares Balta! Only missed the Silvestri, only 900 bottles annually means they were all out! Have to open the on I have in my cellar.

GrataVinum, the Organic Priorat project of Pares Balta! Only missed the Silvestri, only 900 bottles annually means they were all out! Have to open the on I have in my cellar.


The Falset Wine Fair is a unique opportunity to discover the wines of a region that, over the years, has become an international benchmark for great wines. The Fair will decipher the wines and wineries of the regions and their latest creations. At the same time, it is the ideal way to approach the region and meet the people, and see the land that makes these exceptional wines possible.



The Sileo is made by Cellers At Roca and the wine maker is Agusti Torello i Sibill. If you think you recognize the name of Torello, you’re absolutely right. Penedes hosts the winery of Agusti Torello i Mata and Agusti is the son from the same family. He started this project in the Montsant and the winery is located in a former discotheque in Falset. More details to come, as I have to visit them quite soon!



Sileo 2013, 80% Garnacha and 20% Samsó

This IS the color of dark cherry! Some purple hues, clean and clear. Thick and abundant tears. The nose is clean and honest aromas of red and black fruit appear, strawberries and blackberries on a slightly spicy background which highlights the vanilla and coconut and light smoky notes. The palate is fresh, satiny, with sweet tannins and well integrated with the alcohol. It is a powerful, elegant and expressive wine, which blends red fruit with notes of pastry and fine woods. Long aftertaste where the fruit blends with notes of wood. Got to love this one!

242 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Pascona Pirate Party, Drink Up Me Hearties in Falset

136/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Battliu de Sort – Borda de Cebria – Biu Blanc 2012

Drink Up Me Hearties…..,

….., Drink up me hearties, yo ho! Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me! A toast to piracy and its many shiny rewards. As a career, what could be more rewarding?”  Are YOU in your happy place? Your office? My happy place is  my office! Yesterday, this was the best party to be at, only wish that all of you scallawag goat-herders were here!


This is my office, or one of many office spaces I occupy. Welcome to my life! Where is the best place to be on a Thursday afternoon? Right here in my office! This time in Falset, Pascona Montsant Estate, where Toni hosted a Pirate party, with a twist?


Well yes, since the rum wasn’t flowing bit the wine sure was! A couple of hundred friends got together and had a ball, Jack Sparrow was there as well, where else would he be, as the wine was free!?! Visca Pascona Montsant!


A bunch of wine cellars where present, as the party was also a mini fair for local, Catalan, wineries! From D.O. Montsant, Celler Comunica, D.O. Priorat showed up with L’Infernal, D.O. Costers del Segre with Celler Batlliu de Sort. Cellers Som i Serem came, saw and conquered, from D.O. Tarragona. Mes Que Paraules from D.O. Pla de Bages and Finca Parera from D.O. Penedes. D.O. Emporda was represented by Terrer d’en Tassis, Celler Mas Foraster from D.O. Conca de Barbera and finally Cellers Frisach from D.O Terra Alta! Not a bad bunch, considering they are all Pirates!




The brewery of Moritz might have felt out of place but let me tell you, a beer after all that wine was just what I needed! I am very please that nine of the Catalan appellations were represented. The only ones missing were D.O. Cava, D.O. Catalonia and D.O. Alella. Would have been nice with someone from Alella, but as Cava and Catalonia as D.O:s are more generic, they can be excused!




This is exactly what an office party in my neighborhood looks like. A nice theme, some great wines and excellent finger food! The DJ played all the right tunes, the atmosphere was just the right kind and many, many friends were around! It almost got to be crowded at the office, which is very rare since the office, most of the time, is outdoors!


Next year I’m dressing up as Hector Barbossa, just gonna let the beard grow and get a sword! Let the good times roll.


Biu Blanc 2012, Riesling and Viognier

Bright yellow with thin greenish, thick and slow tears. Aromas of citrus, notably lemons and some grapefruit, white fruits, pears and green apples and soft touches of mountain herbs, anise and something reminiscing of dry flowers. The palate has good and fresh entry, remarkable structure with very distinct sour notes, good acidity, lime and lemon peel, hints of white fruit, hint of alcohol and some bitter notes. Long aftertaste.

243 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Hotel Hostal-Sport, Just Becaus D.O. Pla de Bages

110/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Tasting in Falset – Hotel Hostal-Sport – Collbaix 2011 Singular

Just because…….

…. once again, Hostal-Sport hosted a tasting of wines from one of the 12 appellations in Catalonia. Yesterday it was time for D.O. Pla de Bages. Heard of it? No! Well, now you have and believe me, Pla de Bages is a appellation you are going to be very aware of in the near future. Fresh, fruity and well made wines at decent prices, that’s what we like! Enjoy!

A 8077

The Pla de Bages is a fertile plain located in an area of mythical mountainous landscapes such as Montserrat, the mountains of Castelltallat, the Nature Reserve of Sant Llorenç del Munt y l’Obac and the massif of El Montcau. The region, which has an increasingly broad range of leisure and gastronomic activities, has important tourist and cultural attractions, such as the Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, the saltmines of Cardona, the cave of Sant Ignasi in Manresa and the route of the Acequia route, running alongside a medieval canal.

pladebages 2

It is common to find ancient wine tubs and vineyard huts made of stone. The huts were used by peasants, who often had to stay all day long in the country, to store agricultural tools and to protect themselves from inclement weather. Around 4.000 huts still survive in very good condition, most of which were built coinciding with the great expansion of vineyards in the region.


With a continental Mediterranean climate, El Bages offers ideal conditions for vine cultivation: an exceptional micro-climate, scant rainfall, great variations in temperature, and a clayey and calcareous soil. The wines are pervaded by soothing touches of lavender, thyme and rosemary – aromatic plants common to the pine, oak and ibex woods surrounding the vineyards.


Collbaix 2011 Singular, Macabeu and Picapoll

Dark yellow colour with golden reflections, clear and brilliant.  The nose is intense with fruity aromas of tropical fruit. Mango, pineapple,  mature peach and apricot. Continuing and as secondary notes it carries pastry notes, brioche, roasted notes and slight balsamic. The mouth has a good entry, large and bulky. It is long and persistent with good acidity.

271 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Pascona Montsant, He’s a pirate in D.O. Montsant

81/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Falset – Pascona Montsant – Lo Pare Evolucio 2012

He’s a Pirate…….

The story of Pascona is evolving and shaping the future of Montsant as a wine region, and I for one, will return and visit the place over and over again. Read about  the history and the vineyards of Pascona here! Today, Sunday, the sun was shinning and as it is the day of rest, what better than to visit a wine cellar? The initial reference, suggesting that Toni is a pirate, well that’s a separate story and maybe best discovered as and when you decide to come and visit this magical place!

Selfie by Toni "The Pirate" in the vineyards!

Selfie by Toni “The Pirate” in the vineyards!

Had a pre arranged meeting with Toni Ripoll, owner and wine maker of Pascona, at the petrol station/coffee shop in Falset, where we started the day with a Catalan entrepan  (baguette with your choice of filling) and a tallat (coffee with a dash of milk). Got to talking about life in general, wine making (off course) and decided to hit the vineyards to see what was going on there.


After a walk with the dogs in tow, having caught some rays of the morning sun and admiring the “crying” vines, they are to bud within a month or so, some barrels were waiting to be sampled. And, as you very well know, you don’t want to disappoint the barrels! During the following hours we tried the 2013 wines soon to be bottled, and I can’t say that I was worried about what it would taste! 2013 is looking very promising, life is good!


Started off with the 991′ Macabeu, which was covered in a previous posting, well that was the 2012. Now, the 2013 still un-bottled was tasted and wow…., what a difference a year makes! Comparing the two, the 2013 is fruitier, does not have the same floral notes but certainly carries a great balance and the aftertaste is longer. A fresh, tasty and handsome wine for a Sunday afternoon barbeque of white fish. But then again, to drink it as is, is not a crime. The 2012 has been sold out, so now all we can do is wait for the 2013 to hit the shelves!


Blanc de noir production, is not something done normally in D.O. Monsant, but then again, there’s nothing normal with Toni, he thrives in being different and going against the stream, up the creek with no paddle! Blanc de noir made from 100% Syrah, is certainly not done in Montsant! As far as I know this guy is the only one crazy enough to do it, and with a fantastic result!


The name of the wine is Trenca Closques, meaning Puzzle, how very becoming! Puzzling it is and in more ways than one. The wine is dark salmon with hints of orange. The Sira (Syrah) is pressed, gently, so it is onoy during the pressing that it has contact with the peel for about 20 minutes, that’s all it takes to get the color. Some describe it as a rose wine, but Toni is adamant about it being a white! A cool, soft and elegant “white” with the nose of fruits, herbs and mixed candy. Very good entry into the mouth with good balance and roundness, slightly bitter at the very end, very fresh!


Experimental natural wine was the next to be tasted, which is the same as the Lo Petito, made from the same grapes and blend. Syrah 50% and Merlot 50%, which are fermented and vinified together. The natural one, has no additives and is not filtrated, so it shows other characteristics than the filtered brother. You couldn’t imagine that it is the same wine! Pure muscles in the natural one, rawness and edges but still refined, lovely blend. Lo Petito is much clearer and softer in color, ruby red throughout and tons of raspberries and red fruits, complex.


Barrel and bottle, 2013 and 2012 respectively, of the La Mare. 100% Garnatxa. The 2013 demonstrating great potential for some additional aging, very good acidity and I for one am going to keep some bottles for at least 5-6 years to see what happens. Red cherry color with purple tones, brilliant with a robe. Huge intensity with aromas of mature black forrest fruit. Then it slowly develops to violet, figs, tobacco and a hint of menthol. Velvety in the mouth, blueberries and black fruit, raisins and figs. As it enters the taste is very nice, great freshness. Complex and not at all aggressive in any way.


Toni! I’ll be back and hopefully soon. Thank you for a lovely day in the vineyards and the cellar of your Chateau Pascona!


It has been a wonderful week, that is unfortunately coming to its end. Sunday only offering a few more hours, but I for one am looking forward to Monday and the week to come. New challenges in life and more winery visits to conduct and hopefully some new friends to be made! Stay tuned!


Lo Pare, Evolucio, 2012, 80% Garnatxa and 20% Cabernet-Sauvignon

Spent 13 months in a one year old, french oak barrel. Opaque, deep violet to medium purple with colored tears. Jammy fruits but not overly ripe, peppery and some exotic fruits. Leather comes as secondary and clear balsamic. Mature taste, great body, satiny feel in the mouth, integrated and nutty oak. Well balanced and elaborate. A wine made with good skills and finesse.

300 to go!

8 Wines, Wine Do Yer Stuff in D.O. Conca de Barbera

60-67/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barbera – Falset – Hotel-Hostal Sport – 8 Wines Tasted

Wine Do Yer Stuff…..,

… and it did! Was expecting a well arranged tasting with some nice wines from D.O. Conca de Barbera. 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 Conca de Barbera, Yes!


The cicerone of this tasting was CArles Andreu, wine maker and president of the D.O. Conca de Barbera. A man, as he himself described it, from the vine. “I’m a vintner who loves wine”, he’s knowledge of Conca de Barbera is unmatched and it was a pleasure to listen to him.


This was the second 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 D.O. Conca de Barbera before we get going with the tasting notes!

Most of the vineyards are located around the historic town of Montblanc, and the DO covers a total of 14 municipalities in the north of the province of Tarragona: Barberà de la ConcaBlancafortConesaL’Espluga de FrancolíForès, Montblanc, PiraRocafort de QueraltSarralSenanSolivellaVallclaraVilaverd and Vimbodí i Poblet.

The vineyards are planted in the valleys of the rivers Francolí and Anguera and are surrounded and protected by mountain ranges: the Serra de MontclarCodonymountain and Serra de Comalats in the north, the Serra de Miramar and Cogulló in the east, the Serra de Prades in the south, and the Serra del Tallat and Serra de Vilobí in the west.

And soon the tasting begins, prep work by Marta and Carles!

And soon the tasting begins, prep work by Marta and Carles!

The land is mainly flat or slightly undulating at heights of between 350 and 600 m above sea level. Most of the vines are on dark lime bearing soils, quite loose and poor in organic matter. Towards the foothills of the Sierra de Prades slate can be found in the rock.

Friends at the tasting sharing a moment of truth!

Friends at the tasting sharing a moment of truth!

The climate is temperate Mediterranean, with hot summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature is 14°C with extremes of 35°C in summer and -6°C in winter. There is a risk of frost in spring for the vineyards at the highest altitudes. Rainfall is mainly in autumn and the average annual figure is around 500 mm.


The mountain ranges protect the area from the wind, while the high altitude means that the summers are not too hot. Humidity is slightly higher than in neighbouring DO’s. The vines receive around 2,500 hours of sunlight per year.

Ruth capturing a moment!

Ruth capturing a moment!

The traditional grapes used are Macabeo and Parellada for the production of white wines and cava, and GarnachaTrepat and Tempranillo (known locally as Ull de Llebre) for red wines. However, the Regulatory Council of the DO has also authorised some foreign varieties: Cabernet SauvignonMerlotPinot noirSyrah and Chardonnay. White varieties represent about two thirds of the vines planted.

The older vines are planted as low bushes (en vaso), while the more recently planted ones are on trellises(en espaldera) to increase production. Planting density is around 2,000 – 2,500 vines per hectare, though the maximum authorised density is 4,500 vines/ha.

Four types of wine are produced in Conca de Barberà: a white varietal wine using Parellada grapes, different blends of whites and reds, and the rosés. The rosés are made using the native Trepat variety of grape. The white wines represent about two thirds of all wine production. Most reds and rosés are best consumed young.


Wine No. 1 – Portell Blanc de Blancs, 2013, Macabeo and Parellada.

Delicate yellow straw color with greenish rims. Clean, young and bright. On the nose it has an average intensity, white fruit and semi intense flavours with various floral, menthol notes. Pear, peaches and candy. Balanced. This white wine from Conca de Barbera has a nice entrance which is light, fresh with a pleasant acidity. Flattens out a bit to fast, but certainly a wine to be enjoyed during the hotter days of summer. The Parellada is dominating, showing flowers all over this one!


Wine No. 2 – Celler Rosa M. Torres , 2010, 100% Viognier.

Slight pale golden.  Intense nose with primary notes ripe fruit, round and clean nose. Expressive to complex, secondary of honey, roses, ripe pears and almonds. Structured, well balanced with good acidity. Dry, medium long after taste with balanced acidity. Elegant and well made wine!


Wine No. 3 – Bodegas Concavins, Clos Montblanc Rosat, 2011, Coupage of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo, Trepat

Clear cherry to light purple. Clean nose, medium fresh, direct. Frozen strawberries and strawberry marmalade, fresh red fruits. Mild acidity, medium long, slightly unbalanced. Fruity, uncomplicated, nice summer wine, typical rose.


Wine No. 4 – Castell D’or, Francoli 2011, Ull de Llebre and Trepat

Clear medium intense colour, dark cherry to ruby. Macerated fruit, toasted caramel, meaty, slight minerals showing. Leather, spicy, green pepper. Meaty and tasty in the mouth. Mouth filling and balanced with toasted notes. Well developed, well made but slightly uninteresting wine.


Wine No. 5 – Celler Cal Gasset, Sanstrave Partida del Jueus, 2009, Merlot, Garnatxa, Ull de llebre, Trepat, Cabernet sauvignon

Deep cherry colour with a garnet rim. Undeveloped, closed, slightly chemical antiseptic. Needs time to open up. Burnt butter. After a while it opened up, Aromas of candied fruit, honeyed notes and aromatic coffee came as secondary after quite some time. Filling with a pleasant acidity and good balance. Long after taste. This IS a good wine but needs proper decanting. Stylish!


Wine No. 6 – Celller Rende Masdeu, Manuela Ventosa, 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Intense red colour with violet hues, many layers. The nose is complex with ripe aromas, spicy, creamy. Secondary of oak, toast, complex. Powerful, rich mouth with ripe tannins. In the mouth it is tasty and fatty, with a smooth entry and evolution. It has a sweet tannin sensation. The aftertaste is reminiscent of cherry jam. long after taste. Well made and well balanced!


Wine No. 7 – SCP de Montblanc, Gatzara 2012, Trepat 

Clear and clean but thin purple colour, considering this is a red wine. Spicy, liquorice, fennel and marzipan. Lovely nose, which keeps on coming. Light in the mouth. Slightly unbalanced tannins, medium after-taste. Cherry and almonds. Interesting wine, though unbalanced, fruity and different! Has a personality which I like!


Wine No. 8 – Carles Andreu, Trepat 2010, Trepat 

Bright medium ruby with slight rims of terracotta. Fruity, rich with berries, ripe strawberries. Complex and slight arrack notes. Vanilla and balsamic, bitter note at the end. Filling the mouth nicely without being heavy. Buttery, balanced acidity with a long after-taste. Harmonious! High quality with a major danger, to easy to drink!

And the WINNER is Wine No. 8 –  Carles Andreu, Trepat 2010! Can drink this forever! I’m loving it!

313 to go!

Celler Piñol, You can’t always get what you want, D.O. Terra Alta

43/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Celler Piñol – Piñol L’Avi Arrufi 2007

You can’t always get want you want…..,

…. but you just might get what you need! In a survey of wine tour operators located throughout the world, responses indicated they expect a 21.4% increase in customers served in 2014. 70 tour operators from 12 separate countries took part in the survey, SweetEasy wine tours took part in the survey. It is rarely that statistics make me happy, this one does and I hope more and more visitors come to Catalonia to experience, first hand, the beauty of this wine making region and all its D.Os. That’s what you need! Now, let’s get back to reality…….

Street view in Batea

Street view in Batea

When visiting the different D.Os of catalonia it is hugely important to be organized. As they are quite spread out, I always try to book at least two or more wineries during the same trip. When I visited Terra Alta the last time I managed to visit Altavins winery in Batea and at the same time todays entry. The article about Altavins got a bit specific and I got into the details of Terra Alta, so if you want to know more about Terra Alta, you should read the “body and soul” article.


The Terra Alta is more know for the wonderful whites they produce and this too has been covered, when I wrote about the Terra Alta D.O. tasting in Falset at Hotel-Hostal Sport. This time I decided to go for a red, reason being……, they also, in some cases, manage to create amazing reds!

Vineyards of Celler Pinol

Vineyards of Celler Pinol

Now don’t just continue reading….., it is after all Thursday evening and you should open a nice bottle of wine, to get into the sentiment of the story. By the time you have finished your bottle, my article will be so well written, you will be thinking Hemingway is alive. Me? I’m enjoying a red, with rhythm, from Priorat! Very red and very tasty! Cheers!


Terra Alta is quite unknown, but certainly know for cheap wines! Keep this in mind, Terra Alta is going to be discovered as Columbus discovered India! The Celler Piñol exports 85% of its production to 25 countries! Someone beat Columbus, and found the holy grail but it is not to late. Once here, staying at the B&B of the winery, is the right way to enjoy the hospitality of the family.


Being the first winery in Terra Alta to offer wine tourism it can’t go wrong. Celler Piñol operates four fully-equipped apartments, one that includes a large Jacuzzi in which you can enjoy vinotherapy, all of them perfect for soaking up the wine culture and an unforgettable experience.

The most southern region of Catalonia is characterised by a sprinkling of small towns and pockets of great beauty, retaining a charmingly medieval appearance. The countryside also has a timeless constancy, with dramatic mountains providing a sharp contrast to the plains, where crops of ancient Mediterranean stock (vines, almonds, olives) dot the landscape, as they have done throughout generations.


Piñol L’Avi Arrufi 2007, Garnacha (30%), Cariñena (60%) and Syrah (10%)

This is a well made wine and i love the blend, where the Cariñena gets to carry the wine! The color is dark cherry to ruby, almost opaque. The nose contains black fruit with high complexity and toasty notes. Secondary gives off currant, plums and some spicy, peppery indications. On the palate I got a hint of cacao and slight leather. It is full bodied with good acidity and some balsamic notes. Powerful, well structured and medium ling aftertaste.

330 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle