Celler Mas Candi, Amado Mio in D.O. Penedes

256/365 – Catalonia –D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet – Celler Mas Candi – Ovella Negra

Amado Mio………,

Ovella NegraOvella Negra, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Bright and clear, yellow colour with subtle aromas of tropical fruit (mango, passion fruit) and peach. Somewhat complex nose. The palate is oily with a sweet point and good acidity, there’s some minerality but mainly the tropical flavours appear, just like in the nose. Good structure, fresh and long after taste. Black sheep, Ovella Negra, of the family? I think not!  It is made with Garnatxa Blanca (White Grenache) and this is one of the few vineyards that are of this variety in the Penedes region. They have only 226 vines, which are over 60 years of age (vineyard La Salada). Due to the difficulties growing this particular variety and the challenges it posed to make a good wine, the name Black Sheep, Ovella Negra, came about! Now they make 500 bottles!

Mas Candi

Four young farmers, with studies in viticulture and oenology, have joined together to create their own wines from the vineyards that they got from their grandparents. The house of Mas Candi is located in Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet, just at the gates of the Natural Park of Garraf. Since the sixteenth century there has been evidence that the family Cuscó (Cal Candi), cultivated these lands, which today are partially under vine, used for the production of wines at Mas Candi. They also use grapes from vineyards in Font-Rubí, el Pla del Penedès and Torrelavit. This small winery seeks interaction with the landscape, working their native varieties and recovering their old Catalan grapes, which have almost disappeared.

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The range of wines produced at Mas Candi, no frills, no fancy layout, just good wine! From left to right; Mas Candi QX, the four Xarel.lo:s, They have chosen the best vineyards producing xarel.lo, they are located at: Les Gunyoles (vineyard La Pura), Font-Rubí (vineyard Mas Rossell), el Pla del Penedès (vineyard l’Angeleta) i Subirats (vineyard Cal Martí). The best bunches are selected at the peak of ripeness. The wine is fermented in four diffrent barrels (chestnut, acacia, French oak and American oak), each gives different characteristics which provide a complexity to the wine a a whole. The second is Mas Candi Desig, 100% Xarel.lo, This wine is from a single vineyard, located in Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet. The vines were planted in 1961. The cultivation is fundamentally respectful of the land and the vine. There’s no use of chemical herbicides or pesticides. So the existence of the ecosystem is essential to the complexity of the wine and the balance of the plants. This wine has sought the ultimate expression of the land, the climate, the variety without oak aging. A true “terroir” wine. The purity of Xarel.lo. Ovella Negra, third wine, covered at the top. Les Forques, the Cabernet-Sauvignon used in this wine, comes from the Mas d’en Tort vineyard, close to Torrelavit. The vines were planted in 1983, on a very poor calcareous clay and gravel terrain, south facing. In this wine they are looking to transmit the Mediterranean climate (hot dry summers) and minerality of the land; ripe and concentrated wine. Each year they add a small percentage of the experimental varieties that have been recovered (Sumoll, Mandó, Cannonnau, Roigenc i Mònica). Can 28, 100% Mandó, This is the first wine made from experimental Catalan varieties that have been recovered. After the phylloxera 120 years ago; many vineyards were replanted with grape varieties more profitable at the expense of others who were of high quality but did not produce enough to be financially viable. At Mas Candi they have been, and still are, working towards the recovery of these forgotten varieties, like the white Malvasia de Sitges and Torbat and the red grape varieties like Mandó, Mònica, Sumoll, Cannonnau i Roigenc. SOL + SÒL, This is a powerful wine, concentrated and mineral. Selection of the best grapes from the vineyard of Les Forques. Produced each year, but only the best vintages are released to the market. Mas Candi CAVA Brut Nature, the local varieties of the Penedès (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo), with a higher percentage of Xarel.lo.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

128 to go!

Celler Pardas, Somethin Else in D.O. Penedes

252/365 – Catalonia –D.O. Penedes – Torrelavit – Celler Pardas – Rupestris Blanc 2012

Somethin Else…….,

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Rupestris Blanc 2012, 81% Xarel.lo, 6% Xarel.lo Vermell and 13% Malvasia de Sitges

Intense colour with a lot of depth. The primaries give of citrus fruit. After a while the secondary shows mature pear, pear milkshake and ripe melon. Quince and soft hazelnut .A feeling of dawn in a Mediterranean landscape with aromas of: Lavender, weaver’s broom and dried cuttings. Beyond the fruit, there’s  minerality of the soil in which the vines have been thriving. Quite a lot of flint stone. Fresh and fruity passage through the mouth. Glyceric, ample and franc in the mouth. With character. The fruit: pears, apricots and peaches overlay a marked acidic background and provide an excellent tension across the palate which carries over the depth of the fruit towards an electric fresh and slightly bitter aftertaste. Ideal to accompany seafood: mussels, shellfish, Dublin bay prawns as well as grilled and baked fish.

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Rupestris evokes the strength of the rock, the purity of the earth, something primitive, rustic, wild, ancient and authentic. The vineyards of traditional white varieties grown on the estate are planted on the hillsides of the Can Comas estate, which is covered in limestone. Vines that are rooted in the bedrock, the petrocalcic or tapasot. During the summer days, these ancient and shallow soils, suffered a lot to get water and the minerals they needed. All this effort and the enthusiasm of the Celler Pardas team is what they want to convey. Tenderness in every bottle of wine!

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

132 to go!

Mas Oller, Smile in D.O. Emporda

159/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Torrent – Mas Oller – Mar 2011

Smile…..

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…., always just smile! Even though it’s aching, if you smile through your fear and sorrow…….., 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!

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Mar 2011, 80% Picapoll and 20% Malvasia

Lovely pale yellow color showing greenish reflections. Bright and clear. This wine is aromatic with average to high power, white (peach, white soft pear) and citrus (lime) fruits predominate, very honest, clean and altogether one of those wines you want too enjoy through the nose for quite some time before you imbibe it. One in the mouth it has a very nice soft attack, and a fatty touch on the palate, elegant and sweet. It has good structure and long finish, leaving a fresh and tangy feeling, which make it easy to drink. Mar = Sea = Summer wine!

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Made from hand-selected grapes grown on over 10 year old vines planted 10m. (33ft) above sea level. A short skin maceration and low temperature fermentation. Aged on the lees for 4 months in order to obtain more complexity. 
Works wonders with seafood, especially oysters, fresh prawns and griddled mussels, rice dishes such as risottos and paella, pasta, cheese, and desserts featuring white-fleshed fruit and crème.

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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.

Islas Medes

Islas Medes

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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220 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Esteve i Gibert Viticultors, Come away with me to D.O.Penedes

96-98/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Masia Cla Panxa – Esteve i Gibert Viticultors – Origen 2012, Les Vistes 2012 & L’Antana 2009

Come away with me….

…., with me and my new friends! No, not the wine bottles. Yes, that’s what this is all about but chill for a while, because what is a bottle or two of wine without the company of friends? Don’t think you can tell heaven from hell, but be happy if you can tell a good wine from a less good one. Really wish you were here, who ever you are, cause you all deserve to experience this little piece of heaven. Or, if it’s heaven to me, does that imply that it must be heaven to you too? I’d like to think so!

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It all makes sense to me! Doing the best thing you know and making a living from it, isn’t that what we all want? I now know Josep and Montserrat, or at least they were Josep and Montserrat when we first met! Several hours later and for ever more, they are Pep and Nanny! They both do what they love, I for one wish that they can go on with that lifestyle forever and ever! Every time I make new friends and not just acquaintances, a certain joy and happiness fills my heart and soul. Such a privilege to be invited and accepted into the Catalan home of these wonderful people. It’s like we have know each other for years!

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Slightly coldish day, as the previous day had cold northern winds sweeping down over the flat lands of Penedes. The sun was however trying its best to provide the much needed rays, so that indeed we felt like spring had finally arrived. Mostly, the visits are done by myself, alone or with my wife. As we this week have visitors from Sweden, they were also invited to enjoy the hospitality of Celler Esteve i Gibert and the cooking skills of Nanny! Welcome to the smallest winery in the Penedes!

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What was discovered, is something strange to the extent of an anomaly. This region is known for three things, Xarelo.lo, Macabeu and Parellada! These are the grapes used to produce the bubbly of Spain and most of it is made right here in the D.O. Penedes. Not far from the Cava capital, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, is where you’ll find the cellar of Esteve i Gibert. Do they also make Cava? Well, yes and no! It is almost to good to be true, bare with me and I’ll try and explain.

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They have about 24 hectares of vineyards, all broken up into very small plots. The three grape varieties for Cava making are present, but they sell these grapes to Cava producers. The sale of grapes gives them opportunity to make their own wine, but they only make still wine, except for the few bottels of Cava made 20 years ago and only for their own consumption.

My friend, Tina Anundi, drew this after the visit at Esteve i Gibert!

My friend, Tina Anundi, drew this after the visit at Esteve i Gibert!

The vines that yield about 6 – 8 kg of grape per vine, is what they sell, the low yielding vines with high concentration is what they use for their own wines. The Xarel.lo, Malvasia de Sitges and Merlot  is what they are using currently to produce two whites and one red. In the future, and not too distant, they intent to experiment with some new wines (mono-varietal) made from old Parellada, Red Garnacha and Sumoll Blanc.

The range of wine, two whites and one red and the olive oil of course!

The range of wine, two whites and one red and the olive oil of course!

Penedes produces some very well made wines, declaring to the world of wine that Penedes has some great winemakers.  The wine from Esteve i Gilbert is designed to please with light tannins and a wonderful refreshing appeal.  It is a consumer savvy wine but with some great complexity.  I would serve this wine to experts, knowing full well they would ask for refills. When was the last time you had a elegant, yet robust Merlot from Penedes? I have roamed around the area for years now and have yet to encounter something like it!

Albert Lopez (wine maker) & Josep "Pep" Esteve Gibert (vintner). The two man team and 6th and 7th generation to take care of these beautiful lands! This is Esteve i Gibert Viticultors!

Albert Lopez (wine maker) & Josep “Pep” Esteve Gibert (vintner). The two man team and 6th and 7th generation to take care of these beautiful lands! This is Esteve i Gibert Viticultors!

Pep is a cultivator, a man with his hands in the soil on a daily basis, he’s like a drug addict, if he is not allowed to be outdoors and work in the vineyards, he would probably be grumpy and a very difficult person to live with. His partner in crime, is not his wife Nanny, but the soon to be, son in law. Albert  (son in law, wine maker and sommelier) and Pep were expecting us outside the winery and immediately we were made to feel at home, Pep giving us one of his “from ear to ear smiles” and taking us for a walk into the vineyards.

The happiest vintner is the one that sees a ladybug on his vine, a guarantee from nature that you have untreated vineyards. Esteve i Giberts vineyards are  ecological.

The happiest vintner is the one that sees a ladybug on his vine, a guarantee from nature that you have untreated vineyards. Esteve i Giberts vineyards are
ecological.

The plots are really small and very singular. The old Parellada growing just outside the tasting room, with an amazing view of the Montserrat mountain, was the first that we got to see. As we continued the walk, it was Merlot and then some olive trees, Xarel.lo vines next and then we made note of the peach trees in blossom. Downhill, passing some houses of neighbours, some Macabeu and 300 years old olive trees, from which they also press a very limited production of Arbequina olive oil. We then got to see the surprise of the day, the vines of the white Sumoll! A couple of years ago I didn’t even know Sumoll (the red variety) and now I am told there is a white one!

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Having been almost extinct as a varietal, it was explained that Albert and Pep wanted to experiment with a variety that is not adversed to to the soil in the region, but it simply had to give way for the bulk production of the three Cava varietals, since that was what the families here had to do to make money. Thank Bacchus for pioneering and brave people like Josep (Pep)! The peaches, which are also growing on small plots scattered all over this hilly part of the Subirats and overlooking Sant Sadunri d’Anoia, are sold at farmers markets in a village not far away. This is done during the summer months, starting in June and, as the fruits mature over a three month period, it ends in August.

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The family heritage has been perpetuated from father to son since seven generation back and all generations have been involved in viticulture. Only the last two generations, combining the knowledge of the land and vines with modern wine making and some entrepreneurial endeavour, have taken the step to put their family name on wine bottles and what a premier it has been. It is clear now, that this is the right way forward! As we returned from the vineyard walk, we were seated in the tasting room overlooking the vineyards. Pep left us with three bottles of wine, 4 glasses and a bottle opener as he left us with a great smile, having to take care of other visitors.

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After having enjoyed two whites and a red, deciphering them extensively, we were invited into their family home for a “light” lunch. A meal that tantalized the taste buds, and a hospitality which left for nothing to be desired. Small tasty canapés with sobrassada, tuna pate, anchovies and a number of cheeses , one of which, the Tete de Moine paired perfectly with the Merlot! The white Les Vistes (The views) and the red L’Antana proved to be excellent with the food overall. As several hours had passed, we were expecting only coffee to round of this fiesta, when Nanny (Peps wife Montserrat) brought out the squid and jumbo shrimps cooked in white wine and shellfish stock.

Pep and a friend! Just about to open a bottle of Cava that has been closed for 20 years!

Pep and a friend! Just about to open a bottle of Cava that has been closed for 20 years!

Pep went down to the private wine cellar and pulled out 2 bottles of the Cava, that he in the days of his youth had de-gorged 20 years ago! I wasn’t expecting much from these bottles, as Cava is a product to be imbibed  within a year of de-gorging. This Cava was made just for the family to enjoy and for special occasions, yesterday there were only 25 bottles left. It had rested sur lees for 30 months and then de-gorged, only to be opened by me 20 years later. The cork was squealing and as I was turning the bottle, there was hardly any pressure to help get the cork out. The part of the cork that now saw light was as hard as stone and did not expand at all. But…….., as the Cava was poured, it became clear by the visual inspection that great things were to be expected.

Catalan Cava & Catalan Coca!

Catalan Cava & Catalan Coca!

The no name Cava  was delightful! The color was intense, dark straw with gold reflection, the years had done it some good! The bubbles, although not lively, but at least plentiful and steady. As it landed in the flutes, a nice foamy cap evolved and the aromas that followed were those of a well made bubbly wine from the Penedes.

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Nice brioche and pastries, fruity and some candy. Fresh cut apples and pear. Yeast was present and it had a medium body with a good finish. Good acidity makes this a Cava to remember. And yes, we did open the second bottle as well and it was just as good as the first. Paired very well with the seafood platter!

Josep (Pep), a friend and Montse (Nanny)!

Josep (Pep), a friend and Montse (Nanny)!

Time to go home? No, not yet! Pastries, Catalan Coca and a selection of fine chocolates from Simon Coll chocolate makers in Sadurni, together with excellent coffee made this perfect home cooked meal one for the books. But the one thin I am going to remember more than anything else is the warmth and hospitality shown by my new made friends, Pep and Nanny! Thank you for opening you hearts and home to me and my friends! This might be the smallest winery in Penedes but it certainly has the largest heart and soul!

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Origen 2012, 80% Xarel.lo and 20% Malvasia de Sitges

Clear medium full, straw yellow color with greenish reflections. Fresh peach aromas abound on the nose together with pear and mandarin peel. They are accented by notes rose, white fruit, pineapple and citrus. Calcareous and mineral feel in the mouth in the mouth. Well-balanced with medium acidity and minerals. A young wine that would be happy with some variety of cuisine, including vegetables, light pasta dishes and seafood.

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Les Vistes 2012, 100% Xarel.lo, barrel fermented with its lees. Barrel aged.

Bright golden, clear and brilliant with slow and fat tears. The nose is floral and buttery, the oak notes are round and the vanilla is light. Notes of fudge, warm eucalyptus and some peach. There is a strong presence of mineral elements, enhanced by the permanence of wine on the lees during aging. The palate is full and complex, but maintains its freshness and balance due to its good acidity. The evolution of this wine in the glass is remarkable, slowly evolving and showing different levels of aromatic complexity.

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L’Antana 2009, 100% Merlot

This wine displays the benefits of slow, even ripening during a mild growing season. Though there is fullness and a lush character to this Merlot, there is also restraint and elegance. Promising aromas of cherry, red plum, raspberry, and dried herbs lead to a clean fresh entry with impeccably balanced acidity suporting intense red fruit flavors of cranberry, plum and raspberry. Round, supple tannins provide an enticing framework for the flavors and contribute to a lingering finish. Age a few more years and you won’t be disappointed!

283 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle