Masia Serra, Bringing Down The Byrds in D.O. Empordà

221/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Empordà – Masia Serra – Ctonia 2012

Bringing Down The Byrds………,

01_ctonia2011_mida_web_sense-anyadaCtonia 2012, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

White wine of yellow colour with greenish hues. High complexity and aromatic intensity, with aromas of white fruit, chlorophyll and light toasted oak barrel, varietal and terrorir driven. The palate has a voluminous entry due to aging on its lees, light meatiness, surprising in a white wine. Very good persistence due to its remarkable acidity. A wine with personality and good spine. Love it!

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Ctonia (meaning underground or pertaining to the earth) was an epithet used for the goddesses of the underworld (called chthonic) as Hecate, Melinoe or Nix. Also referred to as Demeter, guardian of the fields. The name Ctonia, comes from the fact that this wine is made ​​from grapes from old vines and as such its roots are embedded deep in the ground. Harvested manually, collected in small containers.  The grapes are destemmed  and deposited in stainless steel vats for maceration (6-8 hours) at 10 degrees. Only the free run juice is extracted and fermentation begins at 14 degrees in a stainless steel vat.  When density of 1.020  is reached the liquid is transferred to chateau style barrels of French Allier oak to complete the fermentation process, aging 2 months in the same barrels giving a “batônnage” with the fine lees.

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Masia Serra produces wines from D.O. Empordà since 1996. The history of Masia Serra begins with a small vineyard planted in 1961 with the Grenache grape.  Other french varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, … occupy part of the 12 hectares that today make up the estate. Jaume Serra, owner and oenologist of the bodega, grew up in a traditional winemaking family.  After completion of his studies at the university Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona and completion of his arduous apprenticeship at Chateaux Petrus he decided to create his own wines at the bodega he founded in Cantallops. Jaume, grandson of a wine dealer and son of the also well known oenologist Simon Serra, has learned to value the noble liquid, which he says generates warm feelings in its surroundings. Masia Serra is a family owned bodega, the fruit of its efforts and its dreams.  The nobility and constancy of its work is evident in each footstep taken amongst its vines.

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As you might have well noticed, this blog is all about and only covering wine from Catalonia. Wine, in all forms and shapes, is a considerable part of my life. However, I like to cover the regions in which I work and live. Back to the basics!

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Wine in Catalonia is ancient! The Ancient Greeks, Romans and the Carthusian monks, they have all been here, must be for a reason! It is a leading wine producing land, with exquisite reds, scrumptious rosés and whites which you can drink forever, as well as a multitude of sweet wines. Not to forget, this is where Cava was born!

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Huge and well know cellars like Freixenet, Codorniu, Raimat and Torres are at the forefront when it comes to Catalan wine, which are covered by 11 appellations (D.O:s) for wine and one exclusively for Cava. The vineyards have always been an irreplaceable part of the Catalan landscape, as well as its culture. Let’s keep it this way!

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The tradition of wine in Catalonia is deeply rooted, in some cases as deep as the vines. Nowadays representing a rising sector, gaining international prestige on a yearly basis. In Priorat, Penedès and Empordà, as well as the other D.O:s, you can find wine that can compete with any wine in the world.

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Cava is no longer the poor man’s and woman’s Champaign, but a quality product in its own right available all over the world. More than 200 million bottles of Cava attest to this fact, joined by 180 million for wine.

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The D.O:s of Catalonia

In number, there are 11 Denominations of Origin, regulating the winemaking for red, white and rosé wines and then the one, exclusively for the production of Cava.

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DO Alella: Though the smallest, it is one of the oldest and most unique. It covers a small piece of land between the Mediterranean shore and the coastal mountains, north of Barcelona. It produces quality wines and is famous for its white wines, in which some are considered the best in the world.

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DO Catalunya: It is a DO that fosters experimentation, as wines can be produced with a great variety of grapes in a wide range of soils. This DO has been growing significantly in the last few years, exporting more than 40 million bottles to more than 100 countries.

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DO Conca de Barberà: It corresponds to a Catalan county with a very old wine tradition, coming from Medieval monasteries in the zone. Since the creation of this DO in 1989, there has been a continuous effort to modernise the cellars and the vineyards. The speciality of this DO is top-quality red wine, which is produced together with white and rosé. Most of these wines use a grape type that is autochthonous from the county, namely Trepat.

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DO Costers del Segre: The DO of Lleida and split into the following sub zones: Artesa, Vall del Riu Corb, les Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, and Segrià. It employs advanced technology and is famous for its innovation, changing grape varieties and fostering “Ull de Llebre”, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Syrah and Merlot.

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DO Empordà: New and old cellars are easily adapting themselves to new technology trends, changing harvest patterns and restructuring vineyards. This DO is seeing new cellars booming in the Northern coast of Catalonia.

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DO Montsant: It is the youngest Catalan DO, located in the southern part of Catalonia. Despite this fact, it has achieved a good market positioning. This DO includes the sub zones of South Priorat and some zones in Ribera d’Ebre. The soil has a high percentage of mineral salts, which is one of the main characteristics of this region. The cellars are young and modern, producing a small quantity of wine but of a great quality.

logo_do_penedesDO Penedès: This is probably the most famous wine region within Catalonia. It has powerful cellars, always improving their technology and innovating. It has traditionally been associated with white wines, but in the last years it has also started to produce top quality red wines, which have been internationally recognised.

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DO Pla de Bages: It is a small DO but that produces quality wines. In the last years, wine producers from this DO have put effort recuperating an autochthonous type of grape: the “picapoll”, which is very small and can be either red or white.

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DO Priorat: In the last 15 years, this DO has lived through a revolution, being recognised worldwide and seeing some of its red wines reaching the highest prices in specialised shops all over the world. The DO has new cellars, young entrepreneurs and experts who all work to maintain this DO among the best of the world. Their wines have a unique strong taste, full of peculiarities.

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DO Tarragona: It is the oldest Catalan DO, producing liquor wines of great quality, such as Tarragona Clàssic. In the last years, red-wines have joined their traditional white and rosé wines.

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DO Terra Alta: Many of the cellars from this DO work as a cooperative. Their wines have a singular taste and are reaching great levels of quality in the last years. Their rosé varieties are very fruity, the white have a low acidity and the red have a round body and a dark colour. Finally, there is one DO that needs to be explained aside, the DO Cava.

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DO Cava: This DO is shared with 6 other Autonomous Communities within Spain apart from Catalonia. However, 95% of DO Cava’s production come from Catalonia. More than 200 million bottles are sold each year, a number that grows year by year. Cava is famous all over the world. In the past it was sold as a cheap replacement for Champaign, but in the last years top-quality cava has started to be exported and has become famous for its great quality which is at a much more affordable price than the French Champagne.

160 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Masia Serra, Desafinado in D.O. Emporda

127/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Cantallops – Masia Serra – Masia Serra INO

Desafinado……

…, tuneless??? Why would I ever start a entry with that connotation? How my mind works (or doesn’t) is not an easy thing to explain, especially when it comes to music and wine! I’d rather try to explain Einstein’s theories or why and how minerality is found in wine….., both beyond my realm of understanding, just to show how impossible all of the above, in fact, is to comprehend! But, one thing I do know……, the sweet, mouth-filling wines from today’s favorite cellar, the Masia Serra are certainly to my liking and no way are they tuneless! Otherwise this particular cellar wouldn’t appear on this blog! I hope you have had a great St. George’s Day! Or as they call it here, Sant Jordi! The wives get red roses and the husbands get books! I got two cook books! Happy Days!

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Masia Serra started producing wines within the D.O. Emporda in 1996. The history of Masia Serra begins with a small vineyard planted in 1961 with Grenache grapes.  Other French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot occupy parts of the 12 hectares that today make up the estate.

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Jaume Serra, owner and oenologist of the bodega, grew up in a traditional winemaking family.  After completion of his studies at the university Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona and of his arduous apprenticeship at Chateaux Petrus he decided to create his own wines at the bodega he founded in Cantallops. Jaume, grandson of a wine dealer and son of the also well-known oenologist Simon Serra, has   learned to   value   the   noble liquid, which   he says generates warm feelings in its surroundings.

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An austere home of the typical Catalan Masia, welcomes visitors at the western edge of the square estate, which on the north borders to the Alberas mountains which stretch to the sea of the Golf of Roses.  The southern border remains open to the Emporda plain that provides a view to the horizon.

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The tour begins in a simple but beautiful room with walls filled with poetry describing the glory of wines, the fruit of hope and love for the land, this is where the wines are tasted. We continue with a short walk through the vineyards and groves and then to view the production room, another for bottling area and the storage room, which has been excavated in the heart of a mound of solid granite. It provides shelter for a few wines that have left their fingerprints in the world of wine, and that can be found in restaurants that take extra care in offering their clients a reputed wine list.

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Only five types of wine, GNEIS, AROA, IO, INO, and a CREMANT are produced and aged at the bodega, which shelters the brews from the lights of the crisp sky. Masia Serra is a family owned bodega, the fruit of its efforts and its dreams. The nobility and constancy of its work is evident in each footstep taken amongst its vines. Cherish the moment and enjoy the drops!

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Masia Serra INO

The wines is made using the Solera type aging process, combining different harvests with 5% from the mother barrel of 1860. The name INO is used to designate this wine of extreme quality.  INO, who gave birth to the god Dionysus, just as the mother barrel of 120 liters, which dates back to 1860, did. 5% of this invaluable stock contributes to the composition of this sweet wine, produced from grapes of “Roja” Garnacha, a varietal indigenous to the Emporda. 

Medium amber colored dessert wine. Complex aromas of fruit with perceptions of oxidized metal, mellow and spices, provoked by its solera type aging process, combining different harvests with 5% from the mother barrel of 1860. Soft sherry characteristics but then the caramelized apples and baked peaches come in with honey and smoked nuts. Great acid makes this not at all cloying. The finish goes on and on. Very unique wine and a great drinking experience. That the solera goes back 150+ years adds to this great experience. An extraordinary way to finish a meal. Very good structure in the mouth, surprising in its equilibrium and complexity. The alcohol is very well constructed and preserved, due to the deposited  patience, in order to deliver the maximum expression when the wine reaches the palate. Got to love this gem!

252 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle