The Winery of Jean León, The Rat Pack in D.O. Penedes

335/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Jean León – Jean Leon 3055 Merlot-Petit Verdot 2011

The Rat Pack……..,

jl_3055_merlot-petit_verdot_tumbadoJean Leon 3055 Merlot-Petit Verdot 2011

A very nice blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot. The harvest took place during a single day for the Merlot (September 5) and during two days for the Petit Verdot (27 and September 28). The juice was fermented in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature, where it macerated with the skins for 2 weeks. The wine was aged for 4 months in French oak barrels.

Leon Jean 3055 Merlot-Petit Verdot 2011 has a nice opaque cherry red color with garnet reflections. The nose is pure concentration of red fruit: strawberries, cherries and pomegranate that blends with menthol and subtle notes of toast. The palate is powerful and balanced, with tannins that provide great structure. Friendly, creamy and fine taste. Good memories at the end if ripe red fruit. Great dining companion with white meat dishes, red meat and some fish dishes such as cod.

Jean León was the man who flip-side turned the whole concept of vine growing on its head, locals in Penedes looking at him, at the time, as a crazy person. But I guess that is how it goes when we are talking about geniuses!

A street in Santander!

I am still amazed that no-one has made an epic movie about the life of Jean León, he certainly deserves a 3-hour silver screen appearance, so that everybody can get an insight into his turbulent and over achieving life, filled with tragedies, sorrow but also with entrepreneurial dreams being full-filled.

The Jean Leon winery and visitors center in Penedes

Half, if not more, of the wine experience is that of the story. The better the story the more interesting the wine gets! Have you ever heard of Ceferino Carrion? You probably know of Jean León? Same guy! Here is the story of a great man, an entrepreneur and the lovely wine left as a legacy.

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A mover and a shaker from young age, due too circumstances which more or less forced him but also gave him the opportunity to live the American dream. He originated from Cantabria, and this is where the story starts in 1941, at the time Ceferino was only 13 years old and Europe was in the midst of the Second World War.

Jean Leon in Central Park

Santander, the capital of Cantabria, fell victim to a great fire in 1941. Fanned by a strong south wind, the fire burned for two days. There was only one casualty, a firefighter killed in the line of duty, but thousands of families were left homeless and the city was plunged into chaos. The fire destroyed the greater part of the medieval town centre and gutted the city’s Romanesque cathedral.

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One of the many families that lost all was that of Ceferino. And as a result they were forced to seek their fortune in the more prosperous city of Barcelona. Ceferino’s oldest brother and father died during the Second World War and Ceferino moved to Paris at the age of 19, with whatever little money he had and one small suitcase.

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After a short stint in the City of Light, only a few years after the end of the war, he decides to board a ship and as a stowaway find his way to the United States. In New York, he worked as and where he could, mainly as taxi driver, dishwasher and waiter at restaurants. With no papers and having entered the country illegally, he had to hide form authorities. Finally he had to head west, across the States, arriving in Hollywood.

At La Scala: Tony Franciosa, Zsa Zsa Gabor and friends. Standing: Jean León.

As a way to secure his stay in the States, he decided to sing up for military service and change his name, from that moment on, began to call himself Jean León. He came back unharmed from the Korean War and went back to work within the trade he already knew plenty about.

Frank Sinatra with Nat King Cole at Villa Capri, 1955.

As luck would have it, he found work at the Villa Capri restaurant, which was owned by the actor Frank Sinatra and baseball player Joe di Maggio. This allowed him to become friends with many of the actors that frequented the restaurant, which was how he came to befriend Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly and James Dean, to name just a few.

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He must have been a likable and outgoing guy since he made friends easily, developing a close friendship with James Dean, who agreed to help and invest in a new luxury restaurant in Beverly Hills – La Scala. Dean died, in a car crash with his Porsche, a day before signing the papers, but León went ahead and the new restaurant quickly became the Hollywood place for celebrity diners.

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On any given day at La Scala, it was not unusual to see Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, David Jansen, Tony Franciosa, Robert Wagner, to name but a few, having a friendly chat with Jean Leon about wines, cuisine or some intimate secrets that they shared. It is said, unconfirmed, that Jean León was the last person to see Marilyn Monroe alive. She called earlier that evening to cancel her booking but asked instead to have her dinner delivered.

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Family legend says he was disappointed with the available wines and therefore he travelled all over the world looking for the ideal estate, until one day he arrived in Catalonia and there, in the heart of the Penedès, he found what he was looking for.

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In 1962, Jean León acquired the best plots of land in the region and set up the Jean León Pago, where he was a pioneer in planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.

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To be able to create the best wine possible, stories told say that he illegally obtaining cuttings of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon while in France. The Cabernet came from the famous Lafite vineyard in Bordeaux.These were the first plantings in Spain of these grape varieties.

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The estate is divided into several sections known as “pagos,” and only one wine is produced in each section. All grapes for the premium wines are sourced from the vineyard. The “pago” concept is equivalent to the “cru” in Bordeaux, or the “vignetti” in Italy and the “quinta” in Portugal.

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As León’s business bloomed, his health diminished. And in 1993, realizing his death was imminent; he left Spain and sailed alone on his boat until his death in 1995. Today, we can share a bottle or two of his wines and the stories! Now all I have to do is to find investors willing to make the movie.

jean-leon-3055-chardonnayJean Leon 3055 Chardonnay 2012

3055 is related to one of his first jobs in New York, being the number of the Taxi he drove.

The color is  pale bright yellow and clear. The primary aroma is notable for the intensity of the white flowers and tropical fruits. Shows very nice hints of barrel aging. The palate is fresh and elegant, due to the great acidity which carries the wine. It’s hedonistic and offers long aftertaste. Goes well with tapas such as clams, razor clams, cockles, cuttlefish and octopus. Would not mind having it with grilled sardines, sole or hake maybe together with a light sauce.

 

Viticultors Mas del Nen, Raspberry Jam in D.O. Conca de Barberà

330/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barberà – Sarral – Celler Bellod – Mas del Nen Negre Vall Roja 2010

Raspberry Jam…….,

MAS DEL NEN 2007Mas del Nen Negre Vall Roja 2010, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah

The varieties were grown at the property of  “Mas del Nen” in Conca de Barberá. The aging was 12 months on oak and 6 months in the bottle. Most vintners in the Conca de Barbera would use the Trepat grape as a standard but lately many cellars have started producing non traditional blends for this region. This wine is clearly an evidence of that it works just fine and that the terroir of the Conca has decided to treat these varieties with respect. Very intense cherry red color. The nose is very complex with aromas of black forrest berries, red berries, a touch of earth and underbrush. The first thing that came to mind was actually raspberry jam on a buttered toast. The palate has a good structure and it is a balanced wine with velvety tannins. Fresh and enjoyable. I have said it over and I’ll say it again, price quality is outstanding. Discover Conca de Barbera before it is to late!

Mas del Nen, litterary means The house of the children, but I don’t think they meant to call it that due to the fact that I become a child once I drink their wines! The origins of the company goes back to 1943, when Josep Bellod founded Cellers Bellod, a family business which from the inception were focused on selecting both the best vine and also the best wine producing areas in the country. As time went by the bottling processes and the technology were adapted to meet customer demands. United by a common bond, the wine, and thanks to the confidence of the clients and collaborators, half a century later, they can still offer products that are quite simply well suited for the wine lovers of today. 

With all the accumulated experiences in the wine trade, Celler Bellod begins an innovative project in the Conca de Barberà area, where the climatic conditions are very favourable for vine growing resulting in wines of a great quality. Tradition and technology come together in the lands of “Mas del Nen” where they elaborate what has come to be known as “Vins d’autor” (author wines).

La Conca de Barberà is a Catalan region covering 649 km2. Its natural conditions, together with its history and traditions, make it a privileged zone for vine growing and the elaboration of excellent wines and Cava. It is an agricultural region mainly dedicated to the vine cultivation, where its first stocks were brought from France by cister monks, coming to the Poblet Monastery. During more than a hundred years vines have been cultivated in the region. In the last twenty years, there has been a considerable transformation, new stocks have been planted, imported from France, as well as keeping the traditional varieties alive. A region well worth exploring, not only for the wines but also for many of the other local produce and the history of the Cister monks and their monasteries. 

Through the figure of San Bernardo de Claravall, the monastic order was extended through all Europe. The Catalan-Aragon monarchs trusted the monks for the foundation of great religious centers in good lands, which gave life to economy and demography in the new territories. In Catalonia, the most important ones were established in Poblet, Santes Creus y Vallbona de les Monges, responding to the need of colonizing the lands in Catalonia Nova. The Cister Route was created in 1989, showing the importance this order had for this territory, and its great architectonic influence. The monasteries reflect the spiritual strength that the communities had. The most important regions were Conca de Barberà, Alt Camp y Urgell. And of course the monks were huge wine lovers, so today we thank them for starting vine growing in this beautiful region!

58 to go!

 

 

Celler Aibar 1895, Feels So Good in D.O. Montsant

328/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Darmós – Celler Aibar 1895 – XYZ Tridimesional 2012

Feels So Good……..,

xyztr12_anv800XYZ Tridimesional 2012, 60% Garnatxa Negra, 20% Syrah and 20% Merlot

Lovely dark cherry red color with garnet reflections and purple edge. The subtle aromas entering the nose are those of forrest fruits, it has a floral feel to it and some spice, white pepper and a little clove. Toasted notes appear. It is a easy wine, nice balance, quite wide. The fruit that appeared on the nose is also present i the mouth, together with the toasted notes. Has a medium long finish and good persistency. Price vs. quality is great, a bargain! Before being exposed to the market it gets to spend three months on French oak and 4 months in the bottle. A young and well made wine from the Montsant.

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The three coordinated axes form a coup, which is a form of submerged vessel/tank, in which the wine was traditionally made here in Catalonia. Most houses, that had vineyards, would also have a coup, a three-dimensional space. In each dimension you will see one of the three main factors needed for this wine: X: (Longitude): Represents the vineyards planted in rows. Y: (Surface): Represents the hands that worked the vineyards and made the wine. Z: (Volume): Represents the cellar space which is needed for the aging of the wine, constant temperature, sufficient time, barrels and bottles.

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Celler Aibar 1895 is not all about the wine. This property belongs to a farming family with an agricultural business dedicated to growing grapes, fruit and olive trees. Mentioning the year of 1895 is in recognition of the efforts and commitment of their grandparents, forced to start from scratch, not once but twice, due to the devastation caused by the phylloxera. The cellar is located in the village of Darmós, in the D.O.Montsant, the property has an old irrigation well and the ruins of an olive oil mill, dating from the sixteenth century.

60 to go!

 

Piñol Winery, This Is Halloween in D.O. Terra Alta

326/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Piñol Winery of Terra Alta – Raig Raïm Red 2011

 

This Is Halloween……..,

….., or is it? Halloween is celebrated in Catalonia, and even though the children go trick or treating and make Jack O’Lanterns etc. the Catalans have their own tradition as well, eating Chestnuts in amazing quantities. It is known as The Castanyada, celebrated in Catalonia and Galicia respectively, mainly on All Saints’ Day. Like Halloween or the Celtic Samhain, its origins are in an ancient ritual festival of the dead. 

castanyada218381From Wikipedia

“In Catalonia consists of a meal of chestnuts, panellets, sweet potato and preserved fruits, typically with moscatell to drink. Around the time of this celebration, it is common for street vendors to sell hot toasted chestnuts wrapped in newspaper. In many places, confectioners often organise raffles of chestnuts and preserved fruit.

It seems that the tradition of eating these foods comes from the fact that during All Saints’ night, the night before All Souls’ Day in the Christian tradition, bell ringers would ring bells in commemoration of the dead into the early morning. Friends and relatives would help with this task, and everyone would eat these foods for sustenance.

CastanyeraAntigaOther versions of the story state that the Castanyada originates at the end of the 18th century and comes from the old funeral meals, where other foods, such as vegetables and dried fruit were not served. The meal had the symbolic significance of a communion with the souls of the departed: while the chestnuts were roasting, prayers would be said for the person who had just died. The festival is usually depicted with the figure of a castanyera: an old lady, dressed in peasant’s clothing and wearing a headscarf, sat behind a table, roasting chestnuts for street sale. In recent years, the Castanyada has become a revetlla of All Saints and is celebrated in the home and community. It is the first of the four main school festivals, alongside Christmas, Carnestoltes and St George’s Day, without reference to ritual or commemoration of the dead.

Raig Raïm Red 2008Raig Raïm Red 2008, 55% Garnatxa, 20% Syrah, 15% Cariñena and 10% Merlot

Cherry red color, bluish hues. Clean and bright. Medium-high layer. Lovely blend from Terra Alta. Primary nose of mature red berries, Mediterranean herbs and some underbrush. It is a well defined wine with notes of light toast, smoky aromas and some floral elements, keeping it simple and really pleasant. Soft entry, with a silky and fresh feel, adding nice depth to the whole experience. Good balance, good acidity and a medium to long finish, a bit too sweet for my taste but certainly well made. Price/quality is excellent!

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.

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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 two reds, reason being……, they also, in some cases, manage to create amazing reds!

Vineyards of Celler Pinol

Now don’t just continue reading….., it is after all Friday evening and Halloween, so 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!

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Terra Alta is quite unknown, but certainly know for wines of great value! 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.

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Being that this was 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.

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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.

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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.

62 to go!

 

 

Single Estate Torres, “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” in D.O Penedes

321/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Santa Margarida d’Agulladolç – Torres – Miguel Torres Reserva Real 2007

“Mercy, Mercy, Mercy”……..,

Botella_reservaRealMiguel Torres Reserva Real 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot

I wouldn’t normally write about this kind of wine. Pricy, from a huge producer and in my very humble opinion a very pretentious wine…….., but! If offered and I don’t have to pay, I’d have to say, I would gladly drink it, enjoy it and why not mention it!?! Is it really that pretentious? Would I pay the dough? Honestly, both yes and no to both questions. As you all know by now, my style is more to the, if not cheap, at least very price worthy, accessible and from a small producer if possible. If you get a chance to try this wine, what ever you do, don’t say no!

In its style it is so very French and that alone would make me say no! But…….., again, what a useful word that is! Look beyond the fact that it is created from the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes from the small vineyards of Torres in Agulladolç, which is also home to a beautiful 11th century Romanesque hermitage, and as such makes it a Single Estate wine. After 18 months in new French oak barrels, and thanks to the great quality of the tannins in this wine is has so much more than just the French blend to offer. Elevated and huge, the amount of sun and fruit in this wine is something that was achieved in Catalonia and not in France. Now, I am just waiting for a Francofile to tell me that I must be joking, in all aspects! 

A beauty of a wine, intense cherry color. The nose is filled with black plum, aromatic coffee, spices, cocoa, sandalwood and a mix of moist grass and a highly concentrated fruit coulis. The palate is huge but perfectly balanced, with rich flavors of tobacco, blackberry and cassis. A complex, round and elegant mouth. The blend is straight from Bordeaux but everything else screams Catalonia. Pure, long, smooth and easy in terms of tannic bite, with good aging potential. Could easily stand another 6 – 8 years in the bottle. Mercy, Mercy Mercy……..

69 to go!

 

Let’s go Organic with Albet I Noya, Evidence in D.O Penedes

319/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Sant Pau d’Ordal – Albet I Noya – La MiLana 2011

Evidence……..,

lamilanaLa MiLana 2011, Caladoc, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Dark garnet color, bright with high layers. The primary aromas are those of new wood, they clearly stand out. Once aerated, lots of ripe fruit (red and black) shows their presence. Toasty but well integrated. Mineral notes and hints of vanilla. The palate has a very powerful attack, full-bodied and sweet. Very well integrated tannins. Roasted notes are very present in the mouth as well. Long and persistent. Nice one! The variety Caladoc was created by grape breeder Paul Truel in 1958. The grape is a crossing between Grenache and Malbec that Truel created with the aim of having a vine that could grow in southern France that was less prone to coulure than either of its parents.

La Milana vineyard are 11 terraces that make up 7 ha. around the Can Milà de la Roca farmhouse. 150 years ago this land was farmed directly by Mr Milà’s wife and hence became known as La Milana. The blend of the four varieties is the same proportion as the makeup of the vienyards, making this a true single vineyard wine. Perhaps this is what gives it such harmony and a clear expression of place. Hand picking with a vineyard selection is followed by a triage grape by grape after destemming. The winemaking process is centred on the utmost respect for the fruit of these vineyards..

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The Can Vendrell modernist cellar of Albet I Noya was built in 1925 and houses the principal vinification processes. The Xapallà cellar next door was finished in August 2004 and houses the temperature-controlled warehouse, the barrel hall and a new bottling plant. The new gravity-based l’Era cellar was opened in 2010 to produce the Albet I Noya top wines separately.

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Organic wine is largely wine from organically grown grapes, but the regulations primarily limit the quantity of sulphur dioxide that can be used, approximately half the levels permitted in a conventional cellar. This means that the Can Vendrell cellar is required to maintain a level of hygiene far superior to that of a conventional cellar. Nonetheless, once more we can see that the key to making great wines lies in the quality of the raw materials: the grapes. Albet i Noya continue to research new methods and grape varieties. They are currently experimenting with seven pre-phylloxera grape varieties with 500 vines of each type. They have looked for varieties that had survived naturally in the wild, indicating a high natural resistance to diseases. They are looking for both sensorial and ecological qualities in these vines. Early results indicate two varieties with considerable possibilities. They also work with Incavi (The Catalan institute of Vines and Wine), to select authoctonous varieties that have greater resistance to parasites whilst producing quality fruit.

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By working only with grapes in optimum sanitary conditions, Albet i Noya are able to work largely without using SO2. They use authoctonous yeasts from the Albet i Noya vineyards, selected from the Xarel·lo variety and they are working in the selection of other yeasts for the remaining varieties. The fermenting vats have an inert gas system (a mix of nitrogen and CO2) to prevent potential alterations in the wine. Once again, the emphasis is on prevention rather than cure: as the wine cannot be chemically corrected, the hygiene of the cellar is key to avoiding disappointments. The cellar equipment is cleaned using high pressure hot water (up to 90°C) instead of chemical products.

Albet 3

Of the 145 hectares they control, 80.5 are given over exclusively to the cultivation of vines. The estate vines cover the western slopes of the Ordal mountain range known as “Costers d’Ordal”, following the curves of the terrain in stepped terraces or on slopes exposed to the midday sun. As in all good wine-growing land, the soil in Can Vendrell has low organic content, with a variable content of clay and sand on a bed of calcareous stone, a permeable base with good moisture retention. Leaving aside for a moment the suitability of the land for wine growing, there are other factors which intervene in the selection of the most suitable vines for cultivation, such as the lie of the land, the hours of sun, the humidity and altitude of the terrain.

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The white varieties are Chardonnay (1.1ha) Macabeu (9.7ha), Xarel·lo (19.1ha), Parellada (10.5ha), Moscatell (0.4ha), Viogner (1.5ha), Sauvignon Blanc (0.3ha), Riesling (1.5ha), Garnatxa Blanca (0.2ha) and 4 experimental varieties (0.8ha). The red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon (10ha), Tempranillo o Ull de llebre (8.3ha), Merlot (5.4ha), Syrah (6ha), Garnatxa negre (2.2ha), Pinot Noir (2.9ha), and 6 experimental varieties (0.8ha). Whilst the Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada are the varieties traditionally planted in the Penedès region, the others had been lost at the end of the 19th century with the Phylloxera crisis and the growth of Cava, until their reintroduction to Can Vendrell by the Albet family in the early eighties.

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Josep M. i Toni Albet i Noya, started a ambitious project in 1998 collecting 7 lost grapes varieties. The aim of the project is to test seven ancient grape varieties, both from a point of view of vineyard management and of winemaking potential. The grape varieties have been recovered from old and abandoned vineyards, including one found in Albet i Noya’s estate. The search for old varieties has been so successful that they have extended it to a second phase of the project with seven more varieties that started in 2012 and will last until 2020.

Albet 6

The belief is that some of these varieties date from before the phylloxera plague. When Phylloxera hit Europe’s vineyards, the price of grapes and wine in the Penedès went sky high. As a result a lot of the less productive varieties were abandoned in favor of higher yielding ones. In the Penedès it is believed there were some 30 varieties more than are currently cultivated. As we now know, which often is the case, these lower yielding plants produce more concentrated fruit, these could be excellent candidate for winemaking.

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Once the seven varieties (four whites and three reds) were selected, they grafted 500 vines of each, 250 with vigorous rootstock (Richter 110) and the other half with a less vigorous strain (41-B). The idea is to pick and vinify each strain separately. The wines are made in a small cellar, specifically designed for micro-vinifications with small 500 litre tanks, but all the technological advances of the main cellar.

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To make the project as parcipitative as possible, and to get a feel for the real potential of these varieties, every year they send samples of the wines to 165 people in 24 countries: importers, distributors, sommeliers, wine critics, renowned winemakers, as well as the Consell Regulador de la DO. Penedès and the Institut Català de la Vinya i el Vi (INCAVI). The participants then return their tasting notes and impressions of each wine.

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With this feedback, and their own internal data over five years, they decide which of the varieties have the potential to be planted more extensively to produce wine on a commercial scale. To date they can announce that after the fifth vintage in 2006, they finished the first phase of the project with two white varieties (Marina Rión and Vidal) and one red (Belat) that show both excellent quality and good farming potential. They plan to plant a hectare of each and officially request their approval by the Denominació d’Origen Penedès.

BElat Albet I nOya

In the coming years they will work to encourage the official organisms to accelerate the process of approving these three autochthonous varieties that they consider to be important to the future of the Penedès region.

 

72 to go!

 

Cal Cabo Celler, Buttercup in D.O. Costers del Segre

317/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Sant Martí de Maldà – Cal Cabo Celler – Curvus 2010

Buttercup……..,

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Curvus 2010, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Ull de Llebre

Cherry red to ruby with a mahogany rim, medium-high layer and tinted tears with a slow flow. The aroma appears as tertiary notes, cigar box, cedar, moist mushrooms. A nice scent of nutmeg, clear earthy character and a background of candied ripe fruit. Easy entry, smooth and elegant presence of tannins. Powerful finish with an aftertaste of vegetables and spices, sweet black pepper and leafs. A well elaborated wine, nice coupatge. The varieties have been separately aged in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels over a 10 month period. After blending it has spent another 3 months to rest in tanks.

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Cal Cabo is a very small family winery that produces wines covered by the appellation of Costers del Segre, and extra virgin olive oil under the name of Mas de Sant Pere. Rosa Maria Bisa Felip is responsible for this project which started in 2009. During 2010 they bottled and started selling their first vintage. Earlier, like in many small wineries, her father had made ​​wine for home consumption using the grapes from the vineyards of the family. The cellar is located in Sant Martí de Maldà, a town that is part of the municipality of Sant Martí de Riucorb and situated along the Cistercian Route . It is a journey that follows the outline of the Cistercian monasteries of Santes Creus, Poblet and Vallbona, located in the Alt Camp, Conca de Barbera and Urgell, respectively. The vineyards and olive growths that cover some 13 hectares are irrigated by the river Corb, hence, today’s wine and one of the wines produced is named Curvus.

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This is indeed a small winery with a limited production of only 3,000 bottles per year, for which they only use a portion of their grapes, the rest is sold to other producers. They work with the red varieties Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), from which they obtain three wines: the aforementioned Curvus, which is a red wine, a pink and a red, both named 1-11, in memory of the contribution of grapes that valley residents historically had to make their lord. To visit you have to call ahead, as they only receive pre booked groups and in limited numbers. During a the winery tour you can taste their products in a small tasting room; there is also the possibility to have breakfast or alfresco dining should the weather allow. Well worth the trip if you like small, familiar wineries!

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74 to go!