Oops Upside Your Head, Cava and 12 grapes!

427/365 – Catalonia – Happy New Year – Time for Cava & Grapes – Kripta Cava Gran Reserva 2007

Oops Upside Your Head……,

Happy-New-Year-Songs-e1419224873411

I don’t know how you celebrate New Years Eve but for me the choice is easy. One of my favorite Cavas is going to flow, the Cava which made me understand that there’s more to Catalan Cava than the mass produced bubbly sold cheap all over the world! Tonight a minute before midnight, I am celebrating what has been and christening the New Year with yet another bottle of Kripta. It was only four and half years ago I got to try it the fist time and since then it has been a returning companion and always present in my wine cellar. I would  also like to introduce you to the tradition of 12 grapes. In Spain, Portugal, and South America people celebrate new year’s eve with Cava and 12 grapes. By midnight, each time the clock chimes, you have to put a grape in your mouth – and eat it. By the time the clock has finished chiming, you have to have finished your grapes! It’s said eating all 12 grapes for new Year’s Eve will bring you luck and happiness for the new year! Make sure the grapes you are about to eat are not too big!Eating-12-Grapes

With this I wish all of you a wonderful New Years Eve and a fantastic 2015 with, hopefully, many great wines and lots of laughter with good friends. I also hope to see you here in Catalonia so that we might be able to share a glass or two together. HAPPY NEW YEAR and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR FOLLOWING MY BLOG!

kripta_1

Kripta Cava Gran Reserva 2007, 45% Macabeo, 20% Xarel•lo and 35% Parellada

Straw yellow with golden reflections. Elegant, fine and persistent bubbles. Intense, clean and honest. Nose of good intensity with very refreshing initial citrus notes (lemon peel) accompanied by ripe white fruit (sweet pear), hints of apricots, fresh herbal notes of thyme and lavender, milk and fine yeast, with memories of fine pastries, candied fruit and pine nuts and a light floral background. The silkiness is enhanced by the foam which transmits a background of vanilla, ripe fruit and light toast. Long and complex aftertaste, as the aromas of the nose and mouth are repeated, emphasizing vanilla, butter and toast as a legacy of its long aging. Happy Days, Lovely Days and frequently repeated! A Cava with body and soul that goes Oooops Upside Your Head! Happy New Year my wine loving friends!

Then there was none! And that’s how you write a blog  about Catalan Wine during 365 days, consecutive!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Apostrophe and 15 Selected Cava to finish the year!

397 – 411/365 – Catalonia – 15 Selected Great Cavas

Apostrophe………,

…. just lean back  and chill, can’t go wrong with Zappa and Cava! The year only has another 2 days to go, so it might be time to get some Cava to celebrate what has been and what is coming. I wish you all a fine ending to the old year and a great 2015! With todays entry I have selected some of my favorite Cavas, as I did with the whites the other day and this time again, in no particular order! Enjoy!

be14Bertha Siglo XXI Gran Reserva, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo and 10% Chardonnay

Minimum maturation sur lies, 36 months, which produces a great aromatic complexity. Bright yellow color with fine and steady bubbles. Intensive and extensive aromatic range, white fruit and flowers perfectly conjugated with lees aging: confectionery, brioche, smoked, dried fruits. Very elegant nose.  The entrance of this Cava is fresh, creamy and elegant. The bubbles are subtle, fine and very well built, durable and with an original personality. Its aftertaste is very long and delicate. If you need a food Cava, this is the one, not that I mind enjoying it as is!

recaredointens2009

Intense Rosat Brut Nature 2009, Pinot 77%, Monastrell 23%

Intensive deep pink colour with abundant slow rising medium size bubbles. On the nose red fruits are perceived together with very refreshing balsamic sensations and a slight mineral background. The palate is dominated by red fruit nuances, it has a good balance and acidity. Candied red fruit, light floral notes and fine toasty notes provided as a background. Very fresh with integrated carbon, spicy touch at the very end. Persistent minerality. This is, like all Recaredo Cavas, is a Brut Nature but due to the fruitiness perceived as sweet. Has a great personality!

agusti-torello-mata-cava-barrica-brut-nature-2007Cava Agusti Torello Mata, Reserva Barrica 2007

Pale yellow with golden reflections and fine and abundant bubbles. The nose is a festival of flavors, starting with candied fruit, baked apple and floral notes that are slowly giving way to notes of aging. Pastries, yeast, vanilla, oak, candied sugar and nuts. The palate has a fresh entry with a fairly potent carbon, excellent acidity and a really long finish, with hints of parenting and a citrus and bitter twist at the end. Another piece of Iberico works well with this one!

1523015_1440203786197413_1940330730_oMas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature Seleccio, Parellada/Macabeu

This is a well structured, balanced, fresh and fruity Cava. The crianza is well done which has led to a nice integration of the carbon dioxide, resulting in a soft and pleasant experience. The color is clear yellow straw with a light green hue and steady and fine bubbles. The aromas are subtle, complex and expresses a touch of yeast, brioche and white fruit. Dry, tasty and elegant notes. Good acidity, gives of a medium long finish.

 

GramonaGramona Gran Reserva Brut 1999, 70% Xarel.lo and 39% Macabeu

Bright yellow with a bright gold hue, clean with fine and steady bubbles. Great intensity on the nose with a predominance of pastries and bread, dried yeast, toasted brioche thin and freshly baked croissants, lactic and creamy notes with pleasant memories of baked cakes or pastry with cream or apple compote (Apffelstrudel), candied orange, almonds and toasted pine nuts, tart dried figs that give it a sweet touch, outstanding aromatic intensity that is accompanied by a marked mineral background at the very end. The palate has a huge input, a creamy grand tour with ripe fruit (candied orange, white fruit and somewhat syrupy candied fruit and some dried apricots), excellent acidity, at times reminiscent of the profile of Amontillado sherry with the ageing notes and oxidation, roasted nuts, slightly sweet, good texture and impressive structure that appeals to all the senses, majestic persistence. Long long after taste of ripe fruit and some sweetish after taste of yeast and fine pastries. A Cava that leaves you speechless! This is a true Super Catalan Cava!

Alta Alella Opus Evolutium

Alta Alella Opus Evolutium, Organic Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

All Cavas made in Catalonia are presumed, more or less to contain Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada. Chardonay and Pinot Noir are not mainstream, but when they are used, AA Opus Evolutium can happen! According to the regulations all of the five varieties mentioned above are allowed. Historically the indigenous grapes are the ones used mostly. Right or wrong, sticking to imported grapes can make all the difference. This Cava is kept on French oak for 4 months and a minimum of 36 months sur lies. The color is intense with greenish tones. The bubbles are plentiful, small and constant, elegant with a persistent crown. Intense color and greenish tones. Primary aromas of white fruit, pear. well balanced in the mouth and medium structure. Very tasty, aromatic and persistent.

564Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, 67% Macabeu and 33% Parellada

This premium Cava is one of the best in its class! The balance between elegance, ripe fruit and the aging being its distinctive features. The vinous, distinctive flavor, full aroma and a delicate finish put it on a level of quality Cavas which can only be referred to as Super Catalan Cava. Bright golden color with fine bubbles. Complex on the nose, aroma of lees, nuts and herbs. Powerful entry, rich in the mouth and a great acidity. Fine bitter ending. Food Cava of the best kind presented in a very special bottle.

anne-marie1Anne Marie Cava Brut Nature Reserva, 40% Macabeo, 40% Xarel.lo and 20% Parellada

Straw yellow colour with green tones. Fine, slow rising bubbles, forming strings of pearls and a lovely crown of mousse. Delicate aging aromas with diary notes of fresh butter against a backdrop of ripe fruit. Pleasant and fresh during entry, opening up fully over the palate. Well-integrated carbon dioxide. The light aging aromas merge with ripe fruit and hints of toast and dried fruit and nuts. Full with good length and long-lasting flavours. Elegant, subtle Cava with great sensitivity, conveying the personality of its creator. With a well-designed, sober and distinguished presentation, this very special Cava cries out to be enjoyed. The Anne Marie comes as Brut and Semi Sec as well. I prefer my Cava dry so I tend to go for the Brut Nature.

CarlesAndreuRosatBrutBarricaSM_logoTorre de L’Homenatge 2003, 50% Xarel.lo, 25% Macabeu and 25% Parellada

Golden color with soft bright reflections, clean, good and fine bubbles, slow rising. The nose gives off intense aromas highlighting a multitude of pastries, brioche, toast, creamy with white fruit and a slight citrus presence, nuts appear along the way. Secondary gave orange peel and slightly bitter nutty overtones. The acidity is not overwhelming, but rather well equilibrated. Creamy entry, candied sugar, toffee. Broad and vivid, long aftertaste of candied fruit with notes of nuts. This is a a true vintage Cava, only released in 1999, 2003 and 2005. 4.000 – 5.000 Bottles unleashed. The 2003 vintage was a year with hot and dry climate, with a difficult harvest, giving low volume.

DSC_0968Cristina Gran Reserva Extra Brut 2006, 10% Macabeo, 35% Xarel·lo, 35 %, Parellada and 20% Chardonnay. 5% of the Xarel·lo is barrel fermented and the Cava has had a minimum period of 60 months sur lies.

This brut cava was selected by the Cava Regulatory Board to be served at the Infanta Cristina’s wedding banquet. To rise to the occasion of this great honour, the Cristina Gran Reserva was created as an exceptional signature Cava. For this special edition, blends of the best vintages, most suited for the long aging periods characteristic of Mas Tinell Cavas, have been used. Intense golden color with fine bubbles. Aromatically complex, showing ripe fruit, like peach, apricot and apple. Fresh and sweet at the same time. Unctuous mouth, balanced  and structured. Nice notes of toast and a final presence of aniseed. Long aftertaste, fresh and glyceric sensations.

castellroig-reserva-familiar-brut-nature-cava-catalonia-spain-10438583Castellroig Reserva Familiar Brut Nature 2005

Bright golden yellow colour with very fine bubbles that form a delicate bubble chain. Great set full of aromatic complexity. Fresh fruit is perceived among its good toasted aromas, its abundant notes of spices, its intense touch of nuts and its light buttery notes of brioche on a subtle herbal background. A great Cava! Its intensity is noticed from the attack. It shows the complexity provided by its long aging with creamy notes and toasted aromas. Its elegant acidity balances the set. It has a very tasty and very long finish.Very elegant and very serious Cava.

20100630214755-1Titiana Pinot Noir Rosé 2012, Brut 

Dark salmon pink with flashes of light ruby and grenadine around the edges, clean and very elegant. The nose is pure raspberry and aromas or ripe berries such as blackberries and blueberries. The palate is round, tasty and very long. Fresh yet subtle, this wine stands well against creamy and mildly spiced food. A great alternative to everyday wines, the only thing that might bring the overall impression down, is the price. Mouthfilling, delicately but richly flavoured, and exceptionally long.

rosaeCava rosae, 100% Pinot Noir

Attractive pale and soft salmon pink color. Fine and persistent bubbles forming a dense crown. Fresh and highly complex aroma with very smoky tones, subtle nose, red fruit finish. The palate is balanced, broad, savoury, rich and elegant, its evolution shows varietal character, ending with a very long and elegant palate with great sensations. This is an elegant and dynamic Cava, which asks you to either love it or hate it. It is NOT a Cava to enjoy just as it is, because it does demand some food to go with it. I tried it with Jamon Iberico, Bellota and it worked wonders. I do believe it would work well with grilled food as well, both meats and fish, as the smoky character it possesses would be enhanced by a summer bbq! I consider this one to be a Super Catalan Cava!

carles-andreu-cava-reserva-barrica-brut-nature-75cl-do-cavaCava Reserva Barrica Brut Nature, Macabeu, Parellada and Chardonnay

Clear and golden straw colour, with a thin and consistent rosary of bubbles, it presents itself during the tasting as a very fruitful Cava and with a fine fusion between the wine and the barrel. In the mouth it is smooth with a good structure and some notes of wood in the background, fresh and persistent, with an explosion of little bubbles that gives a nice tickling feeling. This Cava is made using a meticulous selection of base wines from Macabeu, Parellada and Chardonnay, grapes from vines with a balanced yield. After separate vinification of the three varieties, the final “coupage” is prepared and the wine is then aged in French oak barrels for around six months before the second fermentation in the bottle. The second fermentation is carried out very slowly with these Cavas, at a constant temperature of 14ºC. The ageing period is prolonged to twenty-six months.

Recaredo Turó d‘en Mota 2002Recaredo Turó d‘en Mota 2002, 100% Xarel.lo

Straw yellow colour, very bright and clean. The bubble rise steadily forming a very thin crown. Surprising with its great intensity, expressiveness, complexity after such long ageing. Very cool, with lots of ripe fruit, especially citrus, interspersed with soft and delicate roasted nuts. Subtle mineral background.  A seductive Cava. A Cava which fills the mouth with total expression, intensity, elegance. Very thin, with a long dry run, nuanced and very fresh. Carbonic perfectly integrated. Full harmony, lively, very nice. Extraordinarily long after taste.

Turo d’en Mota represents the elegance of simplicity: a single vineyard, single variety per each vintage and very limited production. It is a champagne terroir in the broadest sense, ie, with the expression of limestone, Mediterranean microclimate and Xarel·lo from vineyards planted as a single farm in 1940. The first fermentation in oak barrels and the it gets to rests in the bottle for more than 100 months. Very limited production, not exceeding 3,000 bottles. Recommend opening few minutes before serving and please, please, please…….., don’t serve it to cold, around 12 to 14 degrees Celsius should do the trick . Only for special occasions! One of the great ones and certainly to be considered to celebrate New Years Eve with a very special someone!

2 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Jamon and Cava, The Ultimate Marriage On Days Like These!

396/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava & D.O. Jamon – Jamon and Cava – Mont-Ferrant Blanes Brut Nature

On days like these….

mont-ferrant-blanes-brut-nature-264433Mont-Ferrant Blanes Brut Nature, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo

Golden yellow color of medium intensity, very vivid and brilliant intensity, with remarkably fine bubbles. On the nose the complexity is huge, given its long time sur lees. Aniseed notes, toasted bread, a touch of yeast and even a fruity background. The palate is lively, with good acidity, tasty but not heavy, leading to an outstanding finish. An excellent choice together with a lovely plate of Jamon Iberico! Agustí Vilaret founded the Mont-Ferrant cellars in 1865 in Blanes. During 1872 they presented their production at the Concurso Exposición de Barcelona. This presentation demonstrates, in a documented way, that Mont-Ferrant is the oldest Cava producer among all the companies in the current sector. They define their customers as a legion of friends who they constantly want to please, offering them a wide taste palette so they can decide which kind of Cava goes best whit the occasion at hand, for me any day is good enough for a glass of good Cava and great Jamon Iberico.

53781region

Besides writing I also have the obligation, and interest, to follow wine bloggers around the world to see what they are up to. Amazed by the ability they have at churning out piece after piece! Wow! Tonight! Writers block! What is that? A real thing or just a way for those claiming to write something, anything, to have an excuse! Well, if you ask me it’s something true. Then again, excuses are the nails that hold failure together.

images-14

Had a, one in a million, bad wine cellar visit today, threw me off bunds and I haven’t quite bounced back yet! My thought was to write a cover for the producer visited, but can’t find myself doing Catalonia, the land of wine, that misfortune.  Has to be the Italian job! Yes, there are bad wine producer and less god wines here as well. My point is to give you the ins and outs when it come to the ones you should visit, not the ones you shouldn’t.

images-16

However, all that may be, here I am and writing ahead, thanking my friend, my help and inspiration for the night, for that! Having had a long conversation over the FB, I got talked into a starting point, and here it is. Not what you might expect, but nevertheless an article! Parings! The perfect marriage is when you experience an excellent wine with a mouthwatering meal, and the two together make a unity worth repeating and sticking to.

oysters-sydney-best-oysters-sydney-the-morrison-ho

Fish and shellfish with white or bubbly, juicy tender red meats with heavy reds, sweet and fortified with cheeses and glorious desserts! All works for me. Pairing Cava and ham, Jamon Iberico to be exact, two quality products that harmonize perfectly, is something that I discovered living here, take the custom as it is. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should!

images-17

It is little known that one of the most interesting pairings for the palate is the combination of a good Cava with delicious dried ham. I say this because Iberian ham, Iberian pork or ham from the white pig, goes really well with a good Cava. So I will propose replacing the red wine, a classic, with a sparkling like Cava, not Champagne mind you! Doesn’t exist in my book! The nuances of the ham will enhance the Cava and vice versa.

img_2383

First of all, it’s known that in one small piece of ham different flavors ca be extracted. Remember also that the taste of a thin slice cut is different from a thicker slice. It is essential to cut the ham into perspective. This itself can make us appreciate the flavor and aroma which is conducive to the different ham D.O:s Another key factor is the serving temperature. Too cold ham loses many of its organoleptic qualities. The factors mentioned so far can be controlled. Learning to cut the ham or serve it at the right temperature and knowing the differences between different parts of each piece is hugely important.

6a013487d45991970c015437651c7f970c-800wi

Additional factors to have in mind are; pig breed, Iberian or white. Fodder. Climatology. Manufacturing process (salting and curing times). Fodder is one of the most important factors, so I would like to dwell a little longer on this. Because fodder texture, taste and aroma of ham vary substantially, leading us to choose the type of Cava for pairing. The type of food in the fattening phase (last few months before slaughter) is distinguished by:

jamon_iberico_de_recebo

Iberian pig , with a natural diet based primarily on acorns and grass from the meadow (Iberian acorn palettes).

White or Iberian pig fed mainly cereals such as barley and wheat (hams and Iberian bait).

In the different D.O:s, these factors are controlled by the Regulatory Council of each, so that the resulting product is always fairly homogeneous. Generically, let’s look at the qualities of aromas and flavors of all the ham D.O:s of Spain.

IBERIAN PIG .

Ham D.O. Pedroches . Pleasant and intense aroma with a slightly sweet flavor.

Ham D.O Guijuelo . Delicate and fragrant aroma with a slightly salty taste.

Ham D.O. Huelva. Delicate and exquisite aroma with an intense and persistent flavor.

Ham D.O. Dehesa de Extremadura. Intense, enjoyable and nuanced aromas with a little salty , intense and persistent flavor.

WHITE PIG .

Ham D.O. Teruel. Soft, pleasant and evocative aroma with a delicate flavor and slightly salty .

Ham D.O. Trévelez . Soft and penetrating aroma with a taste considered the sweetest on the market.

Now let’s look at the Cava!

Well-cut ham is very important, serving Cava in at the right temperature, equality important. Try to achieve 5 to 8 º C before serving.

To achieve this temperature, do not use the freezer. A rapid change in temperature can affect the characteristics of Cava. Better cool it for a few hours in the refrigerator. If there has been an oversight and we have Cava at room temperature and urgently need to open a bottle, I recommend putting it in a ice bucket for about 20 minutes.

After various hams and Cava tastings, I have come to the following conclusion. The Cava pairs perfectly with ham and enhance its flavor, generally the dry ones!

In conclusion, no need for strawberries, a festive occasions or shellfish! Bring out the ham and the Cava! More importantly, tonight’s Catalan wine! Enjoy!

3 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Winery of Mas de la Bassrola, Idle Time in D.O. Cava

358/365 – Catalonia – D.O Cava – El Pla de Manlleu – Mas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature

Idle Time……..,

0b24e5d21f297892bcb194d9c6fd9e84fa0d3127Mas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature, Macabeu and Parellada

Pale yellow color with greenish reflections, crystal clear tones with fine and integrated bubbles which emerges slowly forming a nice crown. The nose is presented with good aromatic notes, very fresh and fruity intensity with some notes of aging. The fruit, white pear, peach and candy and especially the Parellada are predominating. Well structured on the palate, smooth and balanced. The retronasal sensations are clean. A likable Cava for a couple of coins!

kilimanjaro-summit-night-sun-rising

Magic does happen! At least in El Pla de Manlleu together with friends, a really well prepared Calcotada and a glass of great Cava, or two, or three! El Pla de Manlleu is not Barcelona, Vilafranca or Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. In the village of El Pla de Manlleu is where real Catalan life is happening on a daily basis.

1512059_1440946202789838_968895671_o

To discover and enjoy true hospitality of the region, this is where you have to go. Very dear friends, from Amsterdam, have set up camp here. And when I say camp, I really mean that they have found a Catalan Masia.

1602012_1440946686123123_1227357555_o

To get out of the rat race, this is where they have decided to move, in the very near future, to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam, enjoy life and grow old.

1518890_1440946396123152_1129180185_o

Fortunate to have friends like that, allows for additional discoveries of wineries which I otherwise might not find. The village is slightly remote, although if you know how to get there, easily accessible.

1602098_1440946242789834_1402254960_o

The village is in the municipality of Aiguamúrcia, Alt Camp. Located at the eastern end of the county, on the right bank of the Marmellar stream, a tributary of the river Foix and north- east of the Sierra Montmell.

EL-PLA-DE-MANLLEU

It had 146 inhabitants, the last time I checked, with an additional two moving there soon. In one of the houses there is a wine & Cava cellar and another house is dedicated to rural tourism. You will find a bar/restaurant, the Casa Social (also a bar and the local hangout), a baker, a butcher and that’s it! What more do you need?

sant-miquel-del-pla-de-manlleu-en-aiguamurcia-provincia-de-tarragona-absis-i-murs-de-lantiga-capella-de-sant-miquel-aiguamurcia_28cc207cc02411031816c5511317c2e1_1000_free

Southwest of the town, in the woods, the Romanesque chapel of San Miquel, from the thirteenth century, can be visited.

2182349

Part of El Pla de Manlleu families inhabited the now abandoned hamlet of Selma, not far from the village. Selma was the headquarter of a Templar order following the dissolution of The Knights Hospitaller. In this village you can find the ruins of the old castle and the Gothic church of Sant Cristòfol.

The Knights Hospitaller

Mas de la Basserola winery, is located not far from the village. Now, I could tell you where exactly but then I’d have to find you and kill you! No, no, this little gem is a secret only shared if and when you come to visit!

1484038_1440204566197335_6902612_o

The old Masia has been there since 1843 and mostly the work has consisted in working the land. As the vineyards are located at high altitudes, it is ideal for Parellada. The coupage of their Cavas is therefore containing more Parellada than you’d normally find in the Catalan Cavas. In addition to the Parellada the only use Macabeu.

1485950_1440204826197309_1378260193_o

The grapes are farmed organically with a low yield and high extraction of earth tones and great harmony between sugar and acidity. The harvest is quite late, due to the altitude of 560m above sea level and harvested manually. An area that marks a qualitative difference due to the microclimate.

1523221_1440204149530710_1588143404_o

Parellada is one of my favorite grapes! Lucky me as I’m encountering more and more single variety wines made with Parellada, and more are coming. Besides the Cava I am covering in this article, Mas de la Basserola also produces a light (Parellada 100%) still wine.

1557231_1440204749530650_2023658402_o

It is a white grape variety of Catalan origin. Being one of the three traditional varieties used to make Cava, which is primarily produced in Catalonia. Parellada is also used in blended still wines as well as a handful of varietal wines. They tend to be gentle wines, with a delicate floral nature and low alcohol levels. 

1537648_1440204286197363_1722519997_o

It has good acidity and freshness which makes these wines extremely suitable for aperitifs. A prime example of this is the micro-distilled Obsello Absinthe which, in addition to being produced in the same region, uses the wine of these grapes in its base spirit. It performs best at higher altitudes, where the growing season is longer and cooler, allowing the grape’s trademark acidity and citrus flavors to develop fully.

1496491_1440204016197390_1856279550_o

It is widely planted grape in the Penedes region of Catalonia, though less extensively than its Cava partners Macabeo and Xarel-lo. It imparts a green-apple character on the wine it helps to produce and marries well with the body of Macabeo and the earthen flavors of Xarel-lo. Parellada is also used in blended still wines as well as a handful of varietal wines.

1523015_1440203786197413_1940330730_o

Mas de la Basserola – Cava Brut Nature Seleccio, Parellada/Macabeu

This is a well structured, balanced, fresh and fruity Cava. The crianza is well done which has led to a nice integration of the carbon dioxide, resulting in a soft and pleasant experience. The color is clear yellow straw with a light green hue and steady and fine bubbles. The aromas are subtle, complex and expresses a touch of yeast, brioche and white fruit. Dry, tasty and elegant notes. Good acidity, gives of a medium long finish.

27 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Finca Mas Rodó, Evenin´in D.O. Penedès

347/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedès – Sant Pere Sacarrera – Finca Mas Rodó – Mas Rodó Montonega 2011

Evenin´……….,

MRMontonega 2012Mas Rodó Montonega 2011, 100% Montonega

The kind of yellow color you´d find in a ripe pear, bright and clean. Pleasant nose and cool intensity with aromas of white fruit (pear), light citrus, herbaceous notes with hints of fresh, slightly wet, gras, very fragrant with floral touches. Nice and cool entry, long journey with fresh citrus notes (lemon) and soft white fruit (golden apple), herbaceous, good acidity, very refreshing and quite easy to drink, light and persistent. Long aftertaste of citrus. A must try for those of you that haven´t yet tried a Montonega mono-varietal wine!

Some say that the Montonega variety and the Parellada are the same, but though they are genetically interlinked, there are differences. If you have to opportunity to try mono-varietal wines made using theses two grapes, I am quite sure that you´d agree. The Parellada offers quite candy like aromas and taste, almost artificial, but off course depending on vilification and the Montonega is all freshness and citrus. Montonega is a pink-skinned grape variety grown in minute quantities in the region of Penedes. Here, vineyards are planted at altitudes of up to 810m. For decades, Montonega has been steadily losing ground to Parellada, the much more common variety to which it is genetically linked, mostly because of the low yields it produces. However, its grapes can result in wines that have an excellent intensity. Small berries and thick skins combine to add a good mouthfeel, supported by excellent acidity. The aromatic profile of Montonega wines tends to be fresh and citrusy.

We all know the difficulties involved in the development of mono-varietal wines and the complexity it carries, year after year, to maintain its quality. But taking on this challenge can mean that the wine lovers of the world get to enjoy the authentic flavors and aromas of the grapes vinified under these criteria. Finca Mas Rodó is located in the Alt Penedes region at 500m altitude, they only produce wines based on their own crops, grown on slopes. The farm offers three types of soil: stony, calcareous and argillaceous. With these features and looking for water stress, meaning that the roots have to go deep to find water, the ultimate expression of mineralization and soil is found in the wines. There is minimal intervention in the cultivation and no herbicides are being used. All this allows them to produce varietal wines with typicity marked by the climate of the area, its altitude and terrain types. Those are wines with distinct “terroir” character.

40 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Castell d’Age, Man Smart Women Smarter in D.O. Cava

343/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – La Beguda Baixa – Castell d’Age – Anne Marie Cava Brut Nature Reserva

Man Smart Women Smarter……..,

anne-marie1Anne Marie Cava Brut Nature Reserva, 40% Macabeo, 40% Xarel.lo and 20% Parellada

Straw yellow colour with green tones. Fine, slow rising bubbles, forming strings of pearls and a lovely crown of mousse. Delicate aging aromas with diary notes of fresh butter against a backdrop of ripe fruit. Pleasant and fresh during entry, opening up fully over the palate. Well-integrated carbon dioxide. The light aging aromas merge with ripe fruit and hints of toast and dried fruit and nuts. Full with good length and long-lasting flavours. Elegant, subtle Cava with great sensitivity, conveying the personality of its creator. With a well-designed, sober and distinguished presentation, this very special Cava cries out to be enjoyed. The Anne Marie comes as Brut and Semi Sec as well. I prefer my Cava dry so I tend to go for the Brut Nature.

Origens-2The history of Castell d’Age is tied to three generations of women: grandmother, mother and daughter. Catalan by birth. Swiss in spirit. And their symbol is the griffin. The griffin was a mythological creature, half eagle and half lion. King of the sky as well as the land. And now the symbol of Castell d’Age. Therefore, this is a story of women and gods…

origensGods who decided to place Castell d’Age in the Alt Penedès. On the southern slope of the mysterious, sacred mountain of Montserrat. In the small village of La Beguda Baixa. A very special land, destined to uphold the long-standing traditions of their ancestors. Yet, at the same time, open to new initiatives. With a single objective: to produce exceptional wines and Cavas.

Back-Cava-Aurelia1

 

It was all started by Aurèlia Figueras. A woman ahead of her time. An intelligent woman, she knew how to breathe life into the lands that had belonged to her family for over 50 years. Anne Marie Comtesse was the inspiration behind the creation of the cellars, located in an 18th Century country house, at the end of the 1980’s. Champion of products from the land. A fighter. Committed to the environment. She pioneered the introduction of organic farming. Olivia Junyent is the daughter and granddaughter of two exceptional women. Respecting the family ethos of doing things the traditional way. A fighter. Along with her siblings, she represents current trends in the field of organic viticulture.

205_1321347803Essencia_de_Xarel.lo Three remarkable women producing remarkable wines and Cavas. This top-flight producer of dry, long-aged Cava is a superb discovery. With several geographically diverse parcels to work with, the resemblance to Champagne is suggestive. This is Cava with attitude from a woman-run estate that pioneered organic viticulture in Pénédes and is now fully committed to bio-dynamism is well worth a taste and certainly a visit to the cellar is recommended.

44 to go!

 

Mont Marçal, That’s Amore in D.O. Cava

332/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Castellví de la Marca – Mont Marçal – Extremaruim Brut Nature Reserva

That’s Amore…….,

extremarium_nature_buenaExtremaruim Brut Nature Reserva, Chardonnay, Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada

Bright pale yellow with fine and bubbles which are rising steadily creating a perfect mousse. The nose is clean and fresh, producing toasted notes like coffee, combined with  vanilla, soft notes of fruits such as peach and grapefruit, some mineral tones and white flowers. The palate is fresh, fruity, creamy and light, the body showing that it has been in contact with the yeast for quite some time, fine mousse and very pleasant on the palate with hints of raw almonds and hazelnuts. This Cava has been made by adding Inspiration, Instinct and Passion! Each variety is picked and fermented separately. The grapes are destemmed, cooled to 12°C, pressed pneumatically at a pressure of 0.2kg, selection of the juice/most, clarification by gravity and alcoholic fermentation at 14-16°C, the Chardonnay is fermented in barrels of French oak for 8 weeks. Works great with, for example, Ossobuco, fritters and desserts with a base of chocolate and dried fruits and nuts. 

Bodega-Mont-Marçal

The cellar at Mont Marçal Vinícola was founded in the year 1975 by Manuel Sancho who, after dedicating many years to the world of music, directed his activity towards a new art: that of the world of wine and Cava. It is Blanca Sancho, the founder’s daughter, who now runs the cellar together with a team of young professionals that have managed to blend the original philosophy of the cellar with the restless spirit of the new generations and adapt this, in all its fields, to the needs of today’s markets. Mont Marçal makes quality wines in the “Denominaciones de Origen” Penedès, Catalunya and Cava.

Originally from the XIV century, the lovely farmhouse that houses the cellar is located in the heart of the Penedès, 220 metres above sea level. With the floor plan of a basilica, brickwork has been used to frame the windows and the dividing lines of the floors, this gives the house a unique character. It was modified at the end of the XIX century to become a convent of the order of the “Barefoot Carmelites”, and it still retains the charm of the original structure.

The estate has 40 hectares of its own vineyards which comprises the indigenous varieties such as Macabeu, Xarel.lo, Parellada and Tempranillo, in addition to other varieties that have adapted perfectly such as Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. At the same time, to be able to achieve the actual production, Mont Marçal collaborates with other estates in the Penedès, from which the buy the additional grape quantities needed.

56 to go!

 

Carles Andreu, Early In the Morning in D.O. Conca de Barbera

315/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barbera – Pira – Celler Carles Andreu – Carles Andreu Parellada 2011

Early In the Morning……..,

Imagen 104Carles Andreu Parellada 2011, 100% Parellada

It presents a pale yellow colour with hints of lemon peel. Very complex nose with hints of macerated white fruits. Tropical notes are present, pineapple, banana and yellow mature apple. Cider. Good balance as far as  sweetness and acidity goes, structured and persistent with overall fruity connotations. The Parellada is a grape that thrives at higher altitudes and as such it seldom reaches higher levels of alcohol and has issues with revealing a lot of aromas. For what it’s worth, it is one of my personal favorite grapes from Catalonia, because it is so different!

The week started with a long walk with the dogs and then getting around to doing some actual work. Sending invitations, getting around to answering invitations, meetings and lunch, and so the days go. The blog and writing about yet another great wine producer of Catalonia,is just relaxation and what else do I really need? Well yes, a glass of wine but that would be stating the obvious!

clca_fic_1

This is a small bodega that started only in 1991 by Carles Andreu, it also bears his name. It’s located in the very nice village of Pira. The old Masia (manor house) Cal Celdoni has existed since 1796 but the wine making of recent times, commercially, is fairly young.

CAVA DE NITmenys

The Mas of Cal Celdoni was bought by Carles ancestor from the monks of the Monastery of Poblet. Cavas that are produced here surpass some of the Cavas made in neighboring D.O. Penedès. If that is true or not, is for each and everyone to determine on their own, what I know (and appreciate) is the boldness of Carles when he decided to make the first red wine in the world containing 100% Trepat!

carles-andreu-cava-reserva-brut-nature-75-cl-do-cava

First time I tried their Cava was in a restaurant. Can’t remember the restaurant but the Cava stayed in my memory and I decided that a visit was long overdue! If there is one winemaker that is a must to visit in Conca de Barbera, it is this one! Then again, I always say that! Go figure!

carlesandreu_1

The main varieties grown are Trepat, Parellada, Macabeo and Chardonnay. They are currently doing some testing with Xarel.lo and Garnacha. As the production is kept to a minimum, the grape selection is rigorous as the grapes are received, but the first selection is made already in the vineyards.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The extraction (pressing) of the grapes intended for Cava is very gentle. Only 60% is extracted and it is done slow to control, as far as it’s possible, that only must from the centre of the pulp is flowing, to avoid areas close to the skin and the seed, which provide herbal flavors and favor oxidation.

Enoturisme-2-1170x578

Each variety is vinified separately by the lowest possible temperature to preserve what little flavor Parellada and Macabeu give. Then the blend is for the base wines that give rise to future Cavas.

Trepat

Trepat is a red Spanish wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre. The grape is likely to be indigenous to northeast Spain and today there are approximately 1,500 hectares of the variety used mostly for light rosé wine and Cava. The D.O. Conca de Barberà is one of the main wine regions in that grows Trepat.

D.O Conca de Barbera

In Catalonia, Trepat is mainly found in the blended rosé wines of Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre where it is often blended with other varieties. Over the years Trepat has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Bonicaire, Embolicaire, Parrel, Trapat, Traput and Trepan.

Trepat is quite particular when it come to soils and doesn’t not thrive everywhere, but it seems to be resistant to most fungal diseases.  It is a early riser and is thus susceptible to frost damage, which is more of a problem in this region at some of the higher altitudes but it is normally planted in vineyards on lower altitudes.

Carles,Andreu,Trepat,2011,Conca,de,Barbera,Cava,Spain-400x400

 Carles Andreu Trepat 2011, Trepat 100%, from fifty year old vines, from the vineyards of Les Alzinetes and Les Parades.

Bright red color with cherry hues and red edges. Low to medium layers and moderately slow tears. Primary aromas of ripe red fruit (currants and strawberries), toasted oak is noted but very subtle. Followed up by spicy notes, black pepper and nutmeg, balsamic, sweet licorice. Nice and tasty on the palate, good acidity, red fruits (currants and plums), intense notes that give character and personality, spicy, light menthol. Good structure and persistent. Long aftertaste of ripe fruit and spices. Kept developing and this could easily have stayed in the bottle another few years as it will improve.

76 to go!

 

And The Grapes Are, Save Your Soul in D.O. Cava

301/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Torrelavit – Segura Viudas – Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

Save Your Soul……..,

564Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, 67% Macabeu and 33% Parellada

This premium Cava is one of the best in its class! The balance between elegance, ripe fruit and the aging being its distinctive features. The vinous, distinctive flavor, full aroma and a delicate finish put it on a level of quality Cavas which can only be referred to as Super Catalan Cava. Bright golden color with fine bubbles. Complex on the nose, aroma of lees, nuts and herbs. Powerful entry, rich in the mouth and a great acidity. Fine bitter ending. Food Cava of the best kind presented in a very special bottle.

20110811-cava-bottles

Let’s take a moment and have a look at the specifics of Cava, Cava making and the grapes that are used and of course, allowed according to the rules of the appellation. The origins of Cava are associated with the splendour of Catalan wine production during the mid-nineteenth century and the fame of Champagne at the end of the eighteenth century. The fermentation process that Louis Pasteur developed in his microbiological studies was adopted as part of the second fermentation in the bottle, while the discovery that cork preserved the bubbles was made during this stage. This was the birth of the traditional production method.

cava-cellar1-300x300

During the nineteenth century, several families in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia started researching this new production technique and applied it to crops in the zone. As a result of their studies and trials, linked to the prestigious Instituto Agrícola Catalán Sant Isidre, they used this on autochthonous white grape varieties. This was the birth of Cava, which has a specific identity that makes it different from all other top-quality sparkling wines.

During the twenties, Cava became established in the Spanish market, achieving high growth in the sixties and its international consolidation in the eighties. Nowadays it is one of the most dynamic, prosperous wine-producing sectors, producing more than 200 million bottles every year for consumers all over the world. This sparkling wine is produced using the traditional method that has created its own identity through the decades as a result of factors such as the use of autochthonous grapes and the mild climate of the growing region. Its personality has been so successful that Cava is currently sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The term Cava is derived from the Catalan word for the caves (or cellars) where it is traditionally aged and stored.

santsadurni

The Penedés wine-producing region, 40 kilometres south of Barcelona, is where 95% of the total Cava production takes place. Cava’s specific characteristics originate in the traditional historical zone in terms of classic viticulture and production conditions. However, Cava is also produced in other regions of Catalonia (Girona, Lleida and Tarragona), as well as some areas in the Autonomous Regions of La Rioja, Aragon, Navarra, the Basque Country, Valencia and Extremadura. In total it is produced in 159 municipalities from around 32,000 hectares of vines. 

Because of its geographical and orographic diversity, the traditional zone of the Penedès has a large variety of soils. Wines are grown in the central zone, far from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and protected by the mountains of Montserrat. Soils are calcareous, with a medium permeability. The climate is typically Mediterranean, luminous and sunny. Winters are mild and summers are not too hot. All this, together with moderate rainfall spread out throughout the year, produces an optimum microclimate for cultivating the vine and ripening the grapes.

event_131463642

The wine makers around the corner prefer to make the Brut Nature, without adding expedition liqueur, as the local market prefer this type of Cava. But the Brut as well as the Semiseco have over the past few years increased in production, mostly because of the demands from the export markets. The levels of added expedition liqueur or sugar are as follows; Brut Nature: no added sugar, Extra Brut: up to 6 grams of sugar per liter, Brut: up to 15 grams of sugar per liter, Extra Seco: between 12 and 20 grams per liter, Seco: between 17 and 35 grams per liter, Semiseco: between 33 and 50 grams per liter and finally Dulce: more than 50 grams per liter. There’s a Cava for every taste!

The main grape varieties are: Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada together with Chardonnay and Subirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana and two varieties of red grapes: Garnatxa Tinta and Monastrell. Only two red varieties are authorised for producing rosé Cava: Pinot Noir and Trepat.

xarel-lo1Xarel·lo is a round, white grape with a thick skin. The taste as it grows on the vine is semi-sweet. It has a natural acidity which provides fresh fruit aromas of apple, grapefruit and lemon to the wine. It is one of the primary grapes in Cavas grown in the following Designations of Origin: Alella, Penede`s, Tarragona and Costers del Segre. I’d call this baby “The Body of Cava”.

macabeuMacabeu is one of the most widely planted white grapes in the North of Spain, where it is usually referred to as Viura. It is responsible for the floral notes in Cava wines, very resistant to oxidiation and has a low acidity. In addition to being a primary varietal in Cava, it has also seen great success in Rioja and Southern France. Also spelled Macabeo in Castilian/Spanish. “The Soul of Cava”.

VARIEDADES UVA 09 036Parellada is the least planted of the traditional Cava grapes. This varietal brings acidity and fresh fruit characteristics, at times very candy like and almost always some kind of banana, in comparison to the more prevalent Macabeu and Xarel·lo. While it grows best on higher altitudes, yielding bright, crisp wines, Parellada produces a softer wine in the vineyards situated on valley floors. One of my favorite grapes. This would be “The Makeup of Cava”.

1280px-ChardonnayChardonnay is the most widely planted variety in the world and one of the most important grapes for sparkling wines, its inclusion into Spanish sparkling wines in the early 1980’s is still controversial since it is not one of the traditional three Cava grapes. It adds body and toasted, creamy notes to the wine, and also takes on characteristics of the oak, if used, during the aging process.

640px-Malvasia_grapesSubirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana is one of Spain’s most characterful white varieties, it can be found in many regions including Rioja and Valencia. In Catalonia it is known as Subirat Parent and it is mostly used in D.O. Alella and D.O. Penedes, as well as being certified for Cava making. There are extensive plantings in the Canary Islands where the veriety is used for a wide range of styles. One of its attributes is longevity; the variety often plays a supporting role in Rioja’s white blends when a period on oak is needed.

trepatTrepat is a red grape variety that is grown primarily in the Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre DO:s of Catalonia. Ampelographers believe that the grape is likely indigenous to northeast Spain and today there are approximately 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of the variety used mostly for light rosé. It has the potential for fine red wines, but is primarily used to add light, subtle characteristics and color to rosé Cava. Over the years Trepat has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Bonicaire, Embolicaire, Parrel, Trapat, Traput and Trepan.

DSCF0323Mataró/Monastrell is commonly known as Mourvèdre, tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, adds structure and color to Cava. The variety was probably introduced to Catalonia by the Phoenicians around 500 BC. The French-adapted name Mourvèdre likely came from Murviedro (Mourvèdre in Catalan, nowadays Sagunt) near Valencia while the Catalan name Mataró likely came from Mataró, near the modern-day city of Barcelona.

GarnatxaGarnatxa/Garnacha/Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It is a variety that requires hot, dry conditions which makes it ideal for growing in DOQ Priorat. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acidity, tannin or color, so it is typically blended with other grapes to add body and a sweet fruitiness to Cava.

Pinot_Noir_Grape_VinePinot Noir produces some of the finest wines in the world, but also very delicate and difficult to produce due to its sensitive nature. Compact grape clusters and thin skins make the Pinot Noir susceptible to different diseases. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. It provides Cava wine with great floral aromatics and for the rosé Cava it lends its color.

83 to go!

Celler Vell, Just One Of Those Things in D.O. Cava

299/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – Celler Vell – Celler Vell Brut Nature Reserva

Just One Of Those Things…….,

celler-vell-brut-nature-reservaCeller Vell Brut Nature Reserva, Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada

There’s a reason this is the best selling Cava of Celler Vell, good quality to price comparison and that goes along way. Brilliant gold colour. Very fine, persistent bubbles. Inviting with an elegant bouquet, with hints of both fruit and aging. Full-bodied, fresh and dry. Perfectly balanced for the perfect equation: body and lightness.

cava-celler-vell_1Established in 1954 Celler Vell was originally found in the centre of the village but as the business grew in the 80s the site became too small and it was moved to its current location just outside Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. Perched on top of a hill the cellar looks over 2 hectares of vineyards also enjoying a superior view over the town filled with charismatic old Catalan buildings. The family owned “boutique ” winery and the Cavas they produce, both come together as a product of their philosophy, which is to embrace the traditional Cava grapes of the Penedes. The range of the Cavas produced is done by using the region’s typical varieties: Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada (with the exception of the rosé which is produced using Carinena and Tempranillo).

 

celler_1Celler Vell offers a unique opportunity for their customers, one of the first wineries to do so, this is that they will produce bottles of their quality Cava and add personalized labels. A very popular initiative, private events or weddings enjoy the exclusivity of their very own cava brand, quite a keepsake. This is also nice for restaurants who like to offer a holistic in house experience for their guests. One specialty Cava proudly produced by Celler Vell is the Cuvee Les Solanes this is a different Cava due to the first  fermentation in an oak barrel, a subtle taste that leads to a gourmet drink of distinction. They are also set to have another fine Cava on the market in a few months boasting a long aging using the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties. A recent addition to the winery is the tasting area for their visitors to enjoy a glass of Cava and take full advantage of the countryside views. If time allows, as he is a busy guy, the labeled Cava can be enjoyed together with the owner Josep, who is more than happy to share his knowledge and passion of his family business.

85 to go!