Tasting 8 Wines, The Usual Suspects D.O. Costers del Segre

307-314/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Falset – Hotel-Hostal Sport – Tasting 8 Wines

The Usual Suspects…..,

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… they came, they examined, they sniffed, they sipped and they spat, or should I say most of them did! Was expecting a well arranged tasting with some nice wines from D.O. Costers del Segre. At yesterdays tasting I got that, and more! According to the invitation from Marta and Ruth, Hotel-Hostal Sport in Falset, who were arranging the tasting, we were supposed to taste 6 wines, which is some kind of standard for these types of tastings. Final number was 8! And the wines they make in the Costers del Segre, Yes! The Usual Suspects is one of my absolute favorite movies and so is the soundtrack and main theme. The usual suspects also refers to the sommeliers, wine makers and wine lovers in general that visit the well arranged tastings at Hotel Hostal-Sport, once a month. There’s a bunch of people that always come to these tastings and I am happy to be amongst them! We have Emporda, Montsant and Priorat to look forward to!

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As always Marta, owner, manager and in house sommelier at Hotel Hostal-Sport, started of by introducing the representative from the D.O. and in this case I have to say I totally missed the name but I have to say that when it comes to wine and especially to the specifics of Costers del Segre, she knew what she was on about! It was a pleasure to listen to her.

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This was the ninth of 12 tastings over the year to come, covering the D.O:s of Catalonia. These tasting are a way to promote Catalan wine and the Catalan D.O:s at the symbolical price of 5 Euro per tasting, so, if you want to know more about the wines from the regions of Catalonia, make sure to get to Falset and enjoy some really good wines together with other wine lovers! Can’t wait for the next DO-tasting!

A little bit about the characteristics of D.O. Costers del Segre before we get going with the tasting notes!

The vineyards are spread out throughout the northeastern interior of Catalonina, with the region of Pallars being the most northern one. It is not an appellation with one border, as the growing areas are spread out like a multitude of vineyards. The vineyards are located in the sub-areas of Artesa de Segre, Urgell, Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, Segrià and Valls del Riu Corb. The D.O. as such was created in 1986, so it is one of the younger appellations of Catalonia. Currently there are 588 wine growers and farmers, working on a grape producing areal of 4.197 ha. Total number of plots is 2.667 and wine producing cellars (commercial) are 42! Small numbers but big wines! 

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The different sub-zones have very varying geological and climatic features. The link is the middle basin of the River Segre, between the Pyrenees and the Ebro. They are all located in the interior and have quite dry conditions, away from the maritime influence and marked by high insolation, low rainfall and persistent moisture mists during the winter. The vineyards are located between 200 and 400 m. altitude. The soil is calcareous sand coated with a great uniformity throughout the denomination.

The Artesa and Pallars subzones are the most northerly, with their vineyards at a higher altitude and Pyrenean influence. Raïmat at the eastern end, has a gentle relief and continental climate. The sub-area Segrià on the plain of Lleida, is characteristic of rain-fed lands. Les Garrigues and Valleys Riucorb have dry soils, to be considered drylands.

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After the phylloxera, the vine cultivation decreased substantially. In this way, starting during 1909 the new vines grafted on American rots (Americanos) resistant to phylloxera, provided the province of Lleida with 15,161 hectares, of which 13,343 were replanted phylloxera resistant vineyards and 1,818 were lands that were previously not used for vine growing. The 102,920 hectares not reconstituted are mainly devoted to the cultivation of olive trees. In the western area, the varieties destroyed by the phylloxera were: Pinós, Samsó, Sumoll and Garnacha. The varieties grafted on American stocks: Monastrell, Macabeo, Trepat, Grenache and Sumoll. At the same time some French varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon were imported.

The grape varieties recommended by the regulatory body are; Garnacha Negra, Tempranillo (Ull de llebre), Cabernet Saugvinon, Merlot, Monastrell/Morastrell, Trepat, Mazuela/Samsó, Pinot Noir and Syrah with the recommended addition of white grapes; Macabeu, Xarello, Parellada, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandria, Malvasia/Subirat Parent, Gewurztraminer and Albarinho.

Llabustes Wine No. 1 – Vila Corona, Llabustes Chardonnay 2013, 100% Chardonnay

Pale yellow straw color, elegant green reflections. Clean and intense aromas of  flowers, acacia and a hint of rose. Yellow and white fruits, a lot of pineapple, apple and pear are quite subtle, banana is also there but fading in the background. No mineral and no notes of aging. On the palate, it is a dry wine with moderate acidity, noticeable alcohol but without being intrusive. It has a integrated body. Taste of citrus, exotic and white fruits, slight touch of almonds. You won’t find a better Chardonnay from Costers del Segre, the value is amazing!

Anima de RaimatWine No. 2 – Raimat, Anima de Raimat 2013, Chardonnay, Xarel.lo and Albarinyo

Straw to slightly golden color with greenish reflexions, showing the youth and freshness. Complex.  Intense nose with primary notes of tropical and citrus fruits, round and clean nose. Expressive to complex, secondary of currant, elderberry, peach and some white fruit, pear and melon. Structured, well balanced with good acidity. Dry, medium long after taste with balanced acidity. Well made and simply a very pleasant wine!

OnraWine No. 3 – Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011, 70% Garnatxa Blanca and 30% Sauvignon Blanc

Brilliant and golden yellow color. Clean nose with heavy aromatic complexity. Some coconut, but mainly I noted white fruit meat, pear and apple. Smoky notes and cedar came along nicely in the background. Slight perfume, or aftershave, or if it was just the guy next to me? With aeration, lemon, pineapple and peach continues to add dimensions to the experience. Good entry, slightly salty. It is filling the mouth with sensations of white fruits, herbs and a buttery feel. Mature, quality, long and fresh finish.

Petit GrealoWine No. 4 – Vinya l’Hereu, Petit Grealo 2010, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Transparent ruby red color with violet hues. Red and black fruit, light smoke, herbs like lavender, rosemary and fennel. Nice touch of white pepper and balsamic. Medium intensity, medium and balanced tannins. Smoke again, leather and coffee. Candied fruit. Potent wine, persistent and refreshing. A pure, fresh character of clay!

oda castell de remeiWine No. 5 – Castell del Remei, Oda Negre 2009, 55% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Ull de Llebre and 5% Garnatxa

Cherry color, with a bright cherry colored edge. Colorful tears and dense. High intensity. Aromas of barrel and cedar, aromatic coffee came as secondary after quite some time. Balsamic. Marmalade, blueberry jam. Sweet and voluptuous entry. The tannins are mature, integrated and the acidity is fresh, enhancing the persistency. Loved the finale with the sweet fig carrying the wine a long way.

bru de verdu 2012

Wine No. 6 – Celler Cercavins, Bru de Verdu 2012, Ull de Llebre, Syrah and Merlot

Dark cherry color with garnet rim. Clean and bright. Slow and slightly tinted tears. It has a clean and intense nose with outstanding very fruity aromas, ripe black fruit and licorice intermixed with subtle spices and lightly toasted. Mild vegetables and balsamic background appears after a while. The entry is powerful, fleshy and dry, marked by intense roasted notes, light spices and a delicate mineral touch. Good acidity that refreshes and distinctly tannic. Persistent finish that leaves roasted and fruity sensations.

vilosell 2012

Wine No. 7 – Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011, Ull de Llebre and Syrah

Beautiful cherry color with violet edges. Very bright and thin legs. Nice aromatic complexity with a  wide range of aromas. Vegetables, red fruits, hot spices and licorice give way to ripe fruit, sweet spices and chocolate. Subtle floral background. Intense and spacious volume. Silky and full of juicy fruit, blackberries, accompanied by toast and mineral notes and subtle hints of licorice. Mature and well polished tannins. Good acidity. Long and persistent finish that leaves fruity sensations. A round, tasty and very friendly wine!

Bui del sort negre 2013

Wine No. 8 – Batlliu de Sort, Biu de Sort Negre 2013, 100% Pinot Noir

Unclear, light purple to ruby color. Ops, not a favorite. Primary of sewer and rotten eggs, like I haven’t experienced that before! Swirl, swirl, swirl and here we go…, raspberry, unripe cherry, slight coffee aroma and some green beans. Light entry, dry, fresh acidity, light tannins, violet, salinity, green bell-pepper. Different, interesting even though we got of to a bad start. Would actually enjoy an additional glass of this wine

And the WINNERs are (had to go for two this time) Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011 and Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011.

77 to go!

Cellar Can Ràfols dels Caus, Autumn Leaves in D.O. Penedes

305/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet del Penedes – Cellar Can Ràfols dels Caus – Ad Fines 2003

Autumn Leaves………,

prod-large-ad-finesAd Fines 2003, 100% Pinot Noir

Bright cherry red color, medium layer, clean, thick and slow legs. Intense aromas of red strawberry, underbrush, sweet baked tomato, roasted apples. Very inviting with some light spicy aromas. Balsamic notes, scrub, mint? (Spearmint). In the mouth it is soft spoken, silky and tasty. Come over as easy to imbibe with delicate tannins. Not to broad, quite gentle fruit, medium long finish, black fruit, sweet spices, cocoa, and a very cool touch of cured meat. A lovely, delicate and inviting Pinot Noir! Ad Fines is probably the best Pinot Noir monovarietal produced under the D.O. of Penedes. I like it a lot but do I think it’s worth the price tag? Hmmmmmmm, well while we’re at it, let’s decide that after another glass!

And so the story goes, that about three years ago, I was at the right place at the right time! Meet with Xavi Nolla as he was introducing me to a winery in Montsant, which I have already covered. At the time Xavi was doing wine tastings every Tuesday at Lola Tapes in Tarragona. We went a couple of Tuesdays to taste some excellent wines and great tapas.

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

At the time, the knowledge of Catalan wineries was quite limited so this excellent sommelier was, and still is, a great source, recommending several cellars! One of them being Can Ràfols dels Caus! Thank you for the tip, my friend!

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Only a few days after getting the insight, a phone call was placed and we were off to the massif of Garraf, a national park and protected area, southwest of Sitges, towards Vilafranca and within the D.O. of Penedes.

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Upon arrival we were well received, greeted and shown the sites by Marc Rusca Baena, the in-house sommelier. After this, the first visit, there has been additional ones! And if I decide there will be many more. Will YOU join me next time? Well, that’s all up to you, I’m always available for a visit and tasting at Can Ràfols! Ops, just remembered that I am going there this Sunday with a small group of wine lovers from Barcelona!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

The Garraf wine-growing region is a protected area within the traditional boundaries of the Garraf National Park. The Can Ràfols dels Caus estate is situated at an altitude of 300 m, and stands on a rise between the ravines of two watercourses surrounded by vineyards growing on the terraced slopes. From some of the highest vineyards, such as “la Calma” or “el Rocallís” the sea can be seen, some 15km away.

Don't be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

This situation is paramount for obtaining healthy grapes, as they are sheltered from the damp air coming in from the coastline, but are equally protected from the sporadic hailstorms in the Sierra of Ordal or the Pre-Coastal mountain range.

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The Garraf Massif has an unusual mesoclimate. The daytime is sun-drenched and hot despite the tempering effect of the sea, which sends in a cooling breeze towards the afternoon. This allows the vines to complete their growth cycle and reach full ripeness.

Automated granite "doors" leading into the winery!

Only 50 hectares of this 455-hectare estate are vineyards, 2 hectares being used for olive groves, 1 hectare for almond orchards and the rest for woodland, scrubland and rocky terrain. The size of the single vineyards ranges from 0.15 hectares (the smallest) to 2 hectares (the largest).

Part of the winery exterior

Can Ràfols dels Caus has always been a forerunner and trend-setter, and some twenty-five years after Carlos Esteva started his wine venture, he decided to take a giant step forward by building a new cellar. The aim was not to squeeze in more vats, barrels and bottles, but to work better.

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

With this project, the winery’s potential for producing quality wines has multiplied, as the cellar is now geared to promoting micro-vinifications, separating batches even more and research. The cellar has been designed so that it is completely carved out of the Dolomitic limestone of the Garraf, invisible from above ground and totally integrated into the landscape.

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This would probably be the perfect location for the next James Bond movie. The scoundrel being a crazy wine maker, wanting to take over the world by making his wine so addictive he would have the whole human race in chains! Carlos is slightly crazy, like all artists, but in a good way! To see what he saw, being a visionary, in 1979, is simply “have to see to believe, based”!

Part of the winery interior

This place is simply amazing! The location, the grounds, the mansion, the winery, the whole concept and the wines, oh the wines! Just writing about it………., I might stop writing and set of for a quick visit! Sure, I can write about it, but the only truth is, you have to sample it yourself.

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All I can say is, it will be worth your while! If we were talking Guide Michelin, this would be a 3 star, worth a trip of its own! Enough with the superlatives!

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Can Ràfols dels Caus winery produces a range of wines, most of them are great! I believe the current count is 7 or 8 reds, 6 whites, probably around four Cavas and three rose.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Capità Vidal, The Captain of D.O. Cava

297/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – El Pla del Penedes – Capità Vidal – Fuchs Cava de Vidal Unic Brut Nature

The Captain…….,

unique-fuchs-natureFuchs Cava de Vidal Unic Brut Nature, 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and a mix of 15% Macabeu, Xarel·lo and Parellada

It was not altogether wrong to use the main “Champagne grapes” to produce this Cava and let the Catalan varieties linger in the background. 85% Champagne and 15% Cava, does that work? I’m not altogether convinced, but it is a well made Cava, leaning more to the Champagne flavors. If you aren’t an avid Cava consumer, this might be your way in! Bright golden color, clear and with a slow release of small bubbles, subtle crown. It has a complex aroma of ripe fruit and nuts, some creaminess and buttery feel, not to much pastries but they are there. Maybe the nose didn’t transmit as much of the French feel but in the mouth it is a potent Cava (Champagne?). Well balanced, full of pleasant sensations. Great value!

Capità Vidals transatlantic solo passage in 1976. A full nine years before he started making Cava. I can imagine that there might be similarities in terms of challenges?

Capità Vidals transatlantic solo passage in 1976. A full nine years before he started making Cava. I can imagine that there might be similarities in terms of challenges?

This small winery was founded in 1985 by one of the best known Spanish sailors – Enrique Vidal, hence the name Capità (Captain)Vidal. After decades of producing quality wine, The Captain, now in his seventies, has retired to dedicate his days to sailing again, and another family member, Helen Yglesias, runs the business today. The Cava Fuchs Vidal was born of the union of Tati Fuchs with Enrique Vidal. The surname Fuchs is related to the Montserrat Rack Railway, the Cremallera de Montserrat taking you up to the monastery. The grandfather, Julián Fuchs y Leigme, originating from Switzerland, was hired as the chief, operating the Montserrat line between 1897 and 1925.

The Parmelia Race in 1979

The Parmelia Race in 1979

Capità Vidal treats its products with genuine care and attention. The grapes are hand-picked and all the Cava bottles are still hand-riddled. There are sixteen Cavas and wines on the market, but the main focus (and best-seller) of Capità Vidal are their Cavas, known by the name of Fuchs de Vidal. Lately there has been a growth in exports, and Fuchs de Vidal is becoming more and more popular abroad, especially in Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan. Nevertheless, a majority of the production stays in Spain and then primarily in Catalonia. The clients of the winery tend to remain loyal through the years. One of them is Julio Salinas, a retired Barcelona FC player and a Cava lover. He even suggested the creation of his own label and Capità Vidal brought a limited edition of Cava into the market, with a picture of the famous footballer on the label and on each cap (chapa), which has also become a collectors item.

Fuchs de Vidal Julio Salinas Barca

Fuchs de Vidal Julio Salinas Barca

The winery itself is surrounded by vineyards and located in Alt Penedes about 200 meters above sea level. Once inside the main building, the two passions of Enrique Vidal – wine and sea – are exposed to the visitor through pictures, portraits and small design elements. Producing around 150,000 bottles a year produced and only six full time employees, Capità Vidal is all about quality over quantity, opting for a superior product at the cost of reduced and limited production.

slider187 to go!

 

Celler Caves Nadal, Bitches Brew in D.O. Penedes

215/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Pla del Penedèsl – Celler Caves Nadal – Nadal 1510 Botrytis Nobel 2001

Bitches Brew………,

Nadal 10

 

Nadal 1510 Botrytis Nobel 2001, 100% Macabeu

Made from the Macabeo grape variety – ripening of the grapes is done by implementing Botrytis Cinerea fungs. Yellow bright golden colour. Intense aromas with notes of candied fruit, honey (acacia) and Botrytis. Perfect balance between acidity, sugar and alcoholic strength. Very dense and rich in taste. Ideal as an aperitif, accompanied by foie gras, blue cheeses, oysters … superb wine that will improve during the coming 20 years. There are not many sweet wines from Penedes that I really like, but this one sets the level, Bitches Brew if you wish!

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1510 Nadal is the first sweet white Noble Botrytis wine made ​​in Spain. The Botrytis Cinerea, if conditions are favorable, gives healthy grapes with smooth skin, alternating wet and short sunny periods and absence of other microorganisms, is the main responsibility of the “noble rot” that modifies not only the color and aspect of the grape, but also alters the chemical composition of the wine. The presence of this fungus causes a decrease of more than 50% of the acidity in the grape and increases the natural concentration of sugars due to the evaporation of water. The grapes are harvested at different stages, selecting each grape at the time when most affected by the fungus. This miracle of nature allows the development of the Noble Botrytis Nadal 1510.

Nadal 1

Can Nadal de la Boadella was founded at the beginning of the 16th century. The parchment signed by the notary Francesch Berthomeu in 1510 certifies the ownership of farm land in the name of Pere Nadal, located in the municipality of Torrelavit. According to the historical documentation, the Nadal Heritage never ceased the cultivation of vines and the production of wine. Even during the difficult years of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), when a part of the estate was expropriated to build an airfield, it never stopped cultivating and harvesting the grapes.

Nadal 2

The father of Cava at Nadal. Ramon Nadal Giró was an heir with initiative. He was born in 1903, just when the farmers of the Alt Penedès had started replanting the vineyards stricken by phylloxera. In 1941 it was he who was replanting the vineyards of the estate that had served as an airfield during the war, and two years later, after building the cellar that still keeps the secrets of the best Nadal products, he began to develop the first Cava Brut that already carried the name of Nadal on the bottle.

Nadal 7

Since that time, the tradition has never stopped. The cavas and white wines together with the balsamic vinegar of Nadal’s late harvest are the result of the specialization in the cultivation of the more than 40 vineyards surrounding the winery, wine cellars and the family home, located 20 km kilometres from Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. The vines, some of which are over 65 years old, provide balanced, high quality grapes.

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Currently, the Nadal Estate produces more grapes than needed to cover the entire production. This allows the farm to select and provide the highest quality grapes for the production of the best varietal wines. The Nadal Estate grows basically the autochthonous white grape varieties of the Penedès: Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel.lo.

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The Macabeo is reputed as it allows for the creation of great wines which form the basis of complex and structured varieties of Cava, imbued with fresh and fruity aromas. Overripe on the vine, the effect of the Botritys Cinerea fungus is to provide remarkably sweet grapes that are intended for the production of fine sweet wines of the highest quality.

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The Xarel.lo, the Penedès flagship variety, produces pale wines with ochre tones, voluminous on the palate and with aromas of ripe fruit. It is essential for the cava RNG, made in honour of founder Ramon Nadal Giró, and for dry white wine which is made from aged Nadal Xarel.lo.

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The Parellada grape gives pale wines with green hues, floral and delicate aromas, and which are soft and smooth in the mouth Its use is exclusively in the production of Cava. The Pinot Noir is a French variety ideal for the production of Cavas and wines. It is the first to mature and, therefore, is the one that opens the vintage in the cellar of the Nadal Estate. It is used for the production of the Cava Salvatge Rosé.

166 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Cava Llopart, Under My Thumb in D.O. Penedes

200/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Subirats – Cava Llopart – Microcosmos Reserva Rose

Under My Thumb……,

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Microcosmos Reserva Rose, 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Monastrell

That’s right! Read that again……, 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Monastrell! No Macabeu, no Xarel.lo and no Parellada! And yes, we are still in Cavaland! Is this the best Llopart can offer? Certainly not! But if you are fond of the pink stuff, this is a excellent friend to have. Bright pink-redcurrant, a very intense color with subtle brick tones.Very fine consistent bubbles that form a nice crown. Fruity, fruity! Complex aroma of wild red fruits blended with toasted nuances from the bottle fermentation, which is a minimum of 24 months. Harmonious on the palate with a broad tasty elegance and the perfect effervescence. A long and creamy after taste. It might not get under my skin but certainly under my thumb!

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“Ex-Vite Vita ” life comes from the vine”, is the motto that has accompanied several generations of the Llopart family. This dedication culminates with the production of the first Cava Llopart in 1887 in the former farmhouse of the family. The Llopart estate is located in the hilly countryside south of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, the Cava capital, and within the boundaries of the village of Subirats. Its 60 hectares of vineyards have been divided into 3 sub zones according to microclimate and soil features. They have an average altitude of 340 m and enjoy, being protected from harsh North winds by the Montserrat massif, mild winters and sunny, not excessively hot summers. The vines receive an average 500 l / m2 of rain per year.

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Soils are generally poor, a mixture in different proportions of sand and lime, with clay here and there. Farming methods are reportedly organic, although there is no official certification. The main varieties used are the three “Cava grapes”, Parellada, Xarel.lo and Macabeu, in addition they also grow Chardonnay, Monastrell, Pinot Noir, Subirat Parent (=Malvasia), red Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Ull de Llebre (=Tempranillo). Grapes are picked by hand and selected in the vineyard. Thus Llopart produce yearly around 500’000 bottles of eight Cavas and three still wines.

Bottles Llopart

The history of this winery is documented since the fourteenth century, as stated in a scroll kept in the archives of Llopart. In 1385 an ancestor of the Llopart family, Bernardus Leopardi, receives a transfer of land, namely the current Heretat Can Llopart. The secular dedication of grape growing, ageing wine and collection of the same culminates in the development of the first bottle of champagne in 1887. Primitive labeling appeared in a characteristic pattern of his time, which represents an overview of the Heretat Can Llopart. Currently this unique engraving remains the hallmark of the house.

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The basement of the winery consists of a limestone mantle, covered by a thin layer of clay and siliceous, forming slopes and terraces. The peculiar geological site is located at 340 m. altitude, enjoying a privileged microclimate, and the use of bio-natural viticultural techniques, resulting in the production of grapes of Chardonnay, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello with unmatched personality. But this is a story for another day!

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180 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Castell d’Encus, In The Stone in D.O. Costers del Segre

194/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Talarn – Castell d’Encus – Acusp 2010

In The Stone……,

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….., in the stone you’ll find the meaning. Never, never my darling, you’ll be alone, true love is written in the stone. Making wine in large stone vats out in the nature, what does that bring to the wine? If one doesn’t know about it, it might taste just like any other good red wine. However, once you have been told this is the case, off course your mind tells you there’s more to it, than simply being a wine. Let me introduce Encus, where love is written in the stone!

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Acusp 2010, 100% Pinot Noir

This wine has neither been filtered nor stabilized and I would recommend decanting for at least half an hour. Dark garnet with a medium width rim. The nose uncovers herbaceous aromas, spicy red fruits, strawberries and raspberries, with aeration some more mature and complex nuances appear. Some floral notes of jasmine. The palate is thin, sweet, somewhat sparing in fruitiness. The after taste is medium long and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth, making me want more.

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Wine making here is all about high altitude and fermentation in stone. The origin of Castell d’Encus stems from the impact the location had on Raul Bobet in 2001 while he was looking for land that could reduce the effects of climate change on vineyards around the Catalan Pyrenees. If you think you’ve heard the name Bobet before, you’re right. Rauls Priorat project is the one of Ferrer Bobet, which is covered here.

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Back to Encus. 23 of the 95ha in the property have been planted with high density varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon and Albariño. The rest of the land remains as a forest. The intention is to produce a limited number of bottles (6000 cases or less) exclusively from the fruit of their own vineyards.

Castell d'Encus Vineyards

The elevation of the property (850-1000 meters), the excellent sun exposure and large wooded area around it, along with its long history make the place look privileged and magical. The farm has an old chapel and fermenting grapes vats carved into the rocks by the monks of the Hospitaller Order (twelfth century). The lands are generally calcareous with low organic matter content, which together with the continental climate and high thermal contrast between day and night, allows to obtain wines of high quality.

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Harvesting is done manually and in small boxes of 10kg. The wine is fermented in different materials: wooden vats and vats of stainless steel and natural stone. With these three materials wines get very different tones and shades and great aromatic complexity. Because of its medieval aspect, the farm has a large number of fermentation vats carved in stone that work by gravity. After passing a few initial tests they are being reused for fermentation and play an important part  for both the red and white wines. In the case of the Quest wine the whole fermentation process takes place in these stone vats. Believing in preserving the environment they do not use any herbicides, insecticides or fungicides, except those permitted in organic agriculture.

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The winery was the first to use cold/heat transfer processes of geothermal energy in all its processes in an effort to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact. The winery is also designed to function by gravity in all its processes and has the most advanced winemaking technology.

186 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle