Celler Cal Pla, Footprints in DOQ Priorat

306/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Porrera – Celler Cal Pla – La Carenyeta de Cal Pla 2010

Footprints.…….,

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La Carenyeta de Cal Pla 2010, 100% Carignena

Whopsy daisy! Or just WOW! What a lovely wine. Cherry colour with a maroon rim. Clean and bright, with fine tears. The sensations in the nose are full and rich with aromas of fleshy, ripe black fruit, which gives way to a series of spicy touches, cinnamon, liquorice, nutmeg, balsamic notes, aromatic herbs, smooth toast and roasted notes and a mineral background. Decisive attack, warm, broad and silky on the palate, filling the mouth with appetising fruity sensations. Sweet, ripe tannins and a magnificent, very well integrated acidity that refreshes, defines and deepens the experience. A very long and persistent finish leaving balsamic and mineral nuances. Highly recommendable. Fantastic value for money.

La Carenyeta 2010 is a single varietal (Carignena) red wine, made by Celler Cal Pla (the creators of the highly regarded Mas d’en Compte 2009), in the town of Porrera in the DOQ Priorat. The grapes come from vineyards between 70 and 80 years of age with very low yields. The production was limited to 999 bottles. The vineyards were planted on hillsides with slate soils, with altitudes between 300 and 500 meters, on a small plot of land known as Finca Els Arbres. It was aged for 14 months in French oak barrels.

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With seven generations of winemakers behind them, Joan Grau and Cristina Sangenís hold the reins of this small family winery full of history, located in Porrera in the DOQ Priorat, where they have since 1996 produced higher quality wine. The story of wine making, seven generations ago, starts already in 1814 but then , the production was for the local market and for “house use”. Priorat was, at the time, not known for elaborate, well made or elegant wines. Now a days you will find stainless steel tanks and cement tanks which houses the younger wines. Under the house, lays a spectacular aging room, the cellar, and on the arches supporting the ceiling you’ll find ancient Catalan texts, with references to wine and wine making, accompany the wines during their aging time. 

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The family currently owns around 23 ha. of vineyards, divided into 6 plots, all found near the village and in effect making their vines “Vi de la Vila” (village wine or estate wine). Out of the wines produced, the most pampered is always the “Mas del Compte”, a centennial vineyard where the wine Planots is born. All the labor, from the beginning in the vineyard to the final bottling is carried out by the family members. This winery has been growing gradually and acquiring equipment needed to simplify the tasks at hand. The whole process is artisan and manual but recently they have acquired an automatic labeling machine that will help with producing about 70,000 bottles a year, of which 80% will be aimed at export.

78 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Celler Les Cousins, Chameleon in DOQ Priorat

261/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Porrera – Celler Les Cousins – L´Inconscient Tinto Crianza 2008

Chameleon………,

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L´Inconscient Tinto Crianza 2008, 30% Carinyena, 25% Garnatxa, 20% Cabernet-Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 10% Syrah, all from the village of Porrera!

This wine is intense, both in its red colour and the taste itself! Various aromatic sensations because of the blend, slightly mature ripe fruit tones with the integration of real good ageing. The winery wants to symbolize freshness, youth, but at the same time demonstrate good product preparation. Initially it feels very balanced, a very well made wine, serious and funny at the same time, lively and fresh. The two cousins, Marc and Adria Perez, understood perfectly what the wine drinking world needs, is not another HEAVY Priorat, but rather a easy going, lightweight with a personality. All this without losing the Priorat personality, well done! A red wine with a deep flavour, with soft tannins, but accurate. The power comes from the native Carinyena and Garnatxa, adding the 45% of CabSauv, Merlot and Syrah, gives a breath of freshness and fruitiness, excellent to drink every day without starting to think about other wines! I like this one a lot………, like I haven’t said that before about other wines! All that remains is to visit the cellar next time I’m in Porrera! Happy Days!

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

123 to go!

Celler Sangenis i Vaqué, Go Your Own Way in DOQ Priorat

243/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Porrera – Celler Sangenis i Vaqué – Simfonia en Dolç 2007
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Simfonia en Dolç 2007, 90% Garnacha, 10% Cariñena
Bright garnet red, lovely depth. Candied notes (blackberry, blackcurrant) cocoa, toast and minerals. In the mouth it is spicy, fruity, powerful and with a ever lasting aftertaste.

For a very reasonable cost, a visit with tasting is a must once in Porrera.

THE TRIPP!

We, my wife and I, had recently moved to Barcelona and this was the day we would explore Priorat. As we were approaching the mythical and mystical region, we decided to get of the main road and the first sign said Porrera. That’s it! Only 6 kilometers from the main road but it took us 15 minutes to get there. The GPS, quite optimistically, wanted us to drive at the speed of 90 km/h but the windy roads wouldn’t allow more than 45 km/h. All good! All worth it! This, our first day in Priorat, we didn’t see much more than Porrera, knowing full well that we were going to be back!

The mythical Priorat

THE VILLAGE!

Formerly called Vallporrera (twelfth century Valporriera) is a derivative of leek with a collective sense. Obviously, this is the edible leek, cultivated since ancient times. It is, therefore, a Roman name, from the Latin “porrum” and would have the meaning “(valley) where the leek is plentiful.” Now, the wines is plentiful. Porrera has 14 wine cellars, a few restaurants, B&B;s and a welcoming feel! As Priorat has its micro climate, Porrera displays yet another micro climate within the DOQ. Some say, you will be able to distinguish wines from Porrera in comparison to other wines from the region.

Pure gold!

THE WINERY!

The Sangenis and the Vaques! The sign outside the winery, located on Placa Catalunya, only states DO, and the sign hasn’t changed since 1979. Priorat got it’s DOQ in 2000 and the fever started. By that time Pere Sangenis and Conxita Vaqué had been producing excellent wines for more than 20 years, although the history of winemaking runs for generations. The new generation, daughters Nuria and Maria, are now exploring historical vineyards with a modern touch. The labels stay the same, as the father still has his say so. Changing the sign, adding the Q, seems to be the least important thing for now.

The new generation.

Sangenís I Vaqué was founded in 1978 by Pere Sangenís and Conxita Vaqué. The vineyards are located in Porrera, famous for its llicorella (schist and slate) terraces and vines, all of which are venerable, and divided between Garnacha and Cariñena. Minimal intervention in the winery is the philosophy here and the wines are aged in a combination of French (85%) and American (15%) oak for 12 months. They are then bottled unfined and unfiltered and can, as a result, be seen as amongst the purest and most traditional. This is and will be, for a very long time, my favourite winery!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

138 to go!

Ferrer Bobet, Gimme Shelter in DOQ Priorat

170/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Porrera – Ferrer Bobet 2011 Seleccio Especial

Gimme Shelter….

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Ferrer Bobet 2011 Seleccio Especial

Elaborated following the guidelines of the wine tradition of the area. They have managed to create this great wine, a “Super Catalan” using 70% Carignena and 30% Garnacha, of vines in centenarians “costers” (steep slope vineyards) and terraces of slate soils. This wine has undergone an aging of 18 months in new French oak barrels. It is bottled without fining or filtering and rests in the bottle for a year. My recommendation is to decant two hours before serving. Definitely one of the best wines of Priorat.

It is very intense and very bright cherry red with purple reflections. Dense slow-falling tears. In the nose it is intense and very expressive. Ripe black fruit that explodes with fragrant floral notes (violets). Elegant notes of wood with a very wide range of spices and creamy with a hint of appealing sweetness. Chocolate, vanilla, licorice and hints of fresh balsamic mountain herbs. The palate is powerful, balanced, tasty and elegant. Suggestive and creamy fruit. All in perfect harmony and with great finesse. Long, long after taste. Full bodied, bulky, with a velvety texture and excellent acidity.

Another occasion tasting the Ferrer Bobet wines! Happy Days!

Another occasion tasting the Ferrer Bobet wines! Happy Days!

 

As show so many times before…, passion goes a long way! Wine being the common denominator, for the two friends, Sergi Ferrer-Salat and Raül Bobet, and from this springs the cellar of Ferrer Bobet. They too wanted to show the world that Priorat holds a magic touch! Their project was started in 2002, but only during 2008 were they able to release their first two wines. In order to make these wines happen, Ferrer Bobet used Carignena and Garnacha vareties, which were planted on some of the best vineyards in Priorat some hundred years ago. These vineyards have an exceptional slate soil, locally known as “llicorella”, and a topography characterized by steep slopes and high elevations that guarantee optimal ripening and ideal night/day temperature fluctuations, fundamental for preserving flavors and acidity.

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Sergi and Raül has their work laid out, as their own vineyards will need a good number of years before they start producing high quality wines, loads of miles to go! They have planted Syrah, Garnacha, Carignena, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier. The choice of varieties goes in harmony with their philosophy but also, the plats work well with the Priorat microclimate and soil conditions. Early on it was decided that they would go for sustainable viticulture, using no insecticides, fungicides and/or herbicides. The winemaking is based on the principle that the wine derives from the soil, so that would be the fundamental approach throughout the process. In addition, they have designed one of the coolest wineries in the Priorat!

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The estate is located between Porrera and Falset, and carries various characteristics that gives it great potential, all crucial with regards to choice of location. This area is well know for an additional microclimate within the microclimate and holds some of the very best vineyards on offer in the Priorat. The soil here holds a very high proportion of llicorella, a quality only seen in the top vineyards in the Priorat. The site is in one of the coolest, steepest and highest elevations of the appellation, factors which contribute to optimal phenolic ripeness and help preserve flavors and acidity. Likewise, the site’s varied aspects create a rich diversity of mesoclimates and bring the opportunity to create wines of particular complexity and depth.

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The cellar itself offers perfect working conditions and allows the use of gravity during the whole winemaking process, from fruit reception to bottling. At the reception point of the winery, each berry is selected at the sorting tables. Fermentation takes place in small receptacles, usually oak barrels, so that each vineyard can be vinified individually. The wine is aged in French oak barrels of 225 liters during a minimum period of 12 months, after which they are bottled unfiltered, in order to preserve their organoleptic qualities.

 Above all, both Ferrer Bobet and Ferrer Bobet Selecció aim to reflect the terroir, which gave them birth in the first place. The goal of their orthodoxy in vine-growing and winemaking is, precisely, to achieve a purity  that surpasses any of the techniques employed, so that whoever tastes their wines will be able to experience the mineral essence, complex and profound, of Priorat, without ever losing any of its freshness, elegance and purity.

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209 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Clos Dominic, Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, DOQ Priorat

46/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Porrera – Clos Dominic – Clos Dominic Blanc 2009

Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car…….

Servicing the car is something to be taken seriously! Now, I do know this should be about wine and, bare with me, it will. I have to, however, stress the importance of my car! Friday, two days ago, I managed finally to get the old Peugeot to the garage for servicing, new brakes, tires and full service. All new fluids should keep it going for a while longer. Without the car, no visits to cellars and no stories to write home about.

Had this beauty during a stint in England. Drove it across Europe and to Sweden where I exchanged it for....

Had this beauty during a stint in England. Drove it across Europe and to Sweden where I exchanged it for….

Passion for wine is comparable to passion for cars. during Fridays visit to the garage I remembered, 25 years ago, how I would visit a friend that worked at a Peugeot garage in Sweden and we would talk cars, passion for cars!

.... this beauty which, unfortunately is not being used to much. Al though it did manage to get to Spain from Sweden during winter!

…. this beauty which, unfortunately is not being used to much. Although it did manage to get to Spain from Sweden during winter!

During that time I drove Alfa Romeo, my first Alfa, after which there has been many more and I still have one now, although it is not the work car. Now I don’t claim there’s such a thing as a perfect wine, and there is certainly not a perfect car, least of all Alfa Romeo.

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But…., the soul and the passion is what matters. If a car (like a wine maker) has soul and passion, that can go a long way.  My love and passion for cars will always remain and the memories of the first Alfa will always be present, in one way or the other. Just like the memories of the first wine.

Dominic at Clos Dominic!

Dominic at Clos Dominic!

Dominic and Paco have both soul and passion and this shows clearly in the wine produced at the backstreet garage/bodega in Porrera. But who needs a huge elaborate winery when the wine comes from the vineyards. One of the best vineyards of Priorat belongs to Clos Dominic and, as simple as that, this is the reason for their extraordinary wines. Soul and passion!

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It all started in 1986, when Dominic and Paco acquired their first vineyards. Borrowing money from friends and family they continued by getting a hold of “La Tena” vineyard which is now the core of the production of Clos Dominic wines. Paco is the vintner and Dominic is the wine maker, nowadays together with their children.

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It’s a a family affair and the boss here is Dominic, that’s for sure. When I have visited, I have met both on several occasions, but I have gotten to know, the well spoken and very humoristic, Paco better! I dare say he’s the funniest wine maker in Priorat!

Paco the vintner inspecting the vines!

Paco the vintner inspecting the vines!

The first time I came to try some of their reds, my arrival was announced by friends in Priorat that are family friends of Clos Dominic. That day they had a group of wine lovers from France visiting and as I arrived they were in the midst of tasting some wines. I was noticed by both Dominic and Paco as I came down to the cellar stairs and immediately received as a long time acquaintance.

Paco with a friend outside the cellar!

Paco with a friend outside the cellar!

I was offered a glass of their white, of which I took a whiff and in that stride asked to have a case put on the side for me. Paco told me, almost laughing, that he only had two bottles left. So it had to be the two then! Much later that same afternoon, the French group decided they also wanted to buy, not only the reds, but also the white! To late! I am still smiling today, when I think of this wine loving moment. But it goes to prove, the small wineries here don’t have abundance of bottles just lying around.

Barrel room at Clos Dominic!

Barrel room at Clos Dominic!

I was told, and I guess the story is the same all over Priorat, that 80% of all wines produced here are exported. So when a nice one, different one, one with soul comes along, you’d better make up you mind quickly or suffer the consequences, like the French had to do. Out of the two I managed to get, one is still safe and sound, but not much longer. I don’t save wine, I enjoy it in the glass!

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Clos Dominic Blanc 2009, Garnacha Blanca, Macabeu, Pedro Ximenez, Picapoll Blanc and Riesling

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Bright yellow to gold colour with nice fatty tears. Very aromatic nose with clear barrel notes. Toasty, smoky and spicy with fruit as secondary. The entry is wide with aromas of vanilla and toast. Followed by aniseed. It is crisp and balanced, has personality and long after-taste. I have never come across any white like this one, just look at the grape coupatge! It is simply a different wine and maybe that’s why I like it like I do. You need to love powerful whites to enjoy this one! Only 300 bottles are produced so first come…….

327 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle