Satisfy My Soul and 15 Delicious Reds from Catalonia!

412 – 426/365 – Catalonia – 15 Delicious Reds

Satisfy My Soul……….,

I haven’t quite decided what to write about tomorrow and I can’t really say what I am going to do with the blog in 2015. That it will continue, in one way or the other, is clear and I am thinking that I might post once a week and then only do videos, as to change the theme somewhat. As for New Years Eve…., there will be wine, that’s for sure and there will be Cava, no Champagne! So, I’ll either do a piece on a good red or a Cava, or why not both? Catch me tomorrow and you’ll see, but whatever it is, it will Satisfy My Soul and hopefully yours as well! Thank you Bob! And now for some of the great reds from Catalonia! Enjoy!

a_7_177La Llopetera, 100% Pinot Noir

Just the fact that Sanahuja makes this wine using Pinto Noir gives me chills! And how they have managed to give it utmost care is to be admired. I really, really, want you to try this wine! I’m sure you’ll be intrigued and positively surprised whit regards to what can be produced here in the Conca de Barbera, if the wine maker is skilled. This wine has been made without any filtration or clarification, fermented with natural yeasts from the vineyard. As a result, the wine has virtually no sulfur. The aging is 6 months in French oak barrels. The Escoda-Sanahuja winery practice ecologic viticulture and to some extent biodynamic as well. This wine has been made using biodynamic principles.

Light ruby color. The nose shows a lot, a virtual dance (samba?) takes place. Berries in masses, Mediterranean forest, fresh cut fennel, underbrush, chalk……. The palate is delicate, easy, wide and quite fleshy. The wine has clear varietal and mineral character, which include fine notes of red fruits on light backgrounds of wood. Super fresh and elegant. It will get even better with time, my guess is that should have been drunk now, as it is still unruly and young. Will age slowly improving in character and elegance, give it another few years and I’m sure this will be a great one!

DSC_1083L’Antana 2009, 100% Merlot

This wine displays the benefits of slow, even ripening during a mild growing season. Though there is fullness and a lush character to this Merlot, there is also restraint and elegance. Promising aromas of cherry, red plum, raspberry, and dried herbs lead to a clean fresh entry with impeccably balanced acidity suporting intense red fruit flavors of cranberry, plum and raspberry. Round, supple tannins provide an enticing framework for the flavors and contribute to a lingering finish. Age a few more years and you won’t be disappointed!

1980213_1473071126244012_988613148_oTerra Remota Usted 2009, Garnacha and Syrah

Splendid garnet red colour with light reflections of tile. A wine with finesse that I dare call opulent and big. Smoked bacon, cherry and truffles are the aromas that are primary and easily detected. Caramel, liquorice and tobacco are present but all intertwined in the most stylish way. A silky and smooth entry, classy and elegant with silky tannins. Toasted almonds, mineral notes and lingering soft spices. The after-taste is long almost chewy but the tannins are soft.

DSC_0802Sons 2012, 100% Monastrell – Fermented in clay amphoras in the vineyards of Sicus.

The Sons is a wine that I intend to keep one bottle of and open it in 12 – 14 years as I am sure it can stand at-least that amount of time.  The color is dark cherry, slightly bluish, pink rim with heavy and fatty tears, receding slowly. The first nose says a lot, leave me alone for a while and you shall be rewarded. A multitude of aromas evolve during the 2 hour tasting and there is a lot of fruit but also herbs and underbrush. Elegant floral aromas with intense aromas of red fruits such as mature strawberries, raspberries and currants. It is a mouthful, almost to be cut with a knife. The strain of Monastrell holds everything and concentration of the vintage gives very deep rustic shades, with cherries, raspberry, carob and chocolate.  No food is needed and one glass of this bundle of joy can last forever!

93-ceps93 Ceps, 100% Sumoll (one of my favorite, Catalan, red grape varieties)

As the name indicates, 93 Ceps, (93 vines), the Sumoll grapes come from only 93 vines! The vineyard is 60 years old and located in Santa Maria de Martorelles. The harvest was carried out during the first two weeks of October, collected in boxes of 15 kg. The harvest is de-stemmed and tread lightly and led throughout by gravity, without the use of pumps. The wine is fermented and macerated in stainless steel tanks of 1000 liter. 21 day resting period with 3 pigeages daily. Malolactic fermentation is done in barrels of 225 liters of various backgrounds and different levels of toast. Aged for 14 months in new French Allier oak barrels. Production below 1,000 bottles.

Medium cherry red color, shiny and bright, clean. The nose has good intensity, expressive and crisp varietal definition. Fresh red fruit (cherries, strawberries, plums) are dominating. Menthol, with notes of Mediterranean forest (thyme syrup , rosemary) are nicely laid out and carries the wine further to a second dimension. There are marked aging notes (aromatic cacao, lactic, smoked and curious notes of oriental spices (turmeric, curry leaves, cardamom) and a hint of graphite pencil lead. Intense spicy finish. A wine with a great personality.

brao-vinyes-velles-2011_g_577Braó 2011, selection of vines, 60 years of age to almost centenarian plants of Garnacha, Garnacha Peluda and Samsó (Carignan)

Braó was widely used as a word for strength and courage. These are the words that best define these very old and wonderful vineyards, which against all possible odds have offered rare and unique grapes. Bright cherry colour, intense, clean and bright with violet hues. Abundant slow-falling, dark tears staining the glass. Nose of ripe fruit, sweet spices, expressive, complex, elegant. Tasty, fruity, ripe tannins. Powerful, bulky attack. Slow, concentrated, silky and tasty in the mouth. Some intense tannins, a little bit rough but compensated with a very refreshing and defined acidity. Long and persistent finish with fruity notes. A serious wine full of life and joy!  12-13 months French oak. Powerful wine, structured, deep but with great elegance and finesse to drink now or store for many years.

DSC_0054Cal Batllet, 5 Partides 2009, 100% Carignena, from very old vines!

Aged for 15 months in French oak. 100% new barrels. The barrels are of 225 liters and the fermentation is carried out in open barrels at a maximum temperature of 26 º C, 4 pigiage daily, gentle extraction, long gestation and high control. Respecting the grapes fully! “Gratallops Vi de la Vila” is the new appellation for the wines produced from Gratallops, inspired by the Burgundy philosophy of village wines.

The color is dark ink but not opaque, it is more of a deep purple. Red and black fruit with an overlay of jammy blackberries and red currant. This is a complex wine and the secondary notes were a bit hard to read as they were evolving minute by minute, but ground coffee and underbrush were present most of the time, blue berries and cassis showed up to join the show as well as slight hints of cedar and spices. The mouth receives a harmonious mix of savory ripe fruit, smooth and velvety with a multitude of rich flavors endorsed by time, better by the minute. Have I found new favorite from Priorat? Yes, because they are ALL my favorites!

destrankis-2012Destrankis 2012, 80% Garnacha and 20% Cariñena

Bright red cherry color with violet tones, middle layer. The nose is full of fruit, light touches of menthol, green leaves and pine. Good combination of fresh red fruit, herbs, thyme, rosemary and mineral notes. The palate shows some minerality. This is a fresh and balanced wine. Licorice, balsamic and butter, with a slight touch of camphor. The palate is light but persistent, with a subtle mineral background showing where it comes from. If you like Grenache, this is a wine for you!

Sot Lefriec 2004Sot Lefriec, 50% Merlot, 30% Carignan and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon (D.O. Penedes)

The fermentation of this particular wine takes place in small tanks on wild yeasts. There are no pumps in the winery as the wines are moved using inert gas to avoid any uncontrolled oxidation. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan were harvested approximately 10 days later than usual or what would be considered normal for the varieties and region. Prefermentation maceration and alc. fermentation around 30-35 days for Merlot and Cab. Sauv. and around 25 days for Carignan , which is also longer than usual. During these periods, there are daily remontages and pigeages. Sot Lefriec 2004 has spent 23 months ageing in French oak barrels, 70% new oak. This is a super small garage producer, that works out of Vilafranca del Penedes, so if you see a bottle of Sot Lefriec on a shelve be sure to grab it fast!

DSC_0036Negre de Negres 2012, Garnacha Tinta, Carignena, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah

Down and down I go, round and round I go, like a leaf that’s caught in a tide….., Black Magic is found in abundance in this Super Catalan that Alfredo Arribas had created by most probably using magic? This is a wine that shouldn’t exist, at least not in this region, because it defies all sensory logics when it comes to what the Priorat region equals and what wines from here in general are all about. Even the price is magical, an absolute value for money! And that, my friends, is why it is a Super Catalan.

Bugader-400x400Bugader 2006, Syrah 85%, Garnacha 15%

Cherry color with violet borders, high layers. Fine and elegant nose, floral notes, red and black fruits and a hint of wood. Its evolution is insatiable, pastries, balsamic, elegant wood, herbs, butterscotch, chocolate, cocoa, coffee….. What I have in the glass, is a great wine, very well put together (produced) and well balanced, harmonious and amazing nose. It is one of those wines that puts everything in perspective, primary, secondary and tertiary aromas dancing together as one at the end! Once in the mouth it is elegant and polished. Large and round, not tired or exhausted, very long and sweet. Very elegant balance. Make sure to decant at least half an hour and make sure to get two bottles when you buy this one, you’re gonna need them both!

escur10_174x241Els Escurçons 2010, Garnacha and Syrah

How much soul can a wine have? After trying Els Escurçons I´d say, unquantifiable! This is a wine with a beautiful dark cherry color, garnet rim and medium high layers. Bright and clean. The nose, after a while of areation, is spicy with creamy aromas, slightly oaky, ripe and complex. It is very expressive showing varietal fruit notes, like mature black berries. Mediterranean herbs, like thyme, fennel, rosemary and even a slight scent of lavender. Complex, in terms of the roasted notes found, chocolate and balsamic.It is powerful and elegant on the palate with a broad and intense entry, good acidity and polished tannins. It has a long finish with aromatic retronasal memories of spice, red fruit, herbs, wildflowers and light toast. Soul in a bottle! Love this Super Catalan!

DSC_0461Sileo 2013, 80% Garnacha and 20% Samsó

This IS the color of dark cherry! Some purple hues, clean and clear. Thick and abundant tears. The nose is clean and honest aromas of red and black fruit appear, strawberries and blackberries on a slightly spicy background which highlights the vanilla and coconut and light smoky notes. The palate is fresh, satiny, with sweet tannins and well integrated with the alcohol. It is a powerful, elegant and expressive wine, which blends red fruit with notes of pastry and fine woods. Long aftertaste where the fruit blends with notes of wood. Got to love this one!

0001692_HLaurel 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah

Dark cherry color with cardinal red reflections. Clean and bright, abundant tears. High intensity nose, expressive, full, concentrated and enjoyable. Ripe black fruit dominates and gives way to floral notes, spicy, toasted (which after a while become roasted) and deep minerals. The palate has a powerful entrance with a lot of volume. It is a fleshy red wine, with great weight deriving from the fruit, tasty, unctuous step, with excellent acidity and ripe tannic sensation. Balanced, long finish and very persistent. Laurel 2012 comes from the small winery Clos i Terrasses, led by Daphne Glorian, creator of the legendary and excellent Clos Erasmus. Laurel 2010 is a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, aged for 15 months in second year barrels, in which the Clos Erasmus was aged. Recommend decanting about two hours. Another true Super Catalan!

Ay de mi 2010,Vins del tros,Terra Alta,Spain,vino-vi.com,-400x400Ay De Mi 2010, Garnacha Negra and Syrah

Oye Como Va, means “Hey how’s it going”….., Ay De Mi translates to “Oh My!”. And f I was a lazy bugger, which I admit to being at times, I would simply conclude the tasting with just that….., Oh My!!! Aromatic, well made and tasty are words that immediately come to mind! But let me be a bit more specific. The color is cherry red with purple edges. Tears that stain the glass. Primaries of black fruit with hits of spices, cinnamon and vanilla. Delicate notes of aromatic herbs and licorice at the background. Ample and rich on the palate with high presence of very ripe fruit, red sauce, ground pepper, cinnamon and caramel latte. Polished tannins and earthy feeling to end. The Garnatcha Negra and Syrah for this cool wine comes from the D.O. of Terra Alta. From vines growing at 400 meters in elevation with significant temperature fluctuations from day to night, this is a cool and balanced wine. It has aged for 12 months in barrels 50% newer and 50% older. Try with savory roasts, braises, and rich, meaty fare.

And then there was only 1 to go, tomorrow is the last day of 365 in a row!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

The winery of Alta Alella, Tell Me If You Still Care in D.O. Alella

188/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Alella – Alella – Alta Alella – Merla 2012

Tell Me If You Still Care……,

Merla300x451

Merla 2012, (Natural Wine)

Cherry coloured wine with good aromatic intensity which highlights fruit aromas, amongst which blackberry’s stand out. Some nice licorice notes of well integrated oak ageing and slight woody notes but not at all overwhelming. On the palate, its acidity makes the wine fresh and again, loads of fruity notes. Soft tannins that are very pleasing, long and persistent after taste. The Cavas from Alta Alella are some of my favourite Cavas but this is certainly a great and different natural wine! Lo and behold the crux of the issue and the great secret of Merla: the raw material with which this wine is made. ​​Interspecific grape: a hybrid designed from clones crossing a few varieties that have proven resistant to various vine diseases. A grape-name-in-time, resulting from genetic engineering but is capable of delivering a very noble expression wine with rich fruit load (blackberries, plums) on a mineral background, delicate tannins and with fresh acidity and generous mouth. I LIKE!!!

Natural-wines1

I have to say that Alella was something that I never heard of during my first year and a half here in Catalonia. I guess I was fully busy covering Priorat, Montsant and the “famous” wine making regions here. Opened my eyes when I first came in touch with wine makers from Alella during a wine fair in Barcelona. Off course all of them were raving about their own region of Alella and the wines produced there. That is and will always be the case with wine makers, my region is the best and my wines are certainly the very best. No need to drink anything else! Full stop!

Alta Alella vineyards

Here in Catalonia and the rest of Spain, as well as most, if not all Mediterranean countries, local products are the best! Originating from Croatia, having a mother that always held to her principles of all things from my island, as well as the island it self, is the best in the world! That’s it! No discussion! Mother dearest, have you been to all other parts of the world? Have you tried products made in other parts of the world? Truth being, my parents always spent their summer vacations in Croatia and in their opinion, why bother going anywhere else when the best was right there?

My kid brother (with the best baseball cap) with my dad. In the best boat, in the best waters in the best country in the world!

Now, I grew up in Sweden. Whole different ball game. In Sweden, you can’t say that all things Swedish are the best, it’s a rule! Stick with it! Good thing about Swedish alcohol politics (having a state monopoly on alcohol), is that the Systembolaget provides wines from all over the world. And due to this fact, I dare say that Swedish consumers are knowledgeable and picky when it come to wine. This is my background, now back to D.O. Alella!

Alella Vineyards

I keep discovering wineries all over Catalonia. I have been enlightened when it comes to the DO:s and know most of them quite well. I do not know all the producers and I guess it will take another lifetime to visit them all and try their, in most cases, wonderful wines. Is Alella the best in the world? Well, the day you are there, the day you sit in the sun outside the winery, you are visiting that day, having a glass of wine or Cava in your hand, YES! That very day, Alella s the best wine growing region in the whole world!

A glass of wine in the sun

D.O. Alella is conveniantly located only  15 km to the north of the city of Barcelona, which makes it the closes wine making region to this bustling city and perfect for a day trip. It is one of the smallest DOs in Spain as the vineyards have been encroached upon by urban development. Presently it only covers one third of the area that it covered in 1956 when it was established.

Alta Alella Winery

Wine production has existed in the area since the time of the ancient Romans, mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia and by Martial in his Epigrams, during this time known as vins laietans. Structures have been found at the archaeological site of Veral de Vallmora, near Teià, showing that wine was made there from the 1st to 4th centuries AD. During the Middle Ages Alella wine was served at the court of the Kings of Aragón. As all wine making regions in Europe, Alella to suffered from the phylloxera at the end of the 19th century but the vineyards were successfully replanted using rootstock from the New World.

New World Rootstock

During the 1920s the region was famous for its Cava. In the 1980s new varieties were introduced and the wine-making methods modernized. The wineries are urban mansions that are built on the slopes overlooking the sea. The height above sea level of the vineyards determines the variety grown and thus the type of wine produced.

There are two distinct areas within the DO:

Maresme, on the foothills overlooking the sea, is influenced by the sun and the Mediterranean breezes. The hills protect the vines from the cold winds and condense the humidity caused by the sea. The wines from this area are smooth with low acidity levels.

Alella in the lower left corner

Vallès, on the interior slopes facing inland, has a more continental climate. The wines are stronger and more acidic.

The most interesting feature of the D.O. of Allella is the distinctive topsoil which is known as sauló in Catalan. It is basically a white granite-based sand which is very porous and retains heat very well. This helps the grapes to ripen, while the low water retention properties are compensated by the local humid microclimate. The older vines grow freely while the newer vineyards have been planted on trellises. Planting density is between 2,000 and 3,500 vines per hectare. 

Alta Alella Vineyards

The winery of Alta Alella is a family business project that started in the early 1990’s. Wine entrepreneur and enologist Josep Maria Pujol-Busquets and his wife Cristina Guillén began this winemaking adventure with enthusiasm after purchasing the art-deco Can Genis Estate, located in the agricultural part of Serralada de Marina Natural Park between the towns of Alella and Tiana.

The family at Alta Alella

In 1991, Alta Alella planted its first vines alongside the other traditional variety of Alella, Pansa Blanca (Xarel·lo), followed by a diversity of grape varieties, including  the long forgotten Mataró grape which had not been cultivated since the phylloxera epidemic. During the 1990’s the winery and the laboratory were built and the main house was renovated.

The Mataró grape

After a period of ten years, in 2001, Alta Alella was about to produce its first still wines, the fruitful result of the 6 hectares distributed over terraces and slopes. Currently, in the DO Alella, Alta Alella has 17 hectares situated at an altitude of 100-250m above sea level. Since the undertaking the entire production of Alta Alella has been based on certified organic farming, consciously preserving the biodiversity of the surrounding Natural Park. Therefore, many of the techniques used are as ancient as winemaking itself. The harvest is carried out manually — the grapes are carefully selected– over a period of about two months.

The new barrel room at Alta Alella

Today, Alta Alella has evolved into a highly mature vineyard and as a prestigious brand. The newly-built Visitor Center where wine lovers have a chance to discover Alta Alella’s privileged location while tasting the still and sparkling wines. This beautiful site is overlooking the magnificent view of the Mediterranean Sea.

193 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle