The winery Vinicola del Nordest, Get Ready for D.O. Emporda

350/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Mollet de Peralada – Vinicola del Nordest – Garrigal 1999

Get Ready…….,

exactGarrigal 1999, 35% Garnatxa 35% Samsó 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot

Ruby red color, terra-cotta colored rim and a  middle layer. Powerful aromas of red and black fruits with a background of spices and toast, from the aging. The palate is round, fleshy and structured. The acidity is very fresh and the tannins are very round, giving the impression of creaminess. It has an excellent balance with a good palate and long finish. It is a wine with a strong personality. It is a wine that has a pleasant mouthfeel and a long aftertaste. It got to spend a year on American (70%) and French (30%) oak.

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Vinicola del Nordest Is a winery which ages and bottles wines under the D.O. Empordà. It is located in the village of Mollet de Peralada, located in the foothills of the Les Alberes, where there are around 300 hectares of vineyard.

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The wines are made in the cooperative just across the road under proper analytical and temperature control. From there, the best wines are selected to produce a range which goes from the “nouveau” style of a Vi Novell through a ranges of whites, rosés and varietals wines to the reds.

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One of the winery’s specialities is the production of naturally sweet wines, the Moscatel, Mistela Negra and Garnatxa typical of the region.

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The village of Mollet de Peralada is also registered in the D.O. Cava and the sparkling wines have been made here since the winery’s inception. There is also a small shop at the winery where other natural produce of the region may be purchased, as well as having the opportunity to taste the wines.

covest-cabernet-sauvignon-378745Covest, 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Garnacha Negra, 2009

Clear and bright, deep ruby ​​color with violet notes on the rim. Intense aromas of black berries, slight cedar, green peppers, fruity. Palate is well structured with soft, round tannins. Black-currant, licorice, blueberries. Round and long to medium long finish. An easy going red from Emporda, well made and considering the price a really good buy!

36 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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Celler Orto Vins, Te Busco in D.O. Montsant

325/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – El Masroig – Celler Orto Vins – La Carrerada 2010

Te Busco……,

Carrerada 2010La Carrerada 2010, 100 % Samsó/Carinyena

Cherry red color with a garnet rim and high middle layer. This is the kind of wine you could smell all day long, really no need to drink it……, except the fact …., that would defy the whole purpose of its being. The aromas are amazing. Good intensity, mineral, spicy and warm. Black fruit, menthol, spearmint, balsamic. A very special nose that I think would appeal to most wine lovers. Although the taste carries some of the same properties, like black fruit, it is not as sweet as the nose. Slightly immature fruit, with high acidity. In the mouth it has a strong presence, enveloping with a good volume and satiny feel. It feels meaty and heavy, giving the tannins plenty of space but the aftertaste lacks length. Anyhow, I’d venture to say this is a great wine and not only because it is Catalan!

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The Samsó, Carinyena, Sinsó or Carignan, is a black grape variety. The Carignan grape is very small and compact, of medium grain, round in its shape and of a bluish to black color. It contains lots of juice and plenty of sweet flavors. It is a productive variety but sensitive to diseases. It buds late and is therefor not affected by early spring frosts. Wines made by using Carignan have little body, little color but a strong fruity taste. It is used to make rosé wines or blends with Grenache grapes to produce light wines that are soft and that has harmony. The large amount of tannins makes it suitable for aging, especially if it has been blended with Tempranillo or Grenache.

The name “Samsó” derives from the French Cinsaut. It is grown throughout the Mediterranean between the Rhone and the Ebro. It is a traditional variety of ancient and unknown origin. It has been successfully transplanted to South Africa where it goes under the name Hermitage. It is one of the main varieties in many of the Catalan appellations, like D.O. Conca de Barbera, D.O. Costers del Segre, D.O. Empordà, D.O. Montsant, D.O. Penedès, D.O. Tarragona and D.O. Terra Alta, not to forget  DOQ  Priorat.

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July 18, 2008 is the birthdate of Orto Vins in the D.O. Montsant. Four farmers previously working at the cooperative Masroig, with a long wine making tradition in their families, created Orto Vins. Perhaps the best known is Joan Asens on whose incredible knowledge, sensitivity and experience, the foundation for the success of his project is relying.

Orto Vins wine maker

But this is a winery in which the land and labor are essential ingredients. Each of the four partners are important and do what they do best, whether in the field, in the cellar or at wine sales. During the span of about two years, parents died and left some vineyards. The idea was born, let’s make wine from our vineyards and with our own brand!

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Bottle the goodness of the vineyards, enjoy the added features and offer the flavors of the most emblematic grapes of the region. The vineyards have a highly individual character, looked after devotedly for years by different generations of their families. They now use those grapes to create four special wines which they call the ‘singularidades de Orto’, effectively the Orto singular wine collection.

"Singularidades de Orto"

Alongside these four single varietals, of Cariñena, Ull de Llebre, Garnacha Peluda and Picapoll Negre, they also make two entry level wines – a red and a white – and two deliciously fresh, sweet wines. The sweets are naturally sweet and the vintage grapes makes them unique. All the wines are made in keeping with biodynamic agricultural methods, with total respect for the vineyard and the land.

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Orto Vins is looking for beauty, purity, the expression of the terroir and the grape, and therein lies its name. According to their explanation, “Orto refers to the particular moment in time when the sun, or any other star, crosses the horizon line and becomes visible in our hemisphere. It therefore symbolizes the dawning of a new day. Orto (or Ortho) is also a prefix of Greek origin, meaning ‘straight’, ‘exact’ or even ‘true’”.

 

63 to go!

 

Celler El Masroig, Remember D.O. Montsant

279/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – El Masroig – Celler El Masroig – Les Sorts Jove 2013

Remember………,

Jove 2013Les Sorts Jove 2013,  40% Samsó (Cariñena), 30% Syrah, 20% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) and 10% Garnacha Negra

Cherry red color with violet edges, bright and medium high layer. Due to the carbonic maceration this wine shows intense fruitiness in the nose. It features notes of red fruits and berries with hints of spice and a slight dairy touch. It is a young wine and some alcoholic notes are surfacing. The palate is very fresh and fruity, light and easy to go. Consistency is typical of wines subjected to carbonic maceration. Demonstrating medium acidity and round, although, light body. Nice mid-length aftertaste. A wine from D.O. Montsant at this price, is great value for the money! It is a very fruity, fresh and expressive wine, pleasant and easy to drink. My recommendation is to get it down to about 14 – 16 degrees to get to enjoy it at its best. Nice everyday wine!

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Founded in 1917, this is one of the most important wineries in the Priorat county. It encompasses approximately 500 hectares of vineyards, all under the Montsant Denomination of Origin, and is one of the largest wineries within the DO. Today the winery looks to the future with a determination to continue the path of improvement and transformation started in recent years. The winemakers of “Celler el Masroig” are sons and daughters of this land. They are the children of men and women who have built upon the techniques of a thousand year-old tradition, applying technology developed to meet the quality demands of today’s customers. Taking a glass of wine to the lips is much more than just tasting a product. You explore the character of a landscape and culture which is reflected in each of the notes that give the wine body.

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Harvest is 2.5 million kg, spread between the grape varieties of Carignan, Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah. The ground is predominantly of red clay, an important factor that influences the quality of the vintage. The light of the sun reflected by the red earth around the grapes contributes importantly in the ripening of the fruit. The dryness of summer, the poor fertility of the terrain, the mountainous landscape and the Mediterranean climate are all key influences.

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The Denomination of Origin Montsant is ring-shaped, circling practically all of the DOQ Priorat area. Formerly D.O. Montsant was a part of D.O. Tarragona, but with its unique characteristics, and similarity to the wines of the Priorat area, the winemakers wanted to separate their wines from the rest of the produce of Tarragona. So, in 2002, D.O. Montsant was created, enabling the vintners to present the vineyards under one common distinction. 

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The characteristics of the DO Montsant wines are the local varieties Garnacha and Carignena which together with the qualities of the soil and climate and the contribution of other grape varieties produce excellent wines. The winery of Masroig is situated in the very heart of Montsant, where the wine is elaborated and carefully aged under controlled conditions. The vineyards however are located in different areas of the D.O. Montsant, in small estates.
OliThis is a huge player in Montsant, with an impressive range of wines in different price categories. They produce several reds, whites and roses as well as their Mistelas, made using the Solera system and only using Carignena. From the surrounding olive trees, they churn out Arbequina olive oil and for some of the world markets they have also decided to produce some bag in box wine, they how ever won’t be covered on Catalan Wine 365, not because they’re bag in box, simply because I prefer to write about bottled wines. Have a great Sunday wine lovers, now it’s time for a visit to the wine fair in Barcelona!

105 to go!

Vinyes d’en Gabriel, September Song in D.O. Montsant

278/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Darmós – Vinyes d’en Gabriel – Mans de Samsó 2009

September Song…….,

mans_de_samsoMans de Samsó 2009, 100% Carinyena

Bright and clear color with intense violet hues. The nose is intense, and if you’ve had Montsant wines before, you could clearly tell this too is a wine from this region, carries a lot of the soil and terroir. Presence of balsamic and aromas of pine tree. Touches of liquorice notes, anise and minerals, with hints of fennel and cherry. The palate is seductively moreish, full-bodied and well structured. It is a quite complex wine, has a lot of character and with after tastes of mineral notes, canned fruit and berries. Hands of Carignena, certainly shows of the best that this variety can offer!

This is a wine of very limited production, only about 800-900 bottles, made exclusively from Carignan grapes (known in parts of Catalonia as Samsó), the vines are between 80 and 100 years old. The good work of Vinyes d’en Gabriel does not surprise anyone who has had the opportunity to taste their wines with a slightly more affordable price, but with this varietal their efforts have been recognized with a maximum score given by Guia de Vins de Catalunya in the 2012 issue. The tastings for this guide are done blind. A delicious Carignan, full of aromas and flavors of wild berries, with mineral notes that transports us to the landscape that gave us this wine. The D.O. Montsant!

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This is a story that begins over 150 years ago, from the day that the grandfather, Joan Rofes planted the first vines at Casa Gabriel in Darmós, with a dream that has been passed down to his descendants. To explain this long story we have to go back to the nineteenth century: there we have Grandfather Joan Rofes, who inherited Casa Gabriel in Darmós and began the winegrowing tradition by planting his own vines one by one and then making the resulting wine on the lower floor of his own home.

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Grandfather Joan was a strong, hardworking man who was convinced of the qualities of the soil that would nurture his vines and their fruit, generation upon generation. Even back then he was cultivating the land organically, following natural cycles and with the firmly held belief that to get the best results all you had to do was listen to what the land and the vines were telling you. His descendants have held true to this belief over the passing of the years and the growth of the winery as it moved from the house itself to a larger space in Darmós.

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Over the course of the bodega’s 150-year history, no chemical products have been used to treat or boost the production of the vines. The result is the vigorous, healthy, wise soil that is treated today, with the same respect that it was shown in the early days of Casa Gabriel. These painstaking efforts have proved valuable: in the twenty-first century, Josep Maria Anguera, part of the fourth generation, has create today’s Vinyes d’en Gabriel bearing in mind the foundations of the old bodega. The spacious and modern new facilities are in the spirit of the old house.

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This is a dream underpinned by perseverance, daily work in the field, and harmonious dialogue with the land, combining to enable Vinyes d’en Gabriel to offer you these honest, expressive and utterly genuine wines. Welcome to Montsant!

106 to go!

Acustic Celler, Baby Please Don’t Go, D.O. Montsant

260/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Marçà – Acustic Celler – Braó 2011

Baby Please Don’t Go…….,

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Braó 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.

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I had heard about Albert Jane from his brother Gerard, and others that had already had the opportunity to try his wines first hand, before visiting Acustic Celler. Told myself, over and over again, we should visit him in Marçà to see what all the fuss was about. It was like the days before Christmas. You know something nice is going to be wrapped in those presents under the tree. We got to meet a great winemaker and try his wines in the vineyards, where they were born. If the vine could sing, I imagine lyrics like……., “That I can change the world, I would be the sunlight in your universe………

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Barcelona – Marçà, an easy 1 hour 40 minutes drive, southwesterly direction and way closer to the ancient city of Tarragona. Off course, one must take into consideration the temptation to maybe stop for a winery visit in Priorat, as it is on the way. Several signs trying to lure you to visit cellars, none of which are bad. Now, this time, that was not the reason we were slightly late for our appointment, rather the fact that we missed the winery and had to look for it in the village. The GPS hadn’t been updated for quite some time so the address was not coming up.

Normally, in these small villages, people will know where the wineries are located, so we were surprised that none of the four people we asked, knew where it was. Is this winery supposed to be secret? Maybe I should stop writing right here? Had to call Albert and found the place within minutes. Thankfully, we were not the only ones being late, as the visit was a joint one with one more person. It doesn’t matter if you are late, as long as someone is later……….

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The origin of the name “Marçà” comes from the latin word “Martius”, which could either be translated as the month of March or the planet of Mars. Hence, the name is probably implemented by the Romans, as it is a known fact that they were highly present in this area for quite some time. The church of Marçà is already mentioned in the Pope Anastasio IV’s “bula in 1154. The Marçà Castle appears for the first time 1153, as being mentioned by Ramón Berenguer IV. In 1241, Guillem d’Entença’s wife, Alamanda became the owner of it, ant the title became possession of the Entença Barony. In 1324, Jaime II gave the castle to his son Ramón Berenguer, and it happened to be a part of the Earldom de Prades.

In the 15th. century, some of the inhabitants of Marçà started to live down the hill. The inhabitants took the stones of the old village to build up the new one. Finally, the village was placed in its modern place in the 18th. century. At the end of the 18th. century, even though the population experienced a demographic increase, the village had serious troubles to pay its taxes. Carrasclet was a guerrilla fighter who used to live in Marçà with his wife (who was also his daughter), started to fight against Felipe V.

At the end of the 19th. century, the filoxera plaque deeply hurt the county, but Marçà did not suffer so bad because of the railway, which arrived to Marçà in 1891. This smoothed the crisis, and became for some years the best way to buy or sell the agricultural products of the Priorat. Today, one can eat really well at the railway restaurant Les Agulles in Marçà.

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Albert Jané is the son of Benjamí Jané, proprietor of the winery Jané Venturain El Vendrell (DO Penedes). He has inherited his father’s prudence, meticulous work and love of terroir. One thing is certain and very evident once you get to talking with Albert, he is a very passionate winemaker. The kind of guy I can imagine sleeps amongst his vines. The two projects, housed in one winery, are Acustic & Ritme. The former representing DO Montsant and the latter DOQ Priorat.

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During the visit his references are clear, the terroir, the vines and the love for wine is surfacing the whole time. I would have to say that Albert is modest in his claims but firm in his convictions, Alberts wines are made using traditional techniques, similar to “acoustic” music and that too would be his interpretation of the terrior. The wines are ​​only produced from native varieties: Carignan (Samsó), Garnacha Negra and Sumoll, and white Garnacha Blanca, Macabeo and Pansa.

The philosophy of Albert Jané put into one sentence might be “Back to the roots, to the uniqueness of the native environment expressing the deepest of these invincible vineyards guarded by the majestic mountain of Montsant”. Acústic Celler maintains a small production of only one hundred and twenty thousand bottles.

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The challenge I have while tasting Alberts wines, is that I can’t stop tasting! As I will have to return to both Acustic Celler and Ritme Celler, to be able to convey my tasting notes for the other labels!

Auditori 2010, Acustic Celler, DO Montsant, 100% Garnacha.

Pure pleasure, and as the top wine of Acustic Celler it displays and conveys the elaboration and terrior to perfection. Grapes from three old Garnacha vineyards, all 70 years and older. A full-bodied sensual sensation, with well ripened red fruits, cherry is clear. I distinguished some licorice  and a little spiciness  with clear oak as it progressed. Medium long finish. Nicely integrated tannins. Could easily stay in my cellar for another 4 years. The downside…….., not enough bottles on the market!

Plaer 2011, Ritme Celler, DOQ Priorat, Carignan (Samsó) 80% and Garnacha 20%,

produced from vines between 40 and 60 years, grown between 300 and 650 m altitude, on licorella (slate). Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. This wine is not filtered or clarified, so you may find deposits. Ripe blackberry and cola aromas, hints of black pepper, smoky minerals. Washes over the palate with dark berry flavors. Closes bright and long, with gentle tannic grip and a zesty mineral quality. This wine has an attractive bouquet, the oak is evident but integrated with the fruits. The palate has a satisfying, succulent entry with fine acidity. Plaer is the Catalan word for pleasure, I say no more!

 

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

124 to go!

Mas Sersal, Soul Station in D.O. Montsant

242/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Falset – Mas Sersal – Estones 2010

Soul Station……..,

Estones,2010,

Estones 2010, Garnatxa (Grenache) and Samsó (Carignan)

Cherry colour with scarlet edges, tinted tears. Complex nose, needs a good oxygenation to show its full potential. Fruit stands out. Very fresh in many aspects, strawberry, blackberry and plum, slightly balsamic and spicy, with a background of licorice. Marked mineral notes. Soft attack with fresh acidity and well balanced. Ripe tannins, sweet and meaty. Long and persistent aftertaste,  the minerality is emphasized in a very elegant way!

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As in many cases, it is pure passion that drives wine making projects. I guess that is the same in the whole world. Very few, I imagine, are making wine for the pure business aspect of it. In the year 2008, two enterprising guys with an extensive experience in the wine industry and passionate about their respective professions, the winemaker Salvi Moliner and the sommelier Sergi Montalà, launched a project and created this winery in the Priorat region in order to produce wines reflecting their own styles and at the same time carrying the trademarks and terroir of the D.O. Montsant.

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The Priorat has different grape varieties, some introduced in recent years and other that are very old and traditional which have been cultivated for a long time. In the case of Mas Sersal, from the moment they launched their project, it was decided that they would produce wines with traditional grapes from this land, Carignan and Grenache. In a country estate measuring ten acres and located in the surrounding area of Falset, they found the Grenache vineyards, and from and old vineyard in the municipality of Guiamets, they obtain the Carignan, these are the wines of Mas Sersal.

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With these two varieties and after an elaborate blend of the wines that have aged thirteen months on French and American oak, from first and second year, they bottled the first and second vintage, Secret 2008 and Estones 2009. In these wines they are looking for balance, dominance and expressiveness of the fruit over the wood, in order to obtain a genuine result, typically and distinctively Montsant with a strong personal trademark at the same time.

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The wines of Mas Sersal are the result and the combination of an exceptional raw material, excellent quality grapes harvested by hand and placed in boxes, and the personality of the winemaker Salvi Moliner. This is the reason which allows them to say that their wines, Vins de Mas Sersal, are unique and true to Montsant. All wines are elaborated in the warehouse located in the industrial area Sort dels Capellans, Falset, and the warehouse is popularly known as Bauhaus.

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

139 to go!

El Carriel dels Vilars, But Beautiful in Emporda

232/365 – Catalonia – Emporda – Els Vilars d’Espolla – El Carriel dels Vilars – Carriels dels Vilars 2011

But Beautiful……,

Carriel dels Vilars 2011

Carriels dels Vilars 2011, 50% Garnatxa, 30% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Samso

Beautiful cherry color with purple reflections. Dense with good legs. Intense nose which needed a little time to express itself to the fullest. Good aromas of red fruit (cherries, blackberries, plums) with balsamic (juniper, lavender, rosemary, thyme) and final notes of licorice. The palate is powerful and bulky, extraordinary acidity which is alive and well, it provides the necessary balance to the alcohol because it transmits a freshness that carries the wine further. The tannins are rounded and polished, but still very present. This wine is long and full of nuances that demands it to be enjoyed slowly, growing as it is rewarding you for your patience. A Super Natural Catalan!

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Dreams can come true. When I first met Carlos Alonso, I thought he was yet another loony winemaker, going out of his way to prove a point he would never deliver, but he did and he did it beautifully! His reason for making wine and making a living from it, is pure, untouched and Super Natural!  It has taken him some thirty years to walk the talk in the small and personal project called Carriel dels Vilars. Throughout this period he has worked hard to shape an idea that, after years of evolution and maturation, has become a fine example of how wines may be made with the utmost respect for the environment and tradition and yet still be as successful as those produced with the most advanced scientific and expensive techniques. His method is to be considered radical. Get rid of anything superfluous during the growing of the vines and making of the wines, just keeping the essentials of both activities. This is as naked as winemaking gets to be, but the final reward hasn’t been easily accomplished. Being ignored and frowned upon, for many years, by the wine establishment, his achievements are starting to be rewarded with well-deserved admiration and recognition.

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Carlos Alonso‘s wines still do not conform to the regulations of the local wine region, so the wines made are not D.O. Emporda, but who cares when the wine is as good as his and they sell! My fellow wine loving colleagues, that visited the natural wine fair in Barcelona with me, didn’t all fall for Carlos wines the way I did. They are not traditional, they are not conservative. They are bold, fun and way out there! Carlos Alonso calls his wine natural and there is no better word to define it. He cultivates his vineyard in a way that the grapes are just like berries picked from the wild. In his vineyards, which at present total a mere 2.5 hectares, the practices of modern agriculture are almost non-existent: he does not plough the land; he does not water the vines; he does not add fertilizers; he does not use pesticides other than the authorized organic Bordeaux mixture. In the winery he does not filter the wine nor does he add sulfites or sugar for the second fermentation of the sparkling wines; instead he allows things to happen as they should according to the laws of nature. Each season the wines at Carriel dels Vilars tell us about the climatic conditions of the previous year, since standardization is proscribed and annual variability favoured. This is the wine of the future…….., only one small problem, there’s not enough to fed us all!

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149 to go!