La Gravera, If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet? in D.O. Costers del Segre

375/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Alfarrás – La Gravera – Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011

If You Can’t Live Without Me, Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?

onraOnra 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.

I travel, I visit, I taste and I write for you! I’m your man, not only in Costers del Segre but all over Catalonia. So, any time you have questions, especially regarding wine and wineries in Catalonia but also other questions, you are more than welcome to ask! If you would like me to visit, and write about a particular winery in the vicinity, let me know about it! We now have only 10 days left of 2014! I have been writing consecutively for 355 days and I will finish what I set out to do on January 1st! What happened 2015? I really don’t know, I’m not Nostradamus……, but I will be tasting and drinking wine during the year to come as well. Will I continue writing? Guess we’ll all just have to wait and see!

YOURMAN_NEON-2I’m your man and this time we once more spend our time together in one of the less known wine making regions in Catalonia. Never the less, it is an area of great beauty and some high class wines. The region also hosts the second winery (my first choice is Can Rafols dels Caus) that could be considered for the next James Bond movie or for the next Alien film with Sigurney. Outstanding architecture with well thought through processes for elaboration.

503d950228ba0d7ece00002e_lagravera-sala-ferusic-architects_exterior_nit_1-528x352The project of La Gravera was conceived under low cost criteria, where optimizing energy and material means and resources became important. Economic sustainability is generally linked to environmental sustainability. And it is very evident in this case. An old warehouse from 1958, which belonged to a gravel quarry, has been recovered, revived and transformed it into a vineyard, eliminating industrial elements. SALA Architects FERUSIC was the company contracted to carry out the design and achieved something truly amazing, considering the budget.

503d952028ba0d7ece000030_lagravera-sala-ferusic-architects_moble_2-528x352The building elements are governed by economies of scale and mass production, to minimize their impact on the environment and therefore the economy and organization was done with criteria of spatial, functional and hygrothermal design, in mind. The project was structured in relation to the following points: a cabinet four feet high organizes service spaces, the center of action where human activity is assisted by machines, and Zone 900, a conference room with a carpet of welcome stripes and a bright ceiling, below which the cellar is found, and where the monitoring unit controlling the vineyard in real time is located, and where the design and pedagogy of the wine develops. In conclusion, this low cost approach states one obvious fact, Less (money) Is More!

la-gravera-copiadaThe draft was from the beginning that La Gravera should perform as a small winery where the whole process can be controlled. From the vineyard to the bottle and, all with a highly technical system. Doing small things that may surprise the wine lovers of design. Its aim also goes through a proven commitment to quality and a small production. The range of wines consist of white, pink and red and feature a broth medium-high segment, and 100 % organic wine.

lagravera-winery-by-sala-ferusic-architects-barcelona-02The differential of Celler La Gravera is the fact that this is a very small, very manageable collection, with a number of grape varieties,  a plot of 14 acres with nine different types of grapes. “It allows us to process the cupages with great success ,” says the young winemaker Jordi Viader. The winery is a totally unique personal museum, unique, unusual, no plagiarism or copies. Everything, absolutely everything, is looked at through the prism of surreal design, the encounter with the afterlife, but understandable and functional. It is a winery that deserves architectural design awards.

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We are not only talking technology, but also the passion for winemaking. “My experience in domestic and international markets, traveling the world, making our wines, with proven quality, we are presenting and selling through hotels and restaurants on several continents, with a great acceptance among them,” says Sergi Garcia , CEO of Bodegas Lagravera.

onra_graveraThis very cellar in the D.O. Costers del Segre believe that as a basic premise, it is pertinent to continuously improving the quality of its wines. The slogan that have endorsed the Lleida winery is “wine that comes from the stones .” This is because their vineyards are located on land with lots of stone, basically a gravel pit located in the comarca of Noguera. They are highly mineralized wines. “We aim to give our customers what they want, while we want to be faithful with what they want ,” says Garcia. Lagravera wines are intended for the HoReCa market segment and specialty stores. Current global production is around 50,000 bottles per harvest.

10 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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!

Bodegas Roura, You Sent Me Flying in D.O. Alella

302/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Alella – Alella – Bodegas Roura – “Tres Ceps” 2006

You Sent Me Flying……..,

ceps“Tres Ceps” 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah

Cherry to ruby red color, bright surface and garnet rim. Elegant ageing aroma, candied fruit with some creamy oak notes, sweet/oriental spices and a background of roasted touches. Good intensity. Spicy. Sweet-toothed on the palate, very flavorful,fruity and meaty. Good balance between acidity-tannins. Velvety, with a large after taste and good persistance. Would need some nice cured meats, game and/or creamy cheeses. A red winner from Alella!

This is a region which used to be renowned around the world for high quality wines and I for one know that to be the case nowadays as well. I am discovering new wine cellars in this urban region, where some wineries have their vineyards amongst houses of the  small towns in the area. Certainly a very exciting place to visit and the closeness to Barcelona makes it ideal for half a day trip. Welcome to Alella, with a view to a kill.

Alella in the lower left corner

The Roura winery, founded in the early 80 in the hamlet of Vall de Rials, is a small, modern winery with quite a good reputation for their wines. They are not big or great wines but descent wines for a price/quality comparison that works well for the daily wine consumption. The produce their wines using grapes from the 32 ha. of vineyards the own and by purchasing grapes from another 22 ha. They produce a rose wine and a Merlot-based red, two white, a Xarel.lo and one Sauvignon Blanc. Additionally they make a aged red and a young red, with 4 months of American oak. Two barrel-fermented white wines complement the current range of wines from the cellar and the sparkling range consists of 4 Cava wines. This winery is working under the appellations D.O. Alella, D.O. Cava and D.O. Catalonia.

Alta Alella Vineyards

During the early 1980s, in the beautiful valley “Vall de Rials”, Roura conceived a project to continue a task that was begun more than 3000 years ago by Phoenicians and that reached its peak with the Roman Empire. There is historical evidence that Alella wine was exported to Rome from year 140 B.C. until year 250 A.D. It was highly appreciated by Roman nobility. Roura, convinced about the possibilities of the area, with its traditional vines and some new ones that had been recently introduced, embarked on the project of making high quality wines.

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The winery started its commercial career in 1990, by providing the market white a white wine from 1989, a red Crianza wine from 1987 and a Cava Brut Nature. New references were gradually added and the present complete range of wines was reached through a gradual growth. During the continuous expansion phase in 2004, a new winery of 1,600m2 was opened and was attached to the D.O. Catalonia, in order to produce and bottle quality wines, mainly for the Latin American and Asian markets.

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The initial winery, with a total surface of 4,000 m, has the capacity to produce 500,000 litres and its current average production is 300,000 bottles, half of them being still wine, while the other half is Cava. Two cold stores are used for the fermentation and stabilization of wines. The first one includes a controlled fermentation system with a cold water circuit (11 tanks of 15,000 litres and 1 tank of 8,000 litres); the second one uses cold air for stabilization (8 tanks of 22,000 litres and 2 tanks of 12,000 litres).

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The subsequent winery expansion, divided into two half-underground floors of 1,600 sqare meters each, has been equipped with the new oenology technologies. It only holds the brands VALL DE RIALS and NORD-EST, with an average production of 500,000 bottles. With such expansion, the production capacity increases and the quality of the new products can be improved due to its high technification.

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The granitic soil in a decaying state (granitic sand) allows a very fast drainage when rainfall is excessive and, at the same time, it facilitates deep root growth. This allows the existence of humidity deep in the ground in drought periods, which allows a better relationship of the plant with the environment. The micro-climate shows short mild winters and moderately hot summers, whit a fresh and pleasant sea breeze and the night’s dew. Varieties grown are: Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Xarel·lo and Sauvignon Blanc. Vines are planted in spacings of 2,500 per Ha; an espalier arrangement and double Royat pruning are used.

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For the Xarel.lo variety, the goblet pruning system is used for old vineyards, while the espalier pruning system is used for the newly planted vines. Regarding the D.O. Catalunya, Roura provides a wine sampling with samples from different Catalan areas. Afterwards the wine samples are selected and assembled in order to offer good quality at competitive prices. For wine ageing they use 270 barrels of 220 litres each. 210 of these are made out of French oak, and the other 60 are made out of American oak.

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Roura Sauvignon Blanc 2009

A fresh white wine produced by Roura under the appellation of D.O. Alella. Works well with cold fish starters and mushrooms dishes but also with a mild goat cheese. This is a pale, bright yellow coloured wine with greenish reflections. First nose has a touch of tropical fruit (pineapple?) and more and more grassy herbs as it opens up. And a bit of asparagus. The wine has a great mouthfeel, very smooth, with lots of lemon and grapefruit, and more herbs. There is a lot of acid that carries well into the finish but it is in check and pleasant.

82 to go!

The White of Vinyes del Terrer, La mer in D.O. Tarragona

287/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Vila-Seca – Vinyes del Terrer – Blanc de Terrer 2012

blanc_del_terrer(1)Blanc de Terrer 2012, 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Pale, bright yellow with green iridescence, shows that it’s a young wine. The nose picks up intense expression of its terroir, with direct white pepper notes and mineral. White stone fruit, freshly cut grass, apricot and a very slight hint of anise come through as secondary aromas. Lemon peel and thyme, after some time of aeration. In the mouth it is clean and fruity. Gentle white fruit, lees which is not taking over, fleshy, peach and apricot. Full in the mouth with sensations described above, with a sweet and greasy feel, intoxicating. I would love this one with a prawn risotto!

La Mer…..

…., we should never underestimate the importance of the sea, especially when it comes to its influence on the vineyards, and as such, the final product. Vinyes del Terrer is a clear example as to that fact, and here, the sea helps to secure high quality grapes, which suffer less from humidity and hence fungal diseases. We should also remember the history and the great role played by the Mediterranean for the sake of spreading our beloved Vitis vinifiera throughout the countries of the middle sea.

KISH_04_77The culture of the ancient Phoenicians was one of the first to have had a significant effect on the history of wine. It was a civilization centred in the northern reaches of Canaan along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, in what is now Lebanon. Between 1550 BC and 300 BC, the Phoenicians developed a maritime trading culture that expanded their influence from the Levant to North Africa, the Greek Isles, Sicily, and the Iberian Peninsula. Through contact and trade, they spread not only their alphabet but also their knowledge of viticulture and wine making, including the propagation of several ancestral varieties of the Vitis vinifera species of wine grapes.

logo-vdtThe Morell family vineyard estate is comprised of nine parcels totalling seventeen acres in the outskirts of Tarragona on the Mediterranean coast. Defying urban sprawl, the vineyards lie within a mile and half of the sea, their soils composed of calcareous loam derived from shell (fossil) limestone, known locally as lumaquela.

Felsenküste_Conil_Muscheln_2The lumaquela is a biochemical, non-detrital, sedimentary rock. A type of limestone which keeps decomposed remains of living organisms, i.e. fossils and shells, hence its other name, or fossiliferous shell rock. The overall colour is light soil, like any common limestone, but can present various colours like for example black, which is best seen in shells or fossils, they usually have the characteristics of tile features, used for decoration and construction of houses, the colours it presents, are being polished to increase brightness.

w3-1400x460The heat-mitigating sea breezes and the singularly mineral soils motivated the Morells to perennially dedicate their parcels to gape growing, with the objective of producing wines of the highest and most expressive level. With the encouragement of experts and in recognition of the estate’s unique viticultural gifts, TERRER (terroir) was the clear choice of name.

TerrerRed varieties grown are Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha, vines between 15 and 25 years of age. Viticulture is sustainable and yields are held to a scant 1.5 tons per acre. Careful berry selection is followed by natural fermentation and aging during approximately one year in seasoned barriques and 5,000-liter uprights of French oak, seeking minimal wood influence. 2010 represents a début of sorts, the first vintage produced in a new bodega facility in the heart of the estate.

1249403417-368x276The Vinyes del Terrer is a property that occupies seven acres of land south of the historic area of ​​Tarragona, in the municipality of Vila-Seca. The vineyards are timidly risen 20 meters above sea level and just two kilometres from the Mediterranean, where the farm enjoys a climate with sunny days and gentle sea breezes. It has temperatures without extreme changes, with annual average of 15ºC. The vineyards get about 2,600 hours of annual sunshine and rainfall is quite sparse and sporadic. Such climatic features provide the freshness necessary to offset the hot summer days so that the grapes achieve optimal ripeness.

vinyes-del-terrer-do-tarragona-L-4dCShhThe property of Vinyes del Terrer is a flat farm with lumaquela soils rich in silicon, which offer each vineyard of the Terrer its own character and the personality of this unique type of terrain. This peculiarity influences the contribution of mineral terroir heartened by marine sediments accumulated over millions of years. The ambition is to conserve the mineral character throughout the production process, so that the wines reflect the original richness of the terroir.

DSC_1040The wines of Vinyes del Terrer are made exclusively from grapes from their own estates. With a limited production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and the varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat, all the products are made with their own grapes. Right now, Vinyes del Terrer grown grapes in nine partitions, all falling within the seven acres of vineyards owned by Vinyes del Terrer, which has become a distinctive brand that gives us wines, rich in character.

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Terrer d’Aubert 2010, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Made from old Cabernet Sauvignon vines and aged in used French oak. Deep ruby color, bluish edges, with nice tears. Pungent cherry and dark berry scents, plus notes of tobacco and dried flowers. Blackberry and bitter cherry flavors give way, after aeration to brighter red fruits, with juicy acidity providing elevation. Closes with tooth-dusting tannins and very good, fruity persistence. A lovely approach to cabernet and it certainly has the necessary structure and balance to age.

97 to go!

Bodega Miquel Jane, Que Se Sepa in D.O. Penedes

285/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Guardiola de Font-Rubí – Bodega Miquel Jane – Blanc Baltana 2012

Que Se Sepa……..,

blanc-baltanaBlanc Baltana 2012, 50 % Macabeo, 35 % Parellada and 15 % Sauvignon Blanc.

Pale lemon colour. Expressive aromas of fresh peach, pear, mango, floral notes and a touch of smoke and spice from the oak. Fresh and silky texture, with flavors of green apple and stone fruits. Balanced, with complexity and enveloping after taste. The first thing I noticed was pear and apple, but then as it progressed it was a bit complex, showing a tropical background. When it won temperature it got easier to notice some smoky flavours, typical of ageing, presumably it has to do with parts of the Macabeo being aged on oak. The palate is very structured, with density, with a smooth and refreshing finish. Not very powerful but quite persistent.

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In the heart of Penedès, you will find this bodega and its vineyards. The bodega owns its vineyards, split between two different parts (Cal Costas and Baltana) and is situated in Font-Rubí (province of Barcelona). The vineyard represents 51 hectares under production and has the capacity to increase it up to 150 hectares. The plots are situated at 500 meters of altitude, ensuring a day/night temperature contrast which is necessary to get a full development of the grapes and a good concentration of aromas. It will bring out well balanced aromas of ripe fruits with nice fragrances and acidity. In these wines you can appreciate the geographic nuances of each plot. The different soils and microclimates give each wine its own personality. The wines are part of the appellation, Denominación de Origen Penedés.

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99 to go!!!!!!

Cellar Oliver Conti, Cool Struttin’ in D.O. Emporda

250/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Capmany – Oliver Conti – Treyu 2012

Cool Struttin’……..,

Treyu 2012

Treyu 2012, 52% Gewürztraminer, 38% Macabeo and 10% Sauvignon Blanc

Pale yellow colour with green hues. Treyu is a fresh wine with white and tropical fruit aromas. Pear, pineapple and very mature bananas and a subtle hint of roses. Nicely structured with the help of its acidity, displaying lemon and grapefruit. This wine is a mouthful, it is honeyed, well balanced, long and agreeable. It also has a good structure and persistence. It is a young wine that with time will evolve and to some degree change its character. This will be a highly complex wine if it is allowed to spend some time in the bottle!

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The Oliver Conti dream started In 1991, a dream with a glow. A dream made of the Tramontana wind and hope. They choose the Empordà region because the soils and climate could give them the fruits they desired. On the slopes of the Alberes mountain range, granitic soils poor in organic life, 15 hectares of vines were plante with the varietals that would allow them to produce high quality, fruity and elegant wines. As time went by, the dream has become a reality and the Emporda region has developed as a coveted appelation, desired for the undeniable quality of its wines.

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André Crespy, Professor and Doctor in Agronomy at Montpellier University, helped the Olive Conti project during the first years with his obsession to obtain the highest quality grapes. Nowadays Pepe Hidalgo, Agronomist Engineer and Ana Martin, Oenologist, are pushing them to reach the highest level of quality in the wine making process. The  vineyards has always gone together with two obsessions: aroma and elegance. Discovering that aromas can give so much satisfaction, made them work harder to keep them all along the process of harvesting, fermentation and aging. As a result, when opening a bottle of Oliver Conti, the agreeable and fulfilling sensations help to enjoy such extraordinary wines.

Jordi Oliver Conto and his new project JOC. Launching wines in the higher quality/price range!

The second obsession is elegance, creating long lasting wines with a round and velvety mouth that leave extraordinary agreeable sensations and an endurable aftertaste.  Wines that don’t satiate and that the second glass is better than the first and you enjoy the third better than the second. Wines to go along with food and not just for tasting. The Upper Ampurdan offers ideal conditions for obtaining vines of high quality, thanks to its Mediterranean climate and the protection of the Alberes mountains. Until the arrival of the Oliver Conti vintners, this was a relatively unknown zone for vine growing, as the region was more oriented toward massive plantations destined for undistinguished table wines. At Oliver Conti, research has been continuous and of inestimable help in achieving their objectives.

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

133 to go!

Albet I Noya, Ella Era Mala in D.O. Penedes

191/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Sant Pau d’Ordal – Albet I Noya – Lignum Blanc 2013

Ella Era Mala…….,

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Lignum Blanc 2013, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Xarel.lo

The grapes for this wine come from the estate in Costers de l’Ordal. The vineyards are over 300m above sea level, and are a selection of the oldest vines of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, growing in dry calcareous soils that have been organically farmed. Bright straw color yellow color. Aromas of white flowers, ripe fruit and some spiciness. The barrel, which only the Chardonnay has spent time in, is noted but just slightly in the background. Almost equal parts Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (with a small portion of Xarel.lo) makes this a crisp, medium-bodied and fruit driven wine. In addition you will note intense floral notes and light herbal notes. The palate is rich, fruity, fresh and well structured. Slightly bitter which is quite appealing and good persistence.

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The Can Vendrell modernist cellar of Albet I Noya was built in 1925 and houses the principal vinification processes. The Xapallà cellar next door was finished in August 2004 and houses the temperature-controlled warehouse, the barrel hall and a new bottling plant. The new gravity-based l’Era cellar was opened in 2010 to produce the Albet I Noya top wines separately.

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Organic wine is largely wine from organically grown grapes, but the regulations primarily limit the quantity of sulphur dioxide that can be used, approximately half the levels permitted in a conventional cellar. This means that the Can Vendrell cellar is required to maintain a level of hygiene far superior to that of a conventional cellar. Nonetheless, once more we can see that the key to making great wines lies in the quality of the raw materials: the grapes.

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By working only with grapes in optimum sanitary conditions, Albet i Noya are able to work largely without using SO2. They use authoctonous yeasts from the Albet i Noya vineyards, selected from the Xarel·lo variety and they are working in the selection of other yeasts for the remaining varieties. The fermenting vats have an inert gas system (a mix of nitrogen and CO2) to prevent potential alterations in the wine. Once again, the emphasis is on prevention rather than cure: as the wine cannot be chemically corrected, the hygiene of the cellar is key to avoiding disappointments. The cellar equipment is cleaned using high pressure hot water (up to 90°C) instead of chemical products.

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Of the 145 hectares they control, 80.5 are given over exclusively to the cultivation of vines. The estate vines cover the western slopes of the Ordal mountain range known as “Costers d’Ordal”, following the curves of the terrain in stepped terraces or on slopes exposed to the midday sun. As in all good wine-growing land, the soil in Can Vendrell has low organic content, with a variable content of clay and sand on a bed of calcareous stone, a permeable base with good moisture retention. Leaving aside for a moment the suitability of the land for wine growing, there are other factors which intervene in the selection of the most suitable vines for cultivation, such as the lie of the land, the hours of sun, the humidity and altitude of the terrain.

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The white varieties are Chardonnay (1.1ha) Macabeu (9.7ha), Xarel·lo (19.1ha), Parellada (10.5ha), Moscatell (0.4ha), Viogner (1.5ha), Sauvignon Blanc (0.3ha), Riesling (1.5ha), Garnatxa Blanca (0.2ha) and 4 experimental varieties (0.8ha). The red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon (10ha), Tempranillo o Ull de llebre (8.3ha), Merlot (5.4ha), Syrah (6ha), Garnatxa negre (2.2ha), Pinot Noir (2.9ha), and 6 experimental varieties (0.8ha). Whilst the Xarel·lo, Macabeu and Parellada are the varieties traditionally planted in the Penedès region, the others had been lost at the end of the 19th century with the Phylloxera crisis and the growth of Cava, until their reintroduction to Can Vendrell by the Albet family in the early eighties.

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Josep M. i Toni Albet i Noya, started a ambitious project in 1998 collecting 7 lost grapes varieties. The aim of the project is to test seven ancient grape varieties, both from a point of view of vineyard management and of winemaking potential. The grape varieties have been recovered from old and abandoned vineyards, including one found in Albet i Noya’s estate. The search for old varieties has been so successful that they have extended it to a second phase of the project with seven more varieties that started in 2012 and will last until 2020.

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The belief is that some of these varieties date from before the phylloxera plague. When Phylloxera hit Europe’s vineyards, the price of grapes and wine in the Penedès went sky high. As a result a lot of the less productive varieties were abandoned in favor of higher yielding ones. In the Penedès it is believed there were some 30 varieties more than are currently cultivated. As we now know, which often is the case, these lower yielding plants produce more concentrated fruit, these could be excellent candidate for winemaking.

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Once the seven varieties (four whites and three reds) were selected, they grafted 500 vines of each, 250 with vigorous rootstock (Richter 110) and the other half with a less vigorous strain (41-B). The idea is to pick and vinify each strain separately. The wines are made in a small cellar, specifically designed for micro-vinifications with small 500 litre tanks, but all the technological advances of the main cellar.

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To make the project as parcipitative as possible, and to get a feel for the real potential of these varieties, every year they send samples of the wines to 165 people in 24 countries: importers, distributors, sommeliers, wine critics, renowned winemakers, as well as the Consell Regulador de la DO. Penedès and the Institut Català de la Vinya i el Vi (INCAVI). The participants then return their tasting notes and impressions of each wine.

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With this feedback, and their own internal data over five years, they decide which of the varieties have the potential to be planted more extensively to produce wine on a commercial scale. To date they can announce that after the fifth vintage in 2006, they finished the first phase of the project with two white varieties (Marina Rión and Vidal) and one red (Belat) that show both excellent quality and good farming potential. They plan to plant a hectare of each and officially request their approval by the Denominació d’Origen Penedès.

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In the coming years they will work to encourage the official organisms to accelerate the process of approving these three autochthonous varieties that they consider to be important to the future of the Penedès region.

190 to go!

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