Celler Jaumandreu, Take A Chance On Me in D.O. Pla de Bages

374/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Fonollosa – Celler Jaumandreu – Més Que Paraules Negre 2012

Take A Chance On Me……..,

Mes Que ParaulesMés Que Paraules Negre 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sumoll

Intense dark cherry color with a bright garnet rim and violet reflections. High layers. Very bright and abundant tears. Good intensity with a wide range of aromas: lots of red fruit, somewhat jammy, ripe wild berries and floral fragrances, especially violet stands out. When opened, sweet spices appear together with balsamic and dairy. A touch of resin and thee secondaries reveal cinnamon, bitter cocoa and fresh scent of tobacco. It goes on and on. Elegant mineral background. Good entry, powerful and warm. Tasty, full of fruit, creamy toast and spices. Balanced acidity providing a good freshness. Sweetish and integrated tannins. Long and persistent presence balanced with fruit and toast. This is a killer wine!

More than words…..,

…., ¨mes que paraules¨ in Catalan, is a wine by Jaumandreu. And indeed no words are needed, not only for this wine in particular, but in many instances, for many wines out there. Sometimes it’s just enough to sit there, with a nice glass of wine in hand, listen to a good song and enjoy. More than words!. You don’t have to say you love me, cause I already know. Hold me close, don’t ever let me go!

Jaumandreu is a surname with great tradition within wine making of this region. From the twelfth century, the finca (estate) of Jaumandreu, in the D.O. Pla de Bages, has created history and bottled it with excellent results, even though the history in this case is a brief one. Several different generations of professionals working together in magnificent conditions offered by this land for cultivation of vineyards.

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The estate includes a traditional Catalan farmhouse set in a unique environment, among gentle hills, where silence reigns and you can get lost in knowing that this is, in more ways than one, an unique experience. Sometimes, this is all it takes to fall in love with a region, a winery or a wine.

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The winery was founded in 2004 by a multidisciplinary team of professionals in food, marketing, communication and food production, carrying out a project that has already give its first offshoots, wines being accomplished, reflecting their personality but also aesthetics with a sleek and attractive image that refers to the elements of nature that surrounds the property.

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The Jaumandreu project has, within the Pla de Bages, recovered 60 hectares of vineyards with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and local Picapoll. The philosophy is forward thinking, trying to incorporate the best of what the wine world as a whole has to offer. Authenticity, creativity, passion and working together with a modern mindset in this project, that is Jaumandreu!

S6300227-111 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Clos Lentiscus, Take Me As I Am in D.O. Penedes

365/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – St. Pere de Ribes – Clos Lentiscus – Sumoll Reserva Familia Brut Nature

Take Me As I Am………,

V462_V658Sumoll Reserva Familia Brut Nature, 100% Sumoll

Amazing golden colored body with faint pinkish reflections and a delicate rosary of fine bubbles which rise slowly forming a nice crown. Delicate aromatics of red berries. Fragrant and ripe strawberry notes together with a background of harmonious fruit aromatics that are followed by subtle aging notes. This sparkling wine has divine pastry aromas, some toasted notes, and nuanced dry herbs. As the label says Brut Nature, dry sensations are to be expected and this is a dry and crisp Cava. Delicate fruit taste, raspberries, strawberries and some mature apple, leaning towards the taste of  a great cider. There is a creamy and fine effervescence that is accompanied by a perfect and well-balanced acidity. The finish is silky and persistent with subtle mineral touches. This Blanc de Noirs has an incredibly well-structured palate. You want a great Cava for Christmas? Look no further! Price is great and you can easily combine it with a number of dishes, from fish to meat or why not as a aperitif?

Click on the photo to see more pictures from Clos Lentiscus! Enjoy!

Click on the photo to see more pictures from Clos Lentiscus! Enjoy!

This Cava has been crafted from the red grape varietal Sumoll. The Sumoll grapes were harvested off of grapevines that were planted in 1939 at the La Torrentera vineyards in the mountains of the Massís del Garraf Natural Park. These grapevines are planted on soils with low fertility and high levels of minerals. All of the Sumoll grapes used to produce this Brut Nature Reserve Cava were harvested by hand. The harvest was done at dawn when the grapes were still cool. The grapes were then delicately pressed at the winery to avoid the must from receiving pigmentation, making this a Blanc de Noir. During the vinification, local yeasts were added. The very brief alcoholic fermentation took place in oak barrels. The second fermentation, (Methode Traditionnelle) lasts a minimum of 30 months.

Wine Lovers hang-out at Clos Lentiscus this Sunday, the 14th of December! I will be there, why not come and try some great wines and Cava?

Wine Lovers hang-out at Clos Lentiscus this Sunday, the 14th of December! I will be there, why not come and try some great wines and Cava?

20 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Bodegas Puiggròs, Cissy Strut in D.O. Catalunya

351/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Catalunya – Odena – Bodegas Puiggròs – Signes 2008

Cissy Strut…….,

171210-Signes-Sumoll-Bodegas-Puiggros1Signes 2008, Red Grenache and Sumoll

Garnet red with a display of several shades of red colored layers.The wine shows a intense fresh aroma ofmenthol, spice and covered with elegant notes of underbrush with secondary notes of the barrel aging.  Cocoa, vanilla and some toast. Powerful on the palate whit marked tannins. Mediterranean aromas, sweet balsamic, ripe fruit. Good palate, balanced, with a slightly bitter, lingering finish. The Sumoll and Red Grenache are from vines older than 60 years. Manual harvest in boxes of 20 Kg. Aged for 10 months in new French oak barrels. Malolactic in barrel.

The Sumoll is a red grape variety, although there is also a white strain. It is a rustic variety, native to the Penedès region of Catalonia, drought resistant and with uniform development. The grape is round and big. It is used to produce red, white, rosé wines and Cava. Its former presence is also evident in the number of different names in Catalan dialects: sumoi, chimoi, saumoll, somoi, sumoy, ximoll, somoll, ximoy, xemoll, among others.

Sumoll Grape Variety

The name is related to the local slang term sumollar, which means maturing or withering, from the Latin verb submolliare. Young wine from the Sumoll grape has a slight roughness that disappears with aging. Its production is low and treatment for achieving quality wines requires high skills in wine production. Before and after phylloxera, the Sumoll was a variety widely grown throughout Catalonia. The entry into the European Union in 1986 accelerated discredit of local varieties, which were not considered able to make good & competitive wines. It has been replaced by other varieties and nowadays it is rare, with less than one hundred hectares planted (247 acres). This trend has changed over the last years. Wine growers are starting to recover and appreciate this variety, as they see an opportunity to create original wines that differentiate themselves by creating their own specialties, gaining a distance from the big industrial companies using only the stocks of international ubiquitous fashionable types – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Chardonnay. The Sumoll is one of the varieties used in the following DOs, Catalunya, Pla de Bages, Tarragona. In Australia four hybrid varieties have been created from Cabernet Sauvignon and Sumoll: CiennaVermillionRubienne, and Tyrian. The purpose of this crossing is to adapt Sumoll qualities to suit the Australian climate.

PG1The production of wine started in 1843 from the vineyard Cal Pau Palomas, in Òdena, comarca of the Anoia in the province of Barcelona, although in the olden days it was never commercialized. In 2008, with great effort, the vineyards were recovered and refurnished the country house to create a small winery, Bodegas Puiggròs.

PG2When drinking a wine, one should think of its aroma, its color, its density, but also about the life within; life that begins in the Earth, nurtured by the rays of the sun, educated by the hand of the cultivator, through the time devoted to its maturation, and last, but not least, the dedication, patience and the “sentits” of its creator.

pg4The vineyards of Bodegas Puiggròs are located primarily in Òdena and at an altitude between 450 and 650 meters, having a distinctive terroir, by virtue of its unique geography, orientation and surrounding climates: Mediterranean and Continental. The soil in this area is mostly clay/limestone. The growing season is long and the maturation process, although very delicate, complex and prolonged, is the key to reaching the full potential of the quality available in this area. Bodegas Puiggròs cultivates varieties of Cariñena, White Grenache, Sumoll and Red Grenache.

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pgaentitsSentits Blancs 2009, 100% Garnacha Blanca

Pale lemon yellow. Good aromatic nose, which includes white flowers (Jasmine), tropical fruits and honey combined with light hints of dried fruit (toasted almonds). The palate presents a sweet entry with a good acidity. It is balanced, full, glyceric and unctuous. It combines very well with any fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Recommended to accompany mild meat and snails.

35 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Wine Making at Jane Ventura, 100 Years in D.O. Penedes

274/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – El Vendrell – Jane Ventura – Sumoll 2009

100 Years…..,

Jane Ventura 100

The whole year! 2014, we’re celebrating during the whole year! You don’t celebrate a birthday, you celebrate the birth year!  At least if you are Catalan! You invite family, friends, known and unknown, everyone is welcome and that’s what makes it a party! There are several occasions during this year during which Jane Ventura winery are going to make sure that as many as possible get to know that they have turned 100! Yesterday evening was one of those occasions and I for one were happy to be there! The wines they brought out for everyone there to taste, were not run of the mill!

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Some of the wines were from the standard range, others were brought our from the cemetery, so we were able to do some historical vertical tastings, and others still were totally experimental and I wonder if I’m ever going to taste them again! In brief I can point out that the Malvasia de Sitges is getting a star treatment and the Xarel.lo Amfora wine is something that I really agreed with. I hope that some of them don’t only stay at the experimental stage but get released on the market! Some pictures from the party is what you get and my notes with regards to one of my constant favourites from Jane Ventura, their Sumoll! Have a great Tuesday evening and don’t forget to uncork something nice tonight!

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sumollSumoll 2009, 100% Sumoll

Cherry red colour. Hints of jammy red berry and mature fruit (cherries, raspberries), mineral notes and touches of scrub herbs (thyme, lavender). Very full and unctuous on the palate, enveloping and fresh at the same time. Very lingering. The grapes are sorted manually berry by berry after de-stemming. Fermentation and maceration in open 300-litre French oak casks. Aged in second-fill French oak barrels for 8 months. 60-70 year-old vines located in La Bisbal del Penedès and Aiguamúrcia. They have also grown the Sumoll at Mas Vilella since 2009. The Aloe, on the label, symbolises the experimental character of this wine: it is a plant that dies once it has flowered, before being born again.

 

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Mas Vilella 2009, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Nice cherry dark cherry with garnet edges and violet reflections. Clean and bright. Good intensity with a significant fruit load, lots of ripe red fruit, spice, hints of undergrowth, leather, licorice and mineral background. The palate is powerful with a good structure and excellent acidity. Firm and long finish, persistent tannins. The retronasal reminds me of compotes and red fruits appear as well as toasted notes.

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Apparently it is with some difficulty one tries to decide to visit the wineries in the vicinity. So many great producers just around the corner from where we live and yet, most of the time we go to Priorat, Montsant, Terra Alta and so on. Living in Penedes means there are choices and choices when it comes to wine and Cava producers. As you will discover with time, I am going to cover all the DO:s of Catalonia and hopefully it is going to be 12 DO:s, 365 wines and Cavas during 2014. I will be writing about D.O. Penedes several times, this is just the first in a row of many. First out is Jane Ventura and out of all their wines and Cavas I have chosen the Cava Do to start with. I am sure I will, over the year to come, have to revisit and cover some of their wines as well.

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Almost all of our SweetEasy guests stay at Gimenelles, a wonderful rural hotel, with lovely owners. They had been telling us over and over again, that we should visit Jane Ventura and so one day, it just happens! A quick call to the owner/winemaker Gerard Jane and of we go.

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Now, as I mentioned above, we live really close to Jane Ventura winery and even closer if we want to visit their vineyards and old rural estate, Masia as it is called in Catalan. The name of their Masia is Mas Vilella and it is normally here they start their visits, all for us to be able to understand where the grapes grow. The Masia is located in a very scenic place, which is not the case with the winery. At the Masia, a tour of the estate, the vineyards and then the obligatory tasting of almost all of the products. Barrel tasting occur if Gerard realizes that wine lovers are visiting. Our village is Llorenc del Penedes, in the lower Penedes, and about 10 minutes from El Vendrell where the winery is located. All this, only one hours drive from Barcelona. Trains and busses also come to El Vendrell, so it is quite convenient to get here. 

The country side estate, Mas Vilella, of Jane Ventura.

To really understand and appreciate the wines and Cavas of Jane Ventura, one has to visit both the old Masia as well as the winery in town. The vineyards are located around and not to far from the old Masia, although there are some vineyards located at higher altitudes as well. As such, this is where the grape reception is taking place, de-steaming and fermentation, vinification as well as barrel aging of red wines, production still whites and base Cavas.

Kitchen come tasting room at the old Masia. Gerad Jane doing a tasting for a group of Swedish hospitality workers.

Overall philosophy of Gerard Jane is a little bit tricky to convey in writing. Meeting him is really the only way to understand the full extent of his love for the soil and grapes, but there is more. Music is a huge part of the whole concept. The labels of the Reserva de la Musica are said to be interpreting or transferring the pentatonic musical scale.

Reserva de la Musica, with it's pentatonic scale label.

The unique label design of the Reserva de l'Orgue.

The design of the label for the Gran Reserva de l’Orgue 2006 is inspired from the original sketch made by the organ maker L. Scherrer in 1775. Each bottle has been personalised so that it carries the name of one of the organ pipes, which are also illustrated on the cylindrical case. After the first visit to Jane Ventura there has been many more. Not only visits to the wineries but also to events hosted by Gerard. Again, music playing a pivotal role. The Cava Do, which I am covering in this blog, was launched at thePau Casals museum in Sant Salvador, during a wonderful cello concert and subsequent Cava tasting.

The Malvasija de Sitges, a specially composed piece of music and a Catalan desert to complete the experience.

Another event combined three musical pieces, each composed for three different Jane Ventura wines, as well as pastries. All three elements said to enhance each other. Piedra seca, dry stone walls, is another passion that Gerard holds close to his heart. So, the only way to really understand this man, is face to face and with plenty of time.

To the memory of Josep Valles. Rebuilding of a dry stone wall at the entrance to Mas Vilella.

Cava Do is my preferred house Cava!

Always in my fridge, cost/quality 10 out of 10.

Cava Do de Jane Ventura, Gran Reserva Vintage 2008, D.O. Cava from Penedes, Xarel.lo 60%, Macabeu 26% and Parellada 14%

Let’s start by explaining that the holy trinity in Cava-making consists, traditionally, by using the grapes Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada. The coupage depends, as in many cases, on yield, quality, varietals of the winery and grower and ultimately decision of the winemaker, what he wants to use. The Xarel.lo brings stronger flavors to the blend and certainly carries more aromatic sensations than the other two varietals.

Xarel.lo Grapes

The Macabeu (catalan spelling), Macabeo or Viura as it is also known, has traditionally been used to produce young, and hence acidic, still wines of not so high quality. Being a grape that grows easily, it is abundant here in Penedes and it has given yields of up to 6-8 kg per vine. Now, this little princess of grapes is being used more seriously by producers that are willing to prune hard. This way the grape can evolve in the best way possible and reach its potential with 13% as to show the character and aromas that it can carry. A good quality Macabeu grape sometimes is used 100% for wines that can age well.

Macabeu-2 (2)

Parellada! My new found love. I find it difficult to find Parellada wines, at least if it is to be 100% Parellada. That’s a shame as I over recent months have encountered wonderful wines made of this tasty grape. I promise to cover Parellada in more detail in the future and suggest some nice Parellada wines. Parellada is widely planted in Penedes and preffered sites are located at high altitudes. It imparts a green-apple character on the wine it helps to produce and marries well with the body of Macabeo and the earthen flavors of Xarel-lo.

My notes, and I have done a few for the Cava Do, tell me that I am inconsistent in my observations. But nevertheless I’ll try to give a fair understanding of this fresh Cava, suitable for any party.

Sur lie for a minimum of 36 months and 5% of the wine is barrel fermented in French oak for 45 months.

Yellow straw color with slight gold reflections and fine, constant bubbles. Has a clean average nose and clean bouquet. Delicate and very pleasant with outstanding fruity aromas, floral notes and herbs in the back of the mouth with hints of minerals and intensive citrus notes. It has an extensive and direct taste, it is marked by excellent acidity, defined and deep, giving it a freshness and a soft carbon. Long and persistent.

110 to go!

Celler Mas Candi, Amado Mio in D.O. Penedes

256/365 – Catalonia –D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet – Celler Mas Candi – Ovella Negra

Amado Mio………,

Ovella NegraOvella Negra, 100% Garnatxa Blanca

Bright and clear, yellow colour with subtle aromas of tropical fruit (mango, passion fruit) and peach. Somewhat complex nose. The palate is oily with a sweet point and good acidity, there’s some minerality but mainly the tropical flavours appear, just like in the nose. Good structure, fresh and long after taste. Black sheep, Ovella Negra, of the family? I think not!  It is made with Garnatxa Blanca (White Grenache) and this is one of the few vineyards that are of this variety in the Penedes region. They have only 226 vines, which are over 60 years of age (vineyard La Salada). Due to the difficulties growing this particular variety and the challenges it posed to make a good wine, the name Black Sheep, Ovella Negra, came about! Now they make 500 bottles!

Mas Candi

Four young farmers, with studies in viticulture and oenology, have joined together to create their own wines from the vineyards that they got from their grandparents. The house of Mas Candi is located in Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet, just at the gates of the Natural Park of Garraf. Since the sixteenth century there has been evidence that the family Cuscó (Cal Candi), cultivated these lands, which today are partially under vine, used for the production of wines at Mas Candi. They also use grapes from vineyards in Font-Rubí, el Pla del Penedès and Torrelavit. This small winery seeks interaction with the landscape, working their native varieties and recovering their old Catalan grapes, which have almost disappeared.

mas-candi-02

The range of wines produced at Mas Candi, no frills, no fancy layout, just good wine! From left to right; Mas Candi QX, the four Xarel.lo:s, They have chosen the best vineyards producing xarel.lo, they are located at: Les Gunyoles (vineyard La Pura), Font-Rubí (vineyard Mas Rossell), el Pla del Penedès (vineyard l’Angeleta) i Subirats (vineyard Cal Martí). The best bunches are selected at the peak of ripeness. The wine is fermented in four diffrent barrels (chestnut, acacia, French oak and American oak), each gives different characteristics which provide a complexity to the wine a a whole. The second is Mas Candi Desig, 100% Xarel.lo, This wine is from a single vineyard, located in Les Gunyoles d’Avinyonet. The vines were planted in 1961. The cultivation is fundamentally respectful of the land and the vine. There’s no use of chemical herbicides or pesticides. So the existence of the ecosystem is essential to the complexity of the wine and the balance of the plants. This wine has sought the ultimate expression of the land, the climate, the variety without oak aging. A true “terroir” wine. The purity of Xarel.lo. Ovella Negra, third wine, covered at the top. Les Forques, the Cabernet-Sauvignon used in this wine, comes from the Mas d’en Tort vineyard, close to Torrelavit. The vines were planted in 1983, on a very poor calcareous clay and gravel terrain, south facing. In this wine they are looking to transmit the Mediterranean climate (hot dry summers) and minerality of the land; ripe and concentrated wine. Each year they add a small percentage of the experimental varieties that have been recovered (Sumoll, Mandó, Cannonnau, Roigenc i Mònica). Can 28, 100% Mandó, This is the first wine made from experimental Catalan varieties that have been recovered. After the phylloxera 120 years ago; many vineyards were replanted with grape varieties more profitable at the expense of others who were of high quality but did not produce enough to be financially viable. At Mas Candi they have been, and still are, working towards the recovery of these forgotten varieties, like the white Malvasia de Sitges and Torbat and the red grape varieties like Mandó, Mònica, Sumoll, Cannonnau i Roigenc. SOL + SÒL, This is a powerful wine, concentrated and mineral. Selection of the best grapes from the vineyard of Les Forques. Produced each year, but only the best vintages are released to the market. Mas Candi CAVA Brut Nature, the local varieties of the Penedès (Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel·lo), with a higher percentage of Xarel.lo.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

128 to go!

Sumoll, Take Your Time in D.O. Penedes

202/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Font-Rubi – Heretat Mont Rubi – Gaintus 2010

Take Your Time…….,

GAintus 2010

Gaintus 2010, 100% Sumoll

Named after a path for climbing, located in the Pyrenees. Gaintus is a tribute to Heretat Montrubi’s passion for innovation.Innovation translated into the recovery, the investigation and further elaboration of the Sumoll variety, an almost extinct Mediterranean grape, of which only 100 hectares (250 acres) are still being cultivated in Catalonia.

Gaintus is a complex and lively wine and it will take your time, in order to discover and enjoy it to its fullest! The colour is intense ruby red with dense tears. The aroma is primarily balsamic, framed by cherry and toasted notes. In the mouth it is a tasty, mature and tender wine, quite silky. The acidity is very lively and now it is clear that the nose of the cherry transmits the acidity of the wine very well, bringing freshness, balsamic and mineral that is very pleasing.  Make sure you Take Your Time and discover the Sumoll wines!

sumoll1

The Sumoll is a red grape variety (dark colour skin, almost black), although there is also a white strain. It is a rustic variety, native from the Penedès region in Catalonia, drought resistant and with uniform development. The grape is long and big. It is used to produce red, white, rosé wines and Cava. Its former presence is also evident in the number of different names in Catalan dialects: sumoi, chimoi, saumoll, somoi, sumoy, ximoll, somoll, ximoy, xemoll, among others. Wines made of Sumoll have good acidity with a bitter finish that fades slowly. In order to produce high quality wines with the Sumoll varietal, the harvest is done late when the grape has reached optimal ripening. The aroma of Sumoll has notes of raspberries, black fruits such as blackberries, cocoa and an earthiness.

sumoll

The name is related to the local slang term sumollar, which means maturing or withering, from the Latin verb submolliare. Young wine from the Sumoll grape has a slight roughness that disappears with aging. Its production is low and treatment for achieving quality wines requires high skills in wine production. Before and after phylloxera, the Sumoll was a variety of black grape widely grown throughout Catalonia. The entrance into the European Union in 1986 accelerated discredit of local varieties, which were not considered able to make good & competitive wines. It has been replaced by other varieties and nowadays its culture is rare, with less than one hundred hectares planted (247 acres). This trend has changed during the last years. Wine growers are starting to recover and appreciate this variety, as they see an opportunity to create original wines that differentiate themselves by creating their own specialties, gaining a distance from the big industrial companies using only the stocks of international ubiquitous fashionable types, like Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.

Sumoll dry

The Sumoll is one of the varieties referred by the following D.O.s (appelations in Catalonia) D.O. Catalunya, D.O. Pla de Bages, D.O. Tarragona. In Australia four hybrid varieties have been created from Cabernet Sauvignon and Sumoll: Cienna, Vermillion, Rubienne, and Tyrian. The purpose of this crossing is to adapt Sumoll qualities to suit the Australian climate.

HMR
178 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Serralada de Marina, Beyond the Sea in D.O. Alella

168/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Alella – Bienni – Celler Altrabanda – 93 Ceps

Beyond the Sea….

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

93-ceps

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.

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“Land of Light, Open Character” Curious things are going on in Catalonia! Strange people, strange wine makers and strange wines. Never have their been so many crazy geniuses gathered in one place, this is a good thing, mind you! The other day you were introduced to apple juice and Garnacha! Today we are heading to the winery of oranges, Sumoll and Pansa Blanca! Hope you enjoy reading as much I enjoy drinking wine!

mercatdelaboqueriasantjosep25_1

Serralada Marina is a winery located in Martorelles , Barcelona , dedicated to making wine under the corporation Serralada Corps. When in 1999 Joan Plans decided to reostart the winery, he did so under the curious name Altrabanda (“more over” or “the other side”) refering to their location. The vineyards are located across the mountains that separate them from the Catalan town of Alella .

pansablanca

Plans always had vineyards growing up and after a 20 year hiatus modernized the winery and waited for the right circumstances to start making wine again. The products are sold under the brand Serralada Marina and sold in restaurants in the area and abroad. The Alella , to which ALtrabanda belongs, is the smallest D.O. of the Peninsula, with 560 hectares of planted vineyards, located north of Barcelona.

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Altrabanda is the only winery in the D.O. of Alella that produces all its white wines with the local variety of the territory, Pansa Blanca . The winery has products such as an orange wine, vinegar and vermouth, named Castellruf , all of them are 100 % Pansa Blanca.

serraladaMARINA93ceps-1

Joan Plans, owner of the winery, says: “If the local variety is the Pansa Blanca it is because over the years it has proven to be the variety best adapted to the climate and the characteristics of the territory.”

 

211 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Abadal, Love is written in the stone, D.O Pla de Bages

9/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó – Abadal – Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012

In the stone

Pla de Bages???? Yupp, one more DO in Catalonia to discover, for all you wine nerds out there. Catalonia has 12, and all of you have heard of Priorat, Cava, Penedes and most certainly of Montsant and possibly Emporda. So, only 6 more to discover. I have covered 2 out of the six in previous blogs. This time I’m sharing D.O. Pla de Bages with you!

The wine wonder of Catalonia is that it comprises a wealth of different terroirs, from the Mediterranean coastal areas to the Pyrenees, including the inland plains. In Priorat we will find the Licorella and in the Penedes a variation of soils, and then we have everything in between. Point being, is that different vine growing possibilities are present. One plus one makes six or nine! The facts above together with the grape varietals used, gives as a result a huge assortment of wines: sparkling (cava mostly),white, rosé, red, sweet, fortified.
D.O. Pla de Bages vineyard

D.O. Pla de Bages vineyard

Trying to explain what’s going on in Catalonia with regards to grapes is virtually impossible! Daily encounters shows that local, indigenous varieties are on the rise after many years of neglect when it was fashionable to plant the ubiquitous Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and/or Syrah. Now there is a quest for local character, and many wineries are looking back to traditional grapes like Garnatxa (Grenache) in its many forms, Carinyena (Carignan), Sumoll, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) for reds, and Xarel·lo, Macabeu, Parellada, Garnatxa Blanca, Moscatell (Muscat) for whites. Fortunately, lots of old vines (over 50 years old) have survived to yield excellent, if scarce, grapes used to generate many of the best and more personal wines.
Historical map of Catalonia

Historical map of Catalonia

Pla de Bages is a rather young D.O. within Spain, it became a D.O in 1995. Located not far from Barcelona, yet quite unheard off. It is certainly one of the smallest D.O:s in Spain covering only 600 hectares. A hefty part of Catalan history has to do with the Romans. Therefore it is not surprising to discover that, most likely, the name Bages, at least when it come to wine making, comes from the ancient Roman settlement of Bacassis. It is said to have been located in the area. According to an unidentified mediaeval document from the former Benedictine monastery of Sant Benet, the Roman city was named in honour of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.

Bacchus with a few of his grapes

Bacchus with a few of his grapes

Production in the area was interrupted for almost a century after the outbreak of the phylloxera at the end of the 19th century. The vineyards are mainly located in the valleys of the river Llobregat and its tributaries. There are two different types of soil in two well-defined topographies: a central basin (Pla de Bages) with clay and marl soils at an altitude of 200 m above sea level; and a peripheral area (Alt Bages, “Upper Bages”) where marl and lime bearing soils with a high carbonate content abound, at an altitude of 500 m above sea level.

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The climate is Mediterranean with strong continental influences due to its inland location quite far from the sea. Humidity is lower, summers hotter and winters colder than in other wine-producing areas in Catalonia. The average annual temperature is 13°C (max 35°C in summer, -5°C in winter) and there are considerable temperature variations between day and night as well. Average annual rainfall is between 500 mm and 600 mm.

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The traditional local grape varieties are Grenache (here called Garnatxa) and Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) for reds and Picapoll for whites, while the new authorised foreign varieties are: Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay for whites, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah for reds.

Abadal winery

Abadal winery

The newer vineyards are planted on trellises (en espaldera) to allow mechanisation of the vineyard activities, at authorised planting densities of between 2,000 and 4,500 vines/ha depending on the terrain. Most of the grape production is for the white or pink sparkling wines called Cava. The wineries of Fargas Fargas and Oller del Mas, together with others are names to keep in mind. All from Pla de Bages and all making quality wine. Abadal is one of the main wineries in the D.O. and synonymous with Pla de Bages, being one of the forerunners promoting the area to the world.

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Abadal was founded in 1983 by Valentí Roqueta in Santa Maria d’Horta d’Avinyó, using land close to the family home, la Masia Roqueta, with more than 9 centuries of history and a long tradition in winegrowing.

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The winery boasts modern facilities where work is being carried out to restore the winemaking tradition to the Bages region, enhanced with a renewed view of the future. Grapes are selected by hand and harvested according to the different types of plots and degrees of ripeness. The winery strives to capture all the information accumulated in the fruit.

Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012. Varieties: 60% Cabernet Franc, 40% Tempranillo. Four months in the cask.

Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012

Abadal Cabernet Franc/Tempranillo 2012

I have on rare occasion seen a wine as dark and opaque as this one. The saturation is amazing. Although the black cherry, coupled with blackberry is almost overwhelming, it is far from sweet. The wine is quite straight forward, expressive and has a nice satiny feel to it. Great body and certainly to be paired with stews and even creamy pastas. I have always liked the Cabernet Franc and together with the Tempranillo it makes a great marriage. Cabernet Franc, concentrated and generous. Tempranillo, elegant and fresh. Plenty of red fruits and hints of toffee.

In the stone

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