Clos i Terrasses, I’ll Be Home For Christmas in DOQ Priorat

380/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Clos i Terrasses – Laurel 2012

I’ll Be Home For Christmas……….,

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Laurel 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah

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

Clos i Terrasses

This fantastic creation by Daphne Glorian takes its name from the Laurel tree, the Bau Laurel, which is present all over the Catalan countryside and certainly one of the major Mediterranean herbs. Laurus Nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel, sweet bay, bay tree (esp. United Kingdom), true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or simply laurel. Laurus Nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture.

laurus_nobilis*Worldwide, many other kinds of plants in diverse families are also called “bay” or “laurel”, generally due to similarity of foliage or aroma to Laurus nobilis, and the full name is used for the California bay laurel (Umbellularia), also in the family Lauraceae. Laurus nobilis is a widespread relic of the laurel forests that originally covered much of the Mediterranean Basin when the climate of the region was more humid. With the drying of the Mediterranean during the Pliocene era, the laurel forests gradually retreated, and were replaced by the more drought-tolerant sclerophyll plant communities familiar today. Most of the last remaining laurel forests around the Mediterranean are believed to have disappeared approximately ten thousand years ago, although some remnants still persist in the mountains of southern Turkey, northern Syria, southern Spain, north-central Portugal, northern Morocco, Canary Islands and in Madeira.

* Source – Wikipedia

5 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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Mas Doix, This Is The Life in DOQ Priorat

377/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Poboleda – Celler Mas Doix – Salanques 2006

This Is The Life……..,

md_331706_535aaa5d7a8112b2394740a4b0d16210Salanques 2006, 65% Garnacha, 20% Cariñena, remaining 15% is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot

Cherry red color with garnet rim and dense tears that stains the glass. Medium-high layers. Delicate aromas of red fruit, cherries, spices, licorella and pepper. As secondary there was toast, dairy notes, some licorice and balsamic. Marked minerality and hints of herbs with a background of black fruit. The palate has a fresh entry with good body, silky tannins, good acidity and a fairly persistent aftertaste with hints of fruit jam and minerality. WOW, what a delicious wine!

Heaven, I’m in heaven……, how can I not be, true enough that wine is not always wine but sometimes, like today, it is so much more. When it chooses to transmit a feeling that elevates you to heaven, you know it’s something above a red colored beverage, made from grapes!

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But the again, who brings pizza to a wine tasting? I’ll tell you who and let me rewrite that, not pizza, Catalan coca! Something different, offering delicious produces on a owen baked dough. Pizza? Call it what you wish, I want more! Valenti Llagostera, wine maker and owner of Mas Doix starts us of with the wine tasting of the younger wines together with coca. He is slightly late as he had to stop at the local coca-place to pick up the two versions of coca, available this day.

Valenti and two friends in the vineyards, the Montsant mountain in the background!

After a well needed breakfast intake of, wine and coca we continue to the vineyards, which are amongst the oldest in the Priorat. When in Rome….

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Later, we would continue to try the aged reds at a local restaurant, Porta del Priorat, just outside the village of Poboleda, to enjoy hearty stews as that is what’s considered to accompany the wines best. And the Coca (pizza), yes I will have that again and yes it works well with the wine!

The barrel room at Mas Doix!

Five generations of the owners’ family have had ties with viticulture and wine making, Mas Doix is not the new kid on the block! But it was only in 1998 that Josep María Doix and his cousins, Ramón and Valentí Llagostera, decided to create the bodega while harvesting grapes in centuries-old vineyards.

The wine graveyard at Mas Doix, all the vintages produced. Have to come back one dark night.....

With this effort, the new era of the family tradition was reborn, taking up the hard to follow accomplishments from the 19th century when the wines made by Jaume Extrems Doix won Gold and Silver medals in Barcelona and in Paris during the World Fairs in the 1870s.

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The Phylloxera plague dealt a severe blow to the business, but staring the evil bug in the eye, the family was able to quickly replant the vineyards with native rootstock of Garnacha and Carinena.

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The grapes were taken to the Poboleda co-operative and made into wine up until 1999 when the new bodega’s first vintage was released. Currently, the family members, who are all very aware as well as extremely proud of their inheritance, divide their time between vineyard husbandry, winemaking and marketing.

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Mas Doix is still a small and modest bodega, whose philosophy is based on the utmost respect for the region’s winemaking tradition, and whose aim is to transmit the true essence of Priorat via its wines.

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The vineyards are located at 350 to 600 metres above sea-level, unfold at the foot of the sierra del Montsant on steep slopes with poor slate soils (called locally ‘llicorella’) in a region dominated by dry, rigorous microclimates.

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However, their location also benefits from the fresh north-westerly breeze, which lowers temperatures and gives rise to a slower ripening process and, in turn, to a late harvest. Low-yield vines lead to limited production, yet the wines made at the bodega are fresh, balanced and elegant, with the subtle mineral charge typical of DOQ Priorat.

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Valentí Llagostera explains that: “They are distinguished wines, made to be enjoyed, to share with friends and serve as a starting point for good conversation – wines which are an essential part of a certain way of life”.

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The lunch was memorable but the wines were heavenly and never to be forgotten. Got to try the Les Crestes 2009, the Salanques 2006 and the Mas Doix 2008. Each with its own personality, and if they were to be tried separately, without comparing them to each other, all would have superlatives written all over them.

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8 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

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!

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Agust and Gaig, Jingle Bells in D.O. Penedes

368/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Pairing at Gaig with Agust – Rocaplana 2011

Jingle Bells……..,

…….., all the bells were ringing on all cylinders yesterday as the annual Christmas wine tasting and paring took place at Restaurant Gaig in Barcelona. Arranged, for the third time, by Augustin Palome Garcia it tends to be a popular event and let me tell you that the quality of wine and food you get is amazing, especially considering what you pay! Next year I have decided to be in the kitchen as my very dear friend Augustin takes care of the wine tasting. Not that we are going to beat Señor Gaig but we’ll certainly give it a good try. Agustin is a guy who lives and breathes wine, at times it is quit difficult to conduct a normal conversation with him as anything said could end up being connoted with wine, not that I mind!

Rocaplana 2011Rocaplana 2011, 100% Syrah

Cherry color with a violet rim. The nose is powerful. Aromas of black fruit (blackberry, currant and ripe plum) on a spicy and mineral background with hints of black pepper and tobacco. Dairy notes are present, providing a sweet sensation. The palate is nice with a full bodied yet soft experience. Silky tannins and aromas of ripe fruit. The end is refreshing and sweet.

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The gastronomic tour of Carles Gaig has its ups and downs, but mostly ups. He started his kitchen days by taking over the family restaurant in Horta in the early 70s. Got his first Michelin star in 1993 at the same restaurant and then Gaig and his wife and maitre Fina Navarro moved to Hotel Cram in 2004 to open a gourmet restaurant, which they operated for nearly ten years with great success. In 2013 they finally left that location to merge into a new project with Jordi Cruz. Totally renovated and under the name of Gaig, the new restaurant combines traditional cuisine with creative dishes, making this a gourmet restaurant to visit more than once. As always, Carles Gaig personally selects the products at the Mercat de la Boqueria to be able to offer a dining experience of the highest quality. He is still working actively in the kitchen and he’s very keen on meeting the diners as often as possible.

IMG_2135Agustin and Gaig came together perfectly with regards to the pairing of wine and food. Six wonderful wines together with six excellent plates, what more can one wish for! I am already looking forward to next years pairing and I can already promise it will be something special!

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17 to go!

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Celler Sao del Coster, O Morro Nao Tem Vez in DOQ Priorat

363/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Gratallops – Sao del Costers – ¨S¨ 2013

O Morro Nao Tem Vez………,

vino-s-sao-del-coster¨S¨ 2013, Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah

Cherry red color with garnet rim. The nose is equilibrated, has loads of fruit, ripe red fruit, light floral and herbaceous notes. Balsamic and some licorice, light spice with medium mineral character. The palate is powerful, but very cool, is not a typical Priorat, has some warmth, the fruit in the nose has a strong presence, pronounced tannins but well polished, just hit the market but it will be even more enjoyable in a few years. Few wines from Priorat provide so much pleasure for such small buck.

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The past weekend has been full, over the brim, with wine tastings and visits to cellars which I have intended to visit for some time now. Finally the time was ripe and what’s better than visiting a winery? Visiting a winery together with family! Over the days to come you’ll get to know where I have been the past few days. Sao del Coster was visited on Saturday morning. We met with Michi Negron from the winery and she took us around the vineyards, the cellar with a tasting of the ¨S¨, Terram, 04 and the ¨Carignena¨. Got to taste some of the new brews, still in the barrels and the new Pim Pam Poom. The last edition Pim Pam Poom was tasted earlier this year and you can read about it here. After tha tasting we continued to the Quinoa restaurant in Falset, for a much needed lunch! A great day with great people and the perfect host in Michi! Check out the photos here!

22 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and SweetEasy Wine Tours

Mas Oller Winery, Make Me Smile in D.O. Emporda

362/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Emporda – Torrent – Mas Oller – Plus 2010

Make Me Smile……..,

6d2e03d70c23b9e23279f5442d45e193…., always just smile! ………you’ll see the sun come shining through for you! You’ll find that life is certainly worth while if you just smile! One thing I can guarantee is that this wine is going to make you smile! Happy wine loving days my friends!

wine-mas-oller-plusPlus 2012, 65% Syrah and 35% Garnacha

Intense cherry color with blue and violet iridescences. Clean and bright with abundant tears. Clean and expressive nose, predominantly fruity aromas that are quite intense. Ripe fruit such as red plums and black cherries. Gradually becomes more complex offering floral, spicy notes carrying nice and fine aromas, herbs and an increasingly intense minerality. The palate is elegant, silky, with a load of fruit. Good acidity and sweet tannins. Long and marked by a mineral persistence. This is a complex, balanced red wine with great value for money ratio.

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The Empordà is a legendary wine-producing region, where the Greeks first introduced grapes back in the year 600 BC. The Empordà is situated in northeast Catalonia and Mas Oller is an old estate owned by the Esteva family. It was in Torrent, in the county of the Petit Empordà with views of the city walls of Pals and the Medes Islands, where Carlos Esteva –owner of the prestigious winery Can Ràfols dels Caus– rescued the family estate from oblivion, building a cellar in what was the old cow shed and replanting vineyards in what had formerly been the best wine-producing estate in Pals.

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Nowadays, nearly 300 years after it was built, Mas Oller has become a benchmark winery in the D.O. Empordà with wines which express the essence of the area and a philosophy firmly rooted in quality. In the year 2000, Carlos Esteva decided to plant vines in order to produce new, prestigious, high-quality wines. Some wine was made from the young vines in the earlier vintages and was sold locally. Now, the vines have reached the right age for achieving the desired concentration of fruit. The first wines were launched in April 2009 and the response since then has been extremely positive.

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The Mas Oller Estate lies between the sea and the mountains, in the   path of the strong northerly wind, the Tramontana and has a diversity of different soil types: clayey, sandy and slate. Conceptually and geographically, therefore, the Mas Oller project brings together Northern Catalonia, the Empordà and Roussillon, with wines which are both expressive and fresh. At present, the Estate has 15 Ha. (37 acres) of vineyard in production and an additional 2 Ha.(4.5 acres) of newly-planted vineyard. The three red varieties are Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and the two white varieties are Picapoll and Malvasía de Sitges.

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The vineyards surround the old country house and the grapes are selected manually in the vineyard before being transported in bins to the cellar where the grapes undergo a second round of selection. All of the grape musts are macerated at cold temperatures in order to obtain themaximum expression and extraction of colour and aroma. Their philosophy is based on reviving the winemaking tradition of the Empordà with a modern interpretation. The team consistsof Carlos Esteva, owner and winemaker, Peter Schoonbrood, wine concept and project manager, Martin Cuervo, head of the vineyard and winery.

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23 to go!

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Mas Martinet, Show and Tell in DOQ Priorat

359/365 – Catalonia – DOQ Priorat – Falset – Mas Martinet – Els Escurçons 2010

Show and Tell…….,

escur10_174x241Els Escurçons 2010, Garnacha and Syrah

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

Els Escurçons takes its name from the estate it comes from. A vineyard planted at an altitude of 600 meters, within the DOQ Priorat and surrounded by mountains which are full of herbs typical of the Mediterranean ecosystem. The vineyards consist of mostly Grenache and Syrah and some are planted on licorella soil.

IMGP3014This wine from Mas Martinet Viticultors, made by Josep Lluís Perez and his daughter Sara, is fresher and more aromatic than the rest of their range. Harvesting is done manually. Once in the winery, the grapes are transferred into wooden vats, cement tanks and open barrels where it ferments with its own yeast for about 28-32 days. Subsequently, the wine is aged in 300 liter barrels for 12 months and before bottling it gets to rest in a large wooden fudge to finish of the wine, making it rounder.

26 to go!

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