Casa Mariol, I’ve Heard That Song Before in D.O. Terra Alta

234/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Celler Casa Mariol – Vintage Merlot Reserva 24 Mesos

I’ve Heard That Song Before……..,

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Vintage Merlot Reserva 24 Mesos

Deep bigarreau cherry red colour with red hues. The nose consist widely of wild forest fruits, bigarreau cherry, ripe fruits and soft notes of vanilla and cacao. It is a well structured wine with a great body and soul. The taste is dry and velvety, medium bodied with a lingering aftertaste. It has been aged for 24 months in American and French oak casks after which it has been allowed to take a well deserved rest in the bottle.

Batea Terra Alta

When you’re born in a beautiful mediaeval village of two thousand inhabitants surrounded by vineyards, in the heart of a family that makes wine, you one day wonder (or reaffirm): I was born to do this. That is surely what various generations that have been living and working in Casa Mariol for over a century must have thought.

Casa Mariol

In Batea, the village in question, vineyards and wine are religion, and Casa Mariol is a home to the pious parishioners. The village’s inhabitants live in houses that were built centuries ago to store wine. They take care of the fields as if these were their gardens, and the celebrations of their patron saint, San Miguel, are postponed so as not to coincide with the grape harvest If we were to compare it with a contemporary example, we might say that Batea is a village where the trending topic is the grapevine, and tweets are taken literally.

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When speaking of a company called Casa, terms can be confused. The organisation chart is pure genealogy. As a company, it was born in 1945, founded by José María Vaquer Bes. In his home, they had always made wine, so José María began to sell it using his brand new Opel Blitz car. The Mariol wines from Batea began to reach important markets such as those of Reus and Barcelona, and on the barrels from the city wine merchants it was common to find “Batea” written in chalk, together with the number of José María’s second truck, a Chevrolet with a 77777 number plate which they said was famous in Catalonia.

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In the 60s, the production of wine ceased to be made in Casa, and a modern winery was built. By then, José María’s sons were already grown up and he could count on their help. Josep Vaquer Aguiló, the middle child, not only inherited the name, but also his dedication to the company. In 1971, José María died in a work accident in the middle of the grape harvest. Four months later, Josep married Emilia Llop, from Casa Rams, another family of peasants and winemakers from Batea. With them, a new era would begin at the winery, with Josep taking care of management, and Emilia in charge of production.

Falcon Crest

In the 80s, the Mariols used to watch Falcon Crest on TV, which was a fiction like any other. Their great challenge was to install the first bottling plant of the region in Batea and to begin to make wines for new channels such as the catering trade. With the bottling plant, the first foreign varieties were made, such as Cabernet, Merlot, or Chardonnay. But it wasn’t until the mid 80s that Casa Mariol decided to launch the first varietal Syrah wine aged in Spain.

Casa Mariol moving

In the 90s, the winery expanded and began to commercialise the new bottled wines in their local market -the Costa Dorada and Barcelona-, where Casa Mariol would open their first two shops in 1997. During these years, their facilities expanded, but it wasn’t until the year 2,000 that Casa Mariol opened a new winery exclusively for the reception of grapes and the production of wine.

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The decade starting in the year 2,000 also brought about a new generation to the winery. Josep María and Maria Vaquer Llop, grandchildren of the founder, had just finished their studies in oenology. Josep María would later be in charge of viticulture and oenology, whilst his sister Marta would take care of production. With their children’s help, the Mariol family, almost in its entirety, opened a new bottling plant in Móra la Nova -a pioneer in bottling plants of the region-, which would be key for them to offer quality wine at more competitive prices and therefore begin to export all over Europe.

Yes We Wine Casa-MariolIn 2,007, Marta and Josep María, together with Miguel Angel -the youngest brother and latest addition to the company-, launched JO! Catalonia’s first Verdejo wine, and Casa Mariol’s first experimental product. With this curious product, the Mariols caught the attention of the whole Spanish wine industry, clearly illustrating their company philosophy and pointing to a new wine culture.

Wine bar

For the new millennium, the Mariols have great challenges to meet. Among others, to continue to be a family dedicated to their vineyards and their wine. They have inherited the knowledge for making quality wine at a good price, and have the desire to spread their new wine culture everywhere; theirs is a religious love of wine, of what they do, and of who they are.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

147 to go!

7 Magnifics, You Go To My Head in D.O Terra Alta

231/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – 7 Magnifics – Rebels de Batea Blanco 2013

You Go To My Head…….,

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Rebels de Batea Blanco 2013, 100% Garnacha Blanca

A delightful example of Terra Alta Garnacha at its best! White fruit, a fine and perfumed note which highlights the white flowers and lavender, also finding a slight smoky note. It is a wine with creaminess, structure and nerve, citrus and fruit are present and apricot and white peach predominates. Rebels de Batea Blanco is balanced, pleasant and seductive, with fragrant aromas of peach, pear, apple and notes of white flowers and nutmeg that give finesse and elegance. For more than 50 years, generations of winemakers in Terra Alta have struggled against the harsh conditions of climate and soil. Today, when Terra Alta is mentioned, one thing comes to mind, the Garnacha Blanca!

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The winery of 7 Magnifics has yet to be visited but I couldn’t stop myself from posting my tasting notes as I believe that this is a cellar to keep ones eyes on! Many good things are to come from this enthusiastic project in the near future, and I for one, am going to follow its progress closely. At presnet they have launched two wines, of 2013 harvest but the plan is to add five more to the total tally! Exiting times ahead for the 7 Magnifics and for the wineries of Terra Alta!

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Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

150 to go!

Herencia Altes. Gone to D.O. Terra Alta

207/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Batea – Herencia Altes – Herencia Altes Garnatxa Negra 2012

Gone…….,

On rare occasions do I write about the labels...., you'll have to agree that this one is a masterpiece! Interpret as you wish.

On rare occasions do I write about the labels…., you’ll have to agree that this one is a masterpiece! Interpret as you wish.

Herencia Altes Garnatxa Negra 2012

Deep ruby to purple colour. Primary nose very closed, not displaying much at first. After a while, the first impression is that of artificial aromas, perfume and strawberry caramels, pure candy. Aromas of under-brush, black cherries and raspberries. In the mouth, however, it gets going from entry. Very lively fruit, but without exaggeration, yielding a wine of medium body, creamy, silky and fills the mouth and fascinates. Beautiful fresh plums, ripe strawberries, tobacco, licorice, vanilla pod, bitter chocolate. One more of my Super Catalans. At this price and with this quality, you should buy boxes!

Nuria

The wine of the day is a custom cuvee made for wine importer Eric Solomon by proprietor Nuria Altes. It is 100% garnaxta negra (grenache) raised on its lees in concrete vats.  The fruit is mix of very old garnaxta bush vines, which is balanced by the youthful intensity of younger vine fruit.

Herencia-Altes-Barrels

If Herencia Altès is one thing only, it is quality throughout! But it is not only one thing, it has so much more to offer, and I for one am going to keep my eyes open for the coming wines from this fine tuned cellar in Terra Alta. This is a well thought through project long time in the making. For generations Nuria Altes and her family have been grape growers, with vineyards dispersed around the village of Batea. Nuria has decided to give these grapes their own personality making limited numbers of the seven wines they produce.

HERENCIA_ALTES.LEstel.labelWhile Terra Alta is not yet a well-known region (but it is getting there) – tucked away in the south-eastern corner of Catalonia it borders Aragón and Valencia – it is one of the largest areas in Catalonia under vine. Built upon Roman and Moorish foundations it preserves a beautiful historical center and its grand church is testament to its past glories. In terms of viticulture, it is the most important village in Terra Alta accounting for over 50% of its entire grape production. Most of the grapes are sold to cooperatives or large companies outside the region. Herencia Altes is Nuria Altes’ dream to put Terra Alta on the map and show the true quality of these wonderful old vines.

The artwork on each of the labels reminds Nuria of her childhood days, playing amongst the vines.

The artwork on each of the labels reminds Nuria of her childhood days, playing amongst the vines.

174 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Bernavi, Beginnings in D.O. Terra Alta

154/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Bernavi – Ca’Vernet 2012

Beginnings…….,

…., when I’m with you it doesn’t mater where we are, just as long we are in Catalonia, enjoying wine! Once more we wander to the highlands of Catalonia, the Terra Alta appellation, a region every wine lover should know by now! Don’t miss out on great wines from a very small and secluded region, sometimes overlooked because of the vicinity to the Priorat and Montsant!

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Bernavi has evolved from the restlessness of three young viticulturalists and their passion for the enchanting world of vineyards and wine making: Marco Bernava his partner Ruth Fullat Sisteré, and brother Gino Bernava. Their Italo-Catalan project started in 2007, choosing a personal and familiar setting in “Terra Alta”, a D.O. within the Tarragona district. This has resulted in the restoration of a traditional vineyard, the planting of thousands of new vines and the completion of a modern winery in 2011.

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The history of “Mas Vernet”, dates back to 1694, and is rooted in the north of Vilalba dels Arcs along the “Camí de Berrús” which reaches up to the Ebro River valley: here Bernavi cultivates its vines and makes wine exclusively from their own grapes “interpreting the terroir“. The location of Bernavi project was carefully selected for the peculiar potential of the region, recognized by the three winemakers. They are in a pre-coastal, area where the Mediterranean climate meets the Spanish highlands: here the high temperature variation between day and night during the summer promotes good grape maturation.

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Climate conditions of this area also allow a style of production that totally respects and enhances the environment. The limestone quaternary soils present quite extreme and fascinating conditions. In this land of Catalonia, Bernavi decided to look for synergies between the climate and soil varieties as well as agronomic and oenological techniques to characterize the quality of its produce.

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The native varieties of Garnatxa Blanca and Morenillo, together with typical Garnatxa Negra, assimilate with international varieties to be grown and processed so that “this interpretation of the terroir” can be tasted and enjoyed in the Bernavi wines. Bernavi wants to instill their own formula, processing quality and always respecting the pleasure of matching food and wine: they want to have standout wines, made for scouring tasters searching for some authenticity. The state of the art winery bottled its product line at the end of March 2011: a white wine, a rosé and a young red wine.

Garnacha Morenillo

Garnacha Morenillo

A white wine from a 65 year old vineyard of Garnatxa blanca, proudly Mediterranean and mature in all aspects, meets a young and fresh Viognier. A rose from a fully structured Garnatxa negra creates an inviting and delicious wine. Last but not least, the blend of Garnatxa negra, Syrah and Merlot produced with uniquely different techniques creates a young red wine with character.

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The winery continues to pursue the evolution of its wines aged in French and Slavonian 3000 liter oak barrels, another unique interpretation of the three winemakers. In these barrels, Cabernets and Morenillo focus the results of human and natural inputs of the Bernavi philosophy: “interpreting the terroir.” Welcome to my world, where I daily discover amazing and authentic wines!

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Ca’Vernet 2012, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc

The wine has been aged for 9 months in Croatian and French oak barrels of 3.000 liters.

The color is deep red purple, intense and opaque. Varietal notes of pepper, blackberry and spices (white pepper) harmonized with the fine toasted oak. Vegetable notes, some fruity aromas and hardwood/oak. The entry into the mouth is powerful and harmonious at the same time. During tasting, body and persistence recall and highlight the range of smells, persistent and changeable. A powerful, deep and tasty red, which is to be enjoyed with food. A creamy risotto to give homage to the Italians in Terra Alta!

225 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Edetària, On The Road Again in D.O Terra Alta

126/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Gandesa – Edetària – Edetària Seleccio 2012

On the road again…….

……, no better way to spend a Tuesday morning, just after the long Easter break, than with a visit to one of my (many) favorite wine cellars in D.O. Terra Alta. As I have, quite extensively, covered both Edetària and the D.O. of Terra Alta in a previous blog post, here comes some pictures from todays visit and a tasting note of todays preferred breakfast wine.

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My parents in law had the opportunity to meet Joan Lliberia of Edetaria during a promotional (sales) trip to Stockholm, as they were invited by the Swedish Edetaria importer for a tasting. As soon as they landed here in Catalonia they had to visit the place first hand, so we took a road trip, had as splendid time and enjoyed some great wines! Sometimes (most of the time) my line of work is quite nice.

Wine lovers and parents in law, yes...., in that order! Enjoying the Catalan countryside!

Wine lovers and parents in law, yes…., in that order! Enjoying the Catalan countryside!

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During the visit I was also very happy to meet a U.S importer of Catalan wines, trumpetwine.com. Not really blowing his own horn, but certainly trying to make Catalan wines known in the San Francisco area and I wish him great success as he is to receive his first shipment by the end of this summer! You all know by now, that my wish is that you all come over here and drink the wines in situ, but if you can’t make the journey, make sure you try the Catalan wines in one or more, of the outlets in the San Francisco area. Catalonia in California, I quite like that thought!

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Edetària Seleccio 2012, 85% Garnacha Blanca and 15% Macabeo

Edetària is made with a selection of Macabeo and Garnacha from old vines. The wine spends 8 months on new French oak barrels of 300 liters, thus giving it a complexity and unmatched elegance. It is bright straw to light golden in color. The primary nose show some white fruit but also buttery oak, rounded and nice. Floral notes and fine spices. The palate is powerful and smooth, with a long, lingering finish and a salty aftertaste. This a complex and powerful white, perfect for a special occasion, like a breakfast on a Tuesday morning in D.O. Terra Alta!

253 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Castell del Vi, Água de Beber in D.O. Montsant

125/365 – Catalonia – Falset – Castell del Vi – Wine Fair – Cooperative Falset Marçà – Etim Grenache Old Vines 2008

Água de Beber……,

…., Water to Drink at the Wine Castle? I think not! I have to remind myself over and over again, that during the difficult years, when Priorat and other regions saw their decline, co-operative wine cellars still fought on and produced wine. Maybe not the best in the world but certainly good enough for the money you would pay. Today, most co-operatives work with high technology and with some great wine makers. To some extent, the difficulty they are having, is with the bulk wines, the mechanical harvest (which makes quality selection so much harder) and timings. Due to the large amounts coming to the wineries at the same time, it is virtually impossible to give the grapes the best reception.

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Nevertheless, it is certainly possible to find great wines made by the co-operative cellars, which was proven during the small fair at the Castell del Vi in Falset the other day! Several new wines were tasted and I have firmly decided to visit some of the producers that took part. The Wine Castle is run by a foundation, which praised the conclusion of the second edition of the Fair of agricultural cooperatives of the Priorat region. It was a great showcase for the diversity and quality of the wines and oils produced by cooperative wineries of the region, some with over 100 years of history. During the day, more than 300 entrance tickets were sold, which means there were approximately 600 people participating.

The tables are set and the fair was just about to start!

The tables are set and the fair was just about to start!

This year, the Fair was attended by 9 agricultural cooperatives from the region and one guest cooperative from D.O. Terra Alta, the Cooperrative Cellar of Gandesa, considered one of the Cathedrals of Wine in Catalonia. During the day, the cooperative wineries presented their new wines in the l’Absis hall of the Castle. Wine tastings of different categories were offered, both targeted and blind. Their other products, like olive oil and cured meats and cheeses were also on display.

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This centre is based in the former Castle of the Counts of Prades of Falset, built in the 12th century after the Christian re-conquest of New Catalonia and located on a strategic hill overlooking the town of Falset. The castle which was made up of a residential quarter and a church, the existence of which can only be seen in the former exterior walls, was partly destroyed on several occasions, such as the decree of Philip the Fifth. In recent years, before it was completely abandoned, it was also used as a prison.

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The Castell del Vi takes up three floors of this former fortress. Modern infrastructure and advanced technology has meant that the centre offers visitors a very different experience based on Priorat wine culture, which is far removed from that of a traditional wine museum. By using audiovisual and interactive elements, visitors easily understand the history and the peculiarities of this wine-growing region.

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On the gorund floor visitors are introduced to the world of wine, the region of the Priorat through the use of emblematic images and suggestive decorative elements. They also receive a brief introduction to winemaking from the vineyard to the winery by use of short videos. The first floor concentrates on the region’s history and what makes the area unique. It is divided into two contrasting spaces: A grape growing Region, Visitors are greeted by a large 3D relief model of the Priorat where a short film, projected onto the model, takes us back in time. The exhibition space is complimented with fixed panels and glass cases which emphasize the idiosyncrasy and curiosities of this region.

I got to try an excellent Rose wine by Celler de Cornudella de Montsant, which was paired quite well with semi cured cheese!

I got to try an excellent Rose wine by Celler de Cornudella de Montsant, which was paired quite well with semi cured cheese!

Protagonist, Homage to the people who have contributed to the re-birth of the region. This interesting set up allows visitors to get to know some of the most important faces in this renaissance. Furthermore, a series of interviews informs visitors of personal experiences and points of views of the diverse people who were involved in this process. The second floor is called The Lookout. This open plan floor space provides visitors with splendid views over the region and invites them to go out to explore its countryside, its hidden corners and its festivals. Modules with touch screens as well as normal ones mean that nothing is missed.

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At the other end of this room, a series of touch screens offer visitors information about wine production in the region as well as in the rest of the world. Finally, special glass spheres offer visitors the opportunity to appreciate and recognize the basic aromas of Priorat wines in the form of an entertaining exercise to test our senses. If you only have limited time, once you visit Falset, because I assume you will visit Falset one day soon, then you should visit at least the Co-Operative wine cellar and the Castell del Vi!

DSC_0233Etim Grenache Old Vines 2008

Vines of more than 50 years of age offering very low outtake, vineyards with slate, clay, limestone and sand, at a height of between 350 and 500 m. Intense pomegranate, well covered with purple trim and rich in color. The nose surprises with an intense aroma of strawberry, currant and blackberries. Blueberries and blackberries dominate and there are subtle balsamic and mineral points. The aromas evolve and points towards the toasted notes of the barrel aging. The palate is elegant, lively and well balanced wine with fruit flavors, good acidity and firm, round tannins. The ending is long, the berries, vanilla and wood are felt throughout.

254 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

Vins del Tros, Oye Como Va in D.O. Terra Alta

115/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba del Arcs – Vins del Tros – Ay De Mi 2010

Oye como Va…….

Extra, Extra! Read all about it, here Vins del Tros!

Today marks 101, after this one has been written, completed posts. Wine no. 115 is something special and the winery has been covered previously. Hey, I promised, one Catalan Wine a day ad I have kept my word so far, I didn’t say it would be one cellar and one wine! Old jungle saying……, There are times when CatalanWine365 leaves the village and walks the streets of the town like an ordinary man!

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Yesterday I had to pay another visit to Barcelona. Ten wine lovers from Sweden, on a business trip to Barcelona, asked me to hold a wine tasting of Catalan wine (off course, what else?). So I introduced four appellations and wines from these areas. A Cava, a white and two reds. Three of the cellars I have covered in my previous blogs. The fourth I am saving for yet another special occasion!

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The tasting lasted for a while and before i got back to my village, it was late. Up and about this morning I realize I’m running short of time. Have to get the BBQ going and prep some more wines, as another great day (in terms of tasting wines) is at hand in a few hours! Got some good friends coming over and after they have been here I won’t be able to put two words together correctly, so here’s todays, very short, entry!

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Ay De Mi 2010, Garnacha Negra and Syrah

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

264 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

 

 

Vins del Tros, La La La in D.O. Terra Alta

78/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Vins del Tros – Cent x Cent 2011

Singing La La La………

…., cause today I got proof, as if I didn’t already know, that I am a bona fide wine geek! Doesn’t take that much really, try heck of a lot of wine, diversify and make sure you cover loads and (100) loads of different grape varieties. The seal is in and I’m sharing, with you, parts of the letter that came with the “diploma”! There are still so many places to visit so why would I ever want to go to Pughkeepsie?

Distinguished Member - The Wine Century Club

Distinguished Member – The Wine Century Club

And with this…., “I promise to honor the ways of Bacchus, god of wine, agriculture and madness, but to go easy on the madness so as not to end up shouting at the walls in a cheap motel outside of Poughkeepsie

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Veni, Vino, Vici!!!

The Wine Century Club is for adventurous wine lovers worldwide. If you’ve tasted at least 100 different grape varieties, you’re qualified to become a member (click here for more information). If you haven’t tried 100 different grape varieties, but are interested in the concept, you’re welcome to all of the events. Please join us in promoting the awareness of uncommon wine grape varieties. There are currently 1,465 members worldwide and there are up to 5.000 grape varieties, hundreds and hundreds are used  for wine production.

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Being in Terra Alta this very day, let’s check the varities used in this region. There are many authorized varieties, some traditional varieties and some of foreign origin. The whites, mainly used, would be Garnacha blanca, Parellada, Macabeo, Moscatel and Chardonnay, experimentally, Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Marselan are also authorized. Doing the head count for the reds, we get, Carignan, Garnacha negra, Garnacha Peluda, Morenillo, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. So why not explore Terra Alta, visit some wineries, drink some wine and cover at least 16 varietals!

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If there is a combination of a trinity of people in Terra Alta with an absolute passion for wine it would be the two initiators of Vins del Tros and the additional third, experienced wine lover.

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The project was launched in 2009 by Joan Ramon Bada, winemaker, and Joseph Arrufat, vintner. Both born in Villalba dels Arcs, friends since childhood and with the passion for vineyards and wine from their land.

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The goal, agreed upon, from the beginning was to produce wines with a distinct Terra Alta typicality, taking advantage of the potential offered by the old Garnacha Negra and Garnacha Blanca vines, the two main traditional local varieties.

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Finally, in late 2012, another contributor joined the team, passionate about wine culture of this country, Xavier Orobitg, looking to bring his extensive experience to favor this exciting project. If you indeed are a wine lover, think no more, just book a flight ticket and google Terra Alta, come and visit. This is a winery that is not making to much noise, they let the wines speak for themselves!

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Cent x Cent 2011, 100% Garnacha Blanca

Wine made only with the varietal Garnacha Blanca. Vines recovered from a 79-year-old vineyard in the municipality of Villalba dels Arcs, harvested by hand, the Cent x is characterized by an aged white wine with aromatic and original personality. 2,000 bottles of this wine have been produced.

Yellow straw color with slight golden undertones. Displays aromas of ripe white fruit with a background of candied fruit. Citrus, floral notes and a nice sensation of tropical fruits, giving it originality. Fresh entry, quite creamy and carries a peachy sensation, but it is not peach peach, more like a combo of peach/melon. Has a lot in the mouth! Well made, persistent and I’d certainly combine this with grilled white fish, add some creamy sauce and you’ve got a marriage.

303 to go!

Celler La Bollidora, Get Down On It in D.O. Terra Alta

71/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Vilalba dels Arcs – Celler La Bollidora – .G 2007

Get Down On It…..

…., if it hits the spot, it might be hitting the G spot? That’s when all the senses come together and concentrate on what the heck is going on, and let me tell you, there’s a lot going on. Focus!!! Please, pretty please with sugar on top! What are we actually encountering, in terms of aromas, in the wine?

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To keep it simple and not dwell into philosophical disputations, The .G wine is, like Kool & The Gangs song Get Down On It…., it starts slow, soft and equilibrated until it reaches the point of no return. That’s when you feel like getting up on the dance floor and shaking lose without opprobrium! And if this happens with a wine, you know it’s good! What ever the aromas are, or because of them!

The old distillery before the conversion

The old distillery before the conversion

“The Bollidora” used to be the old alcohol factory in Villalba dels Arcs. During the year 2005, Juan Carlos Sanchez Brianza recovered the facilities of the old factory building and what started as a hobby project, has since developed into one of the most renowned wineries in D.O. Terra Alta, with numerous awards and international recognition.

The barrel room!

The barrel room!

The winery is located in the village of Villalba dels Arcs. The old village distillery is now producing a range of excellent Terra Alta wines. This unique building, with a history, is now writing a story. Wouldn’t it be nice if walls indeed could talk?

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“From the best vineyards, the best wine,” is the motto of La Bollidora, which is why they work with old vines and traditional varieties. To preserve all the properties of the grapes in the final product the grapes are harvested by hand and manual selection is done both in vineyard and at the sorting table.

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The philosophy and goal of the winery is to carry out the work of viticulture respectful to the environment, and above all, to develop exclusive, high-quality wines. Discover these old abandoned vineyards and give prominence to the indigenous varieties such as “Morenillo” and Black Grenache, Samso (Carignan), and make good use of the foreign Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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All wines are made ​​from their 5 vineyards within the municipality. The soil is very poor in organic matter, the vines grown at altitudes between 460 and 550 meters, the highest in the Terra Alta.

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.G 2007, Garnacha, Carignena and Syrah

Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. The .G is a wine with good structure, to be stored for some time as it will develop and improve with time. An assembly combining the minerality of the Carignena with the fruitiness and spicy notes of the Garnacha and the Syrah. Cherry red color to light ruby. On the nose it gives of primaries such as ripe fruit and balsamic. Elegant touches of leather, licorice and tobacco. In the mouth it has a strong and intensive attack, warm. Long and complex structure. Subtle acidity. A keeper!

309 to go!

De Muller, I’m just a lucky so and so in D.O. Tarragona

56/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Reus – De Muller – Garnacha Solera 1926

I’m just a lucky so and so…..

…never a really bad day here in Catalonia. Sure, ups and downs, but it just seems like the ups are Himalaya and the downs are not so very down! Make sense? Pure fact of the matter is, I have found a good life here and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest. The end of this week is full of activities, wine tastings, cellar visits and wine lectures. Is it all about wine, you might ask? I’m not going to bore you with a extended answer, simple yes will have to suffice! But on occasion I do tend to eat something nice with the wine as well.

And just to be on the safe side, a bottle is close by at all times!

And just to be on the safe side, a bottle is close by at all times!

Penedes is divided into three administrative parts, Alt Penedès, Baix Penedès and Garraf, and their capitals are Vilafranca del Penedès, el Vendrell and Vilanova i la Geltrú. The provincial division is between the provinces of Barcelona, which includes Alt Penedès and Garraf, and the province of Tarragona, which includes Baix Penedès.

The regions within the province of Tarragona

The regions within the province of Tarragona

So, the village of choice, in which i live and work, in situated within Tarragona, not the D.O. of Tarragona but the province of Tarragona. The village falls under the D.O. of Penedes. Confusing? Well, sometimes the borders made by paper pushers are not always meant to be understood!

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Suffice to say that both D.O:s have a diversity of wines and a multitude of cellars. No need to travel long distances to enjoy a nice visit to a winery and to fill the days with lovely local activities. Spring is here and that makes it so much easier! One of the big ones, De Muller of Tarragona, is worth not only one visit but several, and their products are abundant throughout the restaurants of Catalonia.

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Presently, De Muller offers a very wide range of quality wines under the appellations of Tarragona, Priorat and Terra Alta. Amongst the traditional Mass Wine is included. It was responsible of the De Muller fame throughout the world. Nowadays exports constitutes 60% of its production to international markets, the 40% remaining, being sold nationally.

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During four generations, starting in 1851, the company belonged to the family De Muller. Initiated by Sir Auguste de Muller and Ruinart de Brimont, a member of a well-known Alsacian wine grower family.

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Having considered the potential the Tarragona area provides, they decided to settle as former Greek colonies had settled in Spain, followed by the Roman Empire in Imperial Tarraco, capital city of Citerior Hispania.

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As from June 1995, De Muller S.A. belongs to the Martorell family, Catalonian businessmen and traders eager to obtain the optimal quality in wine, while respecting the tradition that constituted the firm heritage for decades. During 1996, De Muller S.A. moved their installations in a new cellar surrounded by vineyards in the property known as “Mas de Valls” in Reus.

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In the village known as El Molar, in the south-eastern part of Priorat, one can find the property “Mas de les Pusses” with 34 hectares of vineyards and a new cellar with a capacity of 500.000 liters. It is here they elaborate their Priorat wines, which I’ll have to come back to. In 1999, De Muller assured the continuity of the former Cochs S.A. who decided to sell the company after 52 years of activity; they decided to do so because they had no continuity in the management, which had always been held by the family.

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Cochs was founded in Reus in 1946 and it began its activity on the first of January 1947. The firm was mainly enrolled in the manufacturing of the traditional vermouth aperitif from Reus, well known on the national territory; its formula has remained unchanged. To explain all wines produced would take several entries, so you’ll just have to wait and make due with a brief explanation of todays wine.

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Solera is a process for aging liquids such as wine, beer, vinegar, and brandy, by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. A solera is literally the set of barrels or other containers used in the process.

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The majority of the “hearth”, in the wine tasted, is Moscatel and Garnacha (both Negra and Blanca) varieties. Both of which are aged independently and in different types of oak barrels. These barrels are stacked in rows of up to three stories height.

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The lower row is called “Solaria”, due to its proximity to the ground and contains  a higher quantity of aged wine.  When the blend is about to be made and the wine bottled, 1/3 of this “Solera” is removed. The loss in volume is immediately replaced by wine from the second tier barrels, and the second from the third. The second and third tiers are called “Criadera”. The third tier is filled with new wine, which has been subjected to oxidative aging in wood casks.

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The output of the solera is the fraction of the last container taken off for bottling each cycle. The amount of product tied up in the solera is usually many times larger than the production. This means that a solera is a very large capital investment for a winemaker. If done with actual barrels, the producer may have several soleras running in parallel. For a small producer, a solera may be the largest capital investment, and a valuable asset to be passed down to descendants.

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Wine produced from a solera cannot formally have a vintage date because it is a blend of vintages from many years. However, some bottlings are labeled with an age for marketing reasons. It is unclear whether such age indications denotes the average age, or the age of the oldest batch.

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The wine tasted today bares the note “In honor of the son of Reus, Antonio Gaudí, genius known worldwide as the father of modernist architecture, this hearth born the end of the day this teacher was made.”

Enjoy! A very elaborate Catalan Solera!

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De Muller Garnacha Solera 1926

Amber yellow in color. Thick and satiny with perfect slow flowing tears. Noted aromas in the nose are those of dried fruit and dates. Secondary are of toasted notes, caramel, burnt sugar, which mingle the scent of varnish and mahogany wood sail boats. The palate is thick and creamy. Very polished with nice balance. It is long in the mouth and lingers. Sweet, but not overly sweet. Fresh with wonderful acidity. I have to try the other Soleras by De Muller!

317 to go!