Rendé Masdeu, Help Yourself in D.O. Conca de Barbera

303/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barbera – L´Espluga de Francolí – Rendé Masdeu – Trepat del Jordiet 2012

Help Yourself……..,

rende-masdeu-trepat-del-jordietTrepat del Jordiet 2012, 100% Trepat

Cherry red color, bright and with a middle layer. The nose offers subtle notes of red berries and spices. It is not to expressive, kind of closed. The palate is soft, fresh, spicy and the wine is very easy to drink and to enjoy! As a native variety of Conca de Barbera, Trepat, vinified in red, will reveal a world of original experience. Finesse, freshness and subtlety, wrapped fruit and spicy notes. Jordiet is born from organic farming. The wine is a varietal wine and it was produced in amphorae. The Romans claimed that the slow oxygenation when doing wine in amphorae, expresses the particularities without outside interference.

In the middle of the Conca de Barberà region, astride the lands of the interior and the Tarragona coast is L’Espluga de Francolí. Surrounded by a leafy natural area, this town is closely linked to wine production, as is shown by one of the architectural jewels in its historic quarter, the Modernist Wine Cellar with its Wine museum. L’Espluga, located on the Cistercian Route, is also the anteroom to the Monastery of Poblet. This Cistercian monastery, one of the largest in Spain, was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1991.

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The wine vocation of the Rendé family has its roots in an ancient tradition and is now a well established business. Documented evidence, from at least 1604, shows continued dedication to viticulture and winemaking. Originally from the town Catllar the ancestors moved to L’Espluga de Francolí in the mid-nineteenth century where the viticultural tradition continued.

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The grandfather, Joseph M. Ventosa Rendé, was a leader of the regeneration Catalan agriculture. From his position as the Head of the Agricultural Social Action Community of Catalonia and professor of the College of Agriculture, he spearheaded the creation of cooperative wineries, with the collaboration of architects Cèsar Martinell i Domènech i Muntaner. Today, some of their creations still stand as valuable architectural monuments.

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Today we are so far away from the old wine drinking traditions, when it was merely a beverage, considered as a simple food ingredient or a routine intake, without contemplation of what actually was consumed. Over many years there has been a steady incline in wine refinement as well as the consumer knowledge and appreciation for its values ​​of complexity, harmony and different styles. It is no longer enough to make a good wine.

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True to the family motto: “Good wine comes from good vines”, direct care of their crops is paramount. Controlled and handcrafted limited production, allows for obtaining different and always a high quality wine. Rendé Masdeu sees wine culture as an artistic activity that has characterized their personality, resting on the pillars of tradition and constant research to improve and consolidate the pleasures of good taste. Because, at the end of the day (or at the beginning of the day), that’s what we all are looking for, a wine that tastes good!

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The brothers Josep and Joan M. Rendé Masdéu and their family, modernized the family heritage and its vineyards. They are specialized in the production of wines of high demand, mostly red wines made ​​with grapes varieties like: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Their wines are incorporated into the forefront of the revival of the old wine making prestige of the Conca de Barbera.

81 to go!

 

And The Grapes Are, Save Your Soul in D.O. Cava

301/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Torrelavit – Segura Viudas – Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad

Save Your Soul……..,

564Brut Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad, 67% Macabeu and 33% Parellada

This premium Cava is one of the best in its class! The balance between elegance, ripe fruit and the aging being its distinctive features. The vinous, distinctive flavor, full aroma and a delicate finish put it on a level of quality Cavas which can only be referred to as Super Catalan Cava. Bright golden color with fine bubbles. Complex on the nose, aroma of lees, nuts and herbs. Powerful entry, rich in the mouth and a great acidity. Fine bitter ending. Food Cava of the best kind presented in a very special bottle.

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Let’s take a moment and have a look at the specifics of Cava, Cava making and the grapes that are used and of course, allowed according to the rules of the appellation. The origins of Cava are associated with the splendour of Catalan wine production during the mid-nineteenth century and the fame of Champagne at the end of the eighteenth century. The fermentation process that Louis Pasteur developed in his microbiological studies was adopted as part of the second fermentation in the bottle, while the discovery that cork preserved the bubbles was made during this stage. This was the birth of the traditional production method.

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During the nineteenth century, several families in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia started researching this new production technique and applied it to crops in the zone. As a result of their studies and trials, linked to the prestigious Instituto Agrícola Catalán Sant Isidre, they used this on autochthonous white grape varieties. This was the birth of Cava, which has a specific identity that makes it different from all other top-quality sparkling wines.

During the twenties, Cava became established in the Spanish market, achieving high growth in the sixties and its international consolidation in the eighties. Nowadays it is one of the most dynamic, prosperous wine-producing sectors, producing more than 200 million bottles every year for consumers all over the world. This sparkling wine is produced using the traditional method that has created its own identity through the decades as a result of factors such as the use of autochthonous grapes and the mild climate of the growing region. Its personality has been so successful that Cava is currently sold in more than 120 countries worldwide. The term Cava is derived from the Catalan word for the caves (or cellars) where it is traditionally aged and stored.

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The Penedés wine-producing region, 40 kilometres south of Barcelona, is where 95% of the total Cava production takes place. Cava’s specific characteristics originate in the traditional historical zone in terms of classic viticulture and production conditions. However, Cava is also produced in other regions of Catalonia (Girona, Lleida and Tarragona), as well as some areas in the Autonomous Regions of La Rioja, Aragon, Navarra, the Basque Country, Valencia and Extremadura. In total it is produced in 159 municipalities from around 32,000 hectares of vines. 

Because of its geographical and orographic diversity, the traditional zone of the Penedès has a large variety of soils. Wines are grown in the central zone, far from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and protected by the mountains of Montserrat. Soils are calcareous, with a medium permeability. The climate is typically Mediterranean, luminous and sunny. Winters are mild and summers are not too hot. All this, together with moderate rainfall spread out throughout the year, produces an optimum microclimate for cultivating the vine and ripening the grapes.

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The wine makers around the corner prefer to make the Brut Nature, without adding expedition liqueur, as the local market prefer this type of Cava. But the Brut as well as the Semiseco have over the past few years increased in production, mostly because of the demands from the export markets. The levels of added expedition liqueur or sugar are as follows; Brut Nature: no added sugar, Extra Brut: up to 6 grams of sugar per liter, Brut: up to 15 grams of sugar per liter, Extra Seco: between 12 and 20 grams per liter, Seco: between 17 and 35 grams per liter, Semiseco: between 33 and 50 grams per liter and finally Dulce: more than 50 grams per liter. There’s a Cava for every taste!

The main grape varieties are: Xarel·lo, Macabeo and Parellada together with Chardonnay and Subirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana and two varieties of red grapes: Garnatxa Tinta and Monastrell. Only two red varieties are authorised for producing rosé Cava: Pinot Noir and Trepat.

xarel-lo1Xarel·lo is a round, white grape with a thick skin. The taste as it grows on the vine is semi-sweet. It has a natural acidity which provides fresh fruit aromas of apple, grapefruit and lemon to the wine. It is one of the primary grapes in Cavas grown in the following Designations of Origin: Alella, Penede`s, Tarragona and Costers del Segre. I’d call this baby “The Body of Cava”.

macabeuMacabeu is one of the most widely planted white grapes in the North of Spain, where it is usually referred to as Viura. It is responsible for the floral notes in Cava wines, very resistant to oxidiation and has a low acidity. In addition to being a primary varietal in Cava, it has also seen great success in Rioja and Southern France. Also spelled Macabeo in Castilian/Spanish. “The Soul of Cava”.

VARIEDADES UVA 09 036Parellada is the least planted of the traditional Cava grapes. This varietal brings acidity and fresh fruit characteristics, at times very candy like and almost always some kind of banana, in comparison to the more prevalent Macabeu and Xarel·lo. While it grows best on higher altitudes, yielding bright, crisp wines, Parellada produces a softer wine in the vineyards situated on valley floors. One of my favorite grapes. This would be “The Makeup of Cava”.

1280px-ChardonnayChardonnay is the most widely planted variety in the world and one of the most important grapes for sparkling wines, its inclusion into Spanish sparkling wines in the early 1980’s is still controversial since it is not one of the traditional three Cava grapes. It adds body and toasted, creamy notes to the wine, and also takes on characteristics of the oak, if used, during the aging process.

640px-Malvasia_grapesSubirat Parent/Malvasía Riojana is one of Spain’s most characterful white varieties, it can be found in many regions including Rioja and Valencia. In Catalonia it is known as Subirat Parent and it is mostly used in D.O. Alella and D.O. Penedes, as well as being certified for Cava making. There are extensive plantings in the Canary Islands where the veriety is used for a wide range of styles. One of its attributes is longevity; the variety often plays a supporting role in Rioja’s white blends when a period on oak is needed.

trepatTrepat is a red grape variety that is grown primarily in the Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre DO:s of Catalonia. Ampelographers believe that the grape is likely indigenous to northeast Spain and today there are approximately 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of the variety used mostly for light rosé. It has the potential for fine red wines, but is primarily used to add light, subtle characteristics and color to rosé Cava. Over the years Trepat has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Bonicaire, Embolicaire, Parrel, Trapat, Traput and Trepan.

DSCF0323Mataró/Monastrell is commonly known as Mourvèdre, tends to produce tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, adds structure and color to Cava. The variety was probably introduced to Catalonia by the Phoenicians around 500 BC. The French-adapted name Mourvèdre likely came from Murviedro (Mourvèdre in Catalan, nowadays Sagunt) near Valencia while the Catalan name Mataró likely came from Mataró, near the modern-day city of Barcelona.

GarnatxaGarnatxa/Garnacha/Grenache is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It is a variety that requires hot, dry conditions which makes it ideal for growing in DOQ Priorat. It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acidity, tannin or color, so it is typically blended with other grapes to add body and a sweet fruitiness to Cava.

Pinot_Noir_Grape_VinePinot Noir produces some of the finest wines in the world, but also very delicate and difficult to produce due to its sensitive nature. Compact grape clusters and thin skins make the Pinot Noir susceptible to different diseases. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. It provides Cava wine with great floral aromatics and for the rosé Cava it lends its color.

83 to go!

L’Olivera Cooperativa, Better Together in D.O. Costers del Segre

245/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Vallbona de les Monges – L’Olivera Cooperativa – Naltres 2013 ECO

Better Together…….,

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Naltres 2013 ECO, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Negra, Trepat and Touriga Nacional

All the vineyards are Ecologic and all the grapes for this wine are hand harvested and placed in boxes of 10 to 12 kg. They are all deposited together in steel tanks, except for the Garnacha Negra which is aged for 8 months on oak. Ruby colour of medium intensity with violet tones. Good clean nose, good intensity. Notes of ripe red fruit (raspberries, blackberries), vegetable touches (oven roasted peppers) and some sweet spices (cinnamon). Huge entry and a balanced palate that is quite fresh. Sweet and ripe tannins that combine harmoniously with the good acidity. Memories of red fruit jam. Lingering and pleasant finish.

Naltres is a local word used in western Catalonia meaning ‘us’. Naltres symbolises everything they have learned together at L’Olivera through more than 20 years of seeking to produce products faithful to the land that yielded them. Naltres is their first red wine to bear the Costers del Segre designation of origin (subzone of Valls del Riu Corb).

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The beginning of love for a wine and winery, is when you realize that there are wine makers out there trying to make a difference of significant impact in the lives of others. How? Help the community, the less fortunate, and at the same time help me as a wine lover to experience some well made wines, while at the same time I am buying the bottle I know, that I too am making an effort to help out. This is certainly the beginning of a beautiful friendship and l’Olivera is going to be visited over and over again. Read the full story here! Catalan Wine 365 writes about wines from the amazing wine making regions of Catalonia, one wine a day for 365 days during 2014! Certainly Better Together!

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The history of Vallbona is defined by the presence of the oldest Cistercian convent in Catalonia. The Cistercian order was founded in Burgundy and is dedicated to combining spiritual activity according to the Rule of St Benedict with agricultural development and regional planning. Vallbona is a land of ridges and small valleys that reflect the erosive power of water, which left its mark and shaped the landscape. It is a place of deep soil, with hillsides supported by dry-rock retaining walls. These structures, along with numerous cabins, speak of the area’s more populous, productive past. The retaining walls are a key factor in keeping the soil fertile and using water efficiently; and the knowledge and hard work built up over generations permit us to enjoy an impressive landscape that is now seriously endangered.

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The area has an inland Mediterranean continental climate, with nights cooled by the sea breeze, and with minimal rainfall (around 350 mm per year). The altitude (450-700 m) allows for a mild, long ripening period, which is a limitation for certain crops. The natural vegetation is Mediterranean and can be found along the old retaining walls, the ridges and in the abandoned fields.

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L’Olivera was born in 1974 when a group of people decided to move to Vallbona de les Monges, in the south of the Lleida region of Catalonia, to work in two areas: providing support for the integration of people with psychiatric disabilities into society, especially those in disadvantaged social situations; and considering productive economic solutions based on local values. Since the beginning this has always been a cooperative formed by multidisciplinary people focusing on local social objectives and economic development.

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Right from the start, social action has been at the core of the project. In addition to the production activities and activities for integration into employment, they also organize community activities with the people that they work with, who are mainly people with psychiatric disabilities, especially those in more disadvantaged situations. These people are just as much a part of the cooperative as anybody else and can become full members if they wish. Since 2000, an occupational therapy service has also been in place. This group of eight people organise activities for the development of personal and social skills and work therapy (gardening, environmental maintenance, etc.). There is also a residential home open all year round with accommodation for up to 16 people. Built in 2004, the home has seven members of staff.

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Another step forward in the cooperative’s social action was creating the Olivera Foundation. The Foundation was the fruit of 31 years of action, the consolidation of the production project and the new social objectives that has been set over the years. At the Annual General Meeting held in April 2003 it was decided to create the Olivera Foundation alongside the cooperative as a means of ensuring the long-term continuation of the organisation’s work and fostering new initiatives for the social and occupational integration of people with disabilities or at risk of social exclusion in rural areas. So far the Foundation has participated in funding the completion of the residential home and the purchase of an adapted minibus.

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The Foundation is also responsible for managing 0.7% of the cooperative’s turnover, which goes into social projects that L’Olivera has some kind of direct contact with in the third and fourth world. In 2008, 2009 and 2010, this part of the cooperative’s turnover will be spent on a new building for people with sensory disabilities at El Mina school in Noukchott (Mauritania). If you love wine, you probably love people, because without people, there would be no wine! In this case, you know you’re enjoying twofold! Make sure your next glass of wine contains one of l’Oliveras wonderful products!

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Vallisbona 89, 100% Chardonnay

Vallisbona (Campomonalium de Vallisbona) is the name used on some old documents to refer to the village of Vallbona de les Monges. Vallisbona’89 is the embodiment of the experience since they began producing white wines in 1989. Each year they select the best vineyard parcels and selectively harvest the very best grapes. The wine is then carefully produced in the cellar, where the must is fermented in new French oak barrels and the wine is aged on the lees. The wines from the best barrels are blended and then bottled in a very limited number.

The wines has a subtle yellow color with green hues. A complex nose with notes of tropical fruit, citrus fruits and toast. A delicate palate that grows in intensity. The smoothness is balanced by the acidity and freshness of the raw material. A lengthy, lingering finish. Pairs well with shellfish and traditional Mediterranean dishes such as cannelloni.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

138 to go!

Celler Agusti Torello, Quiet Nights in D.O. Cava

235/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Sant Sadurni d’Anoia – Celler Agusti Torello – Cava Agusti Torello Mata Rosat 2008

Quiet Nights…….,

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Cava Agusti Torello Mata Rosat 2008, 100% Trepat

This is an excellent example of what can be achieved with the Trepat variety, give it some bubbles, give it some time and boom! You can have some easy and Quiet Nights with this lovely Cava! Lively strawberry colour. Good intensity on the nose, quite expressive, something sweet with hints of red forest fruits, some floral touches (red flowers) and slight slight fennel. On the palate it is expressive, dry, creamy, with well-integrated but slightly bitter acidity, with some vegetable notes, long and attractive carbon. Bubbles without troubles!

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Truth being, to much of the lower quality Cava is being sold in the world, and people rarely get to enjoy the really good stuff, and there’s plenty of the good stuff! Ok, so you’re sitting there thinking, Cava is still no competitor to Champagne! All I can say is, keep drinking your Champagne, that way there will be more Cava left for me! Thank you!

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But seriously, do the maths. Cold, unreliable climate versus warm and reliable climate, what’s better for the maturity (and flavor) of the grapes? Yepp! That’s right. For me the consistency of Cava is far beyond that of the Champagne.

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Now, the one thing the French do better and have been doing for a long time, is marketing. We were the first, we are the best, come and pay 50 euro and upwards for a bottle of bubbly! I have paid that but not any more. Fantastic Cava is to be found on the market for half that and that is some good wine right there!

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The acidity in the French stuff doesn’t allow me to drink more than a few glasses, at best. Cava, well let me tell you, that I can drink for quite some time before I get any inclination of acidity in my stomach. Today’s choice is a really price-worthy Cava, enjoyed any-time of the day but still I do prefer it on Quiet Nights!

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One of the most prestigious Cava producers is Agustí Torelló Mata and they have created more prestige for the reputation of Cava, then any other winery in Penedes. Their hard work and world-renowned expertise has proven that Cava can rival the best Champagnes and sparkling wines in the world!

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Kripta, the amphorae bottle, cult Cava, is a collector’s wine. The goal has been achieved by determination, hard work and the use of fist class indigenous varietals from the best vineyards in the region. Neighboring competitors have increased the use of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, while Agusti Torello Mata winery has stayed consistently true to the origins of Penedes.

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Agustí Torelló, the founding father, decided that he wanted to make a high quality sparkling wine, and so the winery was born in the mid 1950s. The winery is locate just outside Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, just about 30 minutes from Barcelona.

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Knowing that the terroir in Penedès is unique and exceptional, only thing missing was knowledge, how to best deal with the raw materials at hand. At a young age he decided not to follow in his families footsteps – who were actually tailors and musicians!

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What was then a brave endeavor with no guarantee of financial success was supported by his work in the region’s first wine analysis center, which Mata created in 1953. Supplementing his income by managing other estates, the reputation of Agustí Torelló ‘s Cava soon grew on the international stage, while the man himself established a promotional body – the Cava Guild- of which he was justifiably elected President of Honour.

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The fine reputation of the estate and Agustí Torelló’s great work continued to grow into the 21st century, today the winery is still in capable family hands, managed by is four sons: Agustí, Gemma, Alex and Lali. They have expanded their estate’s holdings to 35 ha of organic vineyards but they also buy grapes from over 100 ha to cover their requirements.

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Their range of Cavas includes dry and very dry, low dosage styles, focusing solely on growing the indigenous varies of the area with impressive results. All their Cavas are excellent, but the star of the show is undoubtedly their cuvee prestige, Kripta. The packaging is enough to cause a stir, a distinctive, amphora-shape bottle with an avant-garde label design.

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The idea behind this special vintage bottling came to Agustí Torelló Mata at the family home, Can Rossell, in 1979, when he realized that his winery should make use of the oldest vineyards in Penedès to craft something unique. Intially it was only intended for family, friends and true connoisseurs.

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The idea was to produce an extraordinary cava like none other. And as the extraordinary can not be improvised, they waited over 30 years to market it. Quality, wisdom, perseverance and enjoying something that is unique is in fact the Kripta.

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The wine is only produced in the most exceptional vintages, after an extended period of 5-6 years on its lees, Kripta emerges as a highly complex, full bodied and rich Cava. The perfect ambassador for the exceptional sparkling wines of this estate! Another one of my Mata favourites is the Grand Reserva Barrica, 100% Macabeu! More about the Kripta and Barrica in coming articles as todays hero is the Trepat!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

146 to go!

Segura Viudas, Lush Life in D.O. Cava

116/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Cava – Torrelavit – Segura Viudas – Lavit Brut Nature

Lush Life……

…., where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life, to get the feel of life, but to write Lush Life in D.O. Cava is not quite right, as D.O Cava is not a place but a appellation covering all Cava making areas in Spain. The one region producing most of the Cava in the country (95%) is Penedes and in Penedes, most of it comes from and around Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. So let;s start by explaining more in detail what D.O Cava is and how the Regulatory Board works.

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The Consejo Regulador (Regulatory Board) consists of a Chairman, Deputy Chairman and General Secretary. In addition to the obvious positions, there are representatives for the wine making sector and the production sector, all so that the vintners, wine makers and all others involved, have their say. Well, this is at least in theory, how it actually works is beyond me, but one of these days I’ll pay them a visit to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to!

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Cava is subjected to quality checks carried out by the technical services of the Regulatory Board. These controls start in the vineyards, using the registers of plots entitles to produce grapes for Cava making, control of volumes produced, monitoring of the quality and final destination of the grapes. Registered producers must comply with the specific technical conditions to obtain the right to produce both the cuvee and the Cava. The tipping stoppers for Cava must be marked with the month and year of the operation so as to guarantee the minimum aging periods required by the Regulations.

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Quality, analytical and organoleptic controls are conducted so as to evaluate the cuvees, a process during which regular inspections. stock statements and verification of movements are made. The labels for any type of Cava must first be authorized by the Board and meet the requisites under current law. The entire, complex control system includes the quality check of the finished product, authorizing the use of the name “Cava” and also the terms “Reserva” and “Gran Reserva”, issuing the numbered control marks (disc or band) with the three terms above which all bottles destined for consumption must bear, as seals which guarantee the quality and origin of the Cava.

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The characteristics of Cavas will depend on the differing variety combinations, years and also the different aging periods. To call a sparkling wine Cava, it has to be made using the traditional method (Methode Champagneoise) with a second fermentation “sur lees” and in a bottle. The minimum aging time for CAVA is 9 moths. The minimum for Reserva CAVA is 15 months and finally Gran Reserva CAVA with the minimum of 30 months.

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The indication “Gran Reserva” may only be used for “Brut Nature”, “Extra Brut” and “Brut”, which are aged for thirty months or more in the same cellars. The label must show the indication “Gran Reserva” and the year of the harvest. In this respect, Cava is the only sparkling wine which can bear this distinction.

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The Cava Region comprises a total of 159 municipalities in the provinces of Barcelona (63), Tarragona (52), Lleida (12), Girona (5), La Rioja (18), Alava (3), Zaragoza (2), Navarra (2), Valencia (1) and Badajoz (1), which together conform the delimited Cava producing area and are therefore the only ones with the full legal capacity to produce this type of sparkling wine and market it under this name.

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The municipality of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia si the heart and origin of this region, its driving force. Its spirit lies not merely in an area, a territory, but in the traditions, the style of winemaking, a blind faith in the quality of the product and a keen enthusiasm in disseminating this special beverage. Cava is made from different varieties, although there are three varieties of white grape which are considered the main ingredients.

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Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada are the three main characters, the lead roles. In addition to these, several more varieties come into play and have been proven suitable for wine making under the D.O. of Cava. Chardonnay, Malvoisie, Pinot Noir, Red Grenache, Monastrell and Trepat. The latter has, so far, only been authorized for the making of rose Cava.

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Pairing Cava with food  is often relegated to being served with only appetizers and desserts, but in reality, it is a remarkably versatile beverage that can be served throughout the meal! Here are some tips for successful pairings and some suggestions to try for yourself. Cava acts as a palate cleanser when paired with fried food and dishes with rich sauces. The crisp acidity and bubbles cut through fatty flavors, refreshing the palate for the next bite.

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A brut Cava works well with vegetable tempura or with linguine in mushroom cream sauce.  For a refreshing contrast to smooth, silky food textures, Cava’s effervescence adds an interesting textural dimension. Try a Brut with creamy butternut squash soup and with triple cream brie, some Reservas, Brut Nature works well with seared foie gras. Cava is a brilliant match for bright, tart and tangy foods, which need to be matched by an equal measure of vibrancy in the wine. Brut Rosé with Nicoise salad works wonders!

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The head count for Cava producing wineries in 2014 is 247. Companies producing base wines for Cava are 157, and together the two categories, produced some 241 million bottles during 2013, out of which 160 millions went abroad. That’s a whole lot of bubbles! The five top countries consuming Cava are Germany, The UK, Belgium, The US and Japan. One of the producers is Heretat Segura Viudas and today we’re exploring one of the Cavas they make.

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Lavit Brut Nature, 60% Macabeu and 40% Parellada

Straw yellow color with greenish hues. The bubbles are fine with steady release, forming a slight crown. Primary aromas are of yeast, nuts, butter, those are the parenting aromas also. Ripe fruit and hints of aniseed appear and provide the depth. The palate entry is soft and fresh, with bubbles that fits nicely in the mouth. This is a Cava with structure and a dry aftertaste which has a marked character. It is an ideal Cava to enjoy with starters, especially with light snacks and tapas.

263 to go!

 

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

8 Wines, Wine Do Yer Stuff in D.O. Conca de Barbera

60-67/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barbera – Falset – Hotel-Hostal Sport – 8 Wines Tasted

Wine Do Yer Stuff…..,

… and it did! Was expecting a well arranged tasting with some nice wines from D.O. Conca de Barbera. Got that, and more! According to the invitation from Marta and Ruth, Hotel-Hostal Sport in Falset, who were arranging the tasting, we were supposed to taste 6 wines, which is some kind of standard for these types of tastings. Final number was 8! And the wines they make in the Conca de Barbera, Yes!

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The cicerone of this tasting was CArles Andreu, wine maker and president of the D.O. Conca de Barbera. A man, as he himself described it, from the vine. “I’m a vintner who loves wine”, he’s knowledge of Conca de Barbera is unmatched and it was a pleasure to listen to him.

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This was the second of 12 tastings over the year to come, covering the D.O;s of Catalonia. These tasting are a way to promote Catalan wine and the Catalan D.O:s at the symbolical price of 5 Euro per tasting, so, if you want to know more about the wines from the regions of Catalonia, make sure to get to Falset and enjoy some really good wines together with other wine lovers! Can’t wait for the next DO-tasting!

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A little bit about D.O. Conca de Barbera before we get going with the tasting notes!

Most of the vineyards are located around the historic town of Montblanc, and the DO covers a total of 14 municipalities in the north of the province of Tarragona: Barberà de la ConcaBlancafortConesaL’Espluga de FrancolíForès, Montblanc, PiraRocafort de QueraltSarralSenanSolivellaVallclaraVilaverd and Vimbodí i Poblet.

The vineyards are planted in the valleys of the rivers Francolí and Anguera and are surrounded and protected by mountain ranges: the Serra de MontclarCodonymountain and Serra de Comalats in the north, the Serra de Miramar and Cogulló in the east, the Serra de Prades in the south, and the Serra del Tallat and Serra de Vilobí in the west.

And soon the tasting begins, prep work by Marta and Carles!

And soon the tasting begins, prep work by Marta and Carles!

The land is mainly flat or slightly undulating at heights of between 350 and 600 m above sea level. Most of the vines are on dark lime bearing soils, quite loose and poor in organic matter. Towards the foothills of the Sierra de Prades slate can be found in the rock.

Friends at the tasting sharing a moment of truth!

Friends at the tasting sharing a moment of truth!

The climate is temperate Mediterranean, with hot summers and cold winters. The average annual temperature is 14°C with extremes of 35°C in summer and -6°C in winter. There is a risk of frost in spring for the vineyards at the highest altitudes. Rainfall is mainly in autumn and the average annual figure is around 500 mm.

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The mountain ranges protect the area from the wind, while the high altitude means that the summers are not too hot. Humidity is slightly higher than in neighbouring DO’s. The vines receive around 2,500 hours of sunlight per year.

Ruth capturing a moment!

Ruth capturing a moment!

The traditional grapes used are Macabeo and Parellada for the production of white wines and cava, and GarnachaTrepat and Tempranillo (known locally as Ull de Llebre) for red wines. However, the Regulatory Council of the DO has also authorised some foreign varieties: Cabernet SauvignonMerlotPinot noirSyrah and Chardonnay. White varieties represent about two thirds of the vines planted.

The older vines are planted as low bushes (en vaso), while the more recently planted ones are on trellises(en espaldera) to increase production. Planting density is around 2,000 – 2,500 vines per hectare, though the maximum authorised density is 4,500 vines/ha.

Four types of wine are produced in Conca de Barberà: a white varietal wine using Parellada grapes, different blends of whites and reds, and the rosés. The rosés are made using the native Trepat variety of grape. The white wines represent about two thirds of all wine production. Most reds and rosés are best consumed young.

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Wine No. 1 – Portell Blanc de Blancs, 2013, Macabeo and Parellada.

Delicate yellow straw color with greenish rims. Clean, young and bright. On the nose it has an average intensity, white fruit and semi intense flavours with various floral, menthol notes. Pear, peaches and candy. Balanced. This white wine from Conca de Barbera has a nice entrance which is light, fresh with a pleasant acidity. Flattens out a bit to fast, but certainly a wine to be enjoyed during the hotter days of summer. The Parellada is dominating, showing flowers all over this one!

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Wine No. 2 – Celler Rosa M. Torres , 2010, 100% Viognier.

Slight pale golden.  Intense nose with primary notes ripe fruit, round and clean nose. Expressive to complex, secondary of honey, roses, ripe pears and almonds. Structured, well balanced with good acidity. Dry, medium long after taste with balanced acidity. Elegant and well made wine!

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Wine No. 3 – Bodegas Concavins, Clos Montblanc Rosat, 2011, Coupage of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo, Trepat

Clear cherry to light purple. Clean nose, medium fresh, direct. Frozen strawberries and strawberry marmalade, fresh red fruits. Mild acidity, medium long, slightly unbalanced. Fruity, uncomplicated, nice summer wine, typical rose.

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Wine No. 4 – Castell D’or, Francoli 2011, Ull de Llebre and Trepat

Clear medium intense colour, dark cherry to ruby. Macerated fruit, toasted caramel, meaty, slight minerals showing. Leather, spicy, green pepper. Meaty and tasty in the mouth. Mouth filling and balanced with toasted notes. Well developed, well made but slightly uninteresting wine.

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Wine No. 5 – Celler Cal Gasset, Sanstrave Partida del Jueus, 2009, Merlot, Garnatxa, Ull de llebre, Trepat, Cabernet sauvignon

Deep cherry colour with a garnet rim. Undeveloped, closed, slightly chemical antiseptic. Needs time to open up. Burnt butter. After a while it opened up, Aromas of candied fruit, honeyed notes and aromatic coffee came as secondary after quite some time. Filling with a pleasant acidity and good balance. Long after taste. This IS a good wine but needs proper decanting. Stylish!

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Wine No. 6 – Celller Rende Masdeu, Manuela Ventosa, 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

Intense red colour with violet hues, many layers. The nose is complex with ripe aromas, spicy, creamy. Secondary of oak, toast, complex. Powerful, rich mouth with ripe tannins. In the mouth it is tasty and fatty, with a smooth entry and evolution. It has a sweet tannin sensation. The aftertaste is reminiscent of cherry jam. long after taste. Well made and well balanced!

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Wine No. 7 – SCP de Montblanc, Gatzara 2012, Trepat 

Clear and clean but thin purple colour, considering this is a red wine. Spicy, liquorice, fennel and marzipan. Lovely nose, which keeps on coming. Light in the mouth. Slightly unbalanced tannins, medium after-taste. Cherry and almonds. Interesting wine, though unbalanced, fruity and different! Has a personality which I like!

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Wine No. 8 – Carles Andreu, Trepat 2010, Trepat 

Bright medium ruby with slight rims of terracotta. Fruity, rich with berries, ripe strawberries. Complex and slight arrack notes. Vanilla and balsamic, bitter note at the end. Filling the mouth nicely without being heavy. Buttery, balanced acidity with a long after-taste. Harmonious! High quality with a major danger, to easy to drink!

And the WINNER is Wine No. 8 –  Carles Andreu, Trepat 2010! Can drink this forever! I’m loving it!

313 to go!

Celler Carles Andreu, Misterioso in D.O. Conca de Barbera

40/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Conca de Barbera – Pira – Celler Carles Andreu – Carles Andreu Trepat 2011

Misterioso……,

not really that mysterious but I enjoy Monk on a sunny Sunday morning. A long walk with the dogs and then getting around to writing about yet another great wine producer of Catalonia, what else do I need? Well yes, a glass of wine but that would be stating the obvious!

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This is a small bodega that started only in 1991 by Carles Andreu, it also bears his name. It’s located in the very nice village of Pira. The old Masia (manor house) Cal Celdoni has existed since 1796 but today wine making is fairly young.

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The Mas of Cal Celdoni was bought by Carles ancestor from the monks of the Monastery of Poblet. Cavas that are produced here surpass some of the Cavas made in neighboring D.O. Penedès. If that is true or not, is for each and everyone to determine on their own, what I know (and appreciate) is the boldness of Carles when he decided to make the first red wine in the world containing 100% Trepat!

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First time I tried their Cava was in a restaurant. Can’t remember the restaurant but the Cava stayed in my memory and I decided that a visit was long overdue! If there is one winemaker that is a must to visit in Conca de Barbera, it is this one! Then again, I always say that! Go figure!

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The main varieties grown are Trepat, Parellada, Macabeo and Chardonnay. They are currently doing some testing with Xarel.lo and Garnacha. As the production is kept to a minimum, the grape selection is rigorous as the grapes are received, but the first selection is made already in the vineyards.

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The extraction (pressing) of the grapes intended for Cava is very gentle. Only 60% is extracted and it is done slow to control, as far as it’s possible, that only must from the centre of the pulp is flowing, to avoid areas close to the skin and the seed, which provide herbal flavors and favor oxidation.

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Each variety is vinified separately by the lowest possible temperature to preserve what little flavor Parellada and Macabeu give. Then the blend is for the base wines that give rise to future Cavas.

Trepat

Trepat is a red Spanish wine grape variety that is grown primarily in the Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre. The grape is likely to be indigenous to northeast Spain and today there are approximately 1,500 hectares of the variety used mostly for light rosé wine and Cava. The D.O. Conca de Barberà is one of the main wine regions in that grows Trepat.

D.O Conca de Barbera

D.O Conca de Barbera

In Catalonia, Trepat is mainly found in the blended rosé wines of Conca de Barberà and Costers del Segre where it is often blended with other varieties. Over the years Trepat has been known under a variety of synonyms including: Bonicaire, Embolicaire, Parrel, Trapat, Traput and Trepan.

Trepat is quite particular when it come to soils and doesn’t not thrive everywhere, but it seems to be resistant to most fungal diseases.  It is a early riser and is thus susceptible to frost damage, which is more of a problem in this region at some of the higher altitudes but it is normally planted in vineyards on lower altitudes.

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 Carles Andreu Trepat 2011, Trepat 100%, from fifty year old vines, from the vineyards of Les Alzinetes and Les Parades.

Bright red color with cherry hues and red edges. Low to medium layers and moderately slow tears. Primary aromas of ripe red fruit (currants and strawberries), toasted oak is noted but very subtle. Followed up by spicy notes, black pepper and nutmeg, balsamic, sweet licorice. Nice and tasty on the palate, good acidity, red fruits (currants and plums), intense notes that give character and personality, spicy, light menthol. Good structure and persistent. Long aftertaste of ripe fruit and spices. Kept developing and this could easily have stayed in the bottle another few years as it will improve.

334 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle