Mas de Sant Iscle, Left Coast Boogaloo in D.O. Pla de Bages

331/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Pla de Bages – Sant Fruitós de Bages – Mas de Sant Iscle – Sal.la 2011

Left Coast Boogaloo……..,

vi_negre_salaSal.la 2011, 60% Ull de Llebre 30% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

Bright cherry red color throughout. The nose is full of ripe plum, blueberries and light notes of licorice in the background. Medium-high aromatic intensity, very clean nose and frank with a very fruity feel. Smooth entry and slightly greedy in the mouth, but it quickly displays its youthful vigor, with tannins that are a bit too dry but not too aggressive. Meaty, good tannic feel, with a well balanced acidity that gives the wine freshness and vivacity. It is easy to drink and it has good persistence, I especially like that it produces the same taste as the nose indicates, loads of ripe plum! A very nice wine, well crafted and affordable.

At the Mas de St. Iscle they have been producing wine since the early nineteenth century under the leadership of the Vilanova family, now in its fourth generation, with a special emphasis on the local varieties, the white and red Picapoll.

Mas de Saint Iscle is one of the oldest properties in the Pla de Bages region. This medieval hamlet is documented since the year 950, once the Muslim were expelled  it has been inscribed within the Marca Hispanica under the authority of Charlemagne, at the same time a monastery, founded by St. Benedict Mon Bages, was erected and became the cradle of wine culture in the region.

The Mas de St. Iscle became a shelter and resting point for travelers. Monks, peasant and nobles alike. You could basically view it as todays roadside hotels. Located along the old road that people traveled  from Barcelona to Cardona, laying in the midst of the irrigation canal, an impressive feat of medieval engineering during the fourteenth century that involved the construction of a canal to bring water from the Llobregat river through Balsarenys, and ending in Manresa.

The cultivation of vine has been a constant in this place. At the beginning of the century, a century after the region recovered from the phylloxera that ravaged the Bages, Jaime Vilanova a renowned winemaker from the Ancient Valley of Cardener acquired the estate of Mas San Iscle, with 70 acres of planted vineyards, olive and cereals around the Romanesque church of Sant Iscle and Santa Victoria de Bages. The rest of the history still remains to be heard!

57 to go!

 

Let’s go Organic with Albet I Noya, Evidence in D.O Penedes

319/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Sant Pau d’Ordal – Albet I Noya – La MiLana 2011

Evidence……..,

lamilanaLa MiLana 2011, Caladoc, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Dark garnet color, bright with high layers. The primary aromas are those of new wood, they clearly stand out. Once aerated, lots of ripe fruit (red and black) shows their presence. Toasty but well integrated. Mineral notes and hints of vanilla. The palate has a very powerful attack, full-bodied and sweet. Very well integrated tannins. Roasted notes are very present in the mouth as well. Long and persistent. Nice one! The variety Caladoc was created by grape breeder Paul Truel in 1958. The grape is a crossing between Grenache and Malbec that Truel created with the aim of having a vine that could grow in southern France that was less prone to coulure than either of its parents.

La Milana vineyard are 11 terraces that make up 7 ha. around the Can Milà de la Roca farmhouse. 150 years ago this land was farmed directly by Mr Milà’s wife and hence became known as La Milana. The blend of the four varieties is the same proportion as the makeup of the vienyards, making this a true single vineyard wine. Perhaps this is what gives it such harmony and a clear expression of place. Hand picking with a vineyard selection is followed by a triage grape by grape after destemming. The winemaking process is centred on the utmost respect for the fruit of these vineyards..

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

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Organic wine is largely wine from organically grown grapes, but the regulations primarily limit the quantity of sulphur dioxide that can be used, approximately half the levels permitted in a conventional cellar. This means that the Can Vendrell cellar is required to maintain a level of hygiene far superior to that of a conventional cellar. Nonetheless, once more we can see that the key to making great wines lies in the quality of the raw materials: the grapes. Albet i Noya continue to research new methods and grape varieties. They are currently experimenting with seven pre-phylloxera grape varieties with 500 vines of each type. They have looked for varieties that had survived naturally in the wild, indicating a high natural resistance to diseases. They are looking for both sensorial and ecological qualities in these vines. Early results indicate two varieties with considerable possibilities. They also work with Incavi (The Catalan institute of Vines and Wine), to select authoctonous varieties that have greater resistance to parasites whilst producing quality fruit.

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

Albet 3

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

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

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

Albet 6

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

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

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

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

BElat Albet I nOya

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

 

72 to go!

 

Cal Cabo Celler, Buttercup in D.O. Costers del Segre

317/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Sant Martí de Maldà – Cal Cabo Celler – Curvus 2010

Buttercup……..,

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Curvus 2010, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Ull de Llebre

Cherry red to ruby with a mahogany rim, medium-high layer and tinted tears with a slow flow. The aroma appears as tertiary notes, cigar box, cedar, moist mushrooms. A nice scent of nutmeg, clear earthy character and a background of candied ripe fruit. Easy entry, smooth and elegant presence of tannins. Powerful finish with an aftertaste of vegetables and spices, sweet black pepper and leafs. A well elaborated wine, nice coupatge. The varieties have been separately aged in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels over a 10 month period. After blending it has spent another 3 months to rest in tanks.

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Cal Cabo is a very small family winery that produces wines covered by the appellation of Costers del Segre, and extra virgin olive oil under the name of Mas de Sant Pere. Rosa Maria Bisa Felip is responsible for this project which started in 2009. During 2010 they bottled and started selling their first vintage. Earlier, like in many small wineries, her father had made ​​wine for home consumption using the grapes from the vineyards of the family. The cellar is located in Sant Martí de Maldà, a town that is part of the municipality of Sant Martí de Riucorb and situated along the Cistercian Route . It is a journey that follows the outline of the Cistercian monasteries of Santes Creus, Poblet and Vallbona, located in the Alt Camp, Conca de Barbera and Urgell, respectively. The vineyards and olive growths that cover some 13 hectares are irrigated by the river Corb, hence, today’s wine and one of the wines produced is named Curvus.

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This is indeed a small winery with a limited production of only 3,000 bottles per year, for which they only use a portion of their grapes, the rest is sold to other producers. They work with the red varieties Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo (Ull de Llebre), from which they obtain three wines: the aforementioned Curvus, which is a red wine, a pink and a red, both named 1-11, in memory of the contribution of grapes that valley residents historically had to make their lord. To visit you have to call ahead, as they only receive pre booked groups and in limited numbers. During a the winery tour you can taste their products in a small tasting room; there is also the possibility to have breakfast or alfresco dining should the weather allow. Well worth the trip if you like small, familiar wineries!

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74 to go!

 

Tasting 8 Wines, The Usual Suspects D.O. Costers del Segre

307-314/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Falset – Hotel-Hostal Sport – Tasting 8 Wines

The Usual Suspects…..,

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… they came, they examined, they sniffed, they sipped and they spat, or should I say most of them did! Was expecting a well arranged tasting with some nice wines from D.O. Costers del Segre. At yesterdays tasting I got that, and more! According to the invitation from Marta and Ruth, Hotel-Hostal Sport in Falset, who were arranging the tasting, we were supposed to taste 6 wines, which is some kind of standard for these types of tastings. Final number was 8! And the wines they make in the Costers del Segre, Yes! The Usual Suspects is one of my absolute favorite movies and so is the soundtrack and main theme. The usual suspects also refers to the sommeliers, wine makers and wine lovers in general that visit the well arranged tastings at Hotel Hostal-Sport, once a month. There’s a bunch of people that always come to these tastings and I am happy to be amongst them! We have Emporda, Montsant and Priorat to look forward to!

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As always Marta, owner, manager and in house sommelier at Hotel Hostal-Sport, started of by introducing the representative from the D.O. and in this case I have to say I totally missed the name but I have to say that when it comes to wine and especially to the specifics of Costers del Segre, she knew what she was on about! It was a pleasure to listen to her.

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

A little bit about the characteristics of D.O. Costers del Segre before we get going with the tasting notes!

The vineyards are spread out throughout the northeastern interior of Catalonina, with the region of Pallars being the most northern one. It is not an appellation with one border, as the growing areas are spread out like a multitude of vineyards. The vineyards are located in the sub-areas of Artesa de Segre, Urgell, Garrigues, Pallars Jussà, Raimat, Segrià and Valls del Riu Corb. The D.O. as such was created in 1986, so it is one of the younger appellations of Catalonia. Currently there are 588 wine growers and farmers, working on a grape producing areal of 4.197 ha. Total number of plots is 2.667 and wine producing cellars (commercial) are 42! Small numbers but big wines! 

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The different sub-zones have very varying geological and climatic features. The link is the middle basin of the River Segre, between the Pyrenees and the Ebro. They are all located in the interior and have quite dry conditions, away from the maritime influence and marked by high insolation, low rainfall and persistent moisture mists during the winter. The vineyards are located between 200 and 400 m. altitude. The soil is calcareous sand coated with a great uniformity throughout the denomination.

The Artesa and Pallars subzones are the most northerly, with their vineyards at a higher altitude and Pyrenean influence. Raïmat at the eastern end, has a gentle relief and continental climate. The sub-area Segrià on the plain of Lleida, is characteristic of rain-fed lands. Les Garrigues and Valleys Riucorb have dry soils, to be considered drylands.

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After the phylloxera, the vine cultivation decreased substantially. In this way, starting during 1909 the new vines grafted on American rots (Americanos) resistant to phylloxera, provided the province of Lleida with 15,161 hectares, of which 13,343 were replanted phylloxera resistant vineyards and 1,818 were lands that were previously not used for vine growing. The 102,920 hectares not reconstituted are mainly devoted to the cultivation of olive trees. In the western area, the varieties destroyed by the phylloxera were: Pinós, Samsó, Sumoll and Garnacha. The varieties grafted on American stocks: Monastrell, Macabeo, Trepat, Grenache and Sumoll. At the same time some French varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon were imported.

The grape varieties recommended by the regulatory body are; Garnacha Negra, Tempranillo (Ull de llebre), Cabernet Saugvinon, Merlot, Monastrell/Morastrell, Trepat, Mazuela/Samsó, Pinot Noir and Syrah with the recommended addition of white grapes; Macabeu, Xarello, Parellada, Chardonnay, Garnacha Blanca, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandria, Malvasia/Subirat Parent, Gewurztraminer and Albarinho.

Llabustes Wine No. 1 – Vila Corona, Llabustes Chardonnay 2013, 100% Chardonnay

Pale yellow straw color, elegant green reflections. Clean and intense aromas of  flowers, acacia and a hint of rose. Yellow and white fruits, a lot of pineapple, apple and pear are quite subtle, banana is also there but fading in the background. No mineral and no notes of aging. On the palate, it is a dry wine with moderate acidity, noticeable alcohol but without being intrusive. It has a integrated body. Taste of citrus, exotic and white fruits, slight touch of almonds. You won’t find a better Chardonnay from Costers del Segre, the value is amazing!

Anima de RaimatWine No. 2 – Raimat, Anima de Raimat 2013, Chardonnay, Xarel.lo and Albarinyo

Straw to slightly golden color with greenish reflexions, showing the youth and freshness. Complex.  Intense nose with primary notes of tropical and citrus fruits, round and clean nose. Expressive to complex, secondary of currant, elderberry, peach and some white fruit, pear and melon. Structured, well balanced with good acidity. Dry, medium long after taste with balanced acidity. Well made and simply a very pleasant wine!

OnraWine No. 3 – Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011, 70% Garnatxa Blanca and 30% Sauvignon Blanc

Brilliant and golden yellow color. Clean nose with heavy aromatic complexity. Some coconut, but mainly I noted white fruit meat, pear and apple. Smoky notes and cedar came along nicely in the background. Slight perfume, or aftershave, or if it was just the guy next to me? With aeration, lemon, pineapple and peach continues to add dimensions to the experience. Good entry, slightly salty. It is filling the mouth with sensations of white fruits, herbs and a buttery feel. Mature, quality, long and fresh finish.

Petit GrealoWine No. 4 – Vinya l’Hereu, Petit Grealo 2010, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon

Transparent ruby red color with violet hues. Red and black fruit, light smoke, herbs like lavender, rosemary and fennel. Nice touch of white pepper and balsamic. Medium intensity, medium and balanced tannins. Smoke again, leather and coffee. Candied fruit. Potent wine, persistent and refreshing. A pure, fresh character of clay!

oda castell de remeiWine No. 5 – Castell del Remei, Oda Negre 2009, 55% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Ull de Llebre and 5% Garnatxa

Cherry color, with a bright cherry colored edge. Colorful tears and dense. High intensity. Aromas of barrel and cedar, aromatic coffee came as secondary after quite some time. Balsamic. Marmalade, blueberry jam. Sweet and voluptuous entry. The tannins are mature, integrated and the acidity is fresh, enhancing the persistency. Loved the finale with the sweet fig carrying the wine a long way.

bru de verdu 2012

Wine No. 6 – Celler Cercavins, Bru de Verdu 2012, Ull de Llebre, Syrah and Merlot

Dark cherry color with garnet rim. Clean and bright. Slow and slightly tinted tears. It has a clean and intense nose with outstanding very fruity aromas, ripe black fruit and licorice intermixed with subtle spices and lightly toasted. Mild vegetables and balsamic background appears after a while. The entry is powerful, fleshy and dry, marked by intense roasted notes, light spices and a delicate mineral touch. Good acidity that refreshes and distinctly tannic. Persistent finish that leaves roasted and fruity sensations.

vilosell 2012

Wine No. 7 – Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011, Ull de Llebre and Syrah

Beautiful cherry color with violet edges. Very bright and thin legs. Nice aromatic complexity with a  wide range of aromas. Vegetables, red fruits, hot spices and licorice give way to ripe fruit, sweet spices and chocolate. Subtle floral background. Intense and spacious volume. Silky and full of juicy fruit, blackberries, accompanied by toast and mineral notes and subtle hints of licorice. Mature and well polished tannins. Good acidity. Long and persistent finish that leaves fruity sensations. A round, tasty and very friendly wine!

Bui del sort negre 2013

Wine No. 8 – Batlliu de Sort, Biu de Sort Negre 2013, 100% Pinot Noir

Unclear, light purple to ruby color. Ops, not a favorite. Primary of sewer and rotten eggs, like I haven’t experienced that before! Swirl, swirl, swirl and here we go…, raspberry, unripe cherry, slight coffee aroma and some green beans. Light entry, dry, fresh acidity, light tannins, violet, salinity, green bell-pepper. Different, interesting even though we got of to a bad start. Would actually enjoy an additional glass of this wine

And the WINNERs are (had to go for two this time) Lagravera, Onra Moltahonra Blanc 2011 and Tomas Cusine, Vilosell 2011.

77 to go!

Cellers Vila Corona, I’m All Over It in D.O. Costers del Segre

300/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Vilamitjana – Cellers Vila Corona – Llabustes Chardonnay 2013

I’m All Over It…….,

llabustes-chardonnay-13Llabustes Chardonnay 2013

Pale yellow straw color, elegant green reflections. Clean and intense aromas of  flowers, acacia and a hint of rose. Yellow and white fruits, a lot of pineapple, apple and pear are quite subtle, banana is also there but fading in the background. No mineral and no notes of aging. On the palate, it is a dry wine with moderate acidity, noticeable alcohol but without being intrusive. It has a integrated body. Taste of citrus, exotic and white fruits, slight touch of almonds. You won’t find a better Chardonnay from Costers del Segre, the value is amazing!

Portada_03_01Vila Corona Cellar is located in Vilamitjana (a village in Pallars Jussà, in the Catalan Pyrenees) and has been there and in production since 1993. It is surrounded by a vineyard of 10 ha. planted in 1989, with the varieties Riesling and Chardonnay, for their white wines and Tempranillo (also known as Ull de Llebre), Grenache, Morastell, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon for their red wines. The have a total of 6 wines, the Chardonnay and Riesling as mono varietal whites and four reds, three mono and  one, the Tu Rai….., as a blend.

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The Cellar’s location is characterized by a mediterranean-continental climate, but influenced by the surrounding mountains. It is part of the Tremp Basin with specific microclimate favoured by the mountains. The vines are planted about 500 m. This situation causes very marked temperature inversions, which facilitates a slower ripening. The rainfall ranges between 500-560 ml/m2/year and snowfall at an average of 1,5/year. The temperature fluctuates between -14ºC and 39ºC. The vineyard is planted on rocky land originated by erosion or Areny’s rock, from the Late Cretaceous and Garumnia formations. Areny’s sandstone is a quartzite composed of potassium, feldspar, quartz, quartzite, mica and fossils, all cemented with calcite. Garumnia’s formation is composed by red lutites, with minor intercalations of fine-grained channelled stoneware. This composition facilitates the drainage of the land, favorably influencing the quality of wine.

vinya184 to go!

 

Celler El Masroig, Remember D.O. Montsant

279/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – El Masroig – Celler El Masroig – Les Sorts Jove 2013

Remember………,

Jove 2013Les Sorts Jove 2013,  40% Samsó (Cariñena), 30% Syrah, 20% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) and 10% Garnacha Negra

Cherry red color with violet edges, bright and medium high layer. Due to the carbonic maceration this wine shows intense fruitiness in the nose. It features notes of red fruits and berries with hints of spice and a slight dairy touch. It is a young wine and some alcoholic notes are surfacing. The palate is very fresh and fruity, light and easy to go. Consistency is typical of wines subjected to carbonic maceration. Demonstrating medium acidity and round, although, light body. Nice mid-length aftertaste. A wine from D.O. Montsant at this price, is great value for the money! It is a very fruity, fresh and expressive wine, pleasant and easy to drink. My recommendation is to get it down to about 14 – 16 degrees to get to enjoy it at its best. Nice everyday wine!

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Founded in 1917, this is one of the most important wineries in the Priorat county. It encompasses approximately 500 hectares of vineyards, all under the Montsant Denomination of Origin, and is one of the largest wineries within the DO. Today the winery looks to the future with a determination to continue the path of improvement and transformation started in recent years. The winemakers of “Celler el Masroig” are sons and daughters of this land. They are the children of men and women who have built upon the techniques of a thousand year-old tradition, applying technology developed to meet the quality demands of today’s customers. Taking a glass of wine to the lips is much more than just tasting a product. You explore the character of a landscape and culture which is reflected in each of the notes that give the wine body.

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Harvest is 2.5 million kg, spread between the grape varieties of Carignan, Tempranillo, Grenache and Syrah. The ground is predominantly of red clay, an important factor that influences the quality of the vintage. The light of the sun reflected by the red earth around the grapes contributes importantly in the ripening of the fruit. The dryness of summer, the poor fertility of the terrain, the mountainous landscape and the Mediterranean climate are all key influences.

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The Denomination of Origin Montsant is ring-shaped, circling practically all of the DOQ Priorat area. Formerly D.O. Montsant was a part of D.O. Tarragona, but with its unique characteristics, and similarity to the wines of the Priorat area, the winemakers wanted to separate their wines from the rest of the produce of Tarragona. So, in 2002, D.O. Montsant was created, enabling the vintners to present the vineyards under one common distinction. 

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The characteristics of the DO Montsant wines are the local varieties Garnacha and Carignena which together with the qualities of the soil and climate and the contribution of other grape varieties produce excellent wines. The winery of Masroig is situated in the very heart of Montsant, where the wine is elaborated and carefully aged under controlled conditions. The vineyards however are located in different areas of the D.O. Montsant, in small estates.
OliThis is a huge player in Montsant, with an impressive range of wines in different price categories. They produce several reds, whites and roses as well as their Mistelas, made using the Solera system and only using Carignena. From the surrounding olive trees, they churn out Arbequina olive oil and for some of the world markets they have also decided to produce some bag in box wine, they how ever won’t be covered on Catalan Wine 365, not because they’re bag in box, simply because I prefer to write about bottled wines. Have a great Sunday wine lovers, now it’s time for a visit to the wine fair in Barcelona!

105 to go!

Celler Casa Patau, Needle In The Hay in D.O. Costers del Segre

247/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Menàrguens – Celler Casa Patau – Patau 2004 Crianca

Needle In The Hay……..,

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Patau 2004 Crianca, 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot and 6% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo)

Intense ripe cherry red colour with garnet edges. Very correct primaries with notes of wild black berries, brambles and forest berries, some herbs. Intense attack on the palate, with a feel of fruit liquor, licorice, leather and some earthiness.  A quite mature wine with character. Full bodied and powerful but without being overwhelming. 12 months on French Allier barrels. Hand harvested and organic farming. Fresh, elegant and fruity wine which I recommended pairing with
game birds, blue fish and entrées with vegetable base.

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Casa Patau is a family run property, by the two Ros brothers, Josep and Santiago.It is located close to Menàrguens, in the region of La Noguera, between the towns of Lleida and Balaguer and falls under the D.O. of Costers del Segre within the sub-zone of Artesa de Segre.

Celler_Casa_Patau_patauSince 2001, Casa Patau produces wines from its own vineyards: Currently there are nearly 9 hectares of vineyards planted with the varieties Macabeo, Grenache, Merlot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil consists mainly of limestone and they are enjoying a continental climate, with a huge amount of sun hours and thermal contrasts, cold winters and hot summers, which once it all comes together allows for some quality wine making.

Casa Patau

All agricultural practices carried out in the cultivation of their vines, are environmentally friendly as they don’t use herbicides or chemical fertilizers. And to achieve a higher quality still, they harvest by hand and do the selection in the vineyards, choosing only the very best grapes. The winery Casa Patau currently has a capacity of 900 hl and they have their dedicated cellar where they keep their French and American oak barrels.

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

136 to go!

Celler Analec, Autrefois in D.O Costers del Segre

244/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Costers del Segre – Nalec – Celler Analec – Analec La Romiguera 2009

Autrefois………,

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Analec La Romiguera 2009, 50% Tempranillo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah

Red wine from the cluster of Romiguera, a centenary vineyard situated at an altitude of 550m in the Vall del Corb, an area (valley) with very calcareous and clayey soils and some rocky parts. It is fermented at 26-28ºC. In contact with the skins between 15 and 20 days and spends around 12 months on French and American oak. It has a light, transparent, cherry-red color. Fresh aroma of red fruits, not too sweet and not transmitting hot climate. Slightly mineral in the mouth, floral notes and cocoa. On the palate it is fleshy with a very balanced acidity.

Analec Winery

Not many year ago, the small family run cellar of Analec was created in the town of Nalec, D.O. Costers del Segre. The vineyards are located in the Vall del Corb and the name Analec itself was chosen due to the fact that it was the ancient name of the town during the middle ages. They have around 22 hectares of vineyards but only a small part of the harvest is used to produce their own labels, as most is sold to other wineries.

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The enologist and co-owner is Xavier Figuerola Mulet, a guy that knows full well that the chemical and physical properties of the land influences, in a determinant way, the quality and characteristics of the wine and that’s the reason why their winery takes great care in respecting and preserving the environment. They believe in the potential of their territory, the Vall del Corb, and work to promote the culture of wine, stemming from this sub-zone of the Costers del Segre.

Analec Grapes

The grape varieties of their vineyards are: Macabeu and Parellada for the three Cavas produced. No Xarel.lo is being used, as would be common in Cava production in most parts of Catalonia. The Macabeu is also being utilised for the production of their still and sweet white wines. The Trepat is used 100% for their rose Cava. Syrah, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon for the rose still and for the reds.

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The climate is Continetal Mediterranean, with a rain ratio lightly above  400 mm, with very cold winters and hot and dry summers, but tinted by the daily presence of the breeze from the southeast (The Marinada) that smoothens the temperature and increases the levels of dampness. This fact, together with the altitude, provides a long and slow period during which the grapes have plenty of time to ripen. All of this helps to support the bouquet in the wines and to provide the base for the quality of their  wines. They have old and young vineyards, which are placed in Nalec, Rocafort de Vallbona and Verdú, with altitudes that start at 450 meters, the Valley of the riu Corb, and up to 550 meters, which is the Romiguera.

Analec Outside Wines

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

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Celler Cal Menescal, Diamond in the Back in D.O Terra Alta

238/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Terra Alta – Bot – Celler Cal Menescal – Avus Negre 2012

Diamond in the Back…….,

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Avus Negre 2012, 60% Garnacha Negra, 20% Syrah, 20% Tempranillo

Cherry red colour with blueish hue, purple tones. Spicy tones, as well as oaky touches with subtle notes of coffee and caramel. Very intense and complex aroma, with notes of rip fruit and wild berries. The palate is long and well structured, with strong reminders of the characteristics of red Grenache. Limited production of wine from the best vineyards of Cal Menescal and aged around 10 months in oak. Harvested in small boxes, selecting the best grapes already in the vineyard. Carefully pressed must in the traditional way. Once the fermentation is done, it is deposited in barrels of French and American oak to begin the process of ageing, where it rests for at least 10 months.

Train station in Bot!

Train station in Bot!

The winery of Cal Menescal is located in the town of Bot and this is a  family owned and run property, known as Cal Menescal. According to existing data it was built in the early nineteenth century by the ancestors to the current family members. The transformation of grapes into wine, dates back to before 1860. The existence of a boot (storage tank) with the capacity of 1600 litres, still remains in the old winery, this is a living proof of the wine making tradition of the house.

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At the end of the last century, small wineries like this one decided to abandon the practice of making table wines or wines that were of inferior quality to develop the fruit of the grape and make wines of great depth and, as far as it was possible, of better quality. Celler Cal Menescal, does the same during the late twentieth century, when it begins to change and look to the future.

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In 2000, they released the first line of wines, which were: Vall Del Raco white and red and Avus White. During the first hard years, they have added new commercial references (Avus Red, Avus Sweet, Vall del Pou White and red), and also changed the brand of the Vall del Racó to Mas Menescal. Simultaneously they have modernized their image and they have begun to commercialize all products under the joint name (lable) of Merce Del Menescal. Under this name they produce and sell: sweet wine, vermouth, mellow wine and one spectacular Balsamic Vinegar. The latter is the latest product to see the light and is now one of their principal exponents.

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The winery is located in the region of Terra Alta, in the south-west corner of Catalonia, more than 400 m above sea level. Mediterranean climate with continental influences and their vines are on average 40 years old. This last point, gives their wines a strong personality and in combination with the soil, medium-textured, with a strong presence of the “panal” and “tapaç” provides a marked taste of the land in all the wines.

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At present the winery has 17 hectares of vineyards in production, all located in the geographical area of ​​Bot. Situated in different locations, the following varieties are cultivated: White Grenache, Macabeo, Chardonnay,Esquitxagòs, and the reds are Garnacha Negra, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Carignan and Morenillo. In 2011 their dedication and respect for tradition and the environment led them to certify the vineyard estates as organic.

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Celler Mas Bella, The Long Way Home in D.O. Tarragona

180/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Tarragona – Masmolets – Celler Mas Bella – Bella Negre Crianca

The Long Way Home……..,

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Bella Negre Crianca, 100% Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo)

The Bella Negre Crianca has been elaborated using the Eyes of the Hare grapes, in Catalan Ull de Llebre and in Spanish Tempranillo. Same grape, different pronunciation. Both maceration and fermentation was done controlling the temperature carefully after which it has been aged in oak barrels and on the bottle. Intense dark cherry color. The nose is complex and delicate, with notes of ripe red fruit, slightly lactic, toast and spices. The palate is sweet, structured, balanced and rich with spices. Persistent after taste. A tight red from the appellation of Tarragona.

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A small producer from this old Roman settlement where wine has been produced, in one way or the other, for centuries and centuries. The Mas Bella winery and the range of fine wines they make come from the vineyards of Masmolets, in total they have 14 hectares of vineyards producing their own indigenous varieties such as Macabeo, Parellada, Carthusian, Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo) and Garnacha Tinto, each year they select the best grapes to produce their wines under the umbrella of the DO Tarragona. A unique production of 10,000 bottles per year and that’s it!

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Within the old manor house dating from 1777 two young entrepreneurs who have wanted to return to highlight the project of their grandfather took up the ardous task of makeing wine from the family vineyards. They renovated part of the old winery where they currently produce the wines and where they have a space dedicated to store wine and a tasting room in order to offer the visitors and clients a pleasant stay to taste the products. They got the trust from the family and the key to the manor house, go for it!

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203 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle