Can Ràfols dels Caus, We Have All The Time In The World, D.O. Penedes

35/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Penedes – Avinyonet del Penedes – Can Ràfols dels Caus – El Rocallis 2007

We have all the time in the world…….

About three years ago! Right place right time! Meet with Xavi Nolla as he was introducing me to a winery in Montsant, which I have already covered. At the time Xavi was doing wine tastings every Tuesday at Lola Tapes in Tarragona. We went a couple of Tuesdays to taste some excellent wines and great tapas.

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

Lola Tapes in Tarragona, wine tasting with Xavi Nolla

At the time, the knowledge of Catalan wineries was quite limited so this excellent sommelier was a good source, recommending several cellars! One of them being Can Ràfols dels Caus! Thank you my friend for the tip!

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Only a few days after getting the insight, a phone call was placed and we were off to the massif of Garraf, a national park and protected area, southwest of Sitges, towards Vilafranca and within the D.O. of Penedes.

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Upon arrival we were well received, greeted and shown the sites by Marc Rusca Baena, the in-house sommelier. After this, the first visit, there has been additional ones! And if I decide there will be many more. Will YOU join me next time? Well, that’s all up to you, I’m always available for a visit and tasting at Can Ràfols!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

Marc Ruscas Baena and a friend,having a glass or two!

The Garraf wine-growing region is a protected area within the traditional boundaries of the Garraf National Park. The Can Ràfols dels Caus estate is situated at an altitude of 300 m, and stands on a rise between the ravines of two watercourses surrounded by vineyards growing on the terraced slopes. From some of the highest vineyards, such as “la Calma” or “el Rocallís” the sea can be seen, some 15km away.

Don't be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

Don’t be surprised if you find fossils while waking around, there are plenty of them!

This situation is paramount for obtaining healthy grapes, as they are sheltered from the damp air coming in from the coastline, but are equally protected from the sporadic hailstorms in the Sierra of Ordal or the Pre-Coastal mountain range.

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The Garraf Massif has an unusual mesoclimate. The daytime is sun-drenched and hot despite the tempering effect of the sea, which sends in a cooling breeze towards the afternoon. This allows the vines to complete their growth cycle and reach full ripeness.

Automated granite "doors" leading into the winery!

Automated granite “doors” leading into the winery!

Only 50 hectares of this 455-hectare estate are vineyards, 2 hectares being used for olive groves, 1 hectare for almond orchards and the rest for woodland, scrubland and rocky terrain. The size of the single vineyards ranges from 0.15 hectares (the smallest) to 2 hectares (the largest).

Part of the winery exterior

Part of the winery exterior

Can Ràfols dels Caus has always been a forerunner and trend-setter, and some twenty-five years after Carlos Esteva started his wine venture, he decided to take a giant step forward by building a new cellar. The aim was not to squeeze in more vats, barrels and bottles, but to work better.

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

Carlos and friends welcomed at the winery!

With this project, the winery’s potential for producing quality wines has multiplied, as the cellar is now geared to promoting micro-vinifications, separating batches even more and research. The cellar has been designed so that it is completely carved out of the Dolomitic limestone of the Garraf, invisible from above ground and totally integrated into the landscape.

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This would probably be the perfect location for the next James Bond movie. The scoundrel being a crazy wine maker, wanting to take over the world by making his wine so addictive he would have the whole human race in chains! Carlos is slightly crazy, like all artists, but in a good way! To see what he saw, being a visionary, in 1979, is simply “have to see to believe, based”!

Part of the winery interior

Part of the winery interior

This place is simply amazing! The location, the grounds, the mansion, the winery, the whole concept and the wines, oh the wines! Just writing about it………., I might stop writing and set of for a quick visit! Sure, I can write about it, but the only truth is, you have to sample it yourself.

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All I can say is, it will be worth your while! If we were talking Guide Michelin, this would be a 3 star, worth a trip of its own! Enough with the superlatives!

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Can Ràfols dels Caus winery produces a range of wines, most of them are great! Five whites and five reds, 3 Cavas and 2 rose.

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In time, I will cover most of them but for now the chosen wine is El Rocallis. Enjoy!

El Rocallis, 100% Incrrocio Manzione

El Rocallis, 100% Incroccio Manzoni

El Rocallis, Can Ràfols dels Caus, 2007, 100% Incroccio Manzoni

Bright and clear, clear yellow to slight pale gold. Wide watery rims and legs. Clean nose of medium  intensity. Primary aromas of butter, toast and pear. Followed up by ripe apple, cream and honey at the very end. The palate is dry with medium well balanced acidity. Nice texture, medium intensity flavors of apple, butter, tropical fruit (orange peel) and slight yeast/toast. Balanced wine with good complexity, large and long aftertaste, very fresh. Easy to drink and best enjoyed if not served to cold!

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339 to go!

Catalan Wine 365 and the SweetEasy Lifestyle

Vinyes Domènech, A Family Affair in D.O. Montsant

13&14/365 – Catalonia – D.O. Montsant – Capcanes – Vinyes Domenech – Furvus 2007 & Teixar 2007

It’s a family affair….

Xavi Nolla is a dear friend and well known sommelier here i Catalonia. He was the one that first introduced us to Vineyes Domenech in Capcanes. After the first visit, we have had quite a few bottles of wine from this rather amazing winery!

Barrel tasting with Xavi Nolla!

Barrel tasting with Xavi Nolla!

D.O. Montsant is a wine region in Catalonia, northern Spain. The gently undulating area was formerly categorized as a viticultural sub-zone of Tarragona, but local growers felt the high-altitude vineyards here earned the region recognition as a DO in their own right. As a result, the Montsant D.O. was created in 2001, its name taken from the Montsant massif (holy mountain) that dominates the region’s landscape.

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Montsant lies west of Tarragona city and forms a horseshoe shape that almost completely surrounds the prestigious Priorat region. Vines were first introduced to the area by the Romans thousands of years ago, and Catholic monks continued the viticultural tradition during the Middle Ages. By the 19th Century, wines from Montsant were receiving worldwide praise.

Vineyards surrounding the winery

Vineyards surrounding the winery

Montsant’s most prized vineyards are located in terraces on steeply sloping sites, often interspersed with pine, almond and olive trees (the region is also known for its excellent olive oils). Here, the vines benefit from intense Mediterranean sunshine during the day and relatively cool temperatures at night. This high diurnal temperature variation assists in the development of complex aromas in the grapes, while preserving vital acidity.

D.O. Montsant

D.O. Montsant

The soil is a local specialty known as llicorella, which is high in granite and slate components. Together, these growing conditions result in the region’s wines being concentrated and expressive of the local terroir. The average altitude of the zone is 360m above sea level, rising steadily in the northwest and southeast as it approaches the Montsant and Montsalt mountains respectively.

Garnacha Peluda

Garnacha Peluda

Montsant has earned a reputation for its high-quality red wines, particularly those based on old Garnatxa and Carinena vines. Ull de Llebre (Tempranillo), and international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah also perform very well here. Most red wines are typically intended for aging and exhibit velvety textures even after a short time in oak. The old vines offer particularly complex examples.

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A small quantity of white wine (based on Chardonnay, Macabeo and Garnacha Blanca) is produced, along with rosados (rosé) wines and dessert wines, for which the region was once famous. These Vi Ranci (old wines) are made in an oxidative style and are then fortified. Some mistelas, made from grape juice and added alcohol, are also produced. Kosher wines are also made in Capcanes.

Kosher wine from Capcanes, D.O. Monsant

Kosher wine from Capcanes, D.O. Monsant

Joan Ignasi Domènech, owner of the winery, is a businessman whose only link to the world of wine was that his family came from Falset (Priorat). In 2002, attracted by the fascinating world of wine and with the support of his wife and their two children, he started his own winery. Vinyes Domènech is essentially an iconic farm with 10 ha. vineyards located in an environment with a high ecological value, the whole farm of 15 ha. is located within a protected area.

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But Joan Ignasi is, above all, an endearing person talking about the vineyards and their wines with tenderness, worried about the vines that may not be able to survive the harsh winter. It’s not business tactics, it’s true love. The vineyards surrounding the winery of Vinyes Domènech are of exceptional beauty. An environment in which human activity appears to have acted only in perspective or, as Joan Ignasi likes to call it, “The Tuscany of the owners”, a place lost among olive trees, almond trees and vineyards, an atmosphere with peace and tranquility.

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Located at the foot of the mountains of Llaberia and Montalt, with the Mediterranean behind and Montsant north sea, these vineyards enjoy favorable conditions for optimal ripening and a microclimate with unique characteristics in terms of soils and orientations, perfect for growing grapes of high quality. And for transmitting all the personality of this magnificent environment and region, the Domenech family also has the professionalism of one of the best winemakers in the area, Toni Coca.

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Vinyes Domènech has four wines on the market. Furvus, an interesting blend of Garnacha Peluda (Hairy Grenache) and Merlot. Teixar uses Garnacha Peluda of very high quality. Rita, a white Grenache with a small percentage of Macabeo, and a third red, Bosc’s Terrace, blend of Garnacha, Syrah and Cabernet. The winery uses ecological viticultural practices, taking into account the lunar calendar in all processes, and the new winery has been designed according to the principles of bioclimatic architecture, using the natural resources and reducing environmental impact. The results, amongst others, are the following.

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Furvus 2007 – Garnacha Peluda 60%, Merlot 40%

A very clear and bright ruby color with purple edges. Intensive and abundant legs. The nose is highlighted by intense aromas of red and black fruits. Blackberries and blueberries with nice toasted notes from the new oak. In the mouth it has lots of body and structure, an elegant and smooth wine with rounded tannins. Long aftertaste and fruity. Ripe fruit, especially blackberry and cherry are evident. A wine that is clearly dominated by the fruity notes.

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Teixar 2007 – Garnacha Peluda 100%

Cherry colored with violet edges. Thin and abundant lightly tinted legs. Average aromatic intensity with great presence of red fruit. Gooseberries, plums and notes of black fruit (blackberries). Primary notes are slightly alcoholic. Balsamic and intense menthol, floral, spicy notes, light vanilla, leather and coffee. Powerful on the palate, quite astringent. Rich acidity, ripe red fruit and very persistent licorice notes. Long and smoky aftertaste.

It’s a family affair….

353 to go!