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Posts Tagged ‘Catalonia

The best moment of the day is now

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Vermouth, Dry Red, Fontalia ($19.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A red vermouth from the Priorat region, south of Barcelona. Made by Cellers De Bellmunt Del Priorat. Flavoured with 38 botanicals and matured in oak barrels for eight months. 15% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Such a complex nose: dried and fresh fruit, spice (cinnamon, clove, pepper), citrus peel, incense, a hint of caramel and more. The flavours echo the nose. Surprisingly fleet and, while sweet, far from cloying due partly to the bright acidity. The spice-laden finish has an appealing bitter edge. Clearly appropriate for cocktails but good enough to sip on its own with a single ice cube and a twist of orange or lime (the label says tangerine or grapefruit). Infinitely preferable to Cinzano and not that much more expensive. (Buy again? For sure.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 9 of 9

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Written by carswell

November 6, 2017 at 12:40

A serious vin plaisir

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TN 2015, Tinto Natural, Partida Creus ($27.45, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A blend of biodynamically farmed Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Garrut (aka Mourvèdre). Very little technical information to be found on this but André “Vinealis” Papineau describes Partida Creus as one of the most natural winemakers around, so manual harvesting, fermentation with indigenous yeasts, non-interventionist wine-making and no filtering, fining or added sulphur. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.

Red berries, slate, peppery spice and some background funk. Medium-bodied and quite dry, though, as André notes, there’s some “sucrosité” on the attack as well as a hint of carbon dioxide. In contrast to other red quaffers from, say, the Loire valley, there’s a solar quality to the fruit. Fresh acidity adds buoyancy while the fine, tight tannins turn a little raspy on the long finish. Built around a core of red cherry but as savoury as it is fruity: a serious vin plaisir as it were. Quite popular with the assembled masses. (Buy again? Yep.)

WMG September 14th tasting: flight 5 of 9

Written by carswell

November 1, 2017 at 12:38

Natural Catalans

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BN 2015, Blanco Natural, Partida Creus ($27.45, private import, 6 bottles/case)
A skin-contact white made from biodynamically farmed Macabeo (90%) and Cartoixa Vermell (10%). Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Unfiltered and unfined. No added sulphur. 10.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Bronze to the eye. Engaging nose of hayloft, dried white fruit, sawed wood, apricot skin and lees. Smooth and buoyant on the attack. Layers of flavour, only one or two of which are fruit. Broad and long though not remarkably deep. A light tannic astringency adds some structure to the finish. So savoury. A very good orange wine at a very good price. (Buy again? Yes.)

Côtes Catalanes 2015, L’Année blanc, Les Clos Perdus ($26.85, private import, 12 bottles/case)
Macabeu (aka Macabeo, 65%), Grenache Gris (30%) and Muscat (5%) from biodynamically farmed grapes. Manually harvested. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured in stainless steel and barrels. Undergoes malolactic fermentation. Sulphur use is minimal. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vinealis.
Delicious nose. Blast of minerals, especially granite (“presque pétrole” notes André), along with orchard fruit (yellow apple in particular), a hint of funk and eventually “honey” and white meat notes. The ripe fruit and dense, almost oily texture come with compensating acidity. Finishes long and strong with a mix of spice and minerals. A serious, savoury wine that delivers considerable bang for the buck. (Buy again? Yes.)

It’s a white! It’s a red! It’s Brutal!!!

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Brutal!!! 2015, Partida Creus (ca. €10-15/$15-20 in Barcelona, importation valise)
Apparently, the wine is sin denominación, demoninationless. In any case, it’s a blend of several Catalonian grape varieties (probably Vinyater, Subirat Parent, Xarel·lo, Cartoixa Vermell and Blanc de Sumoll) from biodynamically farmed vines planted in clayey-calareous soil. Manually harvested. The varieties are vinified separately and blended before bottling. Fermented with indigenous yeasts. Matured seven months in stainless steel tanks. Unfiltered, unfined. No added sulphur. 11% ABV.

Cloudy pink to the eye. Spicy/funky nose of dough, distant sweet berries, “pink peppercorns” and an evanescing whiff of volatile acidity that one taster describes as “latex gloves.” A bit spritzy in the mouth. Lightly fruity and quite dry but tangy like “kambucha” and “hibiscus.” The tannins are light while the acidity is electric. So refreshing and drinkable and such energy! Like nothing else I’ve tasted yet also like an instant old friend. Wow. (Buy again? By the case.)

On the Raw Wine website, Partida Creus describes themselves thus: “We are winegrowers and winemakers in the Massis de Bonastre terroir of Catalunya, working with our own production of grapes and with rescued ancient vineyards with interesting native variety of grape. All the vines are organic farming, our organic and natural wines express the terroir with its variety typicity. We try to put in the bottles our deep respect and love for wild and Mediterranean landscape, nothing else. A tribute to nature and biodiversity, our work is a way of life making wine. Certified organic by CCPAE Consell catalá de la Producció Agraria Ecologica.”

Partida Creus is represented in Quebec by Vinealis. A Brutal inquiry to the agency’s prime mover, André Papineau, elicited the following reply: “Oui je bosse avec Partida Creus depuis presque 4 ans maintenant. Quantités confidentielles au départ et de bons volumes maintenant. Par contre le Brutal a longtemps été seulement disponible pour le Bar Brutal; il est un peu cher, se vendrait @ ± 36 $ la bouteille le carton de 6, alors j’hésite un peu. Par contre j’aurai beaucoup de différents vins en août : VN blanco et tinto, BN blanco, TN Tinto, et les grandes cuvées de Vinyater, Cartoixa Vermell, Xarel-lo. Toutes les bulles sont réservées pour le groupe Joe Beef…” [Yes, I’ve been working with Partida Creus for nearly four years. Tiny quantities at the start and good volumes now. However, the Brutal!!! was available only at the Bar Brutal [in Barcelona] for the longest time. It’s kind of expensive, going for around $36 a bottle, case of six, so I’m hesitant. On the other hand, I’ll have a bunch of other Partida Creus wines in August: VN blanco and rojo, BN (white), TN (red) and the top wines, made from Vinyater, Cartoixa Vermell and Xarel-lo. All the sparklers are reserved for the Joe Beef group…”]

MWG June 22nd tasting: flight 4 of 7

Catalonian orphan

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Empordà 2015, Sauló, Espelt Viticultors ($15.15, 10856241)
A 50-50 blend of Liedoner Negre (aka Grenache) and Carinyena (aka Carignan) from organically farmed vines rooted in weathered granite soil in the southern foothills of the Albera Massif, just south of the French border and just inland from the Mediterranean. The grapes from each parcel are vinified separately and given 36 hours’ cold maceration before fermentation in stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks. Lightly filtered before bottling. Reducing sugar: 2.6 g/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin, one of whose reps attended the tasting and comped this bottle (merci, Simon!).
Raspberry (a bit candied), peppery spice and a hint of plum. Full-bodied and fruit-driven. The fruit is very ripe and sweet seeming (one taster notes “raspberry jam on the finish”) but the wine is fundamentally dry. A healthy shot of acidity and raspy tannins provide just enough structure, a dark undercurrent adds a little intrigue. Slate and earth linger on the drying finish. A crowd-pleaser whose candour and sunny disposition go a long way toward making up for any lack of nuance or depth. Fans of fruit-forward wines in the mood for something different should put this QPR winner on their shopping list. The label is a delight. (Buy again? Sure, especially to take to a party or barbecue where a highfalutin wine wouldn’t be appropriate.)

MWG January 12, 2017, tasting: flight 5 of 7

Written by carswell

February 1, 2017 at 11:40

Not my type. And yet…

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Empordà 2013, Crianza, Puntiapart, La Vinyeta ($25.50, 12933238)
Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and Carignan (15%) from organically farmed vines more than 30- and 100 years old respectively. Manually harvested. Matured 12 months in new French, Hungarian and Romanian oak barrels. Reducing sugar: 3.0 g/l. Total sulphur dioxide: 60 mg/l. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Passion Gourmet.
My bottle reeked of volatile acidity; carafing the wine for a couple of hours mostly took care of it. Get beyond the nail polish remover and you catch whiffs of plum, cherry, red meat, slate and dark chocolate. In the mouth, it’s full-bodied if not quite a heavyweight. The fruit is chocolate-coated – cloyingly so were it not for the sustained acidity and pronounced earthy/minerally/savoury current. The tannins are still quite firm and chewy. A peppery note puts me in mind of Grenache. The alcohol lends more power than heat, though a touch of eau-de-vie overtones the finish. Fine with a grilled rib eye. Not really my type of wine, and yet it grows on me. Will probably improve – uncoil a little and digest some of its oak – in a few years (Buy again? Maybe.)

The oak straddles the line between noticeable and overbearing. And more’s the pity because you can tell that, underneath it all, there’s some fine juice. The wine does benefit from several hours’ aeration. And if you’re not oak-adverse, you may find this enjoyable. Am sure it would be a hit at most BBQs. Really might be worth buying a bottle to open in three or four years to see what’s become of it.

Spin the upright bottle as if it were on a turntable and watch the label’s wrap-around illustration, which changes with each vintage, become an animation, like a two-dimensional flip book.

Written by carswell

September 26, 2016 at 14:50

Anticlimax

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Quincy 2013, Siam, Domaine de la Commanderie ($18.95, 12748219)
100% Sauvignon Blanc from vines at least 15 years old. Mechanically harvested. The must is cold-settled for 8 to 10 hours. Fermented in temperature-controlled (18-20°C) tanks with regular stirring. Matured 10 months on the less. Sees only stainless steel until bottling. 12.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Balthazard.
An echt Sauvignon Blanc nose of gosseberry, flint and kiwi segues into dessicated coconut and unripe pineapple or, as one taster put it, “umbrella drink zone.” In the piehole, it’s medium weight and citrusy with crisp-bordering-on-mordant acidity that’s softened by the rich, extracted texture (the must reportedly spends some time on the skins). The honey note adds interest but the kind of dazzling minerality found in some Loire Sauvignon Blancs is absent here. A decent but unexciting wine that doesn’t quite live up to the hype (three Hachette stars, for example), though it may well show better with food. (Buy again? Meh.)

Montsant 2014, Vespres Blanc, Josep Grau Viticultor ($26.45, 12782177)
Grenache Blanc (90%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10%) from organically farmed vines averaging 32 years old. The manually harvested grapes are pressed for 12 hours. The resulting must is transferred to 2,000-litre oak casks for fermentation with indigenous yeasts and five months’ maturation on the lees. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 13% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Odd nose, described variously as “faintly acrid,” “banana medicine” and “tea tree oil.” The strangeness continues in the mouth, where the wine’s initial (apparent) sweetness is countered by bright acidity and contradicted by a dry finish with a light touch of astringency that has me thinking of alum. And yet a taster rightly sums up the wine as “very flat.” Add the lingering note of dishwasher detergent and you’ve got a bottle best avoided. Could ours have been off? (Buy again? Based on this showing, no.)

MWG March 31st tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

May 1, 2016 at 12:11