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Posts Tagged ‘Catalonia

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


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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

White, dry and aromatic

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Penedès 2014, Extrem, Raventos i Blanc ($32.75, private import, 6 bottles/case)
100% biodynamically farmed Xarel·lo from vines planted in 1965 and 1970. The grapes are manually harvested. The winery is gravity fed and dry ice is used to cool the fruit and prevent oxidation. After slow pressing, the chilled must is clarified by settling and fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation is prevented, it appears. Matured on the lees. Not stabilized, filtered or fined before bottling with a minimum of sulphur dioxide. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
A nose that starts out smelling of citrus (lemon, lime) and gooseberry then segues into floral (“acacia blossom,” “jasmine” said other tasters) and quartz aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry and full of green apple, flint and snappy acid. The long, briny, mouth-watering finish ends on a white pepper note. Tasting this double-blind, I guessed it was an elegant, understated Sancerre. A wine that makes it easy to see why Xarel·lo is one of the preferred cava grapes. (Buy again? Yes.)

IGP des Côtes Catalanes 2014, Les Calcinaires, Domaine Gauby ($27.90, 12415289)
A blend of Muscat (50%), Chardonnay (30%) and Macabeu (20%) from organically farmed vines between 15 and 50 years old. The manually harvested grapes are directly pressed. The must is chilled, clarified and fermented, mainly in barrels, with indigenous yeasts and no additives. Matured on the fine lees in lined concrete tanks for around eight months. Unfiltered and unfined. Reducing sugar: 1.5 g/l. 13.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand de Vin.
Changing nose that, along the way, hits pickled peach, sweat, musk and white minerals. In the mouth, the wine is rich yet fresh, intense yet fleet and so fruity you’d swear the winemaker left some residual sugar in it. There’s a real tension between the mineral austerity and wild aromatics, while the otherwise mild acidity lends an almost vinegary tang to the long, stony finish. Trippy but unsettled for now; probably better in a year or two. (Buy again? A bottle or two for the cellar.)

MWG February 26th tasting: flight 2 of 7

New year, new sparklers

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In reaction to the excesses of the holiday season, the Mo’ Wine Group’s January tasting traditionally focuses on affordable wines and 2016 was no exception. All the bottles were purchased at the SAQ and most if not all are still available, though not always in large quantities.

Cava, Brut, La Vida al Camp ($19.50, 12693895)
A blend of purchased Macabeo (45%), Xarel·lo (45%) and Parellada (10%) grapes from organically farmed vines grown by a select group of farmers. Made using the traditional method. Second fermentation, which produces the bubbles, takes place in the bottles, which are aged at least 15 months before disgorging. Reducing sugar: 4.8 g/l. 11.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Le Marchand des Vins.
Subdued but appealing nose of sandstone, white lemon and, as one taster perceptively noted, “almond.” Fine effervescence but little foam. On the palate, it’s clean, fresh and quite dry. The light citrus and mineral flavours are joined by faint saline and grapefruit pith notes on the medium-long finish. Elegant and, unlike many inexpensive bubblies, not devoid of character. If there’s a better cava at the SAQ at this price point, I’ve yet to encounter it. (Buy again? Yes.)

Crémant de Bordeaux, Brut, Paulian, Lateyron ($21.95, 12723003)
Sémillon (60%) and Cabernet Franc (40%) from vineyards in the northern and eastern Entre-Deux-Mers region. Made using the traditional method. The bottles are aged at least 24 months before disgorement. Reducing sugar: 12 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: Marchand des Amériques.
Somewhat more fragrant than its Spanish flightmate; the faintly floral aromas have an intriguing sour edge. Softly effervescent with fine bubbles that lighten the slightly waxy texture. Richer and rounder than the cava – probably due to the grape varieties involved, the extract levels and higher residual sugar – but still dry and fresh. The fruit tends to quince and maybe peach and lingers through the slow-fade finish. Not everyone around the table was convinced by this (“tastes like cream soda,” harrumphed one taster) but I and several others liked it. (Buy again? Sure.)

MWG January 14th tasting: flight 1 of 7

Written by carswell

January 20, 2016 at 15:41

MWG October 2nd tasting: Comparable Catalonians

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Priorat 2010, Salmos, Miguel Torres ($31.25, 10857690)
A blend of Cariñena (aka Carignan, 50%), Garnacha (aka Grenache, 30%) and Syrah (20%). The grapes are macerated for 25 days and fermented for seven to ten days in stainless steel vats at 28ºC. Matured 12 to 14 months in first- and second-fill French oak barrels. 14.5% ABV per the label. Quebec agent: Amphora vins & spiritueux.
Brooding nose. Spice, plum, hints of dried earth and old wood. A medium-bodied if heady easy-drinker. The ripe-bordering-on-juicy fruit (fig and black plum with cherry overtones) is underpinned by firm, sweet tannins and slate. Acidity is of the soft-glow variety. Impeccable balance and good length, with unobtrusive oak adding smoke and spice, including a hint of licorice. Proves that good Priorats don’t have to be tannic monsters or fruit bombs. (Buy again? Sure.)

Montsant 2010, Pinyolet Selección, Compañía de Vinos del Atlántico ($27.95, 12299011)
A pinyolet is a limestone pebble, many of which are found in the vineyard. This 80-20 blend was made with grapes from organically farmed Garnacha and Cariñena vines, 28 to 64 years old and 86 years old respectively. Matured eight months in two-year-old 225-litre French oak barrels. 14.5% ABV. Quebec agent: Vintrinsec.
Crushed raspberry and black currant with some intriguing turned earth and leafmould notes. Smooth and suave in the mouth. Fullish-bodied. The ripe fruit is plump but not jammy or overly sweet, while firm tannins and sleek acidity provide structure and smoky minerals a degree of depth. Surprisingly fresh, despite hints of chocolate and alcohol on the finish. Drink now or in the next three or four years. (Buy again? Sure.)

(Flight: 5/6)

Written by carswell

October 28, 2014 at 21:08

Posted in Tasting notes

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