Brett happens

All wine, most of the time

Posts Tagged ‘Catalonia

Cava brava

leave a comment »

Cava 2013, Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Terriers, Recaredo ($39.75, 13319715)
A gift from Cyril in honour of the Mo’ Wine Group’s revival. Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada (reportedly 59%, 42% and 4% respectively) from biodyanmically farmed vines rooted in highly calcareous, loamy soil. Whole-cluster fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Around 10% of the blend was aged in oak casks. Bottled with neutral Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast for second fermentation and matured 53 months on the lees. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. Quebec agent: La QV.

The dense white foam disappears fast leaving a fine bead. Lemon, stone fruit, crushed shells and a whiff of yeasty brioche dominate the nose. In the mouth, the wine is bone-dry, minerally, tight, even a little austere. There’s a certain heft though the tiny bubbles and sleek acidity provide plenty of lift and life. A hint of oxidation tinges the citrus and yellow apple fruit on the long, savoury finish. Absolutely impeccable cava, unfazed by coming after a flight of orange wines and sending us off with revived palates and renewed energy. (Buy again? Yes.)

MWG March 20th tasting: flight 7 of 7

Written by carswell

April 29, 2019 at 11:45

Cava art

leave a comment »

Founded in 1924 and still located in the town of Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, Cavas Recaredo today owns 46 hectares of vineyards in the Alt Penedès region. The vines, some of them nearly 80 years old, are unirrigated. All farming is organic and biodynamic (certified since 2010). Harvesting is manual. Only vintage-dated, totally dry sparkling wines are made and only from estate-grown grapes. All vinification is done in house. The musts from the oldest Xarel-lo vines are fermented and matured in oak barrels; some of the base wines are matured several months in oak as well. Immediately after bottling, the bottles are sealed with cork stoppers, not crown caps. Riddling is performed by hand. All disgorging is manual and done at cellar temperature; contrary to the practice of many sparkling wine producers, the necks of the bottles are not frozen before disgorging. None of the wines is dosed.

Cava 2010, Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Terrers, Recaredo ($36.00, 13319715)
Macabeo (54%), Xarel-lo (42%) and Parellada (4%) from organically and biodyanmically farmed vines rooted in highly calcareous, loamy soil. Whole-cluster fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. Around 10% of the blend was aged in oak casks. Bottled with neutral Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast for second fermentation and matured five years on the lees. 190,000 bottles made. Reducing sugar: <1.2 g/l. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Fast-disappearing, snow-white foam. Fine bead. Elegant nose of lemon peel, straw, sea shells, marzipan and white blossom. Equally elegant in the mouth, the subdued flavours bringing apple-custard turnovers to mind. “Saliva-inducing” acidity and soft bubbles provide liveliness and lift. A mineral underlay lasts through the long finish, lending a “baking powder bitterness” to the lingering, faintly nutty flavours. All the elements are in place and in perfect balance. (Buy again? Yes.)

Cava 2007, Brut Nature Gran Reserva, Brut de Brut, Finca Serral del Vell, Recaredo ($49.75, 13202568)
The first vintage of Recaredo’s Brut de Brut made from a single estate, in this instance the Serral del Vall. Xarel-lo (51%) and Macabeo (49%) from organically farmed vines 16 to 28 years old and rooted in extremely calcareous, loamy soil with an abundance of stone and gravel. The wine-making was as for the Terrers with two exceptions: before blending, all the Xarel-lo was matured in oak casks and the blended wine is bottle-matured eight years. 50,000 bottles made. 12% ABV. Quebec agent: La QV.
Intriguing nose of white lily, minerals, apple, coffee, “angelica,” yeast and lees. Similar to but deeper than the Terrers, a tad heftier and even more refined. Here the subtle fruit – apple, tropical and faint citrus – takes a back seat to the chalky minerals. Very dry and yet fresh, surely a function of the fine-edged acidity and lilting effervescence. Complexities include a “tinge of bay leaf,” “cinnamon brioche” and a honey note that marks the long, savoury finish. Impeccable. (Buy again? Yes.)

If you’re not a fan of cava, these probably won’t make a believer out of you. If you are, you’ll have a hard time finding anything better at the price. Incidentally, Recaredo’s high-end cuvées – the 2004 Reserva Particular ($107.00, 11458228) and the recently sold-out 2000 Turó d’en Mota Reserva Brut ($135.00, 11587118) – are formidable, meditation-worthy wines that, while unmistakably cavas, can easily stand comparison with similarly priced champagnes.

Mo’ Wine Group November 23rd tasting: flight 2 of 6

Written by carswell

February 25, 2018 at 11:14

The best moment of the day is now

leave a comment »

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

Written by carswell

November 6, 2017 at 12:40

A serious vin plaisir

leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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!!!

leave a comment »

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 Catalan 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

leave a comment »

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…

with 2 comments

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


leave a comment »

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

leave a comment »

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