Sweet night

In the placid gardens of the Mas Figueres rural hotel, the Dolça Nit (Sweet Night) took place. Ten wineries, mostly from DO Montsant and DOQ Priorat, gave us an opportunity to taste their sweet wines together with selected pastry and sweets. The deliciously cool night and live music added to the enjoyment.

Mas Figueres rural hotel

Celler El Masroig is the cooperative winery of the El Masroig village, DO Montsant, and is leaving the mediocrity of other coops producing some personal, high quality wines. In the sweet segment, their speciality are mistelas (mistelles, obtained adding alcohol to the unfermented must and later aging): Mistela Negra and Mistela Molt Vella (Very Old). Both come from Carinyena grapes, but while the former is just aged for one month, the latter is kept in a Solera system forty years old. Mistela Negra is a deep cherry colour, with a nose with red fruit and aromatic herb and refreshing acidity in mouth. The Molt Vella shows a more evolutioned orange tinge, with ripest fruits, chocolate, nuts, coffee, tobacco…in the nose. Sweet but balanced with acidity, very long. For me, one of the stars of the show.

Orto Vins, DO Montsant, is a new winery with vineyards in El Masroig and owned by four well-known winemakers, one of them Joan Asens, Alvaro Palacios’ oenologist. Dolç d’Orto Blanc is made mainly from Garnatxa blanca, left to dry for some time and then pressed and fermented. Citrus aromas, good integration, long. Dolç d’Orto Negre is a 100 % Garnatxa negra from individually selected berries. Dark cherry red, with lots of fruit (black, figs, all ripe). Fresh and long.

The Falset-Marçá cooperative winery from DO Montsant is another outstanding coop. Their wines Etim Verema Tardana Blanc and Negre come, respectively, from Garnatxa blanca and negra grapes of late harvest. Both wines are aged in oak for four and ten months. The white is fresh, with honey, citric and floral aromas. The red goes more for red and black fruit, cocoa, raisins. Dense and balanced in the mouth. Some of the best QPR in the night.

As a guest from a DO that also boasts excellent sweet wines, Mas Estela from Empordà displayed their Estela Solera and Moscatell. The Estela Solera is 100% Garnatxa negra, a late harvest coupled with a Solera system. Dark amber, with black fruit and the oxidative aromas typical of soleras, lighter than others in sweetness in the mouth. Estela Moscatell is 100 % Muscat, and shows the characteristic aroma profile of the grape. Balanced and long.

Costers del Siurana, one of the DOQ Priorat pioneers, contributed with their Dolç del Obac: 80 % Garnatxa negra, 10 % Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 % Syrah. Dark, complex, dense and powerful, but perhaps somewhat overpriced.

Mas d’en Gil (DOQ Priorat) offered their Nus, which means knot, named so because of its complex winemaking. Garnatxa negra, Syrah and a dash of Viognier, using three different winemaking methods, give as a result a wine with cherry colour and cherry aromas, plus orange, wood and minerality.

The Capçanes coop (more details in this older post) poured their Pansal del Calàs, a 70 % Garnatxa negra and 30 % Carinyena fortified at mid fermentation. Comparatively light, not too sweet, designed to pair even some meat dishes.

Pleret Blanc Dolç from DOQ Priorat Buil & Giné winery is a naturally sweet Garnatxa blanca, Macabeu and Pedro Ximénez white, aged in oak and with white and red fruit notes.

There were two wineries that offered non-commercial wines (although most of the other wines have productions well below 3’000 bottles). Cellers Capafons-Ossó had a very special Mas dels Masos, their flagship wine, from a vintage in which the adverse climate forced them not to produce the normal dry wine. Instead, they painstakingly selected the over mature berries that had survived and made a sweet red that they pour on very special occasions.

Mas Martinet presented a ranci dolç made with a very old solera system that they could save some years ago in one of the historic wineries of Priorat. It is not clear whether Sara Pérez, its oenological mother, will finally market it, but I do hope she does!

I really enjoyed this exhibition. Many wines, almost all of them coming from the same zone and from similar grapes, but very different outcomes, most of them with high quality. It is about time that quality sweet wines get a better recognition and are not considered as the lesser offshoot of the wineries.



Wine in the cloister 2011

Last year I wrote about the highly pleasing public tasting organized by Vins Noe in my town’s Abbey cloister. Here we go again!

The Tast de Vins amb Ritme had this year eight wineries on display. One of them was a very promising Rioja: Tobelos. The other seven were Catalan: as usual, we will focus on them.

Three of them have been already reviewed in this blog. It was an opportunity to sample new vintages and, in one case, taste a novelty.

Can Feixes Huguet (DO Penedès and Cava), Gramona (Penedès and Cava) and Ferrer Bobet (DOQ Priorat) offered me the chance to revisit their wines and see that they continue to perform notably well, each one in their style.

In the case of Gramona, there was a surprise in the form of Frisant de Gel.

This 100% Gewurztraminer is produced by the selective cryoextraction process, exactly at the beginning as the Gewurztraminer Vi de Glass. As late autumn temperatures do not freeze grapes in the vineyard, Gramona has a cold chamber at minus 24 to freeze the already overmature grapes. Pressing renders a highly concentrated must that is slowly fermented. Additional fermentation in the final bottle produces a degree of gas that gives the Frisant its name. The floral aromas that are typical of the Vi de Glass evolve to white fruit, especially pear. A very unusual wine!

Acústic is a Montsant winery that can boast one of the outstanding reds of the DO. Auditori is a 100 % very old vine Garnatxa of very limited production that I was fortunate enough to taste some months ago.

Their white is called Acústic blanc and is a blend of Garnatxa blanca, Garnatxa roja, Macabeu and Xarel.lo, partly fermented in French oak. Pale yellow, with white and tropical fruit, fresh and silky.

Acústic negre is the simpler red, from Garnatxa and Carinyena vines some forty years old, and with ten months in French oak. Braó is the flagship of the winery, with a blend similar to Acústic negre but coming from older vines and with thirteen months of aging.

There were two wineries from DO Pla de Bages. One was Abadal, the most refined part of a large company with its main interests in the lower price segment, and the other was a newcomer, Collbaix (Celler el Molí).

Abadal was the main force behind the creation of the Pla de Bages DO (I must write a post about it soon) and leads the way with a drive to produce wines with personality, especially around the Picapoll white varietal. Indeed, there was on offer the Abadal Picapoll, a white made 100% with these grapes. Also Abadal 5 Merlot, a complex blend of Merlot coming from five different plots and aged for twelve months in American, Hungarian and French oak.

Abadal 3.9 is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah coming from a single plot, with one year of aging. A new wine for me was Abadal 25 Aniversari, a special blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah that celebrates the 25 years of the launch of the winery.

Collbaix is a new winery with organic farming and promising wines. Collbaix blanc is made from Picapoll and Macabeu: crisp and fruity. Collbaix rosat comes fully from Merlot grapes and boasts an attractive ruby shade and red fruits in nose and mouth.

The third wine on display was La Llobeta, a red with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and twelve months of aging in American, Romanian and French oak. Deep cherry red, with a complex nose showing ripe fruit, lactic and spicy notes.

The last winery was still newer: Herencia Altés, from DO Terra Alta. For the time being, their only assets are old-vine plots; the winery is still to be built and they use the premises of a neighbour.

However, their wines repay attention: Benufet is a 100% Garnatxa blanca, complex and dense. The red Garnatxa negre is young, very fruity and with mineral notes. L’Estel is old vine Garnatxa negra and Syrah with three months oak ageing; more complex and tannic.

These two last wineries are really worthy following; I will keep you posted!