Wine in restaurants 1.4: wines in Mas Mariassa

This year’s holidays we did not fly abroad, but rather spent ten days in a small hotel (seven rooms) in the Catalan countryside. Mas Mariassa, a former farmhouse perched in the Serra de Llaberia hills that separate Priorat from the Mediterranean, is a haven of peace and silence. The nearest village, Pratdip, with picturesque remains of walls and castle, was haunted by vampire dogs (the dips) in the Middle Ages, until heavenly intervention rid the village of the scourge-or so say the legends. Anyway, the dogs in Mas Mariassa showed no vampirical inclinations, but were extremely friendly.

Not a vampire!

I can recommend Mas Mariassa for the place, the nice premises, the excellent cooking, and the personalized, professional service, but this blog’s focus is on wine. The wine list is a very good introduction to the wine zones around the hotel (DOQ Priorat and DOs Tarragona, Montsant, and Terra Alta), featuring a nice blend of well known warhorses and more independent, out of the way wines. In addition, a sprinkling of interesting wines from other zones.

Francesc, the owner and chef, is very knowledgeable and gives sound advice. Good glasses and prompt decanting in many cases. Temperature perhaps a little on the warm side.

We enjoyed several remarkable bottles, including a Cava one while in the candle-lit outdoors Jacuzzi, late after dinner under the stars and with strawberries. Here some details about them.

L’Heravi criança from the Vinyes d’en Gabriel winery in DO Montsant is a blend 50/50 of old vine Garnatxa and Carinyena, organically farmed. After one year in oak, l’Heravi is deep cherry red, with red fruit still dominant over cedar and spicy notes. Fruity and well balanced in the mouth.

From the relatively undistinguished DO Tarragona, Serra de Llaberia is a winery not far from the hotel. A family project. Their Elisabeth 2003 red has mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a little Garnatxa and Syrah. Twelve months in French oak. Deep red, shows little evolution in the rim. Ripe red fruit in the nose, cocoa and balsamic herbs. Big in the mouth, with well-rounded tannins and long. A Pleasant surprise.

Clos Nelin is one of the greatest whites of Priorat. Crafted by the master hand of René Barbier of Clos Mogador, he mixes, on a base of Garnatxa blanca, small parts of Viognier, Macabeu, Pinot Noir, Marsanne, Escanyavelles, Roussanne and Pedro Ximénez. The varietals are processed separately and in different types of container (stainless steel, concrete, oak) and aged for nine months. Pale yellow, with noticeable legs, shows a very full palette in the nose: white flowers and fruits, the mineral touch of Priorat, citrics, butter, hazelnuts. All these come again in the mouth, with a velvety yet crisp sensation.

Another interesting Montsant was Terròs, from La Cova dels Vins of winemaker Sisco Perelló. Garnatxa, Carinyena and Syrah aged for fourteen months in French oak, giving a deep cherry red wine, with lots of red fruit, minerality and tobacco and leather notes. Wide and long in the mouth.

The Cava in the Jacuzzi was Agustí Torelló Mata Gran Reserva. The testing conditions were not what could be termed scientific, but this is a great wine from one of the best Cava producers. A Brut Nature with no less than 36 months of ageing, and from a blend of the three classic Cava grapes: Macabeu, Xarel•lo and Parellada. Comparatively light and flowery (for a Gran Reserva), perfect for the moment.

A perfect place to make trips to the wine zones around and then relax and, with a good dinner, enjoy a nice bottle.


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