Nick has been writing this week about our summers in the western Languedoc (extremely changeable, almost cool weather this summer – but the vines seem to like it). If while there we feel like a change of scene, we join the queues to cross the Pyrenees and head into Spanish Catalunya. The scenery is wonderful, especially up towards the Pyrenees but also on the coast. And, gosh, the Spaniards have been building some superb roads.
Northern Spain always seems so much more sophisticated than our part of southern France. Perhaps it's the Barcelona effect. The restaurant scene is certainly much, much more exciting, and Nick will be writing soon about one or two new discoveries. The wines are arguablymore varied than those over the mountains in Roussillon (though I can feel Jonathan Hesford of Domaine Treloar sharpening his pencil and darts on our forum as I write), even if it has taken a little while for denominations such as Empordà to catch up (admittedly leaning a little on experiences in Roussillon).
Below is a collection of tasting notes on some bright stars in Spanish Catalunya tasted in London mainly over the past few months. The wines below are grouped by producer in alphabetical order, and then in the order tasted. Most are imported into the UK by Rhône to Rioja or Indigo Wines.
Montsant stalwart, source of great value, and some particularly good kosher wines.
- Capçanes Vi 2009 Montsant (2v/b) 17p
Garnacha made by someone whose father kept the Montsant white wine tradition alive. Deep pinkish gold. Orange peel and tang plus great depth and concentration. Lots to chew on. Very firm and structured – no flab whatsoever. Long skin contact? Really interesting and the alcohol is well covered.
Drink 2013- 2017 • £30 RRP
Rather lurid pale raspberry colour. Chock full of fruit reined in. Definitely ends dry. A light clarete with lots of local character. Definitely recommended for drinking with food.
Drink 2014- • £7.99 Little Wine Club
Blend of Garnacha with Cabernet and Tempranillo and Uncle Tom Cobley. All oak aged. Neat garnet. Brilliant amount of fruit, integrity and character per penny. Great dry but not drying finish after more than a hint of llicorella! Real structure. Tastes far more expensive. VGV
Drink 2014- 2018 • £10 Theatre of Wine 16.
Kosher cuvée all in tank. Mainly Garnacha and Cabernet. Sweet and fruity – a bit simple and chewy. Not nearly as captivating as the 2011 Mas Collet. But more character and artisan character than most kosher wines at this price.
Drink 2015- 2017 • £11.99 Berry Bros & Rudd, Virgin Wines
100% Samso (Cariñena). Broad and rich on the nose with deeply buried chestnut notes. Still quite young and embryonic. Rather pinched on the finish. Bracing at the moment!
Drink 2016- 2022
Limestone. Round and fresh with real lift. Racy and nervy. Chewy.
Drink 2015- 2020 • £58 Berry Bros & Rudd
Old Garnacha with a year in French barriques. Warm and rich on the nose but with real refreshment on the palate. More sinewy than a typical Châteauneuf. Refined. Recalls the David Sadie Grenache a bit. Fine and muscular. Amazingly persistent.
Drink 2014- 2020 • £29 Berry Bros & Rudd, Little Wine Club