Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

This is something of a wonderful cross between SiFi and fine wine, that I was neither expecting or prepared for.  So where to start?  well let’s go with a little bit of history.  Marca is a small village tucked away under the Darmos mountain range on the outskirts of Falset, in the Montsant region quietly going about the serious business of making wine.   It is a small Celler, with a French Wine Blender called Eduard (from Burgundy) who went to Australia to learn the new technology then came to Marca and the Celler Portal del Montsant.

The Celler’s history is one of pure Catalan wine making, dating back to 1194 when the Cartusian monks of the ‘Sant Bruno of Cologne’ order settled in the Priorat region and became the founders of the viticulture.   In 2001 the areas including Bellmunt, El Molar and El Lloar formed the ‘Wine Property Project Clos del Portal’ under the eye of architect Alfredo Arribas. The Cooperativa of Marca was merged with Falset presumably for economic reasons and the building fell into disuse.  Then in 2003 along with Ricard Wolfes Alfredo founded Portal del Montsant and located it in the old former Cooperativa building.

This building has been dedicated to the production of wines since the 1900’s.  In 2007 the eminent enologist Stephen Pannell joined the project bringing his expertise and creativity into play.   The  narrow terraces where the grapes grew  had been abandoned  because modern machinery could not operate there. These were cleared, restored then planted with an assortment of cloned vines of very low production but high quality interspersed with the traditional varieties including some experimental ones.  This vineyard follows a modern organic way of growing grapes which is in line with the cutting edge way the Winery works.

The make up of the soil in the region is a combination of calcareous, clay, and sand, add to this the directions the fields face plus the altitude and you have a unique mix of the old Carignan and Grenache once again covering the land where the first vines were laid down. By the way, these varieties take  their names from the founder of the Cartusian monks, some of these modern vineyards are over 65 years old and grow the ‘bush’ type vine.

So thats the history part now for the SiFi bit and the fine wines.  When we arrived I expected to find a small Celler in the style of a Cathedrel, the outside giving this impression.  But wow!  when you go inside it is like a Tardis compact yet huge!  Eduard first showed us the vats from the main level where he has his office and the wines are displayed.

From this window  you look down on shining stainless steel vats with French oak barrels ranged around the sides along with the concrete vat.  He then took us down to the first level and that is when you see the size and scope of this ‘wine Tardis’.

Eduard showed us how they kept wine stored oak barrels at an even temperature by covering them in plastic whilst using a small heater to warm the air.  Also here is the original machinery that was used before the introduction of the modern equipment, it is in working order and kept as a heritage piece to explain how things were originally done.

The modern equipment is small compact and efficient, but some of the original vats were not only small but unusual.  Take the egg shaped vats which are used for fermenting white wines.  It was also the first time I had seen egg vats made from concrete which not only keep the temperature even, but because of their shape they allow the wine to continue moving inside and makes for an excellent dry white wine, whilst the squarish vat is for the red wine.

There are barrels behind the ‘egg’ vats which contain fermenting white wine.  Every other day Eduard removes the bung takes a long metal rod with a flat end and stirs the wine until it goes from a clear liquid to a milky one.  This stirring makes sure that the wine stays alive and the sediment does not remain at the bottom of the barrel and turn the wine.

As we came down the stairs to this level we came face to face with four maceration vats, which are used for making special wine. Then just as I was thinking things could not improve I found them.  The Darleks are here!!! there facing me was a row of vats shaped like Darleks, not the scary ones of Dr Who, same shape vats.  These are used for the cold maceration of their excellent rose wine.  This cold maceration process allows the grapes to remain in their skins whilst they are chilled then they are pressed and fermented in cold conditions thus maintaining a constant temperature for the whole process.

Out side is this refrigeration truck which is used to store grapes for 24 hrs before beginning to process the wine using the cold maceration technique this helps with the juice concentration which makes fantastic wine.

Then it was down to the underground where the large old concrete vats have been cut through to reveal recesses  where the barrels are stored in a constant temperature of 14c. They are left to mature in the .  All the barrels are stacked by hand on curved racks.  Some are marked with the individual names of vineyards then left for around one and a half to two years for maturing.

Some of the old concrete vats are still in use and Eduard showed us the inside of one which had just been painted in the traditional manner, this is done to ensure that nothing leaks or air can get in.

The majority of the wine is red but they do make an excellent Rosado and a pleasant dry white.  I will list the wine in their  grouping, but remember these opinions are strictly mine according to my pallet which as we all know is different from others, my preference being for reds with a slightly sweet to dry but not so dry as to kill my pallet.

I will start with the BRUNUS, a wine I have drunk and really enjoyed.

The Rosado is a clear ruby colour crisp with an aroma that hints at cherries and raspberries with a hint cinnamon whilst there is a light flowery hint just hiding the sense of another fruit. Whilst this is the bouquet the taste is something else.  It is smooth slightly on the dry side but there is a body to this wine that would not disgrace a red.   This chilled would be a perfect afternoon evening drink on the terrace.  The alcohol content is 13% and made solely from the Grenache grape.

The Red this is a red that gives off a definite sparkle when in the glass.  The aroma is of flowers, cherries, currants and that hidden fruit again, but this time I got a feel of something different which I put down to the various minerals that are in the ground.  To my pallet it is slightly smoky with a spicy hint but a very full body slightly on the dense side.  It has an aftertaste that makes me look for more.  The alcohol content is 14% and made from 45%Carignan, 35%Grenache and 20%Syrah grapes. This, like the Rose, is also a wine you could drink just for the pleasure.

Santbru Blanc Montsant  This a white with a pale translucent gold tone. The aromas of honeysuckle with tones of pear and peach whilst being a difficult but interesting impressive taste there is a subtle aftertaste.  85% White Grenache and 15% Grey Grenache   with an alcohol content of 13.5%

Santbru Red  This wine has a regal deep purple/black colour and well defined tears. The aromas that issue from the glass are spices, berries, anise, thyme plus that certain taste that defines the region.  As for the palate, it senses a deep wholesome fruity flavor.  The alcohol content is 14.5%  and made from 65%Carignan 20%Syrah and 15%Grenache, a nice wine to go with the a meal.

BRUberry Red  Here is a wine that has a vibrantly clear deep red colour.  The aromas are of roses, fruit, soft spices with a country background.  The pallet finds a smooth velvet texture, with the taste of raspberry reminding you of jellies. Yet there is a subtitle smoothness that puts it in my sipping class.  The alcohol content is 13.5% and is made from 60%Grenache, 30%Carignan and 10%Syrah.

The above wines are superb and if you would like to try them you will find the Celler on http://www.portadelmonsant.com  and alfredoarribas@portadelmonsant.com  enjoy.

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Who’s there? Oh it’s you, Gladis, you did give me a fright.  I’ve had such a time of late, what with having to wait to move in here and wondering if I’d be laying my eggs in a tree, then finally moving in just in time to lay them. It’s not easy all this, nests are at a premium just now,  mind you this is such a des-res, there’s the little dip feather lined for laying the eggs with plenty of room behind for my mate to sleep, getting it lined was a bit hectic but we made it in the end. I think my neighbours are a bit jealous of all the space we have, but nest hunting is getting harder all the time when you see the perfect nest you just have to go for it.

Anyway, as I was saying you did give me a start, I’ve been hearing things all week, up and down off the nest so much that the other day I heard this sort of scuffing noise and shot up in real fighting form.  Whats that? Who’s there? come on show yourself, I shouted, you come near my nest I’ll peck you, you see if I don’t.  But there was nothing to see, zilch, nada, diddly squat, what was going on, I felt such a fool.

But a little later I heard the noise again this time I popped up and looked over the sides, couldn’t see anything, but I could hear the scuffle noise.  I had a good look round and then in the grass over by the olive tree I saw the cause, Bunny Pink Ears, a propper little madam if ever there was one.  Button nose, sleek grey coat, white fluffy bob tail, big brown eyes and the biggest pink ears ever.  She may be young but she knows a look from those eyes and a wiggle of those ears and the boys are smitten, hussy.

Bunny has dug a burrow in the bank in front of the house, she likes it there and feels safe because the humans keep the foxes at bay. Mind you, she has antenna like radar, slightest noise and she’s off all you see is the white tail bobbing. She likes to be up and eating early before the eagles are up, but she is very noisy, I’ve seen the humans watching her from the window like they watch me, she doesn’t know and I won’t tell her, not that she’d listen anyway.

Still I shouldn’t complain the humans leave us alone and are quite protective actually. He’s built some overhangs so the swifts, swallows and martins that come up from the river in the evening to catch the bugs, can build their nests here. Thats the one advantage of living here none of those nasty chemicals.  Still I did have a laugh the other evening.  I was having some wing time sitting in the tree whilst my mate sat on the eggs, when the others turned up.  The humans were on the terrace watching them.  I had a hard time telling who was who as they flew so fast and passed very close to the humans I thought one or two would bump into them, never did though..

Well must be getting time for.. ah here comes breakfast, have to go, nice talking to you Gladis ta ta.

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Over the past few days I have woken to the sound of a bird singing it heart out. No, not Boris but a Blue Tit.  This member of the community has decided to join in the spring fever. There is another visitor that it’s a great pleasure to see, the Wall Walker and his mate.  This pair arrive each year and repair the nest in the roof and we enjoy watching them do what they do best Walking the Walls.

Hello I’m Bill the Walker

Oh boy I really hate this time of year, build, clean, repair, go, go, go.  Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I am so busy, this nest needs a makeover every year. My name is Bill, and you’re the first human I have talked to.  Somewhere around, probably looking for the soft bits is my mate Muffy. She is always shopping or changing the furnishings is your’s like that?  Still as I said this time of year is all go for me, and it won’t stop when the eggs arrive I will have to bring food and share the sitting.  Just now I am concentrating on repairing and rebuilding where the weather has damaged it, making it Hissing Sid proof as far as possible, generally making good.  As for Muffy, she’s getting broody, started moaning about the fact she can’t find enough stuff to make a nice warm soft bed for the eggs, so she is off searching leaving me to do the work. Well must go or I’ll never hear the end of it if the nest isn’t ready in time.

Where’s the Wife Gone?

Hello you back? haven’t seen Muffy anywhere have you? I’ve been working away here and she’s been gone ages, I’m beginning to wonder whats happened. Yes I know women take ages when shopping, not like us, we know what we want, go there, get it, all done and dusted in a matter of ticks but hens well…. ah phew, here she comes laden down with soft bits.

Hello Muffy glad your back I was getting worried, did you get what you wanted? Pardon?  You cheeky bird.  Here I am working my wings off repairing the nest for you while you’re off hunting soft bits.  Then you come back here wanting to know where your grubs are. Ohhhh hens….  Now, now don’t tweep I’m sorry.  Hang on I won’t  be a mo.  Here you are, look here’s a juicy grub, you just settle down in the nest and I’ll look after everything.  Strange mood she’s in, she tweep’s for no reason must be getting near to laying.  Well have to get on nice to see you again will have more time when the young have fledged.


(c) Michael Douglas Bosc – author



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