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Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

Terraces

These are some of the vineyards that nestle in the valley behind Darmos next to Celler Aibar 1895.  As it’s name suggests this family run winery has been producing wines since 1895, when like a phoenix, it raised itself out of the ashes of the wine industry following the devastating phylloxera epidemic which destroyed the vineyards.  Gradually the grandparents of Jaume Pinyol began to restore the vines and passed down their knowledge using the technology of the day to produce some very good wines.

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You can see from this photograph that it was a cold wintery day with a watery sun shining.  But the warm welcome we received from Jaume was worth the visit.  Jaume was very pleased to tell me something of his family history and how his wines are made.

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His grandparents worked very hard to rebuild the winery after the phylloxera epidemic, and were keen to use the modern equipment that came along. Unlike many of the Cellers we have visited there are no concrete vats here any more. They were replaced with stainless steel ones last century and Jaume has installed small modern vats which have airlocks in their lids, plus some larger ones with jackets that keep the temperature constant. Those of you who are home wine makers will recognise the method with the airlock.

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From here the wine is placed in French Oak barrels and left to mature, where it stays for between 3 to 9 months or 3 years depending on the wine in question. The barrels on the bottom row have the 3 year wines. Today the Celler produces around 40,000 bottles of seven different wines, mostly young fruity reds plus some full bodied reds and their white wine is excellent.

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So about these wines, I tasted 3 of the 7 so will start with:-

PARELL BLANC                                                                                                               

White being my wifes favourite wine I will let her describe it. This is a clean young white wine with a crystal clear moderately pale colour. Its aroma is very floral I could sence roses, fruits and just a hint of violets.  In the mouth it is very soft and fresh, but there is a good body to it which lets the taste linger long after you have tried it. This is a wine well worth drinking if only for the sheer pleasure, and like the others it is designed to be drunk young.  The Grapes used in this blending are Muscatel Alexandria and Macabeu in a  60%, 40% blend, and spends 3 months in the barrel.

PARELL ROURE:

This is a red wine also designed to be drunk young its has a fruityness but also a slight complexity.  There is an intense red colour which is both clear and vibrant almost bordering on the purple.  In it’s aroma you can detect the barrels where it has matured this makes for a very rounded wine.  The grapes used are  Garnatxa Negra, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and  Merlot in a 40%, 20%, 20%, 20% blend, and spends 9 months in the barrel.

XYZ TRIDIMENTIONAL:

Now this wine is for savouring. It is full boddied with a moderately intense cherry red hue which is both brilliant and deep.  It reminded me of wild fruit whilst lurking in the background was a hint of cinnamon, its warm, cosy and one of the nicest reds I have tried.  It’s taste is soft, warm and a little complex, with a lasting after taste that makes it very moorish.  The grapes used are  Garnatxa Negra, Syrah and Merlot in a  60%, 20%, 20% blend. This wine can spend between 3 months to 3 years in the barrel.

I have covered the three wines that most impressed me but there are a lot more to this range that are worth drinking. however, this is not the only thing this Celler produces. There is some excellent Olive Oil produced here and the original building, which was in decline, has been lovingly rebuilt with the equipment on display plus a diagramme of the working machinery. However that is for the next story of this Celler.

I would like to thank Jaume for his time and allowing us to look around his Celler.  He is very proud of what he produces and rightly so, exporting his wines to the Nederlands, Estonia, Switzerland, Sweden and Girona. I am surprised that America has not taken these wines, they don’t know what they are missing.  I do hope you will try them you can contact Jaume on:-  celleraibar@agricoles.eu .

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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I was discussing gardening with a friend and realised that gardening here is rather different from the UK.  For a start the growing season is from October – when it gets cooler and is supposed to rain – through to end April after that it begins to get far too hot.  My wife likes to grow things such as tomatoes, peppers and her herbs so we have been on a learning curve for some while.

Innovation comes to mind when water is not readily available, as in previous posts I have explained that Manel brings the house water up when needed 5000 lts to fill the cisterna.

Then we have three 1000 ltr cubes for the garden which we fill from rain water or get topped up plus a 8ltr tank for the ‘Water Bar’ which is so vital to wildlife up here.  So when thinking of planting this is how it goes.  First what do we eat a lot of, what takes the least amount of water and can it be grown in pots, tubs etc.? Then of course what tubs etc do we have what can re-recycle?

To answer these questions and explain why my wife grows them I shall start with the simples.  Over here it is not impossible to buy fruit and veg cheaply.  Most gardens grow their own food resulting in surplus which they take to a little shop on a share basis ie, they sell the goods and share the profit.  But most of the women here grow their own herbs or walk the country roads picking wild herbs for the kitchen, whilst keeping an eye open for the wild asparagus which will be available in spring or for the snails.  This is typical country people’s fare and they know where to look and find it.

The women make preserves and tomato fritto which doubles as a sauce, soup and additive to dishes, and my wife makes chutney and relish. So she grows her produce in various containers to keep the bugs at bay.  Here it is said when buying plants or sowing seeds one for the bugs one for us..

So my wife trawled through the various gardening magazines – surprising how many have perfectly good ideas but refuse to sell to Europe they really are short sighted – and then looked round for things to adapt.

The first was an old toilet which after it had been cleaned and the waste pipe end blocked,  I set up under the tree cemented it in place and filled the bottom  with stones for drainage then topped it with compost and we planted strawberries in it.  To assist with the watering I installed a self watering drip feed and the strawbs are now over hanging the loo and the fruit are large and sweet. Using things like old sinks & loo’s earns 5 *****.

For the tomatoes we tried two ways of planting.  One was in the garden against the wall of the generator house the other was in growbags. The result was that we had lots of big beef toms and a toad took up residence at the end so the role of growbags gets 4 ****’s.

Next came a very ingenious idea the use of unwanted guttering and drain pipes.  The guttering is simple and can either be set on a wall with brackets or on a  x—–x horse the ends caped off then filled with compost then planted with salad.  The drain pipe can be cut to short length and used to bring on celery.

Well that’s how far my wife has got this year, but next year I expect she will be better prepared. I have seen the cement and stones out but what is going on I am not sure…..  I can say however that off of the single butternut plant we have had several tasty fruit.

Nothing is un-usable you can find a use for most objects in the garden just make sure they have drainage holes and the rest is imagination, ingenuity and fun  but the results are fresh food wonderful.

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My name is ‘Orace Toad and if I look ‘cheesed off ‘ then know I have a good reason, ‘She’ has been at it again, let me explain. I live in the forest in the few damp patches there – which have been getting fewer and fewer over the past years – happy contented and unwashed.  Then one day up turn these two humans with machines and build a small home. Well I mean what else could I do but hop off to newer damp places.  I was told by my mum that humans were not kind to toads and frogs, if they had a pool of water and found our ancestors in it they threw them out.  So imagine my surprise when Bobbin Robbin got them to build a water bar for him and the other birds, all ‘she’ wanted was to take photographs of them.  This was ok with most of the birds but the blue tits didn’t like being photographed in the bath.

But I digress.  This year ‘she’ placed some long bags on the sunny side of the  house then planted some plants which I heard ‘him’ refer to as tomatoes when he told her they were growing well.  Every night ‘she’ watered these plants and the soil inside became soft, damp and warm.  So, I thought, why don’t I ‘move in’, it had everything I wanted, protection from the hot sun, it was moist, didn’t dry out and for insects was a toads delight.

Only I forgot about the watering.  Yesterday they went out early so I looked my new home over, crept under the flap then settled down to have a snooze.  But I slept too long so that when they came back to water the plants I was still asleep under the flap, suddenly the flap was pulled back and I was soaked. ‘Oh look’ she said ‘Michael come and look at this’.  ‘THIS’ she called me ‘THIS’, well that did it, I hopped out and hid down the back of my bag while I waited for her to go away. No such luck, first ‘he’ came to look at me, said I was nice and thankfully went away. Not her, off ‘she’ went to return a few moments later with her camera and took my picture, twice, I ask you once would have been enough and you wonder why I look cheesed off.

Still they went out again and I was able to go looking for my dinner, not a bad result either I came across a rather tasty looking lady toad called Flo and who knows……

(c) Michael Bosc

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El Celler Cooperatiu Del Pinell de Brai

I was wondering what to do today as it was one of my wandering days. The sort of day when you want to do something but don’t really know what.  I have been trying to get to El Pinell de Brai, a small village in the Terra Alta region of Cataluna, amongst some of the finest wine makers in the region.I was actually trying to visit the Co-opratieva there. This is a grand building which hides within its walls vast concrete vats. However when we arrived it was the wrong time and day so we have an appointment for tomorrow morning.  As we were leaving the building, my wife spotted a small cellar opposite and we wandered over to have a look.

Celler Serra de Cavalls

What we found was a little gem just like those small vineyards in the champagne region of France, excellent wines without the hype. This vintner uses five growers to produce excellent wine in the traditions of their ancestors but using modern equipment. The results, although with a limited production, are some very fine wines which, I might add although having drank them and been delighted with their flavour, I never for a moment thought I would find the cellar. The wines are, for their quality, reasonably priced from a very good 5€ up to  an excellent 12€.  I have not tried the Blac Barrel but it is definitely on my list. I now know where some of my Petanca friends go for their wine.

The vines used are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, white Garnatxa and black Garnatxa all of which are grown naturally, no chemical sprays, hence the distinctive taste and bouquet. However you will not find vast hillsides of vines, this is not the way we do things here.  Instead you will find small farms (fincas) dotted around with vineyards who, when the time is right bring their grapes to be pressed. It is  very much a farming community, and they are true to their history they speak Catalan which, as we have found out is a very hard language to learn, but if you live in the countryside (Campo) you have to speak the language.

The Shop

So this morning I returned to Pinell de Brai, to tour the La Catedral del VI, the co-operative cellar to you and me.

This Is Where The Tour Begins

After a beetle invaded the vines and caused untold damage, leaving farmers with little or no income. Some left and went to the cities, others decided to stay replant new vines and start over. Then they got together and decided to form a co-operative, they would grow the grapes and decided that someone who knew how to make the wine would run the cellar. This did two things: First it left the farmers free to concentrate on growing the grapes and second with someone who know how to make wine in charge of the co-op there would be no falling out. So they began to build..

Concrete Vats Each Holding 30,000 Ltrs

They installed concrete vats that held 30,000ltrs of wine, with four rows of these vats about 8 vats long and 2 deep. You can walk across the tops under the beautiful carved vaulted ceilings.

The Vaulted Ceiling

Where the caps of the vats sit like lids on the floor, and the railing which abound everywhere carry water for cleaning them.  The cellar was started in 1918 and finished in 1922, and built by a student of  Gaudi, Cesar Martinell i Brunet, who was passionate about the co-operative movement. The Spanish government was to pay for the commissioned buildings but as the bills got bigger and no money arrived the hand decorated tiles which Brunet had ordered were stored away so that no one could say the builders had been extravagant.

Further Vats and Arches

A Vat Lid

Then during the Spanish civil war, it was badly bombed but when it was rebuilt  the hand painted tiles were taken out of store and placed along the front at long last.

The Tiles In Place

As for the wines they are few but enjoyable. The Tinto is a pleasant fruity country wine with a slight sweetness. The Vi Aperitiu is a pleasant vermouth, with the distinctive taste.  There is also a cooking wine definitely not for drinking, and a white that is not exactly sweet but not sharp. The Mistela is sweet, warm and very drinkable.

It is an unfortunate fact but these days olive oil is the main product at this press with only the listed selection of wines produced. But this is a village that prides it’s self on it’s artists crafts and produce.  If you are ever in the Terra Alta region of Catalunia take a look at this Co-op it is well worth the visit and long may it be so.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  author

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I was rather a naughty boy at school, never in the running to be a prefect or monitor.

My first job was in a stockbrokers earning £3.00 a week. Perhaps there was a chance to extend myself and become a ‘Gecko’ in the financial markets, but I could not drop my tail or hang upside down from the ceiling. I was more of a plodder, not quick or flash and no long tongue flicking in and out. What I did enjoy though, were some pears, usually Bartlet, however Bosc pears were better especially cooked in red wine.

I have continued to plod steadily through life although not always sure. Perhaps I should have been a Monitor after all, with the right crop report, I could have traded places with President Bartlet…  Or perhaps made a few films?

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