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Posts Tagged ‘vineyards’

The Garden

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Ok I will start with the garden as I have spent long wasted hours trying to get it organized in between bouts of a bad cold, so I finally gave in and decided to design the back garden with the help from Sir. We have almost finished landscaping it – not grand just a simple design based on the shape – and now the daffs and tulips are beginning to come through. The Hyacinths are nearly over, edging plants planted so I can finish off the bits and pieces before the summer heat arrives.  These are wild daffs that grow in the forest, I rescued them from the digger about a year ago and they finally flowered this year.  Their perfume is really something for such little flowers.  As for the grape hyacinths  this one appeared in the pot please don’t ask how it just did but you can see how small they are and they are all over the place, another one I have to move when digging.

 

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I had a nice surprise when we visited our friends, my gardening mate said I have just the thing for you,  grows like wildfire and spreads so make sure you plant it only where you need it. Pretty little flower but it self-seeds so will have to watch it, but it will do very nicely and add some colour to the back garden.

 

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Now Euphorbia. I have been going on about these plants for ages how they are rampant up here so I thought I’d show what I mean.  The bush on its own is the one growing in the border behind the house and these others are at the entrance to the forest. I thought they looked good with the wood behind them, and yes I do know they are poisonous.  They are allowed to grow up here but if I have to move them I pull them up without breaking the stems so keeping the sap away. We have 5 different types from small heads to large double heads, but this is the first year I have seen such a display as above.

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Now for those of you who know these things I have a little task.  Above and below are photos were taken of two different plants one of which, I think, is Borrage what the other one is I do not know, but again they grow in abundance here. If anyone can tell me what they are I would be grateful.  I just let them go if they are in the garden as they make a nice display I collect seeds but I can’t sow them to early as the ants munch everything up here, bit like a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

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The Birds

 

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We do not know who this is but he is light enough to sit on a piece of grass and only bend it.   I did think it was a Sky Lark as we have one or two up here,  what ever he is he’s welcome.   We have not seen our Robins this year but Boris Blackbird is going strong so is the little Wall Walker he nested under the little house roof again.  We have seen a Little Owl but not been able to get a photo yet, and today we saw our first Blue Tit. There are plenty of Great Tits about and we have heard the Nightingale, it woke Michael the other morning just before it got light. So I can say that the forest is gradually getting back to normal, although we haven’t seen any Wrens down the track we have seen them along the river road. I also have a secure place where I tip the unwanted seed when cleaning the Boys out and the wild birds go there.  I have noticed that there are green shoots growing so will be interesting to see what come of this.

 

The Boys

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Talking of which unfortunately we have no news on this front. They are still sitting but as we have been told by a breeder they are a young pair so they may not produce any young this time round.  We wondered if moving them in and out was disturbing them so we are in the process of sorting out the FFZ to make it more ‘Boys’ friendly, new netting and replacing the old roof then perhaps they will nest again and produce babies.  In the meantime they are still shouting and fighting over things. Calling to the other birds especially the Black Redstart.  But the funniest thing was when the song bird started singing they sat and listened no squawking or shouting they just sat there, wonderful. Oh and they will always be the Boys or Big Moma X and the Cooler King to me they are soooo funny.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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Spring Flowers

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These are the wild daffodils that grow in the forest.  When the track was being re-done I rescued some of the bulbs that were in danger of being destroyed then my wife planted them in different parts of the garden. These have taken in the side garden by the house and are looking good.  When we go walking around the finca we find quite a few so there is always a small vase of them indoors and their perfume is strong for such dainty little things.

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If you add to these the violets that are putting on such a show this winter (only pic I have at moment) then each room in the house has a different perfume.  When the lilies eventually get to flower their perfume can be overpowering, but even I have to admit the kitchen smells wonderful, as you can tell my wife likes her cut flowers.

Look Who’s Back

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Walking out towards the little house yesterday I came upon Puddytat sleeping on a pile of weeds that my wife had left out. It was nice to see he didn’t dash away when I passed but slowly got up stretched then wandered off as if to say ‘can’t a cat sleep in peace?’.  Not seen him around the ffz whilst the boys are in there but expect he will peer in through the netting at some time. Then the other morning there he was, looking well strolling around like he owned the place – well cats do don’t they –  he is one chunky healthy wild cat, so the wife grabbed her camera and wandered round the garden and got these shots of him:-  Finding the sunny spot,  having a clean up, off to find a spot in the sun and finally take a nap:-

 

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An Update On Big Momma X

 

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Talking of whom Big Momma X is still sitting on her eggs. Apparently it takes 20 days before anything hatches and as these are a young breeding pair they might not come to anything but as the Cooler King is helping with the hatching I think we have a good chance of a squawk or to two. They are very good at the nesting and if you peek inside the box from the front  you will see both of them sitting side by side, there is no touching the box or they will destroy the eggs/chicks so it’s a peek through the ’round window’.  However when she comes out to stretch her wings, feed or drink if he thinks she is taking too long boy does he shout. They have begun to practice feeding so we have hopes yet.  Going to cost me though, will need to go buy a bigger cage ah well they are worth it, will keep you up dated.

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Ok that’s it for now wife’s back in bed that nasty cough returned and she has been ill for a few days. Problem is she wont rest. Take Wednesday she woke up feeling in her words “miles better”, so we went to the market to collect some feeders from the bird man.  The ride in the car a short walk to the stall and back and she went from feeling ‘miles better to feeling knackered’! Wednesday night she was really really ill no sleep and where she had been coughing everything hurt. So yesterday morning what do I find she’s outside weeding, grrrrrr  that did it she went to see the dr yesterday afternoon and he gave her some dissoluble tablets to bring up the muck one at night and she has another appointment in a weeks time to see how she doing. Me? well I went to see the nurse and I have another round of tests to be done and I see the doctor in May so between the two of us we going great lol.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BIG MAMA X

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It was confirmed yesterday morning that ‘Big X’ is actually  ‘Big Mama X’ and is sitting on at least one egg (Boris told them one is less work than 4)

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The news was reported to me by the Finca reporter Boris Blackbird and his news-hound Tricky Dicky Redstart.   I confirmed the report by peeping into the nesting box and seeing one egg.   Boris said he had had his suspicions about ‘Big X’ but he wasn’t sure until Tricky Dicky started to tell him of conversations with ‘The Cooler King’, along the lines of hens moods when they are ‘nesting’.  He said she is getting really stroppy and wont let me sleep in the box at night.  It was a good job the humans kept a fire going or he would have frozen.  As Tricky said ‘CK’ didn’t know about real life like we do.

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Now when we bought these two I was under the impression that they were two males as they fought for a day when put together.  Plus it was always ‘Big Mama X’ who was in charge of the escape attempts, ‘C.K.’ seemed a bit submissive to me I suppose I should have known.  Then a week ago BMX started staying in the box.  Wife got really worried, one of her ‘boys’?  didn’t seem well BMX was quiet, and poor old C.K. was sitting on the top perch on his own at night, no matter what time we went into the kitchen. Well now she knows and it’s a hard job trying to stop her from peeking into the nesting box but she knows if she does they will probably abandon the egg and kill the baby.  So camera is at the ready for the big day when it fledged or is old enough to be peeked at.

The Visitors

 

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So there you have it the best kept secret on the finca, well I know the others knew but hey we are humans after all.   There is a lot of treat shopping going on these women stick together at times like this.  Sunflower seeds, millet, extra special seed loads of water for when BMX takes a break from sitting and the fire is on just incase it gets really cold during the day. Can’t have BMX or her egg getting cold…..  All I can say is wait till they/it hatches CK you stand NO chance and will have no peace so make the most of it.

Boris is keeping an up to date report going and we have had several visitors to the FFZ chatting to the CK  and BMX when she comes out to feed.  My wife had to take the tree lights down as they were using them as perches when they visited.  Told you, these birds may be wild but they are canny.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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Well its over for another  year, feeling stuffed, tired but relaxed.  Knowing that we would be on our own for Christmas friends asked if we would like to meet up at Carpe Diem just as we did 4 years ago.  So Boxingday saw us heading out into the Campo in the mountains and a wonderful 5 hours.

Now outside behind the car park live some interesting characters who are obviously used to being photographed so instead of talking I will let them tell the story.

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Oh look everyone more humans and a CAMERA!!!!   This is my good side.

 

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Dont bother with him I’m the one you should be interested in look at my fine feathers and my leg stance all fashion walkway here ducky…

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Well that’s her normal remarks but this is her normal position head in ground I might be smaller but I’m definitely more bird.  Oh dear are they being strutty again  your obviously here for dinner its cold and misty so I’d go inside if I were you  Merry Christmas and enjoy your meal.

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So we headed towards the restaurant and found this little chappy one white Wallaby looking decidedly cold. once inside the magic took over, this place never ceases to amaze, enjoy the photos.

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This is the large dining area decked out, all tables had candles and large gold coloured plates, napkins and crackers.  We arrived early which surprised us as it was very very foggy and getting cold outside.   Michael wanted a picture with the large tree, he looks rather military but once dinner was under way he relaxed.

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Then we were in for a surprise who should walk through the door but authoress Rosie Reay with her two boys. It’s a long time since we had seen her and she looked good.  She has lost weight, had her hair styled and Michael just did not recognised her.  Needless to say we were pleased to see her and caught up later before they left.

IMG_0183 (640x480)So we headed home in the fog calling at the garage to get petrol for the generators.  We really enjoyed our dinner good company, good wine so as it was said here’s to the next time in 4 years……   Happy New Year everybody

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well another week with the weather people promising rain and not delivering. Mind you all around us its been pouring, and my wife even did the washing in the hope it would rain but it was all dry before the clouds got here and no still no rain.  Oh well at least the drop we had during the Tuesday night watered the garden, and yesterday afternoon it got so hot and humid that I really thought we were in for a storm, but even though the clouds gathered nothing came of it as they decided to bog off somewhere else mind you I did my impression of ‘The Flash’ as I dodged the six drops of rain that did fall.

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Now this picture of me working at the airport is about as near as you’ll get to me in class.  Last day at school today and we got our certificates to say we can speak and understand Spanish (oh yeh??).  Oh yes and here’s something you did not know Walthamstow has moved to Ireland, they had got me down as Irish…I do so love these people. Mind you its not as if they don’t know me I spent two years trying to learn Catalan Oi Vey…..

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I found this old photo of the tree outside the house so I put a few together to give you an idea of how things have changed.    From an overgrown lump to a clear space for the birds water bar and ‘Sam’s’ garden, with a new wall plenty of bulbs plus the odd plant.  You can also see the beginnings of the new flower bed (just in front of me) this was taken through the netting of the fly free zone and the grape vine which this year has taken off.

 

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DSCF4915 (640x480)Now the reason I have included this last picture is because a friend of mine will appreciate it,  This is the tree I have been pruning and managed to pull my shoulder muscles – and no Pat NO chain saw…  So the result is that I shall be missing the petanca competitions this year but no matter there is always next year.

Right we are off on a road trip. I have always wanted to see the white horses of the Camaguey and as France is just up the road we are off for three days.  Now it should be an interesting trip as once we are on the E17/AP7  it goes all the way there but I bet we get lost we always do so cars filled up clothes packed maps at the ready hit the road Mike…….

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

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This weekend saw the Falset Wine Festival, we missed it last year so made sure we got to this one.  We were pleased to find it was back on the main street of the town like it used to be, the last time we attended the fiesta was up in the castle which left the town virtually deserted.  I did not think this was good for either Falset, the cafe’s/restaurants or the vintners as it took people out of town and away from the wine Bodega’s that did not have stands but just opened their doors.  Anyway, we decided we would go after Petanca for the early evening when it would be cooler.  The first thing we had to do was find somewhere to park as all  the car-parks were full to over flowing, but behind the Co-operativa I managed to find a space so I was happy.

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We entered at the bottom of the main street and found the stands were arranged along the left hand side.  People were wandering around with their ‘glass in a bag’ – you bought this for about 20 Euros along with tickets that enabled you to sample the wines – or sitting at tables outside some of the Bodegas.

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There was also entertainment, I noticed a group of musicians taking a break whilst at the top of the street a ‘human tower’ contest was taking place. There were several visiting teams which included young and old alike but this was the winning team.

 

 

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We then went for a drink bumping into one or two people we know in the process. After a beer we decided to wander around to the main square which is hidden in the heart of Falset.

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Here we found the cheese stalls, passing small artisan shops selling coffee as well as the delicatessen wines, cheeses, cakes and breads on our way there.  Whilst in the square I found some really nice goats cheese so cholesterol is ok for a while.

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As you can see from the first photographs it was a packed street with people wandering around tasting wines or just standing discussing them, but I did manage to get fairly close to the stand of the Capçanes Celler, it is here they make the wine for the Jewish Church in Cataluña. I could see  they were busy as there was quite a crush there.

 

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But we did manage to get to the El Masroig stand to be greeted warmly and discovered they have re-branded, and produced a very light Roseada for the UK market.  I bought a bottle of their new young red and the Roseada to try at home as it was almost impossible to do so there.  But I have made an appointment to visit and find out more about these wines.  So to the New Roseada.  As I was informed this has been made for the UK market and the Celler was asked to make it lighter in colour as the deep pink we have here was not to the taste of the customers for that market. The result is a very drinkable wine almost a white with a pink blush which is perfect either cold or at room temperature, the Celler has this one spot on.   The red is a young wine and meant to be drunk young, this is not for laying down.  I found it to be pleasant and very drinkable and one for my shopping list.   So I shall be going into more detail about these and the other wines from El Masroig when I visit.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well it is the first of May next week and that weekend heralds the Falset Wine Festival.   The last time we visited Falset’s Wine Festival it was held in the castle with around 50 stands from the Priorat and Montsant DO all displaying their wines, which for 8 Euros you could buy a glass and sample.

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We did not manage to get there last year due to family but we have been told that the Festival was back down in the main street where it was usually held, although there were not as many stalls at before.  Despite this it is a renown wine festival with other things happening besides wine tasting.  You can for instance, attend lectures on the various aspects of wine making and tasting.  I would like to try and attend a blending lecture as I find it rather fascinating how they manage to get the various blends.  My one problem is that I know what I like and find some of the reds a little ‘mouth pruning’.  Having said this I can honestly say there are few that I do not like or could drink.

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 I am not an expert but look at wine from the lay-mans point of view which is, if it suits my palate that’s fine.  But I have been taught so much about this art of wine making,  that I now know a lot depends on the blender and what he/she is trying to achieve. I have also learnt that the old ‘red with meat and white with fish’ is basically a snobbery thing.  People who not only grow the wines but make them will drink their produce be it Red, Blanco or Rosado with what ever they are eating.  In certain parts of France they drink red wine with fish, but then that is the wine they produce. So I am certain that a ‘wine snob’ is someone who knows what they like and sticks to it regardless.

 

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Some old friends and new ones exhibit here and it is always good to meet up again and learn what is new or different since we last spoke.  I will be looking to see if any Cava stands will be present.  This wine is very underrated and I feel it should be promoted a lot more as in my opinion it is far better than Champagne having no sugar added to it.

If you are in Cataluña do yourself a big favour and visit the Festival, you will not be disappointed and you can see for yourselves why I am so taken with the wines of this Country.  The Festival is on from Friday the 2nd of May until Sunday the 4th of May cheers!!!!

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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It is a while since I visited the Co-operativa in Batea, so once my life had returned to normal I contacted Judith and heard they had a new wine. This was a must visit so I hitched up the ‘Wine Wagon’ and on Wednesday morning headed off into the high country. The day was fine and warm which for this time of year was a plus. although there was a gusting wind which made driving through the mountainous terrain interesting.  The drive took me past the pink hue that are the peach and nectarine groves heralding the coming of spring whilst here and there farmers were doing some late pruning.  Although they were all wearing jackets I was quite sure they were pleased that the sun was out even if it was a little windy.  I arrived in Bata around 11ish and went to meet Judith in the showroom.

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This Co-operativa is an ever evolving entity, a place where new ideas are born and sure enough when I entered the bright and  spacious  showroom I found bath products such as Garnatxa bath oil and Cabernet Sauvignon soap for sale. This is something that I find interesting as it is a new way of presenting the various varieties of grape to people and I rather fancy a Sauvignon shower.  But these were not what I had come to see.

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Ranged along one wall are the various wines and liqueurs that are produced and sold  here in Terra Alta plus the odd bottle of Cava from Penedes.  Sitting on a shelf near the new wine was something that no kitchen or cook should be without – Ranci.  Here it is used in cooking by the older generation to add flavour to dishes and  has a warmth and bite that reminded me of  “cooking sherry” a perfectly pleasant drink just don’t let the cook near it.

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But this is the new comer,  the wine I had come to see the ECOLÒGIC. There are three wines in this collection one white and two reds. First to arrive on the shelf is the white. This is a pale yellow which if held against a white napkin gives a soft slightly lemony hue, with a hint of violets but certainly you can sense wild herbs on the palate. But this wine has a flavour of something which is just out of reach but oh so familiar, almost as if it’s teasing you to pin the ‘something’ down. It certainly made my palate want more if only to do just that, this is definitely a wine for summer and is certainly on my list.

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However the reds are to  follow.  Because of their time in the barrels the first Tinto not due till April, with the last due later in the year after spending around 12 months in the oak barrels. To explain this Judith took me to the barrel room.

 

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So I will explain the blend. The barrels on the left contain white wine which is blended with the red in the barrels on the right to produce the Ecologic reds. The first red to arrive spends 3 months in the barrel and is blended with white wine from the Garnatxa white around 10% to three barrels of red.  The Other red which will be a slightly deeper colour is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon at 10% to four barrels which gives it its distinct flavour.

The White is particularly good so I am looking forward to the red later this month.  Judith also informed me that they only use the oak barrels for around two years then these are off to make brandy, or perhaps somewhere to sit, sip and contemplate the art of wine making.

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Cheers!

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ahhh September! This is the time of year when we would normally be visiting the Cellers to see how their wine is made. But this year it has been a little difficult for me to do so. However things are back to normal now so I decided to take a look at some of my articles before once again setting off in search of more wines. So here are a few with their links hope you enjoy this stroll.

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We have visited Mas Roig  http://bit.ly/1cUxVzG the little wine town near our home at their harvest time, and seen how the grapes are still picked by hand as not only are the terraces to small to get a mechanical picker on them, but some of these vines are bush style vines. Not grown in the straight upright lines you often see, but left to grow as a small bush like the Garnatxa grape. So because the grapes are hand-picked they come into the Celler in wagons lined with blue plastic so they do not lose any of their precious juice.

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We have been In Batea http://bit.ly/Q3CkFm at their harvest time and seen first hand just how busy they are with the tractors bringing in the grapes and sometimes tankers taking last years wine off to places such as Lamancha, where it is used to either bulk their wine or sold on to other wine makers for blending.  Yes this does happen and there is nothing wrong in doing it. Lets face facts, if the excess wine was not used in this way it would result in ‘wine lakes’ which, unless you had a big straw and a huge thirst, would be wasted.

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At this time of the year both the black and white grapes are full of juice, but it is the white grape which is slightly larger than the black that is used to make Muscatel a sweet golden wine.   Although this is a sweet wine, I would not class it as a ‘pudding’ wine.  It has a good body plus a fruity aroma which, so my wife informs me,  makes it very more’ish and I have only seen her ‘protective’ over one other non sparkling wine and that’s the red Garnatxa from Capsanis http://bit.ly/17hHJl0 which is more like a port but with a history.

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Then there was the Pedrola Celler. This ia a small family run Celler http://bit.ly/100A1r5. on the outskirts of Miravet where they make a spectacular sparkling wine in the traditional way.  It might only be on a small-scale ’boutique’ style at the moment, but they have some good ideas and are quietly getting their wine out there. It is out in British market, so pay their site a visit and go find a treat.

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Next is another small delight with big ideas that is doing well, the Pascona Celler in Falset http://bit.ly/199l7mJ  where some really fantastic reds are to be found.  This little known Celler is a well-kept secret at the moment but Toni and the boys are determined to make their mark with their wines grown in the three different types of  soil that crisscross this vineyard.

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And finally a little Celler tucked away in the mountains of the Monsant region http://bit.ly/17hVHmS.  Here you will find a rather different wine called Castle Siurana Rancia plus again the history of a determination to bring fines wines to the world.

So with these varied and traditional cellers around I hope to be kept busy over the winter, re-visiting some and visiting other for the first time. I have not forgotten about Cava  I have given up the idea pointing my wagon in a certain direction, this time I intend to wander along the country roads and see what I find, it should be quite interesting.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Wine is fascinating, well I think so, and I have often been asked why I bother to write about it as I am not ‘an expert’.

Well I do so for several reasons actually, apart from the obvious I find it rather educational. But reasons well:-

First): is to write about wine from a “duffers” view-point. As someone who knows nothing about it except they like to drink it. None of the snobbery that goes with some writers is here, I tell you exactly what the vinters tell me.

Secondly) I have found that each Celler is different in the way it produces wine. If you add to this it’s history and tradition then you have fond a Celler which brings an individual taste to the wines produced there.

Thirdly) The care, sheer joy of the Vinaters in what they are doing and a ‘want’ to share their wines and methods with the rest of us. To listen to these experts talk about how they produce their wine, including their family history is the most gratifying thing a writer could wish for. I have been made most welcome by everyone on my visits and been taught a lot about wine, this Celler was no exception.

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I have visited quite a few Cellers in the region around my home, but this particular Celler is rather intriguing.  It is tucked quietly away behind Falset which is the heart and control centre of the Montsant and Priorat DO regions. Unless you knew exactly where to look, you would never find this little mine of a vineyard. Here they grow grapes in several types of soil each field a different grape giving a different taste, and body to their wines.

I first met Toni on his stand at the Mora la’Nova Fira last October, a young man who has studied hard, loves his job and knows his wines. He is the latest vintner in a long family tradition which started with his great, great, great, great-grandfather a Doctor, in 1827. After the devastating vine blight of the 1920’s, his great, great-grandmother Maria Pau and her two daughters re-started growing vines. The wine produced then was mainly red and of one blend, however, today is a much different story.

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Toni has worked hard to reclaim more of the fields from the mountain, clearing and in some cases, replanting the terraces. These are south-west facing but each field has different soil. As we walked towards the top of the mountain we crossed a small rickety bridge which linked the lower and upper terraces when walking. Here I could see the different terane, in some  fields the soil was clay in others it was a cross between sand and grit whilst the last soil type had a definite mineral feel.  There are various mineral mines around the area which give vines grown in this type of soil a slightly peppery aftertaste but they also lean towards a more bodied red wine.

Walking on ever upwards towards the top of this little mountain, I could see the hard work Toni had put into this vineyard and I do mean hard.  Each terrace is wide enough for a man to walk comfortably between the rows but there is no room for a mechanical picker. Everything here is done by hand and some of the vines are years old grown in the old way, and Toni is very proud of the history that goes with each variety.

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The Celler itself is small with only two stainless steel vats the others in true tradition are concrete. Once the wine is made it is matured in French Oak barrels which add to the wines flavour.

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Well you cannot find a more diverse selection which comes from one Celler than here. There are 5 different reds and Rose.  Because of the ground they are grown in each wine has its own taste, and story to tell the drinker.  So I will start with the Rose:

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Besides making his own wine which is made totally by hand and produces around 50,000 bottles of excellent red wines, Toni has been in partnership with Pep and Patri since 2011. Since 2010 Pep and Patri have rented part of the celler for their wine making.  But the wine that they and Toni make together comes from the mineral grown vines, which gives this wine it’s peppery after taste resulting in a very smooth and very desirable and  to coin a phrase ‘lip smacking’ red.

 

These wines are really worth discovering they say more about the talent of this man and his colleagues than anything you could write. Toni tends his vines with the love and passion of a true Vinater, tradition is all, when try them you will begin to understand the hard work that goes into producing such nectar.

You can contact Toni on www.pascona.com  give them a call then you can say you have tasted some of the best Montsant wines going you will not be dissapointed.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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