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Posts Tagged ‘white wines’

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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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It’s a long time since I wrote about the local wines. Events and other things seemed to get in the way then as is often the case I was looking through the photographs and came upon this little gem. A small family run winery but with a statement all of its own, so being worth another look here it is hope you enjoy – cheers!.

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One evening I was going through my mail when I found an invitation to visit a small local Celler and see how they made their sparkling wine.  I was rather pleased as the invitation came from Judith who was kind enough to show us round the Co-operativea in Batea.  So I duly replied and on the following Saturday we set out for a Celler that was truly traditional  in every way.  This Celler which without knowing we have driven past over the years, has been here since the 1940’s providing wine for the local people of Miravet a well kept secret.

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When I pulled into the  yard I was pleased to see that this really is a working Celler that actually does things by hand.  Not here big machines that rattle bottles around to be filled then corked. In this Celler a small filling trough does the job filling 6 bottles at a time, then the bottles are taken inside where they are corked and labeled by hand.  Judith greeted me and introduced her husband Hose-Louise the wine maker, who was busy preparing the yeast for mixing with the wine. This is no simple job everything has to just right and the garvity of the yeast mix is checked before it is added to the wine. When this is done and the wine and yeast mixed well the wine is  bottled, capped then taken to the cellers for it’s 10 month fermentation.

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In the mixing room were the turning racks with bottles waiting to be de-caped then corked. These have been turned each day so the sediment arrives at the neck next the metal caps are taken of by hand no freezing the necks here, as we were to see first hand later on.

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Whilst Hose-Louise was busy Judith showed me round the small Celler. It is attached to her father-in-laws farm where the grapes are grown alongside peaches, apples, figs, pears and several other fruits.  The part of the Celler she took me to housed the vat of white wine which is sold to the local people of Miravet in plastic containers, or a container they may bring with them.  But she wanted to show me the ceiling which has been carefully restored down to the nails where tobacco was dried before the government decided to levy taxes so making it illegal for the farmers to grow their own.

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We then returned to see the wine being mixed in the vat. It is a process that is taken very seriously by both Hose and Judith, and with good reason the result is something rather special. These are two people with a passion for what they are doing and a vision of their wine being sampled by the world.

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Then Judith showed us how the bottling machine worked explaining that the wine is pumped along a tube into the trough then the wine is fed into the bottles through feeder tubes when this is done they are taken to be corked or in the case of sparkling wine capped.

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Judith then fetched a bottle of sparkling wine which was ready to have its cap removed and be corked.  Holding it up to the light we could clearly see the sediment in the neck.  So following her outside to the area where the caps are removed she showed how it is done in the traditional way.

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It was wonderful to see the pride they have in the traditional ways of wine making.  They are doing a great job here both coming from the industry and villages that make some of the best wines around, they bring knowledge and ideas to their wines that are something else.

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Cami de Sirga: This is a smooth fresh and fruity wine made from Sauvignon and Macabeu grapes.  It is a wine perfect with fish, salads or chicken a wine I would pick for my table.

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Vi Dolc: This is a sweet wine made from Muscatel and Macabeu grapes.  There is the aroma of figs, almonds and honey, whilst on the tongue you get the hint of sultanas.  This wine is 16% vol and would go well with cheese.

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Vi D’Aperitiu: This is a rather good Vermouth, made by mixing Vi Dolc and red wine but no sugar is added giving this wine an aroma of fruit.  This wine is perfect over ice or as it comes.  This wine is 17% vol.

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Cavi de Sirga:  This is a sparkling wine that is something special. The grapes used are Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeu which give this wine its body and clean crisp taste. This is not a sweet wine but its smooth with a clear pale golden colour and small bubbles slowly rising the sign of a good sparkling wine which has a certain style of its own. My first taste seemed to indicate lemons but the next was smooth leaving a desire for more. I could happily have spent the afternoon sitting in the sun drinking this wine.

Although Hose and Judith produce white wines they have two reds that will give their white wines some competition.  Judith let me taste each of them to see what I thought.  The first a young fruity red with good legs/tears a light but solid colour. To my pallet it was perfect.  The other red was too dry for my taste and I thought it could do with maturing in a barrel, this was what she and Hose thought and the wine was from the barrel still busy working away to its final strength, which I am sure will be a very fine dining wine.

These two people have a passion for wine making and their heritage, resulting in some fine wines being produced.  They not only have passion but also a vision of their wines being drunk by the world.  You know what I think they will make it too.

If you would like to try some of these amazing wines  you can contact them by e-mail at  pedrola97@yahoo.com enjoy.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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At this time of the year people are either getting over Christmas or planning their holidays.  Here in the wine region it is almost the same.  The grapes have been picked, wines processed and festivals planned to celebrate the harvests.  In the fields the rows of vines are being pruned and checked for problems, the ground fed and tidied.  So most of the Cellers are closed for a breather whilst preparing for the coming summer and harvest.

Living in Catalunia’s wine region is a bit like being on holiday, lots to do but only a short period to do it in.  However, as those of you who follow my writing will know I have been looking into not only the wines but the history of Cellers and villages in the regions.  I live on the edge of the Priorat region, and have visited some of the Cellers there, but behind my Finca to the west lies the Terra Alta Region, the high country.  This is the area which first started me on my journey into the wines of Catalunia, so, with visitors gone and the pruning of the olive trees under control, I turned my face westward, hitched up my wagon and headed out…

Well, perhaps not this far

I decided to visit Gandesa which is the heart of the region, and has one of the Wine Cathedrals, a beautiful Celler built by one of Gaudie’s followers, and an architectural monument to fine wines.  As you are driving West out of Mora D’Ebro you notice the road begins to climb, gently at first in a long gradual climb, then it becomes a more defined rise as you wend your way through the mountains towards Gandesa.

The first place you come to is Corbera D’Ebro, where a fierce battle was fought in the Civil War resulting in the village being raised, people left without food or proper shelter and bodies left lying in the streets.  The people, some of whom had fled to the countryside for safety, gradually returned and began to build their lives.  A new village was built at the foot of the old one and as this is a wine growing region a new Celler was raised out of the devastation.  I wrote about this last year http://bit.ly/qvGwGd  and mentioned that the old village is now a monument to all those who died, which can be visited and is a peaceful place where you can sit and contenplate both history and the scenery.

A further 5km on you approach Gandesa.  As you enter the town on the left hand side you will see a large hotel with a very good restaurant, the car park always has vehicles in it which here means the food is good.  Driving further into the town, the first thing you see is the Cellers wine shop then immediately behind this is the actual Celler.

I was delighted to see that the old Celler has been given a facelift with the outside fresh and gleaming in the sunlight.  There is a very strong leaning towards heritage  in the region and people are being encouraged to take care of and where possible restore their buildings.

This is the building I shall be visiting to find out the history of the wines and Celler in March, which is something I am looking forward to.  There are some fine wines and Cava sold here, yes I am still on the Cava trail but there is a whole year for that.

On the opposite side of the road is the  Civil War Meseum. You can park in the main road on the right hand side for free and usually outside the museum.  Now I have not been this far for nearly a year maybe more, so I was very pleased to find that the museum was now open again, as it had been shut for renovation. This was not the only thing to delight me, the old Wine Cathedrel has been restored.  It now has a nice new facade but work inside not yet completed.  So as is my want history and wine combined I first visited  the museum and found a light and spacious interior displaying artifacts of the Civil War from both sides, here there is a distinct bringing together of history, no taking sides too many lives were lost, just memories of a peoples war.

I have therefore made the Meuseum my first article which I hope you will enjoy reading the article and visiting both the Meuseum and Celler.

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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.

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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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