Wine Review Council greeted spring with a tasting of Spanish wines from the wine region of Catalonia, courtesy of Colangelo & Partners.  Catalonia is located in the northeastern part of the country, along the Mediterranean coast, with Barcelona its capital.  The wine grapes benefit from the warm coastal temperatures in the day, cooler temperatures in the evening, and a moderate amount of rainfall throughout the year.  With 10 designations of origin (wine growing appellations), Catalonia ranks as Spain’s second largest wine producer.


Cellers Domenys Tres Naus Brut Cava, Catalonia, Spain ($12)

Cava was developed in the late 19th century to establish and produce a Spanish sparkling wine.  The name Cava was adopted because the wine was originally produced in caves­­ (cava is Spanish for cave).  Although over 90% of Cava is produced in the Penedès area in southwest Catalonia, Cava can be produced in other areas of Spain.  The only stipulation is that it must be made in the traditional method, which means the bubbles are produced by a second fermentation that takes place in the bottles.  Cellers Domenys is an agricultural cooperative committed to sustainability and was among the first wineries to use fermentation tanks made of stainless steel.  Tres Naus Brut is made from the classic Cava white wine grapes primarily used as blending grapes:  Macabeo (contributes mild acidity and floral aromatics), Parellada (adds crisp green apple acidity), and Xarel-lo (brings the earthy flavors to the wine).  This delectable, continuous streaming bubbly is lightly golden in the glass, floral and citrus on the nose, with a creamy minerality and bright acidity on the palate.  Paired with smoked salmon, I found the buttery oils in the fish perfectly balanced this distinctive sparkling wine.


Cellar Gritelles Siurana Negre, DO Montsant, Catalonia, Spain 2018 ($18)

Cellar Gritelles cultivates vineyards in the Cornudella Valley which lies below Les Grielles and Montsant mountains, and includes the town of Siurana.  The winery combines long-standing traditions with current technology to produce their wines.  Siurana Negre is a Grenache and Carignan red blend wine.  The grapes are hand-harvested and fermented on the skins for sixteen to eighteen days.  Crimson in the glass with aromas of red berry fruit, this medium-bodied wine is smooth and satiny on the palate. The rich, meaty eggplant parmesan was a good match to pair with this sincere wine.


Celler Cesca Vicent Lo Piot, DOQ Priorat, Catalonia, Spain 2015

Spanish wine grape growing areas (appellations) that meet high standards for grape varieties, winemaking techniques, and production are given a special DO (Designation of Origin) status.  There are two wine appellations that have earned Spain’s elite designation:  DOQ for Priorat (Catalonia) and DOCa for Rioja.  Priorat’s extreme variations in day and night temperatures along with soils of black slate and quartz, help produce hearty red wines.  In 2000 Francesca Vicent founded Celler Cesca Vicent, which is organically certified, to continue a longstanding wine family heritage. Lo Piot is a blend of Grenache (38%), Merlot (36%), Carignan (13%), and Syrah (13%).  All the grapes are from 30-year-old vines grown on the Mas d’en Corral estate and handpicked in the fall.  Then the wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months.  These grape varietals contribute various components to the final product, thereby confirming Aristotle’s maxim, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Grenache (dark berry flavors) and Merlot (cherry fruit) both soften the tannins of Carignan (cranberry, spice), and Syrah (blackberry and black pepper).  The result is a fruity, bold, but not stringent, wine with substantial structure and personality on the palate and toast (from the oak) on the finish. The wine was complemented by the earthiness and savoriness of the pairing of steak and potato grill packets, topped with blue cheese and rosemary.


Terra Remota Camino, DO Empordà, Catalonia, Spain 2016 ($20)

The word remota translates from Spanish to the English as remote.  The appropriately named Terra Remota Winery is located in the Empordà wine territory south of the Pyrenes and just west of the Mediterranean Sea with its characteristically warm, dry climate, and little rainfall in the summer.  The architecturally contemporary winery is built into the hillside, positioned to limit electrical consumption.  Camino translates to path or journey, representing the winery’s commitment to environmental practices, manual harvesting, and organically grown grapes.  This red wine is a blend of Syrah (36%), Grenache (32%), Cabernet Sauvignon (27%), and Tempranillo (5%).  Deep ruby in the glass, a passionate nose of red currant, red raspberry, and spice, followed by complex flavors of red and black berries, and cinnamon, with soft tannins providing a long-lasting elegance.  The wine’s sophistication was enhanced by the creaminess of a red wine risotto pairing. 


Cellers Domenys Anima Nua Cor Viu, DO Conca De Barberà, Catalonia, Spain 2016

Ull de Llebre is another term for Tempranillo and translates to “eye of the hare.”  This was our second wine tasting from the organic agricultural cooperative Cellers Domenys.  Located in the southern part of Catalonia at 1400 feet above sea level, DO Barberà’s extreme diurnal shift (day and night temperature changes) helps to create complexity in the grapes, leading to a well-balanced, energetic wine.  Other red wine grape varieties grown in Conca de Barberà are Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  (Note: the wine grape Barbera does not grow in this area.)  This medium-bodied Tempranillo is aged for 5 months sur lie (on the lees/leftover yeast) in stainless steel tanks which gives the wine its depth and structure.  It has an intense red-purple color with notes of red berry and cherry on the nose and flavors of currants, red and black berries.  A silky mouthfeel and a smooth finish make this a very desirable wine.  It was paired with a tapas dish, Pan con Tomate with Gueso de Cabra (bread with roasted tomato and goat cheese) which intermingled its sweet roasted acidity with the fruit structure of the wine.



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