Posted by: tomciocco | April 11, 2013

ANOTHER CATALAN GETS IT

Some day, I hope to be able to talk about some other aspect of Catalan wine making, but for now, I’m content to report that I can add one more producer from Catalunya that really honors its location and its viticultural heritage. It always stuck me as very strange that a place and a people so intensely and justly proud of so many other aspects of their still semi-obscure culture, would do so much to overtly obscure their oenological traditions…anyway…

The proverbial pendulum seems however to be swinging back in a more traditional direction after being stuck for too long in the “International” end of things. This is a still too prevalent style that typically offers overly extracted, alcoholic, oaky wines light on the native grapes varieties, and grown at times in some funny places. They often favor rather clumsy blends of Merlot, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and even Pinot Noir that are all about cellar pyrotechnics reminiscent of the wost examples of ego-driven New World winemaking.

Scratch all of that with this one. This a wine from the Montsant D.O. (f.k.a. Falset) located near the ancient city of Tarragona, and a region that has long been known as a viticultural zone, as its many rows of 70, 80, 90, year old vines can attest to. The vineyards that give us this particular wine are located at over 1800 feet (553 meters) above sea level (HOT days from the Mediterranean sun, and VERY COOL nights from the elevation) and are composed of a mix of codols (large-size stony soil) and llicorella (a blackish, slatey soil) two terrains that are so peculiar to Catalunya, and so kind to the vine.

And the blend is as Catalan as Antoni Gaudi: 63% Garnatxa, and 37% Carinyena, produced from vines between 25 and 35 years of age, aged in a 70%/30% mix of French and American oak barrels of varying age for just 5 month’s time – just enough to marry and mellow it all a bit, and no more which allows the terroir to clearly shine through. This is a wine whose mother tongue is unquestionably Catalan.

It’s Spring, and nothing says Spring in Catalunya like the calcotada – great outdoor cook-offs of whole, young onions that are typically dipped in Romesco sauce, and then eaten by tilting back the head, and dangling them into the mouth…tonight’s appetizer was a table-friendly take on the calcotada. The main course was a classic Catalan estofat de bou – a beef stew with bacon, garlic, aromatic herbs, potatoes, and believe it or not, cinnamon and bittersweet chocolate!

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Celler Baronia de Montsant “Cims del Montsant” Monsant 2010

Bright crimson/garnet color. Evocative nose of prune, red currant, myrtle, dried flowers, dusty earth, dark caramel, grappa, tomato paste, and linseed oil. The full, muscular body is a nice balance of a plush and sappy mid-palate, bristly, peppery tannins, and sweetly juicy acidity, with deep but still clear flavors of blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, vanilla bean, and soy sauce. Long and clean black coffee finish.

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