Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Wonderful Catalan Wines II
Another of the wineries we visited during my 2016 visit is the Cava producer Rexach Barqués.
Sparkling Cava is produced in the “méthode champenoise” but with different grape varieties than used in Champagne. Instead of the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier -- one white and two black varietals -- Champagne blend, Cava is created from a blend of three all white Spanish varietals Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel.lo with sometimes a minuscule addition of Chardonnay.
The Rexach Barqués company was founded in 1910 when Pere Baqués Rafecas started construction of the cellar and underground cave where Rexach Baques Cavas are aged and stored. The company is currently managed by Montse Rexach, the 4th generation General Manager and Winemaker. The vineyards are located in Penedès. The grape blend for all varieties, except the Brut Rosé which is created from 100% Pinot Noir, is the classic 40% Parellada/30% Macabeo/30% Xarel.lo.
The company drew national attention in the media when Catalonia’s favorite son, artist Salvador Dali, chose the Rexach Baqués Cava to celebrate his wedding in 1958.
During our visit we tasted 4 variations on the theme:
Brut Nature Gran Reserva; Brut Imperial Reserve; Gran Carta Brut Reserva; Brut Rosat
All the white cavas have 11.5% Alcohol and are produced in 30,000 to 40,000 bottles per year. The rosé is 12% ABV and produced as 5,000 bottles per year. Aging on the lees is 54 months for the Brut Nature Gran Reserva – with no dosage – 42 months for the award winning Brut Imperial Reserva, which is dry, but without pronounced acidity, and 36 months for the Gran Carta Brut Reserva. The Brut Rosat is aged for a minimum of only 12 months to preserve acidity and the intense fruity aromas of cherry and strawberry.
The white cavas have all a beautiful nose and delicate creaminess and, when it comes to price, are much more affordable compared to equivalent quality French Champagne.
Another interesting winery we visited was Devinssi, with vineyards in Priorat, Montsant and Rias Baixas. The owner is Josep Roca (not the sommelier brother at Celler de Can Roca) a master of viticulture and oenology with a long experience in the wine trade.
As far as I’m concerned, the best wines he produces are reds with a base blend of Garnatxa Negra, Cariñena (Samsó) and Cabernet Sauvignon, and depending on vintage and style addition of small amounts of Merlot and/or Syrah.
The top-of-the-line Rocapoll, is an absolutely enchanting red wine made from 100% old Cariñena grapes in a miniscule quantity of 300 bottles per year. We opened a bottle of the 2012 vintage and I thought it was very well worth the $60 to $90 at retail in the US. It was made as a very traditional “vi de la vila” i.e. village wine, from a very old Gratallops vineyard, fermented with indigenous yeasts and aged in new, fine grain French Allier barriques. The alcohol is 14%. It is exceptionally well balanced with soft and mature tannins, great acidity, and an enchanting taste and aromas of Mediterranean herbs, black forest fruit, and cigar box. The long finish exhibits an unexpected minerality. If you are a collector, it is well worth looking for it and cellaring it for another 8 or so years. You will be amply rewarded for your patience.
We also tasted 4 other reds and two whites. The other reds were from vineyards in Priorat and Montsant.
The Cupatge was a blend of Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Samsó and Syrah. It has a little more alcohol than the Rocapoll, 14.5% and is fermented in stainless steel. It is aged in French oak barriques for 11 months, mostly second and third use. It is very nicely structured and exhibits good fruit and notable minerality.
The Mas de Les Valls (farmhouse of the valley) is a blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon and, at our tasting, we found that the 2013 vintage was completely sold out with the exception of a few bottles kept for the winery’s library. The tasting sample was aged in French oak for 6 to 8 months. The color was cherry-red with purple highlights. The nose was predominantly black fruit, macerated cherries and a touch of vanilla with a hint of oak. The palate had hints of ripe plums, dates and ripe cherries; there was moderate acidity and some fattiness, but was fairly well balanced.
Interesting was the D.O. Priorat 2013 Il.lia, a blend of 40% Garnacha, 50% Cariñena and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon; it was aged in French barriques for 24 months. It was a very fragrant wine with ripe plums, cherries and black forest fruit on the nose and a hint of violets. The palate was well balanced with balsamic tones, very light oak and freshly toasted bread. A surprising minerality was revealed at the long finish. This was definitely a fine wine to accompany roast meats or game. The production was only 1,000 bottles .
We also tasted two whites. The Mas de les Valls White, an aromatic blend of White Garnacha and Pedro Ximenez; the grapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in French barriques for 8 months. This treatment gives the considerably dry wine aromas of fresh herbs, toast and nuts. Good minerality on the long finish.
Finally there was the Diviño, an 100% Albariño, straw yellow wine from a vineyard at the Rias Baixas D.O. Clean and bright with pleasant acidity, it has aromas of fresh cut grass and white flowers on a silky, well balanced palate.
The final bodega we visited was Jordi Doménech’s winery. Established in 2006 as a biodynamic facility, it currently produces only 2 red wines, Petit Clos Penat and Clos Penat.
Both are blends of Garnacha and Syrah grapes, the difference being that Petit Clos Penat is made from younger vines and is aged for 8 months in oak while the Clos Penat is made from much older vines and aged for 14 months in oak. Both show great personalities with intense cherry color and a well rounded long finish. The predominant aromas of the Petit Clos are chocolate and ripe red fruit, while the Clos Penat’s aromas are fresh raspberries, mature plums and hints of cocoa and spices. The PetitClos has a production of 10,000 bottles; the Clos is created only as 2,500 bottles.
They are both wines for carnivores and would pair well with heavier dishes and grilled meats. I think that the Clos Penat would be the perfect accompaniment to a Chateaubriand with sauce Béarnaise.
To your health!
To see Part I of the story, click here Wonderful Catalan Wines I
For further info: http://www.excellingwines.com/eng/index.html
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