Wine Trip Tarragona 9-12 May 2017

81 Group 2, with family

The Wine Trip Team excelled itself this year. We set off thinking, OK new region, interesting town/wines and we’ll have the usual blurb about stainless steel vats, concrete ones, even eggs. HOWEVER, who would have imagined we’d learn about Mass wine for the Catholic church [@15% no less!], have lunch in a Cathedral sitting on top of concrete tanks or visit an old house with paintings and furniture untouched for 200 years!
De Muller

The original old finca is a nice building where Gemma explained that they use a variety of barrels and export 8.5 million bottles of mass (altar) wine to churches, predominantly in S. America, Africa and Spain. Founded in 1851, they have 200 hectares of land and export 60% of their produce.

 

 Bodega De Muller: the roof was constructed after the 50,000L barrels were installed; priests like their wine!

We tasted:

DO Tarragona:

  • Solimar Blanco €3.21, Macabeo, Muscat and White Sauvignon. Clear and sparkling colour, fresh floral aroma with pine apple and green apple notes.
  • Muscat de Muller 2016 €4.05;
  • Syrah de Muller 2016 €5.26 [3 months in Spanish Navarra and Bulgarian Oak] 100% Syrah
  • Porpores Reserva 2012 €11.80 [16 months in French, Hungarian and Rumanian oak] Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tempranillo. Magnificent purple colour, full and complex aroma with red fruit of the woods, blackcurrant, and smooth notes of green pepper, spicy and roasted aroma of cocoa, coffee and vanilla. Long after-taste

DOQ Priorat:

  • Legítim de Muller Priorat Crianza 2014 €6.03; Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah and Cariñena. Deep and complex with rich vanilla and toasted aroma, touches of very ripened red fruits. Full aftertaste and long lasting.
  • Les Pusses Crianza 2013 €13.07 [12 months in Hungarian oak]; Merlot and Syrah. Elegant cherry colour with garnet-coloured reflections and purple tones. Intensely aromatic, slight floral notes of violets enhanced with a strong fruity aroma, a mixture of blackberries and blackcurrant together with spicy touches of vanilla and coconut. Full-bodied and well balanced; nice aftertaste.
  • Lo Cabalo Reserva 2012 €18.69 [18 months in French oak] Garnacha, Merlot, Syrah and Cariñena. Cherry colour with subtle crimson reflections. Rich and complex notes of wood fruits and blackcurrant, subtle toasted aroma. Extensive aftertaste.

We arrived at Hotel Astari spot on at 16.30. Welcome drinks at 19.30 followed by an excellent dinner in Osteria del Lab in the old town.

Wed 10th:

 

 Bodega Vins Padró: Tim introducing Mantsi, bottling plant which copes with 2-4,000 bottles/hour

Vins Padró was founded in 1898 by two brothers, although old documents show wine was produced there much earlier. The fifth generation is now running it and our guide, Montse, was due to pop a second 6th generation in a couple of months’ time. It used to be a cooperative, but decided to start making their own wine in 2013. They’ve only fairly recently opened up the bodega to public visits. 40% of their wines are made from their own grapes.

The must is refrigerated in 25,000 L metal tanks for one day at 15oC. Red wine is recycled six times daily, then left for six days, Crianza 12 days. The Netherlands love their Verdejo ‘wine in tube’ i.e. 2, 3 or 5L boxes. The bottling plant handles 2,000 bottles/ hour or 4,000 bottles/hour ( in boxes of 12).

                                                                26a Garriga old house

We drove a short way to their other bodego Cal Garriga, set in the courtyard of an old house [formerly an olive mill] where they’re currently busy making an extension, in keeping with the building, where they plan to elaborate on the Vermouth theme and hold outdoor concerts. The original owner was a rich tradesman who lived 1776-1827.

We tasted: 

  • Poisia Garnacha Garnacha Negra. Golden-white with greenish hues. Very crisp and refreshing. Aromas of tropical fruits on the nose, pineapple and mango together with zesty notes and perhaps a little grapefruit. smooth and creamy in the mouth. Memories of fruits such as peach,
  • Ipsis Rosat Llagrima .Tempranillo and Merlot. Cherry-red colour. Intense raspberry aroma  with  notes  of  forest  Intense  in  the  mouth  with  a balance  of  the  sweet  and  bitter  notes.
  • Ipsis Crianza 2012 [86 points per Penin] ranging between €3 and €9. Tempranillo and Merlot. Intense dark-cherry colour. Spicy aromas with red fruit. Dense in the mouth with a tannic structure, notes of wild berries with a long persistent finish.  
  • Four Vermouths were also on offer made from Macabeo, Xarel.lo + herbs = gentian, quina, absinthe, orange peel. Reserva Especial, Dorada Amarco Suave, Rojo Classico, Blanco Reserva. Vermouth is becoming an important part of their business as the trend in the Catalunya area is moving towards drinking this aperitif.
  • Their Cava Reserva is 18 months in barrels and won gold in Brussels in 2016. Slightly sweet with small bubbles.

Prices ranged from €3 – €12

 

Bodega Padró: The amazing old building, Vermouths, and Sandy enjoying her wine

Then we were taken to see the first floor of the building, left practically as it was 200 years ago when it was abandoned: paintings on walls and ceiling, ornate plasterwork, a variety of floor tiles and a maze of bedrooms [parents and five children lived there, grandparents and staff on the next floor which it wasn’t safe to visit]. The master bedroom had its own bath! There was also a look-out tower, having lived through civil unrest.

From there we proceeded to Bodega Adernats, where the vines were all destroyed by phylloxera in the early 1900s. Subsequently this village – Nulles – [of now c. 450 inhabitants] pooled resources to set up a co-operative and produced their first harvest in 1920. The estate now covers some 400 ha with over a 100 owners = at least one person per family is connected with the bodega.51 Phil and friends 54 Paul, blind

Adernats building

Adernats:we sat on top of huge concrete vats for our tasty lunch including a blind tasting

It’s set in a magnificent brick building, cleverly designed to ‘exhale’ any CO2 via lower arches. When wine was made in a person’s cellar, they threw in a lit match, or a bird [maybe a cat?], to see if it was safe to go and check the fermentation.

There are huge concrete tanks and by filling in the space between them they can accommodate 48,900 vs 33,250 litres.

The first two were sampled in their tasting room, then we moved up inside the Cathedral, perched on top of the vats, for a delicious lunch – including a blind tasting when we were given what turned out to be a skewer of fruit: strawberry, pineapple etc, but also a tomato, to see which we thought went best with the wine: Tempus Fugit, a dark Rosado.

Wines sampled: Think I may have got a bit confused here….?

  • Adernats Seducció 2016 €5.86; [Muscatel, Xarel.lo, Chardonnay harvested bit green to keep aromas, not too sweet] capable of seducing even the most discerning palate. Pale yellow with golden reflections, subtle perfume and intense aromas, in the mouth, tastes of the Mediterranean. Nice white best seller: it won silver in Brussels last year.
  • Adernats Xarel.lo Vermell 2016 €10.95, lo, Vermell = red in catalán. Not many old vines – trying to replant new ones. Brought by monks, plant facing sea. White only in barrels then mix with other half.
  • Essencia Xerel.lo €8.20 [100% Xerel.lo 6 months in barrel] Pale yellow tone with attractive golden and ivory highlights. Aftertaste of ripe white fruit and slight touches of toast.
  • Instint €7.30 [Tempranillo, Merlot 3 months barrel] Intense ruby colour with violet highlights. Aroma of berries, hazelnuts and caramel. Smooth, warm and elegant with coffee and cocoa. Persistent in the mouth with fruity aftertaste.
  • Milnou cents dissent Ánima. €8.20 [Ull de liebre = Tempranillo + Merlot 7 months in barrel, one year in bottle].
  • Cava Gran Reserva c €14, 30 per website in barrel Macabeo, Xerel.lo, Chardonnay] mature aromas and a bubbly finish; notes of citrus and ripe fruit, marmalade and membrillo.

 

Lots of Roman artefacts. Would love to return and see the Human Towers

The first two were sampled in their tasting room, then we moved up inside the Cathedral, perched on top of the vats, for a delicious lunch – including a blind tasting when we were given what turned out to be a skewer of fruit: strawberry, pineapple etc, but also a tomato, to see which we thought went best with the wine: Tempus Fugit, a dark Rosado.

Thursday 11th we were greeted by rain, so borrowed umbrellas from the hotel as we’d a short walk to Bodega Vinyes del Terrer, the track being too narrow for the coach, although by then the sun was out. When the Wine Team went in November [unannounced] it took several knocks until an elderly gentleman appeared in a tracksuit. Tim carefully explained to him in his best Spanish about the CBWS, what we do, the wine tastings etc. and before he could get to the crucial question, Joan Maria Morell asked, in perfect English: “So when do you want to visit?” He worked as a chemist for Bayer and his son, Eduardo, was an economist, but when Dad inherited 7 ha in 10 plots, they decided to try their hand at wine growing: the next 14 years were a big learning curve as they learnt, amongst other things, that to get the best benefit and freshness from the cooling sea breeze, the vines had to face the sea.

 

 At Vinyes del Terrer

They planted mostly Garnacha, Macabeo and Sauvignon Blanc, and produce six wines. The soil is calcareous with some clay: it drains well and the roots go deep. Fertilise with organic compost every three years: takes three years to be effective.

First wines in 2003 = 3,800 bottles. They could produce 4 kilos/vine but green prune and prefer 1-1.8 or 1.99: quality rather than quantity. They use organic products, and just one against a particular fly, otherwise copper and sulphur, as did the Romans.

Started with one red, now have six wines. Three months ago they started three new ones – for next visit!

Grapes are put briefly into the freeze @ 0C to -1C to retain freshness, then selection made on tables by three people, before gentle pressing. “Coupage after fermentation gives better result”.

Produce 30,000 red and from 3 plots 32,000 white – increasing latter: aiming for total of 80,000.

70% exported to 16 countries, Hong Kong takes 10%, Spain 30%.

José Peñin alerted us to this Bodega when he presented to CBWS at the Parador in Jávea.

We all had named place mats for tasting notes and we sampled:

  • Blanc del Terrer 2015 €6.00, Macabeo, earthy/salty in mouth, spends 6 months in vat and then bottled
  • Nus del Terrer 2015 €24.00 Sauvignon Blanc: the same as above, but in concrete egg [3,000L] which oxygenates it. They place emphasis on the terroir before the grape
  • Terrer d’Aubert 2013 €10.00 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Garnacha: nice, “what may be lost in the fruit, gains in earthiness” 5,000L stainless steel tanks 20 days then barrels for 12 months
  • Nus del Terrer 2011 €15.00 80% Garnacha, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, wooden vats, lesser maceration = more elegance. Also 12 months in barrels

They find reds easier to make than white when a week can be crucial. Some grapes are picked 10th September, others a week or 10 days later – need a mature skin for Cabernet Sauvignon.

“We only have 4 years’ experience with whites, so probably need another five years for the Nus”.

Some large lumps of calcareous stones were on the tables to show the group the type of terrain of the vineyard.

Next rendezvous 15.50 for the tourist tram: Interesting little tour of the port area and then into the old town – a brief shower didn’t detract from the experience.

Our final dinner was preceded by drinks on a large terrace with a view over rooftops of the sea. El Terrat had an unprepossessing entrance door behind a steel barrier [they don’t normally open until 21.00 but kindly did so at 20.00!] which didn’t look too promising.

The exterior belied the lovely interior and superb food, service etc.

The two restaurants visited on the Trip offered the highest Catalan cooking, rated as one of the best areas for cuisine in Spain.

Fri 12th: Tim pointed out another excellent wine area, with DOs Priorat and Monsant, en route to Bodega Edetaria, near Gandesa. This rather boutique bodega claims to be the “winery of reference in Terra Alta”. Historical references to vineyards in the region date from 1185 when Count Ramón Berenguer IV ordered the area to be replanted with vines. Archaeological finds, however, suggest they existed in the Iberian Pre-Roman tribes.

The setting at c. 500m was stunning with small green parcels of vines, planted in different directions, and a backdrop in the distance of 2,000m mountains.

Nani Ramón entertained us in the absence of the jefe Joan Angel. The original building is from 2003 which has recently been expanded. They have 30 ha and in due course could have a max of 60. 90% is theirs and they rent 10%. They can make max 250,000 bottles, in 2016 it was 195,000, this year should be 220,000: 65-70% goes worldwide.

 

Edetària: a beautiful setting, Nani explaining about the soil,grafted vines a couple of years later

They have 30-year-old Garnacha vines [and is the largest producer of Garnacha Blanca], 50% of the vines are 40+ years old. They gave up with Cabernet Sauvignon four years ago and re-grafted Garnacha Blanca. So the first year they had one branch with red, the other with white grapes: once sure the grafts had taken, they cut off the other branch. Being close to the Ebro ensures dampness which is good and due to cool nights, the grapes take longer to ripen, which helps retain flavour. It was the first time we had seen grafted vines at close hand.

2016 they started moving towards organic which should be finalised in 2018 – for white and rosé.

Only 10/11 people work all year.

Nani took us on a walk through the vineyard pointing out that they plan to build a roof over the stainless steel tanks currently outside. The soil is compact sandy, with lumps of ‘calcareous coral’ and chalk clearly visible in certain areas with up to seven layers. Blue = magnesium [pressure of sea water]: colours and thickness of the bands changes = drains well. “This makes the roots work for the old vines and the younger vines make the grapes work”.

High yield gives quality which reduces if watered, so they rarely do. They produce 5,000 ha cheaper wine, medium 35-40,000 and old 2,000. Garnacha needs low yields and 1 sq m of leaves to protect the grapes. Roses help protect against harmful bugs [phylloxera was caused by an insect]. They produce roughly 50% each of red and white. “There’s been a revolution with the reds”. They undertake three pressings a day for two months. White: harvested in first 1-3 weeks of Sept, red in October.

Garnacha Blanca is mineral driven, salty soil – José Peñin had also chosen this wine as his recommendation which was the reason for choosing to visit this bodega.

We then moved to have lunch which included typical fare from the area such as salted cod with tomato, sardines with sausage in a bread roll, omelette, spaghetti in the sardine tin, habas and finally black rice with prawns and finally cheese with membrillo.

  • La Genuina d’Edetària Tinto €32.00: 100% Garnacha fina = larger grapes. Flowery nose and spices in the mouth. Produced from a selection of the best vineyards with this grape, all of them in “tapàs” soils, made from several layers of marls formerly under the sea, displaying outstanding colour and soil’s complexity. This unique grape, an indigenous clone of Terra Alta, with small-grained and loose grapes, displays pure Mediterranean personality, thanks to ideal ripening in the region’s climate
  • La Personal d’Edetària Tinto €32.00: this comes from grandfather’s 80+ years-old vines: spices, oak ageing 12 months. Won best wine last year. Single vineyard 100% old vines Garnacha Peluda. A wine that reflects the uniqueness of grape with only 50 ha. left in the world, from which Edetària has 7 ha. of them. a wine with an aging of 12 months in 300 l. French oak barrels, to respect a high concentration
  • Edetària Selecció White 2014 €18 100% White Garnacha. Complex aromas of white flowers  and aniseed, ripe stone fruit such as apricot, sweet cream and flint. Silky with a very long finish, featuring rich salty mineral flavours.
  • Via Terra 2016 €5.50 – nice label with vine/roots = ‘body and soul’ 100% Garnacha, 6 months in oak.

This was a very memorable visit with excellent wines, stunning scenery and an interesting walkabout in the vineyard.

 

E644

De Muller                           740       E634 ArtisticGlass                                         

Vins Padró                         500

Adernats                            500

Vinyes del Terrer        1,500

Edetaria                          2,000         Total Spend:   5,240 [Average €175 pp]

 

http://www.demuller.es/en
http://www.vinspadro.com/
http://www.adernats.cat/
http://terrer.net/
http://en.edetaria.com/

Text and photos by Gillian Ashworth                                                                                                                                                     May 2017

 

Video of the trip produced by Paul Nicholls

Click on play arrow to view the video