TOP CLASS CAVA + TOP CLASS DO PENEDÉS WINES
If you are looking for a portfolio of super wines from the one bodega to cover a sumptuous dinner then you’d be delighted with what’s on offer at Bodegas Oriol Rossell. I’ve recently completed my tasting of several of their wines and cavas – I’m impressed, and I’m certain you will be too!
In the 16th Century two of the grandest names in the Cataluña area were those of Rossello and Cassanyes. A couple of hundred years later the families were brought together through marriage – a union which included a 17th Century estate and manor where wine making had been practised over centuries.
In 1908 a ‘modern’ winery was built, in fact in the Art Nouveau style which was in vogue at the time, and the traditional wine making skills passed through generations were honed to meet an increasing demand for fine wine. In the early ’80s the portfolio was extended to include Cava – and this family owned company, Bodegas Oriol Rossell hasn’t looked back since.
The bodega first came to my attention whilst reading an article in Vinum, one of the respected Spanish wine magazines. An Oriol Rosell cavas was being lauded in generous terms and I was inspired to write to the company asking for more information – and samples if available.
This was not long after a flurry of e-mails and articles about the abandonment of the DO Cava by some bodegas who were unhappy about an apparent down-hill slide in terms of quality within the DO. I stated at the time that I had sympathy with those who were making the protest as they felt their fine cavas might be tarred with the same brush as those inexpensive cavas which display nothing of the pedigree of top class cava.
However I also wondered if maybe it would be more effective to promote a change for the better from within rather than simply leaving the DO. And I certainly nailed my colours to the wall regarding defending the cava makers who continued to make top class cava, as they have done, in many cases, for centuries!
Having tasted three of the Oriol Rossell range of cavas I can say without fear of contradiction that there is still excellent cava being made within the DO Cava, albeit that I do agree with the cava refuseniks that there should be an overhaul with a view to re-establishing a such a fine name.
Oriol Rossell Brut Rosat is made from Trepat, a local variety prized for its rosé still wines, and of course for its cavas. It’s a lovely, quite full coloured ruby red rosado cava with good loganberry fruit on the nose and again on the palate with the usual pastry/brioche notes too. Dry throughout with enough body for it to be called a masculine as well as a feminine sparkling wine!
The Cava Brut Nature Reserva champions a style of sparkling wine that I particularly enjoy. Brut Nature is the driest style of sparkling wine with no added sugar to start the second fermentation and as such it is, for me, perfect as an aperitif and as an accompaniment to a variety of foods.
Depending on the light there are various delightful colours available in this wine, pale straw with tantalising soft lime highlights seems to be the best way of describing it. There is a touch of apple on the nose with some blanched almonds, a passing but endearing herby aroma along with brioche and savoury pastry notes too.
On the palate it has body as well as elegance and a length of which the far lesser, cheap cavas can only dream.
My favourite, the Gran Reserva Brut Nature, (I didn’t have the opportunity to try their top cava, the Reserva de la Propietat, which, as it’s only made in exceptional years, might just eclipse the Gran Reserva?) is a perfect ambassador for DO Cava as it embodies all that is good about top notch Cava.
It’s pale gold colour tells of its age and perhaps suggests that there may be Chardonnay in the blend – but no, this is traditional in that it uses just the indigenous Cava varieties, in this case Xarel.lo and Parellada. It’s one of those sought after wines that has power and body but grace and elegance in abundance too.
It’s a conversation stopper as the taster considers: its complexity; its depth of flavour; its aromas which gradually develop, just as the genie from the lamp slowly and gracefully manifests itself; and it’s glorious length that keeps us all hushed for several moments after swallowing!
From their still wine range I tasted Virolet the 100% Xarel.lo which is as good an introduction to the Xarel.lo grape variety that you’ll find. It’s had 5 months, not in oak, but with its lees which adds a certain light creaminess to the slightly nutty, blanched almond, and marginally under ripe pineapple fruit with faint citrus undertones. It’s quite full bodied which gives it presence on the palate and after swallowing and yet it has youthful fresh acidity too.
I found Oriol Rosell’s Les Ceveres to be up there with the best whites I’ve tasted this year. This wine which has had six months in French oak has all of the above but in ample measure with added value too. There’s that creaminess but this time it’s coconut cream from its lees and from the barricas in which is has lain.
Although from the 2011 vintage and therefore gradually ageing further in bottle, Les Ceveres retains some of its youthful vibrancy, its freshness, and the indications are that it will continue to do so for at least another year, when perhaps the slight hazelnut and blanched almond aromas will develop further too. There are baked apples on the nose with just a suggestion of white peach and the finish is splendid and long – again pausing conversation and engaging contemplation!
Within the Bodegas Oriol Rossell portfolio there is a range of vibrant young red, white and rosado, designed no doubt to attract the younger consumer where uncomplicated instant fruit orientated pleasure is the goal, but with a touch of depth too. But I was sent the Rocaplana, perhaps their flagship red wine.
It’s made with Syrah, which immediately puts it into a high pleasure bracket for me. As I’ve said on many occasions I’m a great believer in Spanish Syrah where the grapes always ripen perfectly and where, when grown at altitude, the resulting wines can have the best of both worlds – that typically spicy, black pepper fragrance associated with the Rhône valley in France; plus the full damson/plum fruit driven style achieved in warmer climes.
Rocaplana 2011 is just such a Spanish Syrah. Quite intense on the palate with dark fruit power, it nevertheless is subtle too. It’s had eight months in oak, which adds complexity and depth as well as some tobacco and leather aromas as well as hint of cinnamon and a mineral/earthy note too.