LA GRAN CATA CHEZ NOUS 2015
THE WHITE WINES
Regular readers will know of the annual wine tasting event ‘chez nous’. It’s an opportunity for those invited (very limited numbers) to taste some of the best wines in Spain, paired with, what we like to think are pretty good home-made tapas (please click on Client Comments www.colinharknessonwine.com).
Judging by comments made during the evening and subsequently via e-mail it would seem that we surpassed ourselves this year! Certainly, I believe that there has never been a better array of wines from the top draw (well the depths of the cellar, in fact!) at this tasting, and that is saying something as previous years’ wines have been excellent!
This year we were lucky enough to be tasting six, rather than the usual five wines – a white sparkling wine, two white wines and three reds. There’s enough material regarding these wines to write two articles, therefore I’ll be covering the white wines this week, with the reds to follow in next week’s Cork Talk.
It’s a while since I wrote about the Sparkling Wines coming from Bodegas Raventós i Blanc, so perhaps a quick reminder of the history behind this leading producer. In fact the present incumbent, Pepe Raventós, is a direct descendant of the man who started the Brut Ball rolling, the founder of the sparkling wine multi-million Euro industry in Spain. (Later to be officially called ‘Cava’.)
You may wonder therefore why, with such history, why Pepe has decided (after much soul searching, no doubt) to abandon the DO Cava and make instead Spanish Sparkling wine which cannot be called Cava, as he does not adhere to the rules. Well, it’s a story already told in Cork Talk, and too long to repeat – but no matter, like a rose smelling as sweet, the fizz from Raventos i Blanc is excellent quality, and none more so than the wax sealed, paper bag enclosed, De La Finca!
Put simply, this wine is superb! It is not intending to be compared to a fine Champagne, but one cannot help the comparison. Nor does it want to compete with France’s illustrious sparkler, but nevertheless the taster will automatically consider which he/she thinks the better! It’s that good!
The three traditional varieties: Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Parellada are all employed with the added crucial element of 36 months ‘en rima’ (remaining in bottle after the second fermentation with its lees) from which it draws extra depth of flavour, increased complexity, weight and elegance.
You’ll find some blanched almond notes to go along with the brioche (told you there were Champagne comparisons to be made!), a white flower fragrance, a slight, bone-dry stewed apple note which accompanies the freshly sliced apple acidity and perhaps a faint reference to white stoned fruit. The length is enduring and although the wine has that raison d’etre celebratory freshness it also has sufficient depth to accompany a range of foods, including white meats!
I’ve written before of the amazing mineral qualities of all of the wines from the DO Costers del Segre bodega, Castello d’Encus. Whilst there is an ongoing debate in the wine world re the actual nature of ‘minerality’ in wines, it’s hardly surprising that this bodega’s wines always merit the description. At least part of all their wines are fermented in huge 12th Century Stone Vats hewn by medieval Monks out of massive boulders in the hills that climb to eventually become the Pyrenees!
Check out the website (below, with the others related to this article) to see the astonishing photographs of this fascinating fermentation!
Taleia, a Bordeaux-esque blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, has this flinty, stony and earthy characteristic to go along with a glorious, pure fruit expression of the grapes used in its crafting. Sauvignon, the enduring darling variety of UK consumers has super acidity behind its gooseberry, lemon, asparagus fruit, which, of course, makes for a lovely fresh dry white wine. Plus there’s a roundness and depth provided by the Semillon in the blend.
It’s this variety that brings with it some floral notes – I wasn’t the only one who found a faint reference to daffodils, though I agree that this might also have found its way into our thought patterns because of the wine’s colour. Taleia is a pale gold colour. You may also find some yellow peach and apricot on the palate. Super wine!
If researching wines made from Albariño in DO Rías Baixas you are certain to come across the bodega Pazo de Señorans – I can guarantee it! Why? Well, there is no doubt that this bodega and small but wonderful range of Albariño based wines is exemplary of all that’s good in this Denominación de Origen.
View the webpage, and you’ll see all the awards their wines have garnered. Consult the wine guides and see the points given to the range – always top marks; always glowing comments!
We were lucky enough to taste their flagship wine Pazo de Señorans Selección de Añada 2007 (Guía Proensa 96 points out of 100!). Yes, that’s the 2007 vintage, which readers may think gives a lie to my claim that most Spanish white wine should be drunk young! However, note the ‘most’ – there are exceptions.
White wines that have dallied with oak at some time, will last longer, for example. Selección de Añada, has not however! No, the method used for this wine is another, though expensive (because of the amount of time involved where the wine has to be kept, costing, but not yet bringing in any revenue) way of ensuring extra longevity.
The wine is fermented in stainless steel, but then kept for 30 months in a temperature controlled tank with its lees (the dead yeast particles) in situ. At regular intervals the wine has been stirred (not shaken – sorry, I’ve recently watched an old Bond film!) so that, rather than having the sediment drop nicely to the bottom of the tank making the wine above it, clear, the wine is repeatedly made cloudy!
We wouldn’t want such wine in our glass, but of course by the time that this wine is bottled it has been allowed to clarify naturally. Then when finally poured into our glasses (in this case 8 years later!) it is of course perfectly clear and bright. This regular stirring is deliberate of course – it enables the wine to be kept for a long time whilst it develops, plus it also brings with it a certain flavour and textual nuance.
Whilst enjoying the white peach and flower (magnolia for me, perhaps jasmine too?) aromas you may also note a creamy feel and flavour, a characteristic brought about by the above method. Plus, the wine retains the fresh, clean essence of fine dry white wine, making it seem to be a far younger wine than it is – it has to be considered a modern day classic! Please, try this wine!
Next week the reds from La Gran Cata Chez Nous!
NB – due to a cancellation I have two places left for our fantastic 5-day trip to La Rioja, 26th – 30th October! Please contact me now, for more details! 629 388 159, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org