First Published Costa News Group, July 2012, Parés Baltà Red Wines



Readers may remember a lengthy article about the cavas and white wines of the DO Penedès based winery Bodegas Parés Baltà. This family owned bodega whose original vineyards were planted as far back as 1790 has of course established a fine name for itself regarding its cava production. Indeed I’ve been njoying Parés Baltà cavas, which manage to successfully blend tradition with modern methods, since my arrival in Spain fifteen years ago.

I confess, though, that I knew little about their still wine production. Well the erudite and elegant Anna, Nottingham born and Liverpool Uni educated, who had not only mastered Castellano but also Catalan, guided me through (in good Northern English!) the white wine portfolio on a memorable day in March during Barcelona’s biennial Alimentaria wine fair.

But that wasn’t all. A few weeks later I received a raft of red wines which I have recently tasted and I have to say the prognosis is good, very good, for this leading Penedès bodega. Typically the red wines manage to combine elegance with depth of flavour and invariably have an abundance of fruit along with pleasing minerality, which is of course part testament to their uncompromising organic approach.

Indeed this forward thinking and very responsibly minded bodega is at this very moment testing some biodynamic practises which will bear fruit perhaps in the coming year. Watch this space!

Indigena 2010 Garnacha (though spelt Garnatxa in Catalan on the label) weighs in at 14%, but it is surprisingly light on the palate with crisp early ripened plum notes with some cherry too. It comes in what used to be called a Burgundy bottle, downwards more bulbous from a sloping neck than the straight up and down Bordeaux style bottle. This style lends an air of seriousness to the rather trendy purple foil and lettering on the labels, fore and aft. A wine, I think, designed like the label, for the younger consumer who doesn’t want to be short-changed on flavour and quality but does require an element of cool.

The wine delivers on both fronts – on the palate it’s fresh with good fruit notes, a closed nose initially but one that develops and opens out in the glass. Its high alcohol content would allow it to age and it’s noticeable acidity and tannin levels will aid and abet, but that’s not really the point of this wine. It’s vivacious and ready to drink now and for another couple of years.

Mas Elena 2009 has a similarly trendy label though this time the very small orange/red lettering doesn’t really work as it’s really too busy and therefore very difficult to read. However don’t be put off the wine. Made with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon it’s a fine example of how Parés Baltà likes also to use ‘foreign’ grape varieties – to great effect.

These French, in fact very Bordeaux, varieties have adapted excellently to Penedés soils and Spanish sunshine. Mas Elena demonstrates how minerality is a feature of wines from this bodega, all of whose wines are Organic.

Mas Petit 2009 is made with Garnacha and Cabernet and at 13·5% it’s a relatively lightweight wine, the other reds all scoring 14+%, however on the palate the slight difference is hardly noticeable. It has lovely bold blackcurrant and plum notes and is rich in flavour, and aroma, after it has spent as few minutes in the glass.

The minimalist front label of Hisenda Miret 2008 Garnacha is in contrast to the intense aromas and flavours of this full bodied (14·5%) floral and wild dark fruit scented wine. A wine for enjoying long after you have swallowed. It has well integrated oak in a fruit driven style.

Mas Irene 2006 is made with Cabernet Franc and Merlot and has been aged in French oak. It’s from a limited production which will mean that is difficult to obtain, though you really should try! It’s a very rich wine and yet subtle too, despite its 14·5% alcohol. After five years in bottle resting in the perfect atmosphere of the Parés Baltà cellars is took a little time to open out on the nose, though the intensity of flavour was there straight away.

Bottle number 1,634 of Marta Baltà 2006 was one of only 3,856 bottles produced of this wine for that vintage. Limited production, or what! Like the Mas Irene above it is a wine that is not produced every year and comes from individual vineyards whose micro-climates give the wines an enviable singularity including an abundance of fruit combined with mineral notes from its soils and subtle use of French oak.

Marta Baltà is made with 100% Syrah and really is an exemplary wine from Spanish Syrah, where these French in origin grapes have the chance to ripen fully under Spanish sunshine. There are spicy, peppery notes along with some blackberry fruit and a touch of black olive on the nose combining floral notes too.

Finally Absis 2005 sees the first appearance of Tempranillo in the blend with Syrah again, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a wonderfully dark coloured wine, sultry in the glass, with aromas of black cherries and blackcurrant jam (with a whiff of same but with a tiny splash of whisky or brandy in it too!). Again it has the customary minerality and a great length ensuring double the pleasure from this, another limited production wine. Complexity, richness, depth and elegance in equal measure!

Contact Colin: and through his unique wine services website:

First Published Costa News Group April 2012



Although the original vineyards were first planted in 1790 it wasn’t really until the Cusiné family bought the site, now known as Bodegas Parés Baltá, that the winery moved up a gear heading, ultimately, for the fast lane of quality Penedés wine producion.

Indeed each incoming generation of this still family owned bodega changed gear, including the current incumbents, founder Joan Cusiné Hill’s grandchildren, Joan and Josep Cusiné Carol, who have bought new and fresh ideas to the business, whilst simultaneously respecting family tradition.

Actually Joan and Josep have brought more than just business acumen and innovation to the winery – they’ve each brought along their wives, who are probably the only sister-in-law wine making team in Spain and maybe beyond! So the future looks good – but what of the wines?

Well I was given a no-holds-barred tasting by their representative, Nottingham born and Liverpool Uni educated, UK Export Manager, Anna Booth, whose infinite charm, I hoped, would be matched by the cavas and white wines that I was about to sample. I only had time for the whites, but I’m relishing the reds which should soon arrive!

Selectio S brut Cava has had 30 months in bottle before its release onto the market. This makes it, by my reckoning a Reserva + style – i.e. its ageing is longer than for a regular Reserva but not quite as long as a Gran Reserva. However such distinctions don’t really matter to the the winemakers whose priority is simply to release when the time is right and not according to a calendar.

Made with 100% organic grapes (the family have always farmed organically, gaining the official certificate in 2004), the blend is of all three traditonal varieties Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo plus some Chardonnay. At about 12€ only, this wine, from the company’s Classical Range, wines that are made to enjoy and drink now, was an excellent start! It has understated creamy patisserie notes on the nose but on the palate there is good depth of flavour with a fine mousse.

Perhaps the flagship of the bodega is the Micro-cuvée range, wines and cavas made from low yielding old vines grown in vineyards that boast beneficial micro-climates and terroirs. Their Micro-cuvée wines and cavas simultaneously convey full flavours and elegance, perhaps in no small way due to the feminine influence of the winemakers!

From this range comes Blanca Cusiné 2008 Cava whose Champagne-esque blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the Pinot having been fermented in 400 litre French Oak barrels) is expressive on the nose, a touch toasty, and deeply flavoured on the palate with a long finish. It’s had 35 months in bottle following it’s second fermentation and as such is a similar style to a cava Gran Reserva.

The Rosa Cusiné 2008, named after the Great-grandmother, is a new release. A peach-melba coloured rosado cava made from 100% Garnacha whose taste and perfume is as good as it looks, sitting so elegantly in a flute tempting the onlooker!

Blanc de Pacs (named after Pacs, the village where the winery is situated) is a dry white still wine with a cool label! Cava’s Parellada, Xarel.lo and Macabeo are used for this super, quite aromatic aperitif wine which is fresh with an attractive medium length. At only about 5€ per bottle it’s a wine to always have in the fridge, just for when you need a refreshing drink!

On the highest slopes of their property, in fact the highest in Penedés, stands the Gewurztraminer vineyard, from whence their elegant, perhaps a touch understated 100% Gewurz comes. A food wine this, one for Indonesian and Chinese cusine (see PS below)! For me the Indigena which is made from 60 year old Garnacha Blanca vines, without any oak, but having had time on its lees with regular stirring, is still developing its creaminess and will be best kept a few months before trying again.

Finally (for now) I tried Electio the Xarel.lo wine fermented in steel but with about five months of French Oak (400 litre barrels) which was a super wine with baked green apples and cream on the nose and an elegant mid-length finish.

PS After a successful first in our series of Ethnic Cuisine and Spanish Wine pairings this week, now is your cahnce to be involved with the next! We are at Restaurante Bajul, Indonesian Cuisine, on Wednesday 16th May, where Chef/Patron Frans is preparing an excellent selection from his menu and I’ll be matching them with some super wines, a different wine for each dish! The cost is only 18€! Please call me to reserve – 629 388 159

Contact Colin: and through his unique wine service website,