DO PLÀ DE BAGES
In wine terms, whenever Cataluña is mentioned we all probably think Cava first. These days, certainly if you’ve been reading Cork Talk over the last few years, we may also think other sparkling wines. However Cataluña certainly isn’t just about Fizz.
At my last count (things change so quickly in such a dynamic wine scene), there were eleven different Denominaciónes de Origen, extra to DO Cava. Spanish wine lovers will probably think straight away of Penedés and Priorat – well done, but that’s still nine more to go.
One of the, not forgotten, as this presumes knowing it beforehand, specific areas of production, DOs, is Plà De Bages and, in common with others, we’d be making a mistake if we ignored it. It’s one of the smallest DOs in Spain, covering about 500 hectares (that’s about 500 rugby pitches!). It’s also one of the newest as it was only officially founded in 1997.
I visited the Plà de Bages stand at the Barcelona Wine Week in February – part of my plan to get around as many of the smaller, less well known areas of production, and I’m very pleased I did. Time is always at a premium at these huge wine events, so I didn’t visit many of the producers, proudly displaying their wares.
Abadal was the bodega that took my eye and I met Ramon Roqueta Segalés, who took me through several wines. http://abadal.net/
The indigenous white wine variety of the area is Picapoll, and Abadal were the first to show their faith in the variety by making a crisp white wine made from 100% Picapoll. The wisdom of their decision can be seen from the fact that other producers are now doing likewise.
It’s had four months on its lees, giving body and a slight creaminess to the wine, to go along with the baked apple and slightly under ripe pineapple skin fruit. Very fresh, wonderful with salads and fish/shellfish, and with an added bonus of a little complexity too.
A very good start – but the second white I tasted, wow what a wine! Abadal Nuat has the simplest of labels, telling a lie to the complexity and sheer delight of the wine inside the bottle! Again Picapoll features highly but there is the addition of Macabeo, another fixture of the Cataluña wine scene. The Picapoll vines have seen 68 summers, therefore produce few bunches per vine, but oh how rich they are!
Eight months on lees make a significant contribution to the depth of flavour and complexity, with a lovely creamy mouthfeel, yet retaining a fresh acidity. Top class winemaking here!
Ok, so the above vines are pretty old, but relative youngsters compared to the 90+ years of the Mandó variety which make the first red wine I tasted, Abadal Mandó! This is a variety which was becoming extinct, saved largely by the Abadal bodega, and now grown in other areas as well. It’s a variety which is slow to ripen and can handle extreme heat well. It is therefore a vine which will be able to take on many of the problems associated with climate change. As such, it’s stock will increase over the coming years!
I noted its light colour, a surprise, given the vines’ great age – and my lack of experience with the variety. Looking in the glass a little like a Pinot Noir, or a Gredos Garnacha. There is a touch of liquorice on the nose, more leafy blackberry than blackcurrant, with mountain herb notes and an extra aroma that I couldn’t put my finger on, until it was suggested to me – that from a wild carob tree. The wine has been aged, 40% in oak and 60% in clay amphora. It really is a lovely red wine, to which I will return!
I also really liked Abadal Matís 2017. Made with Mandó, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot it has a far darker colour than the above. On the nose there is some blackberry fruit mixing very nicely with sage, thyme and a faint rosemary aroma too, as well as eucalyptus and a little trodden undergrowth. The 10 months I French oak have added depth and a very faint vanilla.
Matís has a long finish and it is going to go well with game, steak and meat dishes.
So, friendly readers – I urge you to look into the DOs of Cataluña generally, and particularly to Plà de Bages and, of course the wines of Abadal!
Twitter @colinonwine Facebook Colin Harkness