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!

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