A 20th century tasting of Vinya Selva de Mar
Wine shops are funny in Catalonia and Spain. In the wine world at large, vintages are quite important as (at least prior to the Michel Rolland, laboratory wine state of things) there would be good vintages and bag. For instance, no one in their right mind should touch the 2011 vintage from Napa or Sonoma Valley where they had to harvest too early due to rain. While the final wines will probably be “okay” due to the aforementioned laboratory dickery mixed with entire forests of oak dumped on those poor grapes, they’ll definitely be less than optimal.
Such things are unimportant it seems to the Catalan wine merchant where you’ll see multiple vintages being sold at the same price at the same time despite the fact that they are generally of varying levels of quality from one another. For the wary customer, this can work out quite well. It can also work out that for some reason you find random vintages that had been tucked away or forgotten about. Because they’re “old”, they’re then seen as less than valuable and so those inadvertently aged wines will actually be less than the new vintage.
This was the case with a pile of 2000 Vinya Selva de Mar from Mas Estela we bumped in to at Wine Palace. Yeah, okay, it’s really only 20th century if you abide by the mathematics rule that the 21st century didn’t start until 2001, but still, we were most curious to try some of these 12 year-old wines from this coastal winery with its terraced vineyards. We were curious if they were cooked or otherwise off, but beyond rapidly failing corks, the wines are overall quite spectacular and if re-corked could age another 3-5 years possibly.
Vinya Selva de Mar Negre 2000 is a blend of the almighty, foundational Empordà grapes of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignan. All are picked from the top of their terraces and are thus the strongest of their selection. It shows with the massive blast of potent heat the wine still carries upon opening. Given 30 minutes of decanting, this thankfully blows off and the grapes come out more and are super deep and luscious. Allowing an hour or more to pass (if you can) will bring out plush nut aromas and flavors which are really the unique point of this wine. Decanting much more than two hours will see the flavor profile of the wine start to decline rapidly which might have more to do with the cork than the wine. 15%
We talk a whole lot more about Mas Estela and the other wineries of Cap de Creus in our Empordà enotourism guide
Álvaro Palacios - L’Ermita 2016
Very light red cherry, raspberry, tea leaves, dried fennel, light touch of anise, bay leaf, dried flowers, touch of fig compote, truffle. Exceptionally light and delicate on the palate, very very fine red fruits, integrated tannins, plush with a slightly buttery, velvety aspect, very long finish.
85% Grenache 14% Carignan 1% "Others" · 15% · 1160EUR
Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014
First harvest of Khikhvi. Light apricot notes, peach skin, lemon peel. Citric in the mouth, fresh, lively acidity, vibrant. Very holistic, full and deliciously good.
100% Khikhvi · 12% · 30GEL
Álvaro Palacios - Les Aubaguetes 2016
Linear plum and dark cherry notes, powdery cocoa, orange peel and blossom, raspberry at the base along with minor vanilla and dark spice touches. Delicate on the palate, light touches of dark fruit, good wealth of tannins yet held in check, medium plus acidity, very long finish. Needs much more time in the bottle.
77% Grenache 21% Carignan 1% Grenache Blanc 1% Macabeu · 14.5% · 455EUR
Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015
Bruised red apple, touch of lemon peel, limestone minerality, and some white pepper notes at the back of it. High acidity and full in the mouth. Luscious, involving, elegant wine.
100% Khikhvi · 14% · 25GEL
Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014
Apricot, yellow peach, orange peel, and a touch of honey. Quite complex aromatically. Orchard fruit much more prevalent in the mouth with young apricot notes. Rich and elegant, touch of astringency in the finish.
100% Khikhvi · 13.1% · 28GEL
Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
Aquila del Torre - Primaluce 2015
Bruised yellow apple, bit of fig compote, chalky mineral notes, and hazelnut. Light oxidized touches that work to embellish the wine. Rich palate that carries lovely texture with the age of the wine.
100% Sauvignon Blanc · 13.5%
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016
Lemon and white peach, strong kick of salinity, and toasted notes. Very fleshy and full on the palate, peach notes more prominent as well as Meyer lemon, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.
100% Grenache Gris · 14.5% · 20EUR
AA Badenhorst - Secateurs Red Blend 2012
Forest bramble with ripe red fruit, touches of cherry, ripe red plum, tiny bit of prune, cumin, anise, black licorice, wet cement mineral note, underlying fig jam. Crisp medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus length, medium alcohol, overall medium plus body that’s ripe and lively but super fresh and balanced at the same time. Bit of rugged wildness to it but doesn’t get out of hand. Easy to drink but with just enough underlying complexity so that it stays interesting.
56% Syrah 27% Cinsaut 6% Grenache 4% Cabernet Sauvignon 7% "Others" · 13.5% · 12EUR
Domaine Treloar - Motus 2015
Dark ruby, minor rim. Big, mighty bouquet of red cherry and other brambly forest fruit, vanilla, almond blossom, orange peel, and cocoa. Rich and full on the palate with a wealth of tannins still integrating, leading into a crunchy, lingering finish.
80% Mourvèdre 10% Syrah 10% Grenache · 14% · 14EUR