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


2 responses to “A 20th century tasting of Vinya Selva de Mar”

  1. Empordà wines are a bit difficult to come by in the States, but from time-to-time we have wines from Espelt, Mas Estela, and Castillo Perelada. Until my next visit I will enjoy reading your Vinologue: Empordà. Cheers.

  2. miquel says:

    It appears you’re mostly based in Oregon where yes, it’s even more difficult to get a hold of wines from outside the US. But yes, I’ve seen many of the wines you mention in the US from time to time. Perelada is pretty much a standard offer as they produce millions of bottles that need to go somewhere. Espelt is funny as one wine, the Old Vines Garnacha is only available outside of Spain and thus we can’t taste it here.

    One to look out for is La Vinyeta whose distribution in the US gets stronger all the time and the Heus wines are rather easy to find (such as at I also have a feeling that Terra Remota and Olivardots will pop up stateside as well given that the American palate and wallet would take well to them.

    If you like bubbly, the Mont Ferrant Cavas are exported and of good quality.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.