Best Catalan wine of 2018
“So, what’s the best wine in _____?”
This question in slightly varying forms is one I’m asked often. I have to admit that while I appreciate people thinking my opinion worth something, I cringe a bit when asked given that wine is a beverage fluid both in physicality as well as concept–“best” has many facets. Do you want the best wine to invest in, the best with a steak, the best for an anniversary, the best for a budget, or simply, the best to get drunk on?
Despite my reticence on the subject, this has been a busy year of tasting (as well as scoring) a great wealth of all the DOs in Catalunya and assembling full regional tastings for DOQ Priorat & DO Montsant as well as DO Terra Alta–which is the only comprehensive tasting of the region that I’m aware of. So taken in this context I’m going to take a great leap into a bottomless void and make a recommendation for “The Best Catalan Wine of 2018” to which I say is: Edetària – Selecció Blanc 2016.
What’s my basis for this call? Is it because it’s the wine I gave the highest score to? No, those would be some in DOQ Priorat including: Clos Erasmus 2015 at 97+98, Mas Alta – La Basseta 2015 at 96, and Mas Martinet – Camí Pesseroles 2016 at 94+96. Or then in DO Montsant with Venus la Universal – Venus 2014 at 93+95 or Celler Acùstic 2015 at 93+95.
But those are regions that are red dominant with whites a small drop of 5-6%. In DO Terra Alta, it’s the whites that are the majority of production at 52%, but this Selecció Blanc isn’t even the highest point getter among the whites there, which went to Altavins – Selecció Blanc 2015 at 94 points. These are all fine wines in their own right but as to why they didn’t get chosen as “the best” comes back around to the series of questions about the “concept” of a “best” wine.
The Edetària – Selecció Blanc is about 20€ in the shop whereas a wine like Daphne’s truly beautiful Clos Erasmus is about 160€ and that’s a pretty big jump for most wallets. Another key consideration is that often the most highly-scored wines by wine critics are from single vineyards. There’s nothing wrong in this as it’s usually what leads to the most “pure” expression of a wine. And this is also is why I’m so impressed with this wine given that, as far as I’m aware, it’s from several old-vine vineyards of White Grenache. This being the case, it shows amazing elegance as it maintains a lovely, linear character that’s thanks to skilled winemaking.
Then there’s the aspect of it being “regionally indicative” and this wine demonstrates perfectly what amazing quality is indeed possible from Terra Alta for those who aren’t aware of it yet. Then lastly is the White Grenache grape of which Terra Alta holds 33% of all the vineyards in the world thus making it something of a signature grape and style of the region. So in many ways, this wine is a vanguard in terms of tipicity.
I don’t bestow this lightly and can’t emphasize enough that if you get the chance, check out what Edetària as well as all the other wineries of DO Terra Alta are doing these days.
Edetària – Selecció Blanc 2016
Yellow peach, light lemon citrus peel, delicate floral notes, streaks of vanilla and yellow wildflowers. Very layered and subtle on the palate, vibrant, fine acidity that pushes a lengthy finish with well-defined citrus and orchard fruit notes.
100% White Grenache 14% 20€
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
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
Terroir Sense Fronteres - Guix Vermell 2017
Crisp red cherry fruit, touch of spice, flecks of pepper, baking spice, compacted, wet earth. Delicate on the palate, stays fresh, surprising high wealth of tannins, long finish.
100% Grenache · 13% · 250EUR
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