A trip down Capmany way to Arché Pagès

I have to admit that I actually visited Capmany last summer, which means that I also visited Celler Arché Pagès last summer as well. Why am I getting around to writing this now, in November? A general touch of sloppiness. So here I am now, with a number of Catalan wine articles to write and am finally getting back around to the lovely trip I had up to this winery.

The family behind Arché Pagès has been making wine for the last four generations with the current winemaker, the son, Bonfill taking over in his mid twenties; lucky bastard. This name is a very old Catalan name which was his grandfather’s and it means, “good son”. Obviously, it’s a bit to live up to.

There is a lot to appreciate about this winery in regards to their praving approach to winemaking. For starters, they found out that old milk pasteurizers were mighty cheap, very large, and worked extremely well as wine tanks for aging. They are in process of replacing all of this, but apparently for starting out, they worked just fine. Then there’s the fact that they actually need to both chill and humidify their cellar. Why both? La Tramuntana, that’s why (that fucker.) It dries out and warms the air among others things, like knocking around your house while trying to sleep, or blowing you off the castle walls when trying to run…

But of the 14 hectares that they grow on and produce 40-45,000 bottles from, there is enough Garnatxa to go around so that every wine has some. We saw a similar approach in Cantallops where there is a strong belief in the power of Garnatxa as it is an awesome wine. Anyways, on to the wines themselves.

The Sàtirs Blanc has a tart, melon nose that is quite refreshing. The fact it gets no oak leaves it a bit dry, although it is generally rather plush. There is a touch of peach and pear to it, but it remains rather bitter at the end. Then there is Sàtirs Negre (or red) which is very light, gentle wine of about 40% Garnatxa, 30% Cabernet, and 30% Carinyena. There are touches of licorice and mint to the nose, but it loses a good deal of this on the finish, while at the same time remaining quite clean. It should noted that since tasting this year at the winery, I’ve tasted the new 2005 release and find it to be a great deal more enjoyable with brighter flavors and more bang for the buck.

The Cartesius starts to get more bold. The nose is stronger with a great deal more oak, but it still retains the fruit and berry elements that you find in the Sàtirs. The body is quite dry, but not in an unpleasant manner. The 50% Garnatxa, 30% Cabernet, and 20% Merlot mix works quite well in balance as well as dusting out a touch of sour cherry on the body as it breathes more. Although, overall, I didn’t care much for this year, but am anxious to see where the new vintage has gone.

The Bonfill is their top of the line wine and is the namesake of the winemaker. It’s 70% Garnatxa and 30% Cabernet, but more importantly, it spends 14 months in new French oak. Apparently they tried American oak with a small batch but didn’t care for it. The nose is deliciously smooth with cinnamon and spice to it. The French oak really comes through on the nose as the vanilla heats up quite quickly. The body is wonderfully smooth and clears out very well. Definitely a tasty wine that I’ve enjoyed since the visit as naturally I bought some of it.

Overall, you can taste the youth of the winemaker and that the wines have some work ahead of them. At the same time, they are indeed quite strong as they are and solid for everyday drinking, especially after I tasted the new Sàtirs Negre.

A trip down Capmany way to Arché Pagès