Carignan abounds, Tomas Cusiné – Finca Barqueres 2016

Sometime back, a group of enologists in Catalunya called, “10 Sentits” (10 senses) made a Grenache-based wine called “Cat Negre” that was culled from all 10 DOs of Catalunya (they nixed DO Cava as it’s essentially the same as DO Penedès and DO Catalunya as it’s the whole territory) which was surprising as it showed that the Grenache grape exists pretty much everywhere.

Much as was my perception with Grenache, I was under the impression that Carignan existed only in a few places, namely the DOs of Empordà, Priorat, and Montsant. I was re-educated a bit when I found out last year that while there isn’t much, there are a few vineyards in DO Terra Alta with some old vines as well. And now, the re-education continues as it appears some old vineyards exist up in Costers del Segre as well which is where this “Finca Barqueres” from Tomas Cusiné is found.

It’s being billed as the “first varietal Carignan wine from DO Costers del Segre” and I’d believe it as, unlike Grenache which seems to grow almost everywhere across the top third of Iberia, Carignan is a bit more selective. I’ve really not encountered it in this DO which sits fully in the Lleida Province–Catalunya’s only province fully situated in the interior.

I’m not sure as to the exact location of the vineyard but it’s near the village of El Vilosell which is actually the tiniest of scratches to the north of Priorat County. This should be unsurprising as Carignan is the #2 grape in both DOQ Priorat and DO Montsant and is making something of a comeback, or at least I firmly believe. So to find it in part of a neighboring DO so close by doesn’t actually come as much of a surprise in the end.

The vineyard is situated at 700m in altitude and you don’t hear too much about high-altitude Carignan for the reason that unlike many grapes, it does like a bit of heat and while altitude can make for a more floral expression of say, Grenache, it can mute Carignan a bit. This is what I’m finding in this wine as it’s a good, pleasing wine, but there’s just some slight lack of my favorite phrase of “moreish” to put it over the top. This may just be the vintage of 2016 which was a bit cooler in some spots or it may be how this wine just generally turns out. What I’d like to eventually see is how this particular wine evolves in the next 1-2 years and also how the 2017 vintage is as that was a great deal hotter. But for now, more Carignan to the party is always a good thing.

Finca Barqueres 2016
Soft red cherry, strawberry preserves, light sandalwood, clay and flint mineral notes, powdery violet and cocoa, red licorice. Medium tannins, medium plus acidity, balanced alcohol, very sweet red fruit on the palate, quite buoyant but sweet in terms of style and marked by the barrel, medium plus finish, minor lingering astringency.
100% Carignan 14% 23€
* 89+