When it comes to wine regions in Catalonia, DO Costers del Segre doesn’t get a lot of love. Spread out over various chunks in the most remote province of the region (and the only one without a coastline) it is often ignored. This sounded like a good reason to visit some cellars in the region and so last summer, I found myself at Comalats.
The village of Ametlla de Segarra which Comalats calls home is one of those lovely locations in Catalonia that most won’t see, but probably should. Set on a plateau that overlooks the Riu Corb it is surrounded by tumbling terraces that are mostly full of wheat that was being combed by the thrashers as I looked out across the region on that blustering day.
With less than 30 full time residents, the village itself is cute, full of randomly tossed about stone homes that are in surprisingly good repair including a casa rural, but it’s the 16th century tower in the middle that is the most striking feature. While a stroll up to the top only takes you up about 13m, it’s just enough to offer a view out over the region and a nice fresh breeze. This was the first stop on a tour with, Eva Bonet who heads up sales and visits for her family cellar.
It obviously gives the best understanding of the region and allows her to talk about how her father, Jaume planted vineyards back in 1989. While the family had had a long tradition of making wine for their own consumption (like most families in Catalonia) there was a large winery nearby that was starting to look for grapes to buy in the region and specifically “popular” French varieties which is why Jaume planted 12ha of Cabernet Sauvignon.
This large cellar changed their plans and thus the family found themselves with a rather large supply of Cab grapes and decided to start vinifiying and bottling their own wines. In Catalan “coma” roughly translates as a small plot of land in a vale and since their vineyards are spread over several of these, they chose the plural diminutive of the word, “comalats” for the name of their cellar and have been producing 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines ever since.
While I’m an ardent proponent of planting local grape varieties whenever possible, they are able to produce quite capable wines from their vineyards. I don’t know if it’s the fully organic farming, clay and limestone soils, the relatively high elevation of 715m, or Eva’s brother, Eloi doing the enology, but the result is leagues better than other Cabernet plantings that I’ve seen even in such exalted regions such as Priorat.
For anyone looking to get way, way out of Barcelona, it’s a recommendable and tranquil trip as the equally pleasant villages around the region have created the Vall del Corb association to promote the cellars, sites, and restaurants of the region.
Vibrant and fresh. Large fruit in the style of Catalonia. Young, spicy in the nose. Builds upon aromas quite well in the body. Good deal of acidity and some minor pepper notes in the finish.
100% Cabernet Sauvingon 13% 8€
Nice minerality in the nose that showcases the soil with touches of the limestone soil and white pepper notes. Very full in the mouth. Spicy acidity that leads in to a dry finish.
100% Cabernet Sauvingon 14.5% 10.50€
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