15-03-2012

Climbing the terraces of Hugas de Batlle

Without a doubt, it had to be the dumbest time in recent history to be traipsing about the mountains of upper Empordà. While the Tramuntana is a wind that blows all year long, it was blowing incredibly fiercely when we were visiting Hugas de Batlle in February. How fierce? Try 175kph. It was ripping ancient olive trees out of the ground that had been standing for centuries and causing havoc all around the region.

And there I was, trying to take photos of these ancient vineyard terraces while trying not to get tossed down the mountain, landing as a macerated heap in the town Colera below. So, who in their right might would be up on these terraces for the last 12 years working to not only restore them, but make wine from them? Eduard (Edu) Hugas de Batlle.

Edu is great guy and insanely dedicated to 16 hectares of vineyards which all seem to be diagonal hectares. He claims that he sees more of his tractor than his wife and I’d believe it. This is hard work up on those terraces and a good deal of the reason that they were deserted a few decades ago as tourism was a much easier way to make a living.

Prior to 2005, he was just selling the grapes to a large winery in the area, but at that point, he started making his own wine from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnache, Merlot, Carignan, Syrah, White Grenache, and Moscat that he’s growing.

We reviewed his 2008 Coma Fredosa (the name of the mountain where the grapes grow) but we were also offered the chance to tastes his new 2009 vintage as well as a new wine they’re making called Falguera. Overall, the wines are quite excellent. While the oak from the aging is prevalent, the wines themselves have depth and you can really taste these very unique grapes that barely scratch out their existence on the sides of the mountains. Definitely worth trying if you’re in the area or on the off chance you encounter them imported to the United States.

Learn more about the wines, wineries, and history of Empordà in our Empordà, Catalonia enotourism guide

WINES

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
97+ 3 Stars

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
95 3 Stars

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
95+ 3 Stars

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
94 3 Stars

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
93+ 3 Stars

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015
Ruby with minor garnet rim. Rich red fruits with an underpinning of ripe plum, orange peel, licorice, cocoa. Broad, round tannins with a touch of toast and sweet cocoa in a long finish. Manages to stay very light on the palate despite the higher alcohol.
50% Grenache 50% Carignan · 15% · 25EUR
93 2 Stars

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%
93 2 Stars

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
93 2 Stars

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
93 2 Stars

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
93 2 Stars