09-05-2016 ~ 1 Comment

DO Conca de Barberà is not the grape, Barbera

With today’s regional focus being on the Catalan wine region, DO Conca de Barberà, it’s probably a good moment to chat about something that’s very easy to confuse in that this wine region has absolutely nothing to do with the Italian wine variety of nearly the same name, Barbera.

It would be an exceptionally easy mistake to make, especially if in the United States where the emphasis is on the variety first and the region second when it comes to labeling. Say you roll in to your local wine shop and, if they have a sense of adventure, you find Conca de Barberà on the front label. When you get home, you will then immediately find that the accent on the ‘à’ makes a great deal of difference as the wines from this region and those from Piedmont where the Barbera grape is prolific in DOCG Nizza and DOCG Barbera d’Asti are exceedingly different from one another.

For starters, the red grapes of Conca de Barberà are typically blends with a base that’s usually Grenache, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is going to be a great deal different from the lighter, fruitier, and more acidic Barbera that one would find in Italy. But, it’s going to be a real shock if you end up with a bottle of Trepat. This is a grape considered native to Conca de Barberà and they’ve made great strides in taming its bold characteristics to a point where it’s a unique, engaging wine. It is not however going to be that Italian Barbera that you were expecting.

The good news is that if you do find yourself having made this mistake, you needn’t fear as the Conca de Barberà wines have risen a mightily in quality and complexity in recent years. Their interior position in Catalonia is tempered a great deal from Mediterranean breezes and they’ve been finding a unique tipicity to call their own, especially a good batch of young winemakers joined in on an “cellar incubator” that started in the last few years.

So while confusing you can rest assured that this is not an instance of asking for a beer at a bar and them telling you that they only have Tequila and that “it’s like beer“.

WINES

Ancestral Wine Cellar - Khikhvi 2014 95
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

Petriaant Marani - Khikhvi 2015 94
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

Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Blanc 2016 93
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 93
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 93
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

Domaine of the Bee - Cuvée 2015 93
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

Tchotiashvili - Khikhvi 2014 93
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 Fontanel - Prieuré 2014 92
Dense ruby with brick flecks. Crisp red fruits, lifted by a waft of volatility making for a light nose with a spicy licorice and leather component. Crisp and lively with red cherry fruit in the mouth and a nudge over medium acidity. Nice, lingering finish.
50% Syrah 25% Grenache 25% Mourvèdre · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Cave Abbé Rous - Cornet & Cie Blanc 2016 92
Peach, orange peel & blossom, honey, dried apricot, and a hint of green apple. Very nicely balance in the mouth, green apple notes more prevalent, medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish. Fresh, lively, very pleasing wine to drink.
60% Grenache Gris 25% Grenache Blanc 5% Marsanne 5% Roussanne 5% Vermentino · 14.5%
92 2 Stars

Clos Henri - Petit Clos Pinot Noir 2016 92
Earthy, red cherries, young, crisp cranberry, light herbal notes, leafy, minor chalk. Medium tannins and medium plus acidity as well as length. Light sweetness on the palate but with a very pleasant, lingering structure and lightness to it.
100% Pinot Noir · 13.5% · 16.50EUR
92 2 Stars