15-04-2015

In Small Packages

From my latest column on Barcelona Metropolitan (also here)

As it is said it Catalan, Al pot petit hi ha la bona confitura which roughly translated to English means, “big things come in small packages”. I bring this up as every waking moment of my last two months has been consumed with the wines of DOQ Priorat as I prepare the second edition for the Vinologue series. Priorat is a small region with even smaller cellars in it. In fact there are single cellars in Penedès that produce more than the entire region of Priorat.

But nestled amongst the slate and 13th century villages are these small cellars producing their small quantities of wines. Of course when producing so little of something, it’s very easy to ensure that the quality of each item is the highest possible and so we find these hidden little gems tucked away.

Escoda Pallejà – Palet Most de Flor 2013
The owner of this cellar, Pere Escoda is responsible for a good 90% of the authentic village-ness of Torroja del Priorat. Get him started and he’ll tell you all manner of history about wine and local politics but he can also make a hell of a wine in his 3,000 bottle a year cellar and this new, rustic, more “ancestral” wine is worth a taste.

Strong notes of orange peel, lilies, earthy slate, figs, wild bramble, clove, cumin and dark fruits in the nose. The body is big and rustic with hearty tannins.

Grenache, Carignan 15% 18€
**

Solà d’Ares – Bessons 2012
Antoni Sánchez-Ortiz and David Barriche are two seasoned enologs that have worked at various cellars in Catalonia as well as around the world (Antoni is in New Zealand working the harvest) and together they create this line of wines and have another under DO Montsant. But Bessons has gotten to be one of my favorite although at around 1,200 bottles made each year, it’s definitely tricky, albeit worthy to get your hands on.

Dark fruits with notes of plums, figs, lactic, and smooth. Good acidity in the mouth, relatively fresh with good aging notes and a persistent finish.

100% Grenache 15% 18€
**

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

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

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
93+ 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