Sangenís i Vaqué – Lo Bancal de Granatxa 2015
Across the square from my home sits the family winery of Sangenís i Vaqué. It was founded by Pere Sangenís and his wife, Conxita Vaqué, who have run it for years, thus the quite reasonable cellar name. They had four daughters, two of whom studied enology and have been taking over more of the winery duties as time carries on and their parents move in to retirement although the thought of Pere retiring is as impossible to imagine as a rooster piloting a nuclear submarine.
As the story goes, the older of the two sisters, Maria had to create a project wine while studying enology. As her family only makes reds (this is Priorat after all) she decided to do a white and thus, Lo Coster Blanc (the white slope) was born. It’s a lovely wine with a base of White Grenache and while fermented and aged in barrels that give it no end of balanced backbone, it forms a large break from the rest of the family wines.
The Sangenís i Vaqué wines are quite unique in Priorat in that while they can often see lengthy oak regimens (their top-end Clos Monlleó is usually 18 months), they cellar the resulting wines until they’re fully-integrated and ready for the market. Thus, this top-end wine is now only seeing the 2007 as its most recent vintage. It’s a novel and finest of Rioja approach in this day and age of wines being made for early consumption or then sold too early with the idea that you’ll cellar them. Like that ever works–it doesn’t.
So it was at the end of last year that Lo Coster Blanc was joined by a new sibling, Lo Bancal de Granatxa (the plot of Grenache) which takes up both the Western Catalan use of ‘lo’ for the article and ‘granatxa’ as the way people apparently used to spell ‘garnatxa’ in Priorat. I have to admit, this was a new one in terms of spelling, but not that shocking given how far-flung Grenache is. But, much like the white, it is a marked break from what has been the traditional series to date.
All of their reds are blends, although their top wines are solely 50/50, Grenache/Carignan, which is delicious. This wine is 100% Grenache although it’s still from one of their vineyards called, La Cometa. As mentioned before, their wines usually see extended aging. This saw six months in oak and is from 2015, being released just a year later. Then of course there are the smaller items like it and its white counterpart being in Burgundy bottles instead of Bordeaux bottles, the latter of which are needed to allow for easy stacking of wines that will sit for years.
I know the Sangenís i Vaqué wines very well so given this, let’s say, “experiment” as only 1,766 bottles were made, I really didn’t know what to expect. Indeed, it’s very Grenache-centric but it’s interesting to see that it’s quite broad on the palate at this point. It was only after decanting it for an hour that it began to evolve rapidly as it’s easy to see it’s a wine to lay down for more time and let evolve as it has loads of potential waiting to come out. This seems to be a hallmark of these family wines whether made by the parents or the children and it’s something I hope won’t change as the offer a much different take on Priorat.
Lo Bancal de Granatxa 2015
Ruby body with garnet crest. Floral lift to it with quite upfront red cherry and crunchy raspberry notes, touch of sage, and tea leaf. Medium plus acidity, quite big, broad, and fixed in the mouth. Still quite tight. Needs another 8-12 months to fully shake loose and bloom.
100% Grenache 15.5% 18€
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Domaine Augustin - Adéodat Rouge 2015 92
Medium ruby. Fresh red cherry, raspberry, and young strawberry, lifted and breathy, saline tinge along with light stoniness and rosemary and garrigue. Fresh red fruit on the palate, medium acidity but still light on the palate, fresh, and while the alcohol sticks out a little, holds and excellent, long finish.
Grenache Carignan Mourvèdre · 14.5% · 20EUR
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%