Tasting Cat Negre 2012

A couple of months ago I wrote that 10 Sentits had released a new wine called, Cat Negre. A blend of selections from 10 Grenache vineyards from the 10 denominations of origin in Catalonia (minus Cava which is technically Spanish and DO Catalunya which is akin to Vin de France) they tried something rather wild in putting all 10 Grenaches in to the blend with equal parts that had all been fermented in their own barrels. It may seem elementary but probably 50% of the “awesome” in that bottle you’re drinking is due to the enolog knowing how to blend well and the more disparate the regions and soils, the harder it is.

Due to a long list of reasons that mainly revolve around tasting all of the DOQ Priorat wines for the forthcoming 2nd edition of that book I never got around to tasting this wine although I was no end of curious to do so. It just so happened that Victor at La Vinícola (a very wonderful new wine shop in Barcelona’s Eixample district that focuses on Catalan wines, including those of old, Catalunya Nord aka Roussillon) was hosted a tasting of it with one of the “sentits” who gave a compact narrative of the whole project to date with their various experiments.

This Cat Negre is probably one of the most curious as they’ve generally focused on single grapes like Sumoll and while this is a indeed single grape, the diversity of the soils (from limestone to slate to granite to clay and more) tosses a big fat monkey wrench in to the mix. When it came time to taste it, I was pleasantly surprised though as the wine does indeed work. Many comments I’ve seen about it are calling it the “truest expression of Grenache!” and I find that to be a bit overzealous as I would probably prefer a wine made from a single vineyard or region. That said, they managed to stop two sins from happening.

The first would be to bash all the various aspects of the different soil types in to one cohesive wine. You see this in regions with their lower end wines coming from different vineyards and they do whatever they can, whether ugly or natural to make the character of the wine be singular as they can. The other thing that the Sentits managed to avoid was having “Grenache vomit” wherein they would just toss everything together, hope for the best, and get the worst. Amazingly I can still taste the various soils in this wine which is no mean feat given how prominently Grenache loves to flash its mineral bits to the crowd. I’m kind of at a loss as to how to explain it other than to say, it works, it’s enjoyable to drink, and it was a very solid experiment made by 10 Sentits.

Cat Negre 2012
Typical red fruit notes to start with red cherry that eventually gives way to a bit of prune and dried fig. Also quite herbal and mineral with pretty much any manner of soil type able to be found in the aromas. The body is full and even but stops short of obliterating the palate and shows good roundness from the aging regimen. Generally clean finish with light, lingering fruit notes.

100% Grenache 15% 15€