09-01-2011

The Baix of Empordà

Mas Oller is one of the new wineries to spring up in the DO Empordà region. It’s rather ironic that there are all these new wineries given that wine has been grown in the region for the last 2,600 years, first brought in by those saintly Greeks. We weren’t aware of it when we went for a tasting, but apparently this year was the very first release. They planted the 12 hectares of vines on this old estate back in 2000 and this was when they felt the fruit had enough flavor to properly produce the wines, which says something as you get decent production after five years and they could have started a good deal earlier.

Located near the small town of Torrent, the vicinity where Mas Oller is located has not been historically known for producing wines as Baix Empordà in general was a great deal more fertile than Alt Empordà. So the land was used primarily for farming other crops such as wheat, corn, and other general vegetables. In fact the owner of the estate, Carlos Esteva was actually making wine over in the much more well-known region of Penedès before starting up the Mas Oller winery.

We found the wines favorable overall and we tasted a great variety, starting with those that are bottled now in the first year of release and then moving to the tanks to taste what is yet to come. First on the list was the 2008 Blau (‘blue’ in English.) It’s a mix of Syrah and Garnatxa. Obviously this leads to a wine deep in color. It’s initially soft on the palate but gets a bit more bold with air and remains quite fruit forward all along. I would probably best equate it to being like a $25-30 Zinfandel from Napa, although this wine is 8€. Next was the 2008 Pur. It’s a blend of Cabernet, Syrah, and Garnatxa that spends two months in French oak. The bouquet is quite plush in the mouth initially and the wine is rather bold overall.

This was an interesting first tasting of this winery’s first year of releases. We’re curious to see which direction they head with the next if it will be moving towards more of this schmancy stuff that seems to be what a lot of Spain is producing these days and targeting towards the export market. As long as they don’t mess with the Mas Oller, we’ll be a happy camper/customer.

Typical Catalan meal.

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

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

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