The ever-mighty Xarel·lo. Recaredo: Turó d’en Mota 2006 & Serral del Vall 2008
Perhaps it’s because t hasn’t popped up on #sommlife or the less-used but seemingly less annoying #awesomm. Or, perhaps it’s just that the punt volat (·) tosses people for a wobbly, but Xarel·lo is still relegated to the “up and coming” category of grapes for reasons that escape me. While lesser examples of it can be oxidized, when made well, it can take on all the verve and “shit yeah” of the finest Chardonnay in Côte de Beaune.
Still wines aside, Xarel·lo is one of the three backbone grapes of Cava along with Macabeu and Parellada. To some extent each of these grapes can dominate the blend but it’s only Xarel·lo that seems to be able to emerge as a full varietal sparkling wine and still win hearts and minds.
Last week, I received an invitation to taste a special side project of Recaredo’s director, Ton Mata which I’ll delve into at a later date. But, in addition to that presentation they ran through the other wines currently on offer including their flagship, Turó d’en Mota. If this is a wine you haven’t had the pleasure of gracing your glass, please read up on this very special old-vine vineyard. You can also read about the 2005 vintage as well but right now, it’s time to talk about 2006 which is just now coming to market and as a Cava de Paratge tossed in for good measure.
For most still wine producers, 2006 was a hot vintage and the wines are definitely quite forward, especially with the reds. Sometimes sparkling and still vintages match up, but not always and Recaredo says that they found this to be a very fresh, lively vintage with a great deal of life. I can’t believe that I’m saying this about a wine that’s aged 136 months on the lees (by comparison, the minimum for Cava is a meager nine months) but the wine tastes exceedingly youthful. If you didn’t know it was vinified 12 years ago, I doubt you’d immediately pick up on just how old it is. Due to this, there’s still a bit of development to happen with the wine but it is otherwise coming along, very, very nicely.
Turó d’en Mota 2006
Fine, light mousse with a bright lemon color. Crisp lemon curd, brine, warm, toasty brioche, lime blossom, and a pinch of hazelnut. Very lively on the palate with crisp lime peel and a shimmering med+ acidity that verges on high. Full and unctuous on the palate with light green almond notes and very balanced structure. Still a bit soft in terms of mid palate, but developing very well.
100% Xarel·lo 12% 100€
For anyone who looked at that 100€ price tag felt a bit of a lump rise, well, yeah, it’s a touch higher than your typical 10€ or even 5€ beach bubbly that people often know Cava for. Is it worth it? Is it worth paying 150€ for a Prestige Champagne? The answer I’m looking for is, “often yes” as even at this price, if it’s within your means to buy, it’s actually an excellent value. An aged, vintage Champagne from Biodynamic vineyards, certified as Grand Cru would easily cost double if not triple this price although for Spain, it’s a tough concept for people to wrap their heads around.
There are however options and if you want to have a taste of another Cava de Paratge from Recaredo that’s still Biodynamic and while not 100% Xarel·lo, is still Xarel·lo dominant, and still sees an ungodly amount of aging for a Cava, then I highly recommend the Serral del Vell. While originally called “Brut de Bruts” despite being Brut Nature (I never really understood that), they’ve changed the name to match the paratge from which it’s from and let it sing with its own voice a bit more. With the large splash of Macabeu in it, the wine takes on a fruitier character which might very well appeal to some. Of course the only way to know is to give it a try when you get the chance!
Serral del Vell 2008
Light brioche, lime peel, delicate apple blossoms, white peach skin, dried violets. Driving, med+ acidity, lightly stony mineral notes on the palate, bitter almond, and a light hit of spicy jicama. As it opens, sweet brioche notes become ever more present and follow into a med+ finish.
52% Xarel·lo, 48% Macabeu 12% 35€
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
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
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 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%
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%
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