03-04-2012

The quietly fantastic wines of Martí Fabra

When it comes to making wines for a long time, the Martí Fabra family has been doing it since the end of the 13th century; maybe even earlier. The date of their old family house is 1293 and that’s just when they know that their family cellar was established. The building is quite impressive as it’s built directly on to the bedrock below it and looks as if it could repel any attack from marauding wine pirates.

They farm all of their vineyards organically, although they aren’t certified as such given the degree of paperwork required. They are helped a good deal by the Tramuntana wind which blows on their vineyards year round. Overall their wines are very honest to the grapes that comprise them and proudly boast the locale from which they come from as opposed to the barrel in which they’re aged.

And this is the thing about their wines overall; they’re honest. Sure, oak is used on some of them for aging, but it’s not used to hide the grape and pervert it. Joan, the current family winemaker is an easygoing guy and he gives the feeling that he’s quite happy to let his wines explain themselves. No oak bombs. No burning hot, high alcohol bottles. Just, subtle and wonderfully complex wines are very fair prices.

Verd Albera 2010 blends White Grenache, Muscat, and Chardonnay. It’s a young wine and has a decent level of citrus to the nose with a touch of lime and pepper. The body is quite even-tempered overall, decently plush in the mouth, and has a dose of acidity with background minerality. The finish is fast and clean with just a hint of acidity.

L’Oratori 2008 is only aged in the stainless tanks, but it gives an impression of oak aging. The name comes from the vineyard which sources the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Syrah to present a rather complex wine. The nose warms up the glass and the body is full in the mouth with strong tannins. The finish is quick and tight, making for a very enjoyable wine overall.

Els Estanys 2007 is a single vineyard Carignan from old vines of which they only make 800 bottles. It receives 20 months in the barrels and is a softer Carignan as these grapes ripen much slower than others. Despite the time in the barrel, the nose comes up quite soft, with just a small dusting of the oak. The body is a bit more tart and dry with oak that carries in to the finish. The soft tannins and strong structure of the wine are impressive for a Carignan and Joan has designed this for long term aging.

Read full reviews for all their wines, as well as many others in the region, in our Empordà wine guide.

WINES

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
95 3 Stars

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
94 3 Stars

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
93 2 Stars

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
93+ 3 Stars

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
93 2 Stars

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
93 2 Stars

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
93 2 Stars

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
92 2 Stars

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
92 2 Stars

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%
92 2 Stars