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Friday Night Wine! 3/29/19

Catalonia Wine Tasting

Catalonia is a fiercely independent Autonomous Community in northeastern Spain, and is one of Europe’s most fascinating regions for food, music, and, of course, wine, which has been made in Catalonia by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Carthusian Monks. While there are many long-standing conventional Catalan wineries, winemakers there are also at the forefront of a culture of experimentation that integrates both the future of winemaking techniques and the almost forgotten practices of the past. Catalonia — with Girona, Tortosa, Tarragona, and Barcelona — is flanked on the north by the Pyrenees Mountains and on the east by the Mediterranean Sea. Pendès is their largest and most significant wine region, but we’ll also be tasting wines from Empordà, Conca de Barberà, and Tarragona (Reus).

Wine to be tasted:

Bodega Empordàlia Empordà Sinols Blanco

2017, DO Empordà

Longtime customers know that we generally prefer individual or family growers and winemakers to co-operatives, but in the best cases a co-op allows small wineries to band together to preserve the character of a less powerful wine region and still make wines of distinction. So it is with Empordàlia, a collective of dedicated growers in the Empordà, on the very northeastern tip of Catalonia, bordering France. This fresh and friendly, hand-harvested, white blend (Macabeo, Garnacha Blanca, Garnacha Gris) is a great example of the lighter wines that can be made closer to the coast of Catalonia. Not accidentally, this wine is fantastic with seafood. (Also, it’s a great bargain!)

Castell d'Age Anne Marie Cava Reserva Brut Nature NV

NV, Cava

Aurèlia Figueras pioneered organic farming at the winery in the 80s, in an 18th century farmhouse, with a commitment to dry, long-aged, Champagne-quality cavas. Though Castell d’Age does make still wines, it is their cavas that remain their hallmark, even as Aurèlia’s daughter and granddaughter have succeeded her. Castell d’Age lies in the Alt Penedès, on the southern slope of the mountain of Montserrat, where the native grapes of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada combine to make this elegant cuvée that is priced ludicrously low for the quality.

Celler Jordi Llorens Llorens Blankaforti Conca de Barberà

2016, Conca de Barberà

Jordi Llorens’ family has been farming for eight generations in Catalonia, so he knows his way around the wildly dry soil of Conca de Barberà in Northern Tarragona. He farms his own estate fruit biodynamically — in this case Cabernet, Syrah, Garnacha, and some of the traditional white Catalan grape, Macabeo. His wines are some of the most complex (and hard to pin down!) that we have ever had from Catalonia. Jordi is also part of the Brutal (“natural”) Wine Corporation, which brings together a dozen Spanish and French natural wine producers, each one producing their own wine under the Brutal label.

Casa Fundada Miró Vermut Rojo

N.V., Reus

“Founder Emilio Miro Salvat earned great admiration for this well-rounded and wormwood-forward ‘Rojo’ sweet red vermouth. Its easy style is ideal for the Catalan tradition of the ‘vermouth hour,’ enjoying a glass on the rocks with olives. Reus is the historic epicenter for vermouth production in Spain, where for over a century the Miro name has set the benchmark for its wormwood-forward style. All production is today overseen by the family patriarch Pere Miro.” (From the importer)