In­de­pen­dent wines from Cat­alo­nia

The Observer Magazine - - FOOD & DRINK - David Wil­liams @Davey­daibach

Al­bet i Noya Curiós Xarello, Penedès, Spain 2016 (£9.99, Vin­tage Roots) It will come as lit­tle com­fort to Cat­alo­nia’s jailed lead­ers, or to the hun­dreds of peo­ple beaten up at polling sta­tions in Oc­to­ber, but the bru­tal sup­pres­sion of the in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum has had at least one small pos­i­tive lo­cal ef­fect: piquing in­ter­est in all things Cata­lan. That cu­rios­ity ex­tends to the re­gion’s wine in­dus­try which, con­trary to the some­time stereo­type, is not solely con­cerned with cheap Mediter­ranean ver­sions of cham­pagne. Cava from Gra­mona, Juvé y Camps and Re­caredo, among oth­ers can, in fact, be mag­nif­i­cent, but such bot­tles are only part of a vi­nous story that in­cludes such del­i­cately aro­matic, vi­brantly cit­rusy and min­eral still dry whites as Al­bet i Noya’s take on the lo­cal grape xarello.

Vinyes de l’Albà Su­moll, Catalunya, Spain 2014 (£14, Red Squir­rel Wine) One of the trio of grapes usu­ally used to make cava, xarello is for me the star white Cata­lan grape va­ri­ety, with Celler Credo Mi­ra­nius, Alt-Penedès 2014 (from £12.50, Joseph Barnes) a cleans­ingly pure, herbal ex­am­ple. An­other of the cava tri­umvi­rate, macabeu, is gen­er­ally at its still best round these parts in a sup­port­ing role in dry white blends, such as the fab­u­lously rich, lu­mi­nous, scrub­land herb-in­fused Acús­tic Blanc, Montsant 2015 (from £12.48, Cam­bridge Wine), where gar­natxa blanca takes the lead. When it comes to reds, the most dis­tinc­tive lo­cal va­ri­ety is the rel­a­tively rare su­moll, from which Vinyes de l’Alba fash­ions a de­li­ciously dusky, tangy, vivid, plum and cherry-juicy style.

Frares Pri­o­rat, Spain 2015 (£14, Marks & Spencer) The grape va­ri­eties used in the darkly brood­ing reds of Cat­alo­nia’s most fa­mous red wine re­gion, Pri­o­rat are fa­mil­iar through­out Spain and south­ern France. But there’s some­thing spe­cial about the in­ter­ac­tion of gre­nache and carig­nan with the lo­cal llicorella slate soils that gives them a really dis­tinc­tive min­eral char­ac­ter that fresh­ens and quick­ens the heat, spice and dark, bram­bly fruit. Try Mor­risons’ chewy, liquorice-scented The Best Pri­o­rat 2014 (£10) or M&S’s in­tensely black-fruited Frares – al­though for the full, mul­ti­lay­ered ex­pres­sion of stone, black olive, liquorice and black fruit, splash out on Mas Doix Salan­ques Pri­o­rat 2014 (£30, The Wine So­ci­ety).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.