Saturday, 29 March 2014

Tasta Porrera I: More than a Priorat, a privilege (slogan Marco Abella cellar)

The wine fairs are a meeting again with friends and winemakers, and also a good pretext to visit lovely places from the Catalan geography.

The shorter days make us realise that winter is arriving and is a signal that the wine fair season is upon us.

One of the last wine fairs is Tasta Porrera (Taste Porrera),from which are wines made in this little village from Priorat: with around 500 habitants and 16 cellars. Porrera is the lowest village in the Priorat and also it’s the village with the highest vineyards because it’s surrounded by mountain ranges at  600 m above the sea level, and 700 m and more of 800 m.

When you go to Porrera and leave the main route, you realise that all that you can see in the landscape are vineyards, hazelnut and almond trees which grow in steep slopes. You realise that Porrera is basically an agricultural village. And you can imagine the harvest as a risky activity! In spite of it, the beauty of the area charms everyone, and when after a narrow route full of curves you arrive at Porrera and walk in the narrow streets you feel that you would like to live there!

In the main square of the village on the Saturday of the second weekend of November there is the Tasta Porrera (Taste Porrera), and enogastronomic fair because also you can taste specialties of the local cuisine. And this year it was the 10th anniversary of the death of a great Catalan poet, Miquel Martí i Pol, so as this was a special occasion the wines of each cellar were combined with a poem of his.

This fair has again confirmed to me that wines from Priorat (and in this particular case the wines from Porrera) have a special characteristic that make it different of the wines from other Appelation of Origin, because of their particular soil:  the slate (llicorella in Catalan).

Priorat is a well-known area for red wines, most of their production is red wine (90%), but the white wines are a little treasure. If you have the opportunity, you should taste a white wine from Priorat, they are incredibly delicious.

In Tasta Porrera we had the opportunity to taste two white wines: Lo coster blanc 2012, with a very limited production (less than 500 bottles!) and Mas d’en Compte blanc  2009,  one of my favourites and fleshier than the first one. It was a great pleasure taste these wines!

The  first two  wines that I tasted were produced by two cousins, Marc and Adrià, the first wine was L’Inconscient and the second Solanes. These wines are always the best option when you want to be sure about a red wine selection, and that is why we started with these, and it is always a pleasure to chat with these two guys. At the fair they have two of the wines that they make in Cims the Porrrera, the winery. L’Inconscient 2011, with 12 months aging in oak barrels, is made mainly with Carignan and Grenache, and the rest grape varieties with less percentage are Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah; Solanes 2007, the other wine, has been aging during 14 months in oak barrels and is also made with the same grape varieties: Carignan and Grenache, which represent the 70% of the blend, and Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah as well. Both wines are totally different. L’Inconscient is exuberant, graceful and fresh; Solanes shows more mineral hints, with ripe black fruit and herbal tinges, specially eucalyptus. It has a long aftertaste.

From Marco Abella winery we had the opportunity of tasting the two wines that were in the fair and two wines that still weren’t in the shops! The taste started with Lodaina 2010 and Mas Mallola 2008, but we had the change of tasting two wines that hadn’t come out to the market:  Clos Abella 2009 and El Perer, the new project of this cellar that is made with grapes from centenary vines! As you go tasting these wines (in this order, of course), the pleasure increases exponentially. In fact, the slogan of the cellar says everything that defines Priorat and also these wines: More than a Priorat, a Privilege. This sentence is absolutely brilliant! (and a great true).

Another of the wines that I would like taste was Viatge al Priorat (Trip to Priorat), with a level that remembers the old train tickets, very coherent with the name of the wine. It’s the youngest wine of the cellar and it was aging in French oak barrels of 225 litres during 8 months. It’s a blend wine with Grenache mainly, Syrah, Carignan and, in less proportion, Cabernet and Merlot. The other two wines from the same cellar were: Les Eres 2008, a blend wine of Carignan and Grenache with a little bit of Cabernet and Picapoll with 18 months aging in oak barrels , and Sentius 2008, made with Grenache basically and Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot that have been aging during 15 months in oak barrels. All these wines are from Celler Joan Simó.

And another cellar was Cal Pla. This cellar offers two wines to taste in the fair, a red one Cal Pla 2009 with 12 months in oak barrels and a white wine, Mas d’en Compte 2009, that from long time ago was my first discovery of the white wines from Priorat (as much people, I only knew the red wines from Priorat and I realized that I was missing great wines!). This wine is really expressive, with citrus aromas, toasted hints and, also, some mineral tinges. On the palate the fruit like banana, nectarines and pineapple combined with a good acidity has as result a well balanced wine. This wine is made with White Grenache, Pansal and Picapoll (Picpoul or Folle Blanche in French) and has been for six months in oak barrels. Cal Pla 2009, with typical grapes from this area (mostly Grenache and Carignan, with a 10% of Cabernet Sauvignon) proceeds from vineyards between 350 and 500 m above the sea level and has spent 12 months in oak barrels. On the nose stands out leather, and slowly it appears toasted and spiced aromas. On the palate it has a high intensity; the ripe black fruit  is the first feeling, with a subtle minerality. It’s a full-bodied wine, with a good acidity.

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