the spanish aquisition

Garnacha Red Wines

The variety which we know, through the French, as Grenache is originally Spanish. Very widely grown, it often is used to make pleasantly fruity, off-dry rose wines - sometimes at the high end of the alcohol spectrum. Being low in phenolic material (usually), it is well-suited to producing pleasant raspberry-and-herb juice with nice acidity but little fruit tannin structure - ideal for rose, and café-quaffer light reds.

As elsewhere, low crop levels, dry growing and old vines can sometimes produce rather more affecting fruit, and there are a significant number of Spanish Garnachas which produce rich, dry-earthy wines with concentration, structure and length enough to handle some oak treatment and succeed as premium dry red table wines.

Cellars Capçanes, D.O. Montsant

Capcanes

Capçanes (pronounced Cap-sar-ness) is in DO Montsant, which surrounds the more famous and more expensive DOQ Priorat. The village of Capçanes is in the south-eastern corner of the Comarca Priorat. Capçanes is, and isn't, a co-op winery. Capçanes is both the name of a small Montsant village, south-east of the region's main town, Falset, and also the name of its wine co-op. 190 hectares (pre-phylloxera there were 1,000 ha of Capçanes under vine) are controlled by 75 growers and represents about 10% of the DO's total production. About half is organic, with more vineyards converted to such each year. Yields are as little as 12 hl/ha on the centenary Garnacha vines, which account for 55% of the co-ops holdings, and another 20% is Samsó.

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Vina Ginesa Reservas, D.O. Valdepeñas

D.O. Valdapenas is part of the La Mancha sprawl south of Madrid. Generally, hot windy 'badlands' but nowadays, some determined modernisers are making tidy stuff. One such 'modern'outfit, Granrojo, produces wines that are the expression of selected fruit from the vineyards.

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Telmo Rodriguez, Tierras de Castille

Telmo Rodriguez Cerebros 001 - ©Jason Orton
Tierras de Castille is a catch-all appellation for wines grown outside the borders of existing Denominacion de Origen regions. Telmo's Pegaso is in the mountain village of Cebreros west of Madrid. The TDC tag can also be used as a declassification move if one makes wines contrary to the rules of the appellation within which their winery sits.

 

Image courtesy of ©Jason Orton
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Alvaro Palacios, D.O.Ca Priorat

Alvaro Palacios was one of the ‘pioneers’, who vivified and re-interpreted Priorat after the Franco era de-planting. This small group of change-agents planted lots of French varietals in the fertile, alluvial valley soils and some in the mountains too – typically, modern Priorats contain about a third of (mixed) Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Now, after 20 years, Alvaro sees it was clearly a mistake, and as his commitment is to the nobility of the local Garnacha he is reverse-engineering the French varietals out of his Priorats as quickly as he can.

Today, with the introduction of his 'Vi de Gratallops' Alvaro’s regional ‘hierarchy’ and expression of Priorat complete (for now). Without doubt he is the finest producer in one of the most unique terroirs of world wine, working with indigenous old strains of Garnacha.

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Sara i Rene, D.O. Montsant and Priorat

Generational change, anyone?
We are standing directly face-to-face with the future here.

Sara was the host of my very first vineyard and winery visits in Spain, many years ago. At the time, she was a young, energetic and very intelligent winemaker, just starting to stretch her wings. She was working under her father, Jose Luis Perez at Mas Martinet, one of the famous 'Priorat Five' who started the new wave Rebirth of Priorat Cool. But even in outright youth at the time, Sara had her head fully around what was, what had been, and possibly would be the future in Priorat and Montsant ... and she was already starting to work on her own break out projects. 15 years down the track, she runs Mas Martinet outright. And she has two beautifully realised solo projects well and truly up and about, owned and run in conjunction with her now husband Rene Barbier.

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Serra i Barcelo, D.O. Montsant

Winemaker of the Serra-Barcelo family property in Montsant is Josep Serra. He is a fourth generation winemaker, his family having been based in Ribera del Ebre between Montsant and Terra Alta. As well as Garnatxa Tinto in DO Montsant, Josep makes Garnatxa Blanca in neighbouring DO Terra Alta.

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La Vinya del Vuit, D.O.Q Priorat

Vinya del Vuit is a project of Sara, Rene and 6 other young friends from the region. The project commenced in 2001 with the purchase of an outrageously uneconomical old vineyard. It's more than 100 year-old Samsó, planted in 1912, as part of the first wave of Priorat's re-birth after phylloxera. First release was 2002.

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Blai Ferré i Just, D.O. Priorat

Blai Ferré i Just is a young Priorat winemaker, currently working for his wife's family Gratallops label, Celler Cecilio, and in his project from vineyards in Massos del Falset. Blai got his start working for Alvaro Palacios and Celler Capcanes before joining Celler Cecilio in 2000 and finally striking out on his own.

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Mas Martinet, D.O. Priorat

Clos Martinet is the wine of the home estate of Mas Martinet, just above the river as one winds from Falset towards Gratallops. Clos Martinet, originally owned and run by Josep Lluis Perez, was one of 'los Clossos', the group which settled in Priorat and worked together from 1989 to re-envision and re-envigorate Priorat wine production. Nowadays, Josep Lluis's daughter, Sara Perez is responsible for the day-to-day running of Mas Martinet and the making of its wines, which have sinced been expanded by the addition of 3 single vineyard wines (one of which was planted by Sara herself). The estate is dominated by local varieties, Garnatxa, Garnatxa Peluda and Carinyena. There is also 25% (and reducing) of French genetics planted, mainly Syrah, with 5% each of Merlot and Cabernet, planted from 1990 by Josep Lluis. All wines use wild yeast fermentations and the estate is moving away from 'scientific' winemaking to holistic, natural precepts. Grape varieties are fermented together after de-stemming, although often Sara adds back a portion of Garnatxa stems. Ageing is mainly in foudre, rather than barrique, with some clay used to counter oak.

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Legado del Moncayo, D.O Campo de Borja

Young gun, Isaac Fernandez works in a number of regions and with several varieties, but his standout wines to date come from the old Garnacha bush vines of Campo de Borja.

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