After Switzerland and the Aosta Valley, Benjamin Gras takes advantage of a few hours by bus on the A1 motorway between Lisboa and Porto to tell you about his Spanish experience. He will only tell you about the regions of Spain he visited, i.e. Catalonia (Penedes, and Priorat), Navarra and Rioja & Ribera del Duero, but you will already have a good view of the wine route of this beautiful country. Let's start with Catalonia!
Catalonia is one of the warmest regions in Spain. The climate is typically Mediterranean: summers are very hot and the lack of water becomes a real issue. There are many drip hoses to flower in the middle of the plots.
The region is particularly well known for the production of Cava from the local grape varieties Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada. Cava is a sparkling wine produced according to the traditional method (better known as the méthode champenoise); Cava production represents about 17 million bottles a year. The production is mainly carried out by large houses with large volumes.
However, the terroir approach of Recaredo is interesting: I really appreciated their rigour in the elaboration process as well as the quality of their cavas. The DOC Penedes is the closest to Barcelona. The vines flourish in the depression of the penedes between the mountains and the sea: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon in red; Chardonnay, Xarel-lo and Parellada in white. A vast territory in which we find all types of wines: from everyday consumption to very good quality.
The DOC Priorat is like a diamond stuck between the mountainous bar of Monsant and the sea. There are 2,000 ha in DOC and about 100 producers. Marta from Mas d'en Gil, tells me : There is a special atmosphere here, the vine has a 1000 year history. The foundation of the Chartreuse d'Escala Dei, founded by French knights to whom the king gave land, marks the beginning of the chapter. The soils are of volcanic origin, consisting of very hard schist at an altitude of 800 to 1000m. The DOC is made up of 12 villages. The altitude explains the relative coolness that can be found in the Priorat, from 800 to 1000m, in a paradisiacal hilly landscape. The most important wind comes from Mallorca and refreshes the vineyard. According to Marta, the Garnacha (Grenache) is delicate, she is a girl who loves wind and altitude. The Carignan likes a higher and less windy place. The amplitude of temperature day/night is important, which is particularly favourable to a good phenolic maturity (the maturity of the tannins) giving supple wines with interesting matter.
I strongly advise you to come and see René Barbier at Clos Mogador. Great precursor of the appellation, its wines breathe the soil. The estate is among the rare ones certified Vi de Finca (Estate Wine) by Spain, which guarantees that the grapes come exclusively from the estate and that during the vintages, the wine presents indisputable qualities. Apart from Grenache and Carignan, René has also planted some Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. He is a fervent defender of goblet pruning, which he considers very qualitative in Mediterranean climates. The parasol effect protects the grapes from the sun and thus preserves their acidity. The proximity of the foliage to the soil allows you to enjoy the coolness of the soil at night.
Clos Mogador - Priorat
Clos Mogador 2013
Mas d'en Gil - Priorat
Clos Fonta 2010
Benjamin (Les Grappes)
Les Grappes offers many activities and tastings at winegrowers' homes in all French wine-growing regions